My Gap Yah in Germany



Back in 2014 when I was studying at University of Birmingham in the UK, I made up my mind to spend a year helping others.

I was undecided which European country would have become my new home but then I chose Germany.

I went there with the hope of helping some of the poorest European people who had just come out of one of the deadliest wars in human history: World War Two. I had seen footages and photos of cities destroyed by what can only be described as satanic weapons.

I was scared, but determined to go. They needed me.


It took me a few months to convince my parents to let me go. “What do you want to do there? You can’t save them all. Just finish your degree and get a good job” they kept repeating. I couldn’t believe how selfish my own parents could be, but I knew that they were just worried. And they were right.

September 2015.

After spending the summer sending them letters and getting to know them, I bought my ticket and went to Germany.

As soon as we landed, the police escorted us to place nearby. A bomb had just gone off a few miles away. For security reasons we had to stay in Hahn for a couple of days.

We were all scared and worried and no one knew if we would make it alive. I couldn’t contact my family. They didn’t know if I was alive and I didn’t know if they were either. A part of me wanted to go home but I didn’t let fear take over me.

Finally, after the three longest days of my life I could leave Hahn and meet with my family.

They came to pick me up with their car and while we drove home I couldn’t believe my eyes. Wolves, bears, boars and so many other exotic and wild animals were absolutely everywhere. Dirty streets and people spitting everyywhere. People begging for some money. I wish I could have helped them all but I could only help the family my heart chose.

They welcomed me in their humble abode. They had nothing and yet they smiled.

During my year there I mainly took care of the children, doing my best to let them forget the horror of the war, Brexit and the loss of Austria. Living in England improved my English skills and I was good enough to teach them some words like yellow.

The oldest kid couldn’t always remember how to say ‘Gelb’ in English so I made this rhyme. Marshmellow, yellow. I was so proud of him when he memorised this trick. And the smile on his face meant everything to me.


When I took them to school, Germans wondered what this ‘Schwarze Deutsche’ (Black German) with hair that defies gravity was doing there. I would approach them, shake their tiny, skinny, dirty hands, and ask them to take a selfie.

My parents called me every day to make sure everything was alright. “I’m fine. We don’t always have water or electricity, but life goes on.”

I have learned to appreciate the many things I took for granted and that no matter where we are, we are one.

It broke my heart to leave my dear, loving German family. I have left them in a land torn by war, financial crisis and threatened by the rise of Neo-Nazi.


As I write this, tears are filling up my eyes. I miss the dearly but I don’t despair. I know that we, Africans, can save Europe.

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Posted by on July 5, 2016 in Uncategorized


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Dalal ak jamm (Welcome)


I stopped writing for more than a month. My soul, my spirit and my mind were too tired to let me find some inspiration during the last weeks I spent in Europe. So I just waited. Waited to take my flight from Milan, Italy to Dakar, Senegal.

It was surreal. The last time I went to Senegal, I was seven years old.

‘Aéroport Léopold Sédar Senghor’ “Do you know who he was?” I asked my brother. “One Senegalese president…” “And a poet.” I added.

“Dalal ak jamm” is what I read inside the airport. When my family and I went out with our luggage I could breathe Senegal. That smell took me back in time to the first time I met Dakar and her people.

I felt like one of the actresses in ‘An African City’.
I came all the way from Europe in my wax skirt, matching headwrap and sunglasses. One of the guys who was helping us with the luggage gave me my handbag, talked to me in French asking if I was there for holiday then said ‘Welcome’.

We then drove home.
While driving I watched everything. The ocean, the people, the embassies, hotels and universitites, the billboards and in my “woke” state of mind I criticised the use of the French language, French banks, French supermarkets and the commercials for bleaching cream.
But I was also a bit nervous. I couldn’t wait to meet my grand-parents so I was revising my Bamana in my head.

To my surprise, the roads and houses that seemed so large and big, shrank in size.

The first person I saw was my grand-mother. I prayed so much that I would find all of them ALIVE. I missed out on so much because of two barriers: the distance between Italy and Senegal and language. In fact, I never really talked to them.

I then met my other grand-mothers (my grand-father has four wives) and when she hugged me and said how happy she was to see me I almost teared up.

