Publications & Creative Writing
Arriving In The Future : Black German Stories of Home and Exile
Asoka Esuruoso and Philipp Khabo Koepsell (Editors)
Arriving In The Future is an interdisciplinary approach at positioning. As as a series of performances, and poetry, short stories, and academic essays on identity, by Black Writers who regard Germany as their home, and those who regard it as permanent or temporary exile, it will attempt to add a new layer to the debate and construction of Black Identity within the German context.
It started as a collection of poems, short stories, academic essays, and simple narratives of Black experiences in Germany to help continue the process that began with the publication of Showing Our Color. It is most certainly not the first such publication since the birth of the Black German movement and it will not be the last. Its primary goal is empowerment. Empowerment of Black voices, Black experiences, and Black identities within Germany. The Empowerment of Black musicians, Black artists, Black writers and academics and simply Black individuals within Germany, whether they were born here, whether they migrated here, or whether they came as refugees and asylum seekers, it does not matter. Arriving in the Future is about empowerment. It is about us, all of us here arriving within the future we always speak of, a future where racism, and discrimination are a thing of the past, where equality and inclusion are taken for granted. Where black voices within Germany no longer have to explain or qualify themselves. Each day, each performance, each article, each class, each poem, each book, each song, each act of resistance, and raising of our voices brings us closer to this future.
We are all of us arriving, arriving in the future.
The Little Book of Big Visions:
How to be an Artist and Revolutionize the World
Sandrine Micossé-Aikins and Sharon Dodua Otoo (editors.) (edition assemblage, 2012)
“Black artists in Germany find themselves – necessarily – in a position in which subversiveness and resistance – implicit and explicit – become essential strategies to be used in their work if they wish to survive in this predominantly white context (see Micossé-Aikins, 2011, especially pp425-430). However, after resistance is no longer necessary, what could be the vision then? And what is the central role of the artist in shaping or creating these visions?
This book contributes to the discourse firstly by providing a contextual discussion of the current situation of Black artists in Germany, and secondly, by reflecting on the question of how contemporary Black artists in Germany create and convey visions of equality. The methods used to engage with these ideas, concepts and questions are partly in written form (fiction and non-fiction), and partly in visual form. This results in an innovative work focusing on the visions of Black artists in Germany. The contributors and editors of this book wish to engage in a discourse that goes far beyond concepts of “integration” or “migration” – or even “race” or “equality” themselves. In her contribution to the roundtable discussion documented in Ha et al (2007) Hito Steyerl writes: “Although these terms are useful for describing the problem, they cannot form part of the solution. When it comes to formulating perspectives, they are useless” (2007:323) [i] – or in other words, the vocabulary of resistance is merely a means to an end and not the end in itself.”
- Jamika Ajalon
- Bibiana Arena
- Mo Asumang
- Sonia Elizabeth Barrett
- Misa Dayson
- Asoka Esuruoso
- Philipp Khabo Koepsell
- Gyavira Lasana.
- Stephen Lawson
- Caille Millner
- Yvette Mutumba
Little Book of Big Visions Short Excerpt:
As a child my Baptist Grandmother used to have a very specific ritual. When sick, or before leaving her presence to embark upon a long journey from North Carolina, she would lean over me, glowing yellow bottle in hand, and place holy oil upon my head. The oil was smeared across her long thumb, which she painfully pressed into the skin of my forehead, all the while praying, calling upon the Lord to come down and protect this child – her child, his child, this being that he had created. He made me so he knew all about me, could watch over me, follow where her physical eyes could not. “In the name of Jesus, the Lord Jesus Christ, look after this child.”
As I was young I often knelt by her bed wondering if the Lord was doing his work? Wondering if the oil was really holy, really contained God’s essence? And if so how my Grandmother managed to infuse yellow store bought olive oil, the same oil she used for cooking, with such power? Occasionally my head rocked in time with the prayer, forced back by the power of her finger and I wished that she spent more time cutting her nails, because they hurt. The longer her thumbnail dug into my skin the more it hurt, the more I wondered if pain was a part of religion. But as I gazed at the mass of her figure silhouetted by window light my primary wonder rested not in her, or the oil, or the bottle that contained the oil, no instead I asked myself “do I believe in God?”
(For the rest of Black Beautitude please check out Little Book of Big Visions through the link below)
Uni steht Kopf: Für eine Subversion des Wissens, für aktivistische Interventionen
Soldarische Bildung Short Excerpt:
Seeking Social Change through Reflected Direct Action
By Asoka Esuruoso
“In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self purification; and direct action.”
Martin Luther King, Jr. – Letter from a Birmingham Jail
According to research and statistics published by the European Sociological Review, the American Sociological Association, in Stratification in higher education: a comparative study, and a multitude of publications and experts there has been a history of stratification in the German educational system that at times leads to de facto segregation between different ethnic, social, and economic classes. There are also a number of groups and movements, most notably in the late 60’s, who have tried to change this stratification through political protest and Direct Action.
