I hate that line, refugees welcome. All it says too me is it matters who you are whether you are welcome or not. As far as I am concerned, I don’t care about your past. I am more interested in what you’re up to next. Obviously, not everybody here in Germany thinks so. But the voices demanding that those who do should speak up are getting louder; and this is my turn.
The other day I came across this post, where Kurzhaarschnitt introduces us to his late grandmother who came to the part of Germany where I’m from as a refugee after WW II. He talks about the lovely person she was and what she meant to him, and how hard she worked along with everybody else after the war. He tells us that she had to flee her home, and he asks for just the same support his granny got when she came to be granted those who are losing their homes right now. Nothing more than food, a home and the opportunity to work towards a better future for their families.
I admitted in my comment that I know that part of history from the other perspective. The perspective of those who did not get housing because refugees were getting aid first. The perspective of those who were forced to share their homes with refugees. It was not all ‚refugees welcome‘, and people felt free to admit that. But never have I heard even a single word like the refugees had no right to be there or that it was wrong to help them. Not once. It was tough, and there was no reason to pretend it was not. But it was the right thing to do, helping those who had lost everything.
In the early 90ies, when my mom did not find a new flat for her and her three kids when she attempted to leave my alcohol addicted father, because housing was given to those who fled Eastern Europe, that approach had slightly changed already. When people feel like their needs are not met because strangers are served first, it is hard to keep up the feeling that refugees should get help. And today, it is even worse.
In situations where refugees sleep on the street in Berlin, some radical morons burn down houses where refugees are expected to move in. Politicians playing the game of ‚whose benefits shall we cut to help the refugees‘ could as well light up homes themselves. When I talk to people about the situation, I often hear they are full of worries, and a main concern is: „They are all men! You only see young, strong men.“ And that is meant to serve as an argument that those who are coming want no good and require no help. It is the stereotyped fear of the black man, and it’s disgusting!
Have you ever met a celebrity on the street after seeing them on screen? And have you been surprised how small and skinny they were? The screen makes you fat. If all your experience with refugees is watching the news – big, black men jumping on trains in Calais – I strongly encourage you to visit a refugee camp and face the people who scare you so much. I went there. And I saw fully grown men so skinny that my teenage boy’s jeans which I donated, were no fit, because the jeans of a 14 year old boy were too wide. And my son is a skinny bitch! People depending on food and clothes donations scare you?
I am not a socio-romantic idiot. I know that not all people currently coming to Germany are refugees or entitled to asylum. I am the first one to send home men who would not shake the hand of a woman due to their weird macho-culture. But requesting asylum is a human right. Asking for protection is a human right. The public debate does not differentiate between migrants (legal or illegal), asylum seekers or refugees. But: You cannot see in a person’s face to which group he or she belongs. Who am I to judge whether anybody’s request for protection is valid or not? There are procedures in place to differentiate and act accordingly. Those procedures are not perfect. Fight to make them better. Ask why there are no job openings for social workers or administrative staff when our communities are so overwhelmed with the number of refugees???
Demand from European politicians to share the responsibility between our countries. I don’t want to see pictures from Kos, Greece, where refugees arrive on the shore while tourists happily move on with their yoga poses. I can’t eat as much as I want to vomit! How ignorant, how full must you be to not stop your path to enlightenment when you see people in need!!??!!
In the current debate reasons for migration are widely ignored. They are too complex to be covered in one post. Unfortunately, they are also too complex for many to understand. So they cling to their fear and prejudices. We cannot allow them to rule the debate because they shout louder than those of us who tend to behave respectfully. I will no longer stay silent.
Willkommen in Deutschland. Welcome to Germany. May you find what you are looking for. Should we meet, I am looking forward to hearing your story and sharing a cup of coffee.
Cheers, Frau Junge