It was only the first day but I felt I was being re-born. One of my best friends told me: “The worst mistake you could do is to bring Europe with you.When you get off that plane, you know the heat that comes when they open the door? Let that wind take Europe off of you.”

It happened. I felt new. I felt different. I felt the difference. So many beautiful Black faces like me. The sun was more beautiful, the sky was more blue and even the perfection of the Atlantic ocean made me forget that it had separated the children of Africa.


When I went to bed I was exhausted, but at 5 am I heard some people singing. The following day I asked my mother who it was and she told me that when it’s Ramadan, some people volunteer to walk from house to house to wake people up with their music so that they can eat and have no excuse to miss ‘suguri’ (breakfast).

I’m trying my best to be a real and worthy African, so I keep asking my mother how to behave and how to do things properly. It’s actually everything I did back home, only this time I can’t speak Italian.

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Posted by on June 16, 2016 in Uncategorized


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Not real Africans


It was summer 2004 when I was watching Top of the Pops and Kevin Lyttle performed ‘Turn me on’. I was 11 years old, I didn’t really understand English so I just enjoyed the music and the rhythm.

I was sitting in the living room with my father when at one point he kissed his teeth and said ‘look at them, they have no culture. They lost everything.’ I didn’t understand what he meant.

Now, over a decade later, those words came back and it pains me to think that my father thought (and maybe still thinks) that way of our African brothers and sisters in the Caribbeans.

As a people we have been through a lot, namely slavery and colonialism, and we can be divided in three groups:

  1. Africans on the continent
  2. Africans who were forcibly displaced
  3. African immigrants

Between these three categories there is much resentment, there are many tensions, hatred, prejudices and more importantly myths and lies.

My parents migrated to Italy, where I was born and raised, and although I was surrounded by very positive images of Africans who were born and raised on the continent, I had a feeling of contempt for and looked down on those who stayed home. I felt ‘superior and better’ than them because I was in Europe, I was in the West. I wasn’t one of the poor African children with running noses and swollen bellies.

Growing up I never saw anyone like me on television, on billboards or magazines. The only images of Black people came from the UK (Naomi Campbell) and especially from the US. I ooked up to Black Americans for they were the ones who made it.

They’re successful, rich, famous and have a voice. I remember wishing I was one of them. But the truth is that behind all that glory, there is a violent chapter of human history. The Trans-Atlantic slave trade.

We tend to focus on the United States paying little to no attention to the Africans shipped to South America and the Caribbeans. Especially in Italy, a country that had no colonies on the other side of the Ocean, that part of history doesn’t exist. I am educating myself and trying to find out more about Black people there.

If I felt ‘superior’ to continental Africans, they thought they were ‘better’ than me because they were real Africans. When I talked on the phone with  my family in Senegal or Mali or when we met with friends, I would try and speak my mother tongue, but they laughed at me and made fun of me. “You can’t even speak your own language” they said, and so I stopped trying.

What they say and their reactions might seem innocuous but deep down it hurts. Just like when they call us ‘tubabu (Whites)’ which means we’re not authentic Africans. If I’m not African enough, even with my parents who came directly from Mali and Senegal, can you imagine what they could think of Africans in the Americas? People who were ripped away from the Motherland 400 years ago.

I know many share my father’s view but I don’t think they understand the seriousness of it. It’s not their fault if they were brought there. It’s not our fault if we were born outside of Africa, and how do you think we feel when we hear someone with whom we want to connect tell us that we’re not real Africans or that we have no culture?

I know some people in the Americas look down on Africa like I did. But I also know many are in love with her.

We live in a day and age where the world is open. We have the Internet, social netwoks, and although not everyone has acces to them, those of us who have should use these means to connect with Africans and people of African descent.

It’s important that we know each other, our struggles, our histories. We have to talk to each other and destroy the myths, lies and stereotypes that have long kept us separate.

We have to bridge the gap.

Unity is key.

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Posted by on April 17, 2016 in Uncategorized


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Islam is not African

Note to reader: I’m writing this to tease you and tickle your curiosity. I trust that you will be smart enough to do your own research and not simply take my word for it.