By definition Direct Action is an activity undertaken by individuals, groups, and at times even governments to achieve political, economic, or social goals outside of normal social/political pathways. It is often used by those seeking social change and arises when the normal social/political paths towards change have broken down. At its most base level Direct Action arises from need, when a situation is so tense, stagnant, and un-bearable it can no longer continue. It does not create tension. It simply brings hidden tension to the surface that is already alive. There are a multitude of advocates for Non-violent direct action, but two influential individuals rise above the rest, Mohandas Gandhi with his Satyagraha (truth force), and Martin Luther King, Jr. Both men were tools of history. They rode at the forefront of much larger political waves that sought to bring about self-determination, social justice, and equality. Both men honed this energy, which could and at many points did become violent, towards non-violent use. And both men were specific about one point, that on the path towards direct action there should be a moment of self-reflection. Those who are about to act must reach a state of personal honesty. They must reflect upon themselves, upon their true motivations, upon their internal similarities to those they are against, upon their willingness to act, and upon their willingness to accept the consequences. […]
(For the rest of the article please check out Soldarische Bildung at the link below)
February 2, 2011
Burnt by the German Sun short excerpt:
By Asoka Esuruoso
Imagine this . . .
The night my grandmother taught me how to capture stars. I had asked her about blackness and happiness a few weeks before her death. Was it possible to have both? I wanted, no, needed to know. Was it possible to be both? Instead of answering she pulled me out into the front yard. It was dark and there was a black metalbottomed basin beneath her wrinkled arm. Her fingers were old but strong and they dug painfully into the flesh of my young shoulder. She told me to look up and pulled out a watering can from where it stood tucked beside some garden plants. As I stood staring up at the studded sky she asked me what I saw and I told her, “stars.”
“Them stars,” she explained, “those are you questions, they are your hopes and dreams for the future. There is your answer. There is your happiness.”
“Now look down,” she ordered. And as I looked her old wrinkled hand poured water very carefully from the can into the metal black bottom basin. Wherever the water touched a solar system blossomed and expanded.
“Now what do you see?” she asked.
I squinted into the reflection of the black basin. It made a mirror and for a moment all I could see was my own small confused face.
“Me!” I answered as if coming to the conclusion of an impossible riddle.
“Look harder,” she pressed, “What’s standing behind you? What’s standing just beyond your own head?”
“Stars.” A small shiver seemed to run through me as I spoke the word.
My grandmother nodded. “Those are you’re questions, they are your hopes and dreams for the future,” she said again, pointing down into the solar system at my feet. “There is your happiness. Stop chasing, bring the stars to you.”
Brother Tom, Old Tommy to those who knew him when he was young, Uncle Tom to those who were young now that he was old; an eighty year old decon with gout in both legs, and a toothless grin spread over pearly white dentures that were the pride of his wrinkled face. Woke up one morning and had passed by nightfall. It was the smell that done it and the stench of an empty church seat. Cornbread was left on the doorstep and never received. Phone calls were made and never answered. Sometimes the old die alone, sometimes there’s no one to check. When they broke open the door they found him curled beneath the covers sleeping small as a baby. “He weren’t naked except for his mouth,” they said. Moist pink gums gleaming in the light new born and fresh. Toothless. It felt odd, somehow wrong to see Uncle Tom like that, toothless beneath the covers, naked without his pearly plastic teeth. “Must have forgotten,” was the word. “Must have forgotten to put them on before climbing back in.”
“Did he know he was about to go?”
“Must have known. Man knows things like that. Maybe he wanted to go a whole man.”
“What you mean?”
“What self respecting man goes with plastic in his mouth?”
“Old Tom loved them teeth.”
“He sure did.”
“His favorite thing.”
“They sure were.”
“Tom wouldn’t have wanted to go without them teeth.”
“God’ll give him a new pair. Besides maybe things came on all sudden like.”
“I thought you said he knew?”
“Well there’s knowing, and then there’s knowing.”
SAND is an English literary journal printed bi-annually in Berlin, featuring prose and poetry as well as translations, art, and photography. We collaborate with musicians, literary festivals, and artist cooperatives to hold regular events in the city. We seek to offer a printed space for art and literature in Berlin’s international community and beyond.
Sand Team for Issue 6:
- Christina Wegener – Editor in Chief
- Lyz Pfister – Managing Editor
- Julian Smith-Newman – Poetry Editor
- Florian Duijsens – Fiction Editor
- Yvonne Andreas – Art Editor
- Alex Bodine – Copy Editor
- Lucas Liccini – Designer
- Asoka Esuruoso – Media Manager & Events
- Catherine Plaut – Administrative Manager
- Jane Flett – Distribution Manager & Events
- Danielle Janess – Contributions Editor
- Becky Crook – Founder and Fairy Godmother