Justice is sexy.
Why I care and how I generate more Love: A self-evaluation growing up as a white chick in Germany.
#justiceforgeorgefloyd was completely new to me. I didn't know racism was still a thing in America. "Nah, they don't care anyway," my friend said. He's tired, angry and black. Well, why don't they?
In school we got taught...
Back in high school in Germany we did discuss the Civil Rights Movement. I actually remember it pretty well and volunteered for a presentation on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. And: a #funfact you gotta know about little high school me: All her presentations are a performance. Calculated. Artistic. With purpose.
This Dreamer who managed to unite millions on the streets for his Dream.
He was light to me and I was so hungry for his Greatness and the Faith in a better world. "Today I'm going to provide you further information on the Dreamer who woke people up" and my presentation zooms out showing Martin in a crowd of peaceful protesters. Everything has purpose. The pictures, the quotes, what I'm wearing: the heart on my sleeve.
I found myself looking into empty, bored eyes of my overall white classmates asking: "Why should we care?" That's past. That's the picture we got painted about the United States of America, land of opportunity, equality and progress. Racism is so 1963...
My friend laughs heartbrokenly: "That's a good one, I wish." The longer I live here now, the more the facades of the Greatest Country on Earth seem to crumble. And my heart goes with it. I see my friend tense up whenever a police car passes us and I ask: "What's the matter, you didn't do shit." And he nods, his eyes still fixed onto the car. They pass. My heart gets a new crack as he exhales in relief.
"There isn't much you can do, Coco, it's the straight white men in power who could," another friend says. "They only care once they're threatened for life, really."
My life as a white chick in Germany (self-evaluation)
At your beginning of your training as a psychologist, you first get asked to evaluate yourself. Your anxieties, insecurities, possible and past issues. So let's go, let's find out if Coco was a racist growing up in Germany.
First off: the German population is far more homogeneous compared to capitals and melting pots like London, New York, Los Angeles where I lived the past few years. You just don't meet as many different people. In many German towns and boroughs you look in white faces. Only white faces. That's why I got asked for my race for the first time ever only upon entering the US. I didn't know that someone like me was caucasian.
"It's beige, Coco."
Back in primary school I had the privilege of attending the first ever "inclusive section" at a regular school. Goal was to get "disadvantaged" students all together to build a better future. I was amongst them as the student with a limp. What sounded great on paper didn't work quite as well: I found myself next to students with learning disabilities, language issues and mental challenges, oh, and Martin*. Martin was the smartest man in the room, the fastest in maths and he taught me one of the most important life lessons.
"Martin, can you pass me the skin-colour, please?" He looked at me, the pencil jar in front of him. "Do you mean beige, Coco? Because skin-colour would be this one for me." And he handed me a dark brown. I told him I was sorry and took his note to heart, for the rest of my life. Plus: He smelled the best out of all my classmates.
Odours have a power of persuasion stronger than that of words, appearances, emotions, or will. ——Patrick Süskind Perfume: The Story of a Murderer
Human perfume was another subject I did a presentation on. To me scent and breath is fascinating. Everyone has a unique smell and way of breathing and still: I think my black friends smell better than my white ones. Does that make me a racist?
For long I actually thought I was racist thinking that. That is why I kept cleaning my head and basked myself in guilt, shame and... ended up with a black boyfriend. I wondered: Is that now really because of my past shame or rather because he smells so good? I wanted to believe my heart, the smell. I just wanted more Love from him, for the world. I wanted to remind us we're one. And... failed miserably. But I saw him and I saw his Beautiful Black Magic. Isn't this what everybody wants? Being seen? Tell me how to do better.
The black prince wasn't invited.
My mama wanted to do better and got me a black Prince Julian from Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper when we took the first trip to New York in 2004. Today I wonder: 1 | Why did my mama have to make all the way to America to get me a black Barbie? Why isn't there a market for black barbies in Germany? 2 | Why wasn't my horizon broad enough to actually involve him? Why wasn't I bold enough to rewrite the story? "But Mama," I said, "he's not like that in the movie! How could I possibly invite him to the wedding, then?" The first African American barbie was released as Christie in 1969 which was basically a brown copy of the white template. She didn't have any black features, her Black Magic. The first black Disney princess who made it on screen was Tiana in The Princess and the Frog in 2009. It's proof of how powerful the movie industry actually is. They shape our hearts, minds and desires. Does that make me a racist or an uneducated German 9-year-old TV-addict who didn't know better?
Culture Shock & Culture Love?
It was my greater family who thinks I'm a spoilt brat. Even today. "What, you got her a Barbie outside her birthday and Christmas?" OK, maybe I am. But I use everything I get to generate Love. My Barbie weddings brought people together. I danced with them in my bedroom to forget my difference and disability. I made them have mixed children (well, biology has never been my strength, really... the white couple just happen to have a mixed Shelly because I liked her hair better)... and the music on their wedding, though? Wooooow!
"How dare you saying he was black, girl, he is a white Jazz legend!" Silence. I was playing charades with my greater (conservative) family. Culture to them is Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven. Only Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven. I heard my heart crack again in our silence. I was 16. At 16 I didn't know how to stand up for what's right. Justice is sexy. And... I love black music, black culture, I thought. It's good for the soul. But at 16 you just didn't tell your greater (conservative) family that you disagree with them. That you secretly dream of making love to someone to James Brown's funky beats. That Michael Jackson is your idol and you dream yourself to America every day before going to sleep, land of opportunity, land of the free. You don't say that. I protested silently, peacefully and fled 11 days earlier than planned. Off to the big, beautiful city. Melting pot, please heal my broken heart.
I can't imagine...
"Speak up," my friend said, which resulted in this essay. I know, I'm not perfect, I'm a white, privileged, white chick with a limp trying to make up for my own countries dark past. I can't possibly imagine what the past generations of my friends must've gone through. But I see my black friends' magic. I stood up to my greater (conservative) family in an email and they even responded to me: I learned something from you, Coco. Education is key. Make it free. I love people and I practice listening every day. I love to unite for what's right. I love black people's smell especially and you can attack me now. Justice is just sexy. That's why that white German chick did a presentation of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and painted her body on his legendary speech anniversary. "I have a dream." I love you so.