So here I am, once again, having to defend my religious belief and my choice to practise Islam from some of my African brothers and sisters who have problems with Abrahamic religions.

They use the same argument over and over again. “Before Christianity and Islam we had African spirituality. Those are oppressive religions. If we want to be free we have to go back to our spirituality. They are the White man’s and the Arab man’s religion”.

When they speak of African spirituality they usually start talking about Kemetic religion. That’s the Egyptian man’s religion so I wonder why they want to make it their own when they’re not even Egyptians or of Egyptian descent.

The idea is that both religions were violently imposed on Africans, but that is incorrect. Egypt was Christian from 42 A.D. when Saint Mark established the Coptic church. Ethiopia was the first nation in the world to adopt Christianity and the only African country which wasn’t colonised by any European power (so maybe Ethiopians weren’t that oppressed by it).

When it comes to Islam, African Muslims’ history and contributions are not well-known. Many don’t know that the first enslaved Africans were Muslims who were made slaves precisely because they were not Christians.

European slave traders used that as an excuse to enslave them, but soon realised it wasn’t beneficial to them. Although those Africans came from different nations and had different languages, they all knew Arabic and the Qur’an. They knew their rights, they knew they were human beings who were supposed to be free, they knew that all men were created equal.

They united, organised and rebelled to have their freedom back. From that moment on, slave traders refused to take in African Muslims or forced them to convert to their version of Christianity.

Islam spread in Africa thanks to the trade network that connected Arabs with different African nations. It was Muslim Imazighen that brought Islam into West Africa during the 9th century. In other words, it was Africans who brought Islam to other Africans through trade and contacts between different peoples.

The first people to accept and revert to Islam were some of the most powerful and richest men in the world. It was not the poor or the hopeless, but rich and powerful kings and emperors.

The Mali Empire was one of the wealthiest and most powerful empires in Africa and in the world. It gained global fame with Mansa Musa, the richest man in history.


He lived in Tombuktu which in its Golden Age was an important cultural and learning centre. The university of Tombuktu was composed of three schools: the mosque of Djinguereber, Sidi Yahiya and Sankore. Not only did students learn about religion but also science, mathematics, geography and so on. Islamic scholars were responsible for making Tombuktu an important scholarly centre in Africa.

mosquemosque 1mosque 2

Implying that as African Muslims and Christians we are less free and more oppressed is ridiculous. Our oppressor doesn’t care what religion we subscribe to, so why do we waste so much time and energy talking about it? Do we really think  that the world will stop stealing our lands and resources and start treating us as their equal when we stop believing in those religions?

At the end of day, we should all be able to practice what we please. Whether it be Christianity, Islam, Yoruba religion or Dogon religion, if any of them appeal to you, if they make you feel good and strong, if they give you enough hope to wake up everyday and fight, then practice them, apply their teachings and don’t give up on them.

We all need something to hold on to and that something for me is Islam. The same Islam that helped my empires (Mali and Songhay) reach their zenith.

You may be interested in these articles. (You can also check my post “We should go back to African spirituality”:

Servants of Allah: African Muslims enslaved in the Americas:

A brief history of Islam in America:

Ancient Biblical text discovered in an Egyptian mummy mask:

Famous Historical Muslims of African/Black origin:

“Allah. Muhammad.” Ayuba Diallo’s long journey back to Africa:

Every Black person isn’t a Christian:

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Posted by on April 9, 2016 in Uncategorized


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Genetic appropriation



There is an ongoing debate on cultural appropriation and I personally believe that some people (Blacks and Whites alike) refuse to understand the meaning of it, and until we do, we will never stop talking about it.

As Amandla Stenberg says “appropriation occurs when a style leads to racist generalizations or stereotypes where it originated but is deemed as high-fashion, cool or funny when the privileged take it for themselves. Appropriation occurs when the appropriator is not aware of the deep significance of the culture they’re partaking in”.

When a culture is practised by people who have historically been exploited, seen as inferior and vilified, their practices and traditions have the same negative connotations. On the other hand, as soon as the appropriator (usually from a dominating group) takes it, it becomes beautiful, glamorous, fashionable, trendy.

Double standard.

