Sunday, 1 September 2013

A Letter to the Village

Published in The African Courier (August/September 2013 issue, printed version) 

Dear Elders,

You may already know that I am legally required to send my sons to school because we live in Germany and home education is not permitted here. In this country, all children are taught a curriculum designed with only white children in mind. A quick flick through most standard school atlases will reveal stereotypical images of “Africans,” many science books still teach that “Menschenrassen” or biological human races do exist. Those rare examples of German texts which do portray Black people will use degrading imagery and vocabulary to describe them - as if the sheer absence of images of healthy, happy Black children, women and men was not insult enough.

In a lesson about evolution, one of my sons had to endure being teased by his classmates: the prehistoric woman looked “just like his mum!” Another of my children informed me that his teacher had used the word “Negerkuss” several days in a row. She took away his mobile phone, accusing him of calling me during the school day to inform me, when I wrote her an email about it. One of children’s friends was called “nigger” by his teaching assistant. The man first denied it, but eventually – only after many children came forward as witnesses – apologised for the “misunderstanding.”