Skip to main content

Reading Example

Are you curious? Here is the link to a reading example of Reflections of the Other: Being Black in Germany

http://indaindex.com/reflections-of-the-other-being-black-in-germany-by-ethel-morgan-smith/

Excerpt:

Before I arrived in Tübingen I knew what my teaching schedule would be. I had proposed to the Council on International Exchange Commission to research the political momentum of Afro Germans. The only Afro German I met was Tina Bach, a student in one of my classes, who was the only person I saw, who looked anything like me. Berlin or Cologne would have been better venues to work on such a project. I kept good records about my experience, and trusted the writer in me to know that I would have something to write about after my years’ experience.

In the meantime I wanted to write. Writing is different when you’re away, and I couldn’t have been more away. Since Germany was in the middle of Europe, I was free to travel and see the new world I had been awarded. And Tübingen is about 30 minutes from Stuttgart, which is considered a gateway to the world by many Germans.

My host professor had telephoned me early one Friday morning, six months before I was to arrive. It was 8:00 a.m. for me and 2:00 p.m. for him. “Hallo, this is Bernd Engler, the person you’ll be working with in Germany.”

“Oh. Good morning.” Hoping I didn’t sound as sleepy as I was.

“Did I wake you?”

“No. Not at all. You see, I live alone and you’re the first person I’ve spoken to. That’s why I sound sleepy.”

He laughed. At least he had a sense of humor. All I’d been told was that Germans were orderly and arrogant. Although my old boyfriend, Helmut had been orderly, but he wasn’t at home in Germany, instead he had been in the States trying to fit into American culture.

“I am calling to introduce myself and say welcome. I also wanted to see what your needs are with regard to housing.”

“I am looking forward to being there. Thank you.” He didn’t sound German. His accent was only slight, more international. What did Germans sound like? Helmut hadn’t sounded German either, unless we got into a fight.

“After this call, we can then communicate via email.”

“That would be fine.”

“Your needs,” he said.

“I need a bathtub.”

“Anything else?”

“Sure, but that’s a main need.”

“What about a kitchen?”

“I figured there would be a kitchen.”

He laughed again. Did I have a better sense of humor than I thought? I didn’t think asking for a bathtub was such a big deal, at least not laughable.

Book Review: Reflections of the Other…, by Ethel Morgan Smith

Book Review: Reflections of the Other
EthelBook

“In Reflections of the Other: Being Black in Germany, Ethel Morgan Smith shares the phenomenon of her experience as the Other, an African American woman living and teaching in Germany as a Fulbright scholar at Universität Tübingen during the 1997-1998 fellowship year. A journey that begins with Smith’s presumption that, in Germany, she can “experience (her)self without the limitations of race” is marked with signposts where “racism kept finding (her).” Her story is filled with the tensions and thrills of learning to deal with old issues in new ways, and new opportunities with age-old wisdom.” Sharon D. Johnson, PhD

The whole review is here:

http://www.connotationpress.com/book-review/1728-book-review-reflections-of-the-other-by-ethel-morgan-smith

Sharon D. Johnson, PhD, is a widely published journalist, screenwriter, and member of the Writers Guild of America, west, Inc. She has lectured nationally on film, television, and African American literature and culture through the lens of depth psychology, particularly Zora Neale Hurston and Langston Hughes. She has also appeared on numerous news and information programs on ABC, KCET, KCAL, and NPR, to name a few, discussing diversity issues. Dr. Johnson lives in Los Angeles, California.

Reflections of the Other: Being Black In Germany

Reflections_of_the_Other-330

This book is an account of my everyday life as an expatriate in German culture while I interacted with scholars, diplomats, students, friends, and lovers. Although the work reflects my personal experience, it is designed and rooted in my knowledge and experience of African American literature, culture, and history. But the question was what was I, a Black American woman doing in one of the most racist countries in the world? Or I had been told. After all, Germany is not known as a place that has called out to Africans Americans like France (Paris), but I felt seduced by the fact that I could experience myself without the limitations of race-or so I thought. I am not sure that it is possible to not be whom one has always been. By involving the reader in my day-to-day life, this book will draw a personal portrait of a Black American woman in a country that professes not to be racist, even though racism kept finding me. Like all Americans, especially African Americans, we are defined by our history. In Germany I was offered an opportunity to experience racial malaise that was different, but no less insoluble, than racial conflict in my own country. But as a privileged guest I felt protected. Reflections will be of interest to Germans and non-Germans who may be concerned with German culture from a unique perspective. This work serves as a relevant contribution to the efforts of those who seek to promote healing, not in Germany or America, but in the human heart. Reflections of the Other bears witness to my journey from an encounter with neo-Nazi skinheads to a love story in a village of lilacs.

 
%d bloggers like this: