In Berlin there has been quite a bit of controversy about an exhibition called “The Third World in the Second World War“. This exhibition – scheduled to take place in Berlin’s “Werkstatt der Kulturen” – was designed to tell the widely ignored story of people of color who contributed to the fight against nazism during World War II.
The controversy began when Werkstatt curator, Philippa Ebènè, wanted the exhibit to focus solely on the contribution of people of color during this pivotal time in history. She was especially sensitive to the highlighting of Arab collaboration with the Nazis in the face of a growing anti-Muslim atmosphere in much of Europe. Her decision to cancel the show when it was extended to include collaborators started a wildfire in the media, that included Ms. Ebènè being decried as an racist/anti-semite and “political lightweight”.
The exhibit opened yesterday in another venue. Especially telling within the context of the living diversity in Germany is this article on the opening about the allegations of racism against it is this sentence:
“…die Tatsache, dass die Ausstellung von AfricAvenir getragen wird und die Anwesenheit von Professor Kum’a Ndumbe III. sprechen in meinen Augen eine eindeutige Sprache…”
(Translation: …the fact that the exhibit is sponsored by AfricAvenir and the presence of Professor Kum’a Ndumbe III speaks for itself…”)
This wouldn’t be the first time that the opinion/support of one minority party is utilized by the dominant culture to denigrate the opinion of other minorities (see my blog posts on the Green Party campaign poster in Kaarst here and here). This is one of the main tenets of resistance to true diversity.
I personally found it interesting to note that everyone of color – incl. black America G.I.’s or Maoris from New Zealand – is considered “Third World” in the context of this exhibit.
Less interesting – and even less surprising – was the tenor of the comments from the “usual suspects” during the public discourse.
All this – yet again – makes my head want to explode. So, on a lighter note (ok, not really) I leave you with a video production of Binyavanga Wainaina’s thought-provoking essay “How Not To Talk About Africa” narrated by Djimon Hounsou.
Food for thought anyone?