Looking at world history we can say that people of European descent are part of the dominating group whereas people of African and Asian descent, Native Americans and Aboriginal Australians are the dominated ones. We have been subjected to many atrocities, our cultures and traditions were demonised and made fun of to the point that we lost pride in them.

Our Afros mean that our hair is dirty and untidy, our braids and cornrows our ghetto, our traditional clothing are not professional.

However, when they are on White people, they are cool and even a new creation (they just change the name).

Our cultures become disposable acessories that White people decide to wear when they feel like it. They are completely oblivious of the meaning and history behind them. And to use our cultures as fashion statements is utterly disrespectful.

Can we appropriate White/European culture?


White culture in the U.S. doesn’t really exist for it is Black culture. In Europe, traditional clothing and songs still exist and are visible in special occasions, celebrations and national festivities.

In order for us to appropriate European cultures we should colonise Europe, dehumanise her people, demonise their practices, set up beauty standards that Europenas can’t possibly attain, ridicule their cultures while using our media to glorify them when we’re partaking in them.

But by now you may rightfully wonder why the title of this post is”genetic appropriation” and not simply “cultural appropriation”.

Just replace ‘style’ with ‘features’ in Amandla’s definition and there you have it. It means that physical features that are normally present on or associated with Black and Brown bodies are criticised but when on White people they’re glamorised.

Although stereotypical, a big bum, curves, dark skin and full lips are some of the characteristics that make a Black/African woman who she is.

In history, our bodies were seen as ugly, grotesque, masculine. We were accused of being sexually promiscuous and hence our large buttocks. The most famous case is that of Saartjie Baartman.

But then came Jennifer Lopez, Iggy Azalea, Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner and all of a sudden those grotesque features became the epitome of beauty, femininity and sexiness.

It was very interesting to see the different responses to Jenner’s full fake lips and to those of Aamito Lagum. People dragged her calling her all sorts of racist names but every girl wanted to have Kylie’s lips.


Some time ago I saw a picture on Facebook of two White women wearing braids and for the umpteenth time I read something like “why do you get mad at White women wearing braids but you go around with Blonde hair and blue eyes?”.

Please explain to me how blonde, straight hair and blue eyes are cultural. The comparison doesn’t work.

Say it’s ‘genetic appropriation’. It would be more appropriate but still wrong. The reason: again Black/African people aren’t the dominating group. Blonde hair and blue eyes are not used to mock White people while being deemed beautiful on Black people. If you want to play the victim of cultural and/or genetic appropriation, let us enslave and colonise you.

Black women are pushed by society to align with a certain ideal of beauty. Our natural selves aren’t always appreciated, especially in the workplace and in schools*. If we put wigs and weaves on is to be socially accepted and to have an easier life. It’s almost a matter of survival. When society, you, will be able to appreciate everyone for who they are, we won’t have this problem anymore.

We must not forget that we have also been conditioned to believe that our hair, skin, noses, lips are ugly and unattractive. As Black people we need to empower each other and understand that we, too, are beautiful. Hopefully, with time, we will be able to love who we are and stop changing our bodies.

I will always wonder why White people have to appropriate our cultures and features. Is it necessary?

I love Indian clothing but I would never go and buy a Sari just because it looks nice. It’s a culture not a costume.

You don’t need to be in a culture to appreciate it, you can do it from afar.

The Love Life of an Asian Guy put it out perfectly:

“You wanna talk about cultural APPROPRIATION vs cultural APPRECIATION? Fine.

Answer this:

At what point in your “appreciation” did you suddenly decide to switch from observing the culture to actually inserting yourself into it?

That’s what I don’t get. I don’t get where folks find the gusto to stand up and say, “Damn, that traditional dance was beautiful! But it’s missing something…. ME! I’m gonna do it myself!”

What? You can’t just support the people who have been doing it longer than you’ve lived? You can’t just visit the festivals or travel to the native land or watch them on YouTube? Is there an ominous being hovering over your shoulder, force choking your pale ass into a dashiki?

When you dress up as a shitty white samurai or an Asian in a native headdress, you aren’t doing it out of appreciation. You’re doing it for fun. You’re doing it to play dress up. Your crappy outfit ain’t going to electrify the Natives with your bootleg cosplay.

