Monday, 11 April 2011

buppie im berlin: Black American Living Abroad

'How in the hell did you wind up in Berlin?' Random strangers to long lost friends ask me this question on a regular basis, the abridged version of the story is ' I moved here for work'.

Most people struggle with understanding why a Buppie American, such as myself would be attracted to this city. Berlin is not a capital of IT, finance or fashion but of electronic music. The city is literally overflowing with struggling artist, cranky hipsters and perpetual students: It's badge of honor, one of the highest employment rates in Germany, it's pseudo- motto, "Berlin ist arm, aber sexy." which means "Berlin is poor, but sexy."

The wall is gone but the city is still quite divided, the former East and West Berlins still maintain their own unique characteristics. At every corner there is a reminder of the city's journey, it's recent history, and evidence that it is still evolving. Berlin has a charm and beauty that resonates with almost anyone who has been here for more than 48 hours. It is full of life and culture, relatively inexpensive, and very diverse. One can't have Berlin without the Berliner, an interesting yet subversive bunch who abide fiercely to the honor system when it comes to public transport but completely ignore the smoking ban .I almost immediately recognized the city as my kindred spirit, seeing as though we are both growing and learning about ourselves.

I can't claim my impression is the most accurate. I perceive the city through a number of filters and there is that ol' language barrier. German is difficult, and I do not have a penchant for languages. I won't go into making excuses for myself but with limited language skills a part of
the experience escapes me, my opinion of Berlin is valid but a slightly incomplete one.

I, as an urban professional do not fit in here, but the Berlin I love appeals to the artist in me, the traveler in me, the activist in me, the social butterfly in me. It seems my soul has found it's home in one of the most unsuspecting places. I am a black expat in Germany, Ich bin eine Berlinerin...for now


  1. Just discovered your blog and decided to read some of you older posts. I never thought much about Germany having a Black expat population, but now I'm curious. What is it about Germany, especially Berlin, that speaks to you and your cultural identity?

  2. @bebejardin welcome! i am not sure if berlin speaks directly to my cultural identity, its more of the right city at the right time. i have moved around a bit and landed in berlin at a time when i wanted to plants roots. another part of it is berlin is just really cool, something so raw and authentic about a developing and growing city that resonates with me. with that being said. i know about 10 black american woman all living here and most are in relationships with germans. LOL we sometimes joke about the mass exodus of black woman out of america. how come there are so many of us here? i mean its not alot but a lot at the same time. it's odd. i dont blend in at all but we can see reflections of black urban culture here. hip hop and graffiti, artwork and clothing. berlin has the spirt of the underdog and with that comes the culture that develops under the blankets of oppression, misrepresentation and of feeling like the dominant culture has forgotten about you.