Let me also say a word about the hangouts this past week. I haven’t looked at my students’ write-ups yet, so maybe this will change, but from talking with the students who were here today it seems like they were a great success. In particular there was a lot of discussion about terminology, naming in the various locations. My students were particularly intrigued with how to use the word “black,” and more than one said that they had really interesting conversations with the Americans (especially the African American students) about what sorts of terms are appropriate and what are not, and who counts as “black” and who doesn’t. Because I have German students as well as students who have all spent time in Germany, I think they felt they had something to contribute in return about how “schwarz” gets used (or not) and the discomfort that white Germans/Europeans feel even wrapping their tongue around the word.

It seems to me that if part of our purpose in this was to get students to know one another and share experiences in a constructive and friendly way, then this has worked for my students. And I’m pleased to see further that their conversations helped them think about ideas that I didn’t feel we’d really gotten into enough in class.

How did yours go?



One thought on “Hangouts

  1. Having read through the reflections now, I find my points above confirmed, and I can push them a bit further. It seems that students were of varying opinions on the degree to which blackness and Germanness are mutually exclusive categories, with my white European students generally more willing to accept the premise that most Germans can accept black Germans as unproblematic. And the emphasis on terminology was really important for getting them to grapple with the complexity of naming, especially with regard to the different meanings of “blackness.” They seemed to be talking in particular about how we should talk about difference in a society that is supposed to be equal, not care about race, and whether acknowledging race/difference in any form simply reinforces distinctions.


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