Listening to Black Lives

»I believe there is some post traumatic stress syndrome as a part of growing up in Germany. You never know if you can go through the day without any racism. I really believe I do have some mental problems a part of racism.« Thomas Hurst, West-Germany
»I would say I'm nation-less. The Blacks don't really accept you because you're too light and the white people say 'no you're too dark for us'…. You always feel kind of lonely.« Fashion designer Tanja Herring, West Germany
»East is East«: »Sometimes I felt something without being aware of what it was exactly. I thought it depended on my color somehow but because it was a socialist or a kind of communist country and it was said that everybody is treated equal and there is no racism and there is no discrimination at all… It was more or less not allowed this kind of feelings. It was even problematic to talk to my mother about this.« Aminata Cisse Schleicher, former GDR/East Germany
»Poland for Poles«: »As a child there were some times that I just wanted to be white and normal… I just wanted to be and have all this problem go away just be accepted by the rest of the kids.« -Damian Abushe, Afro-Polish hacktavist
»The system didn’t support racism officially but the wave… after the fall of this system… people felt free… there are this group of people that think ‘now we are free now we can be like the rest of white people.. we can be racists’ and these skinheads started developing rampantly.« Larry Okey Ugwu, Afro-Polish artist

Damaso Reyes’ three-part documentary about the experiences of people of African descent in Germany and Poland was aired by KSFR Santa Fe on Here and There, hosted by Dave Marash. Following each of the documentaries, Damaso Reyes talked with Dave Marash about what he found and expanded upon the profound stories that each of his interview subjects shared. In the first report from West Germany, Thomas Hurst speaks about the impact growing up biracial in Germany had on his mental health. Fashion designer Tanja Herring talks about a multi-generational struggle for acceptance.

Part I: Click here to listen to the report about West Germany.

Part two of the documentary series is about the stories of people of African descent who grew up under Communist rule in East Germany. Unlike in West Germany, where the influence of American soldiers was widely felt, in East Germany it was the thousands of students brought from Africa to study that laid the basis for the nation’s Afro-German population.

Part II: Click here to listen to the report about East Germany.

In total, Reyes interviewed over three dozen people for these reports, and while many people’s stories didn’t make it to air, he knows he »learned from everyone [he] spoke to and … thank[s] them deeply.« The third and final radio documentary piece focuses on the lives and experiences of people of African descent in Poland.

Part III: Click here to listen to the report about Poland.