Black in Berlin

In 2012, I developed the salon style series ‘Black in Berlin’ as a reaction to the appropriation of Afropean culture by the German, English- language mainstream media. The experience of being Black in Berlin can oftentimes be polarizing. The lingering effects of African colonization that are ever present in the city mixed with the inherent alienation of “representing” the other creates a complex day to day existence. This paradox does not have to be internalized. The Black in Berlin Salon is an opportunity to dialogue issues, foster community and generate conversation with the willing to listen. The salon encourages people of all races and backgrounds to participate in the discussion but privileges the voices of the African diasporic. In 2016, the format was revised to feature a guest interview related to the topic that served as a pre-cursor to the open conversation. Each session of the Black in Berlin Salon operates loosely around a different theme. The event images below are from the 2016/2017 series. 

 
Hallesches Haus. Guest: Zen Jefferson

Hallesches Haus. Guest: Zen Jefferson

The Politics of Community

Who owns culture? What is appropriation? How do appropriation and appreciation intersect? And what makes it so damn confusing? The taking of intellectual property, traditional knowledge, cultural expressions, or artifacts from someone else's culture without permission has become a regular transaction is pop culture. In the first salon on the year, we will discuss how privileged communities “showing appreciation for a culture” can be damaging or even dangerous to certain communities. 

 

KW Institute for Contemporary Art. Guest: Nine Yamamoto

KW Institute for Contemporary Art. Guest: Nine Yamamoto

The Myth of Integration

More than a decade ago Angela Merkel stated “Integration has failed in Germany.” Sixty years after de-segregation, many schools in the southern United States have gone back to being separate and un-equal. Integration is often a system built on false promise and double standards. In the March salon, we’ll discuss how the politics of racial integration define the way entire communities move, or more often are immobilized, in their environments.

 

Savvy Contemporary. Guests: Laurel and Jermain Raffington

Savvy Contemporary. Guests: Laurel and Jermain Raffington

The Afropean Experience

The Afropean Experience is a rich, textured testament to the fact that Blackness is not a monolith. How do the stories from the African Diaspora differ and what connects them? In the April salon, we will discuss issues surrounding home, identity and representation.

 

 

Shakespeare and Sons Bookstore. Guests: Cienna Davis and Nasheeka Nedsreal

Shakespeare and Sons Bookstore. Guests: Cienna Davis and Nasheeka Nedsreal

The Politics of Community

Our interpersonal relationships are defined by many factors: language and the spaces we inhabit are two of the greatest.  How do the communities we inhabit and the ones we build shape who you are? Is it important to have physical communities of people that look like you? In the May salon, we’ll discuss collective work, who gets to be included in the discourse on race relations and why it matters.

 

Schwules Museum. Guest: Isaiah Lopaz

Schwules Museum. Guest: Isaiah Lopaz

Performed Identities 

Identity is often a fluid construct as a person of color. How does high visibility affect the personas that we adopt in our daily lives? In what ways are these personas real and imagined, chosen and imposed? In the June salon we’ll examine transnational constructs of people of color, identity policing and the ways we question, amplify and diminish our identities.