Essentially true. I can relate one personal story as to how my own “privilege”–as a holder of a blue passport–deflated or redirected German racism away from me.
Three years ago I was stricken with a nasty case of jock itch that I swore was herpes simplex. When I hustled down Kottbusser Damm to the VD clinic, I was confronted with an old crone who proceeded to ask for my insurance card in the typical snippy, snide Berlin manner. I chalked it up to yet another case of Berliner Schnauze bullshit until she requested rather rudely to see my passport. When I produced my dark-blue American passport, I noted a subtle yet plainly obvious shift in the tone in which she dealt with me. The Schnauze was still in full effect, but the edge was gone, replaced with a somewhat begrudging respect that was NOT in effect thirty seconds earlier.
I was bewildered by the sudden shift in attitude for a few minutes but soon realized that my blue passport had immediately placed me in a higher category of “neger.” A sobering thought, but at least–as I later learned that morning, after Herr Doktor examined me–I didn’t have herpes.
By Arah Iloabugichukwu
A few weeks ago I came across a Facebook post that stated the following: “Black Americans are the White people of the global Black community” — No doubt a play on a controversial thinkpiece discussing Black male privilege written by Damon Young of The Root. I thought to myself, if people can draw a correlation between the most privileged group in America and one of the most oppressed groups in America, surely this concept should be a cake walk. Right? Wrong.
Despite the poster’s back and forth banter with a few of the more curious commentators, the thread was riddled with accusations, assumptions, and insults. Every now and then, you’d see a non-American make a snide comment like, “The power of the blue passport,” before quickly shuffling back into the shadows. We all watched the simultaneous denial and display, not sure whether to be offended or…
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