“Wow! That white dude is shaking things up for the Native community with his cardboard box headdress! Let’s make him our new leader!”

Cause let’s face it, if you’re wearing a Kimono in Kentucky or a Sari in San Francisco, and you’re NOT from that culture, chances are, you didn’t HAVE to wear it. You could have thrown on the two-sizes-too-small sweater you got for Christmas, or even the full-body, latex sex suit you found in the sale bin at Goodwill.

Bottom line: You can appreciate a culture by being a spectator. You can observe how they do it, film it, put it on Instagram with the tag ‪#‎CulturesRcool‬, talk about it during summer class, donate to their cause, befriend the members of the community, visit their restaurants and businesses, vote for policies that positively affect them, or simply watch and be in awe.


So do that instead of your “appreciation” BS.”

Our cultures, skins, hair are not fashion statements. We are not costumes.




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Posted by on April 3, 2016 in Uncategorized


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On the violence and toxicity of Whiteness (Conclusion)


After three years of university, I decided I needed some time off to rest and put my life into perspective.

I applied as au pair girl in Germany where I will be staying until May. It wasn’t a big deal. I chose a family, bought my ticket and moved to Germany for the second time.

Never in my life would I have imagined that after my experience in the UK being in an exclusively White environment would have been that hard.

I had spent my whole life with White people so I thought it would be the same thing which is actually true. The difference is that now I know and I’m aware of racism and most importantly micro-aggresions.

Micro-aggression is defined as “a subtle but offensive comment or action directed at a minority orother nondominant group that is often unintentional or unconsciously reinforces a stereotype” or “the use of such subtle but offensive comments or actions” (

Micro-aggressions are difficult to decipher and grasp. Being at the receiving end of them is exhausting and draining. You are never sure if something happened to you because of your skin-colour or not. You’re always doubting, over-thinking, asking questions, playing the scene over and over again in your head to fully comprehend what took place in the hope that it really didn’t have anything to do with the colour of your skin.

Ever since I left Birmingham I’ve become very sensitive and can pick up all instances of micro-aggression and racism. I was naive and happy when I knew nothing, or very little, about racism but now it has become a burden. Ignorance really is bliss.

The stares that I didn’t even notice and could easily ignore have become so extremely heavy. During the first couple of weeks, it didn’t bother me that much. But with time and many little, micro-aggressive episodes later, I couldn’t take it anymore. I still can’t cope with the way White people look at me.

The thing I’m missing the most is someone to talk to, someone like me that can understand how it is to be us (this is why I vent on social media this much and write a lot).

I tried to have those conversations with my au pair family but I gave up. It’s not the same with White people. I wasted too much time and energy trying to explain what I meant and what I went through. I was tired of emotionally debilitating myself.

I tried to avoid any type of conversation about Black/African people, immigrants and Muslims but they kept on coming in. It was very frustrating to hear White people talk about the people I identify within such an ignorant manner.

I managed to resist for a long time but then it was enough.

Two episodes made me understand that I had to finally do something about it. Once some friends of my au pair family came to dine with us and the rudeness I experienced almost made me cry. The second event was at a birthday party where I was talking to someone about what I wanted to do in the future. My au pair father said for the umpteenth time that I wouldn’t stay or resist in Africa for more than five years (check “Taking my White mask off” to see how it went).

Racism causes stress. Black people are more likely to develop mental health issues and have a shorter life span because of what we go through. For the first time in my life I felt that stress. I was scared of meeting new White people.

When my family’s friends came home, my heart started beating faster and I started to shake. I was scared of living the same thing over and over again. The same looks and stares, the same questions, the same type of curiosity (very objectifying and human zoo-ish). I was scared and still am scared of micro-aggressive, racist comments that will only be understood by me.

Would have I still chosen a White family if I had known back then what I now know about racism? No, I wouldn’t have. Why put myself into that type of situation? But it happened (for a reason I guess) and I don’t regret it.

I had learned the theory in England, but Germany showed me the practice and the reality. I’ve learned a lot even if it hurt me. Life can be hard sometimes but we need to make the best out of it and find positivity in the midst of negativity. This is how I personally win my battles.

