honor&privilege

Prof. Angela Davis visits Berlin

I saw Prof. Davis speak live before the dawn of the Age of the Internet in 1985(?) and was deeply moved. There are very few who share her breadth and depth of experience, or her clarity and circumspection in thought.

Title: ANGELA DAVIS "The Refugee movement is the movement of the 21st Century".
From: Tosco Berlin.
On: Vimeo.

My profound apologies to Prof. Davis on behalf of the less parochially minded citizens of the capitol of German. District Spokesperson for the Berlin borough of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg Langenbach‘s (Bündnis 90 / Die Grünen) statement comparing Prof. Davis to decrepit GDR ex-cadre¹ is foolish, and a mortifying case of foot in mouth vis-a-vis a very prominent guest in our city. We should accredit Langenbach’s statement the priority it deserves, and view it as a tragic-comical footnote. I assume i speak for Berliners of all political pursuasions when i say with the deepest respect, Prof. Davis will always be welcome in Berlin.

Prof. Davis question why she was not allowed to enter the Gerhart-Hauptmann School, and whether it is a prison is, i presume, rhetorical, and a witty provocation. The district government is naturally concerned that there could be a re-escalation of the active protest around the Gerhart-Hauptmann School. As a seasoned activist, this cannot have escaped Prof. Davis’ attention.

What seldom gets clearly stated in the discussion around German and EU migration and asylum policy, and i find this regrettable, is that what the refugees and their supporters are calling for is nothing less than the complete reorientation of EU domestic and global economic politics. The refugees ask “Why can’t we live and work in Germany?” and the most obvious answer is: “If the people in question could live and work anywhere they pleased, it is very likely that the circumstances that lead to their migration might be quite different, or would not have arisen in the first place.” There will be no solution to “the problem” at hand nor to innumerable others under the current circumstances. Prof. Davis has been saying that for generations. That there are members of the German Green Party who are unaware of who Prof. Davis is and significance of her life’s work, says more about the state of the Green movement (if it still is one) than about anything or anybody else. It also allows the question as to whether and to what extent members of the Western Left have realistically analyzed the phenomenon of global geopolitics.

For an in depth write up of Davis’ visit i can recommend SchwarzRund’s German language article, "Angela Davis und Gina Dent am 14.05. in der WDK":

SchwarzRund quotes Davis (among other things) as stressing the lessons of Black history "… sie lernen aus der Schwarzen Geschichte …" ². Here i read also “the history of Black activism”, in Davis’ case the US Civil Rights Movement, related movements and its heirs.
There is a strong thread of attention to POC issues in my (Babewyn’s) blog. This is not bleeding-heart White liberalism (or not solely). My interest in the success and failure of the POC struggle is not in the presumptuous idea i could further the Black cause in anything more than a passive manner, but in my curiosity as to how people of color address their experience in the hope that this may help me to think about privilege and discrimination in general. My motivation being of course to make inferences about my experience of gender and sexuality using the POC struggle as a wellspring from which to draw.

¹ Refugee Strike Berlin (2015): Angela Davis and Gina Dent at Werkstatt der Kulturen. In: oplatz.net, on 15 May 2015. URL: http://oplatz.net/2015/05/15/angela-davis-and-gina-dent-at-werkstatt-der-kulturen/, zuletzt abgerufen am 17 May 2015.

² SchwarzRund (2015): ANGELA DAVIS UND GINA DENT AM 14.05. IN DER WDK. In: schwarzrund.wordpress.com, on 14 Mai 2015. URL: https://schwarzrund.wordpress.com/2015/05/14/angela-davis-und-gina-dent-am-14-05-in-der-wdk/, zuletzt abgerufen am 17 May 2015.

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