13 Feb 2019

WORDLESS WEDNESDAY - BLACK IS BLACK



Surprised !


Until I was 18 I never had seen a black person ! I am sure that I have seen some when I was two or three, but my memories are a bit fuzzy. It must have been in 1946 when American soldiers arrived in the little town where my grandparents lived, near Frankfurt, this part of Germany was occupied by American soldiers.

Of course there were also black soldiers, but I didn't realize, I only remember the helmets, the ugly uniforms (maybe since then I am allergic to all uniforms) and the awful cracking noise which the tanks made, when the chains broke the surface of the street and left deep traces.

That there was something strange going on I sensed because my grandpa hold my hand so tight and pulled me close to him. I was intrigued by the noise and the strange behaviour of the people around me, but then the soldiers threw sweets into the crowd for the children. My grandpa held me even stronger because the children hurried to pick up the sweets. I was not interested in sweets but in what was going on. The rest I don't remember.

When I started business school in Brussels I was nearly 19. In my class was a black girl. I had never seen a black person life and so close. I tried to avoid to stare at her and was impressed when she turned her hands that they were pink. I don't know why, but she choose to sit besides me and smiled at me with her sparkling white teeth in her black face. I thought before she thinks that I am a bit stupid, I chose the truth and told her that I had never seen a black person in my life ! She bursted out in laughter and said "Then look at me as you wish" I laughed too and found the white in her black eyes very strange or maybe funny. From that day on we became friends and at one point I didn't even see anymore that she had another skin color as me.

I had told her that I had lived in Germany until I was 14 and there I had never seen a black woman or man. Of course Germany had no colony and under Hitler it was better to be white then black and even that wasn't a guarantee people had to be white, tall, blond and blue eyed. He never had looked in a mirror, because he was small, had brown hair and brown eyes.

Belgium had the Congo and therefore there were a lot of black people in Brussels My son had a few friends and still has and now children are all mixed in a class. Black, white, asiatic, it doesn't matter they grow up together which is a very good thing.


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11 comments:

Andrew said...

I wouldn't really expect you know such a minor place, but Germany did have at least one colony, Deutsch-Neuguinea.

While my childhood life was very white, aside from a couple of Aboriginal people and some Europeans, and at my workplace Indians and Sri Lankans, I remember the very day here back in the 2000's when I came across my first very black African person, who asked me for directions. There are many here now and it all walks of life, but still there are many social problems. I'm afraid I do rather notice them and watch them, especially the men....... 😜

Wandering Wren said...

Gattina your childhood memories make such interesting reading. Isn't it interesting that you don't remember the faces but you can vividly remember the uniforms and the sounds made by the tanks.
On a lighter note those cats are adorable, are they yours, I can't quite remember?!
Wren x

Mara said...

I had an Asian girl in my class, she had been adopted by a Dutch family. But I think I did see others as well: from Suriname or the Dutch Antilles and more Asians from Indonesia and such.

William Kendall said...

My home area was generally white, but not exclusively. One of the neighbours in the area had three sons, one of whom was a classmate. They were of a South Asian background, Sikh, and the father made a living as a well known professional wrestler out in the Japan circuit.

William Kendall said...

The kitties are adorable!

Tamago said...

I lived in a small town in Japan and everyone around me (including myself) was Japanese. I met a person from a foreign country for the first time when I was teenager. I remember being nervous trying to speak English :-)
Love the photo of kitties!

Kelleyn Rothaermel said...

My mother-in-law who grew up in Germany said the first time she saw a black person was when her mother and brothers were fleeing from East Germany in the middle of the night. A black man probably army fellow helped the cross over. She said he was so dark she could only see his teeth. It is crazy to think about because I have grown up surrounded by just about every race. Have a great week.

John Holton said...

It's interesting reading these stories, because as an American we grew up knowing Black people and didn't think anything of it.

Handmade Jewelry Haven said...

Johns comment above is generally true, however I remember quite clearly my first day in Kindergarten, when I saw black people for the first time(?) Which is strange, as I did go to pre-school less than a mile away, and don't remember any black children there. However I remember saying to the older neighbor girl who took me to school that first day, "Why is everyone brown?" She shushed me and so, I started my first day in a 90% black elementary school. This would have been in 1971 or so in Miami.

Thanks for sharing your story.

- Lisa

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

This is how we all become better people. With honesty and willingness to change and learn (and humor). I can just see your new friend laughing when you admitted to her that you had never before seen a Black person ... and no wonder you became friends!

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

And actually I grew up in a very small town in Washington State (northwest corner of US) and I too did not see Black people until we moved away. We did have Native Americans.