Organizer: Lisa Yarger
100,000 Poets for Change
Voices from the Global Majority
Listen. Speak. Reflect.
The Munich Readery, 104 Augustenstrasse, Munich, Germany
September 28, 2013, 7 p.m.
Welcome to this year’s 100,000 Poets for Change: Voices from the Global Majority. My name is Lisa Yarger, and my husband John Browner and I are the co-owners of the Munich Readery.
Tonight, thousands of poets, writers, singers, dancers, musicians and other artists are gathering at hundreds of venues around the globe to call for a more peaceful and sustainable world.
The Munich Readery took part in this event for the first time last year. We had a great group of 10 writers and 1 singer and a wonderful, receptive audience.
One of the poets who participated last year was Chantel C., who traveled from Berlin to take part. At the end of that event Chantel and I got into a conversation about her experiences as a person of color living in Germany. One thing that stuck with me was her mentioning how often white people in Germany try to touch her hair. We talked about how there’s not necessarily MORE racism in Germany than in the U.S., where we both are from, but that it does take different forms. We talked about the need for more dialogue on race and racism in Germany, and we started playing with the idea of focusing this year’s Poets for Change event on racism.
This past year Chantel and I kept in touch with email and Skype, and this spring, I met here in the Readery with four local women writers, Emily Phillips, Charisma Nacorda, Aye-Mu Myint and Kshipra Sathe. They each shared their experiences as people of color living in Munich. What struck me about their stories was the relentless, everyday-ness of the racism they encounter, experiences that are often invisible to the rest of us.
Together, we decided that this year’s Poets for Change event would create a space for those who are targeted by racism to share their creative expressions and experiences.
We decided to call it Voices from the Global Majority, because people of color make up the majority of the world’s population: Africans, Indigenous peoples, Asians, Latin Americans, Arabs, and others and their descendents.
A few words about racism. Racism is both the informal and the institutionalized mistreatment of people of color by people of European descent – white people. People of color are hurt by being treated as inferior, denied basic material needs, denied a fair share of resources, demeaned, attacked, threatened with destruction, and more.
This doesn’t mean that white people are bad. We’re not. All people are good! But racism forces an oppressor role onto whites. It gives us a distorted picture of reality, makes us awkward and weird around people of color, and keeps all of us from being as close to each other as human beings were meant to be. Racism is bad for everyone, both the people targeted by it and those of us who are conditioned to be agents of oppression.
Tonight our goal is to create a safe space for people of color to raise their voices in poetry, other forms of writing and song, so that others may hear them.
Long term, we’re working towards the elimination of racism everywhere!
Introductions of artists: please give us your name and two or three things you would like the rest of us to know about you.
Discussion with participants following the reading, moderated by Chantel C. with the following questions:
1) How does the racism that you have experienced in Germany differ from the racism that you’ve encountered elsewhere?
2) What would you like to never hear or experience again?
3) What are your strategies for dealing with the racism you encounter in Germany? How do you cope?