Mixed Raced in Munich
by Rachel Agard, GERMANY
Having been raised by my single white mother, brought up in a “nice area” and educated at a “good school”, I’d been accustomed, as a dual heritage kid, to being in the minority most of the time. In spite of this, my home city itself is very diverse; there have, therefore, always been people in my school year, my friendship circle, and simply in the background of my everyday life who looked like me. Moving to Germany felt like quite a stark contrast.
To clarify, there are plenty of people of colour in Munich; it’s a big, vibrant city. I’m sure my experience would have been very different if I’d spent my year in a tiny village somewhere in the German countryside. However, when I do see another person of colour in the street or on the U-bahn, particularly if they’re black or mixed race, I can’t help but note it in some way; I’m not, of course, thinking to myself: ‘My god, a black person, here in Germany? How did they get here?!” I just see them and wonder where they get their hair products from, for example, or whether they’ve always lived in Munich.
A striking experience for me was attending a demonstration protesting against the increasing success of right wing extremist groups that rationalise and give rise to racism and Islamophobia. The protest was literally called ‘Jugend gegen Rassismus’ (Youth against Racism). I hadn’t even realised I’d been expecting the turn-out to be mostly people of colour, but even after over 7 months of living here, I was surprised to find I was one of about 7 or 8 people of colour at quite a well-attended demo, and one of three people who were of dual heritage.