There’s nothing better than experience. It is a great teacher.

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Posted by on March 19, 2016 in Uncategorized


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On the violence and toxicity of Whiteness (Part 3)


And then I moved to Birmingham, UK.

That was the most beautiful, eye-opening, wonderful year in my entire life. I met so many beautiful souls that have, maybe unawarely, taught me so much about myself.

Most of the people I surrounded myself with were of African and Asian descent. We share common life experiences since we all have to deal with White supremacy, racism and the legacy of colonialism.

The very first thing I did was to find an association I could join. BEMA (Black and Ethnic Minorites Association).

The first major event organised by BEMA was Black History Month. Entering rooms full of beautiful, Black people made me so incredibly happy. I kind of hoped it would last the whole year. I was inspired and had so many questions so I started reading book after book after book.

As Frederick Douglass said “The more I read, the more I was led to abhor and detest my enslavers”. In a similar way, the more I read, the more I hated the lies I was fed with ever since I was born.

University of Birmingham offered a course on “African history”. I enrolled in hoping to learn something more about my land. My initial excitment was soon replaced by a deep sense of disappointment.

First of all, I assumed that an African person would be the teacher, because you know “African history”, but I was wrong. The curriculum was just a disaster. The vast majority of works we read and analysed were written by White, cis, middle-aged men.

I couldn’t believe it when I asked my teacher when we were going to read something written by Africans and she replied “we will read slave accounts”.

That disappointment became frustration and that frustration turned into anger. I tried to use that energy to think, read and write more (as I’m currently still doing) and to take parts in events and manifestations.

Malaak Shabazz (daughter of Dr. Betty Shabazz and Malcolm X) is actually the one who taught me how to use anger in a constructive way.

Not only did I meet her, but I also had the incredible opportunity to meet Patrisse Khan-Cullors (co-founder of Black Lives Matter) and Runoko Rashidi (historian).

I also was engaged with cases of police brutality such as the case of Kingsley Burrell (

Police brutality was something I had never heard of before. I knew the police weren’t my firends, my parents taught me how to behave with them, but I didn’t know what they were capable of and that it existed on European soil. Police brutality exclusively rhymed with USA.

Learning about all the injustices that Black people and non-Black POC face made me realise many things.

  1. Racism is well, alive and kicking all over Europe. It’s different from country to country but it’s there.
  2. We’re not safe, regardless of the fact that we were born and raised in Europe.
  3. To survive in this hostile environment we have to toughen up and be strong.
  4. Europe has a strong colonial legacy that she doesn’t want to recognize and that is still shaping the way she deals with us.

2014-2015 was also an exhausting year due to all the killings of Black people in the States, in Brazil, in the UK and so on.

I became more knowledgeable of the situation of Black people around the world, the causes and the effects. I learned a lot about Pan-Africanism, spent time studying prominent figures such as Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey, Kwame Nkrumah and understood that all people of African descent go through the same struggles.

I firmly believe that once Africa is freed from the yoke of neo-colonialism and imperialism, when she becomes a world power and is respected, every single African person, within and without the continent, will be respected and treated as a human being.

In England, I discriminated against White people on purpose. After two decades of being surrounded by them, I needed to give myself time and space to be with people who are like me.

I didn’t actively look for White friends, but since I was engaged in many activities I met quite a few. They, too, fight against a system that is hurting us all and it was encouraging to see that they were aware of their privilege and that they were there to help us dismantle White supremacy.

By sticking with Black people I learned to love myself, our Blackness, our Africannes, our history. Whiteness taught me to feel bad about myself and to feel inferior. That inferiority complex manifested itself in many different ways: I wasn’t proud of my African heritage, I hated my hair and I didn’t want to speak what is supposed to be my mother tongue.

Now, I’m trying to make up for it.

Before moving to England I was unaware of the complexity and history of racism and White supremacy. I’m still learning and I hope I will be able to use my knowledge in a positive and constructive manner.

On September 2015 I moved to Germany once again as an au pair girl. I couldn’t have imagined that getting so much information would give me so many problems.

Everything I had learned in Birmingham became a tangible reality.

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Posted by on March 12, 2016 in Uncategorized


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