What all three artists have in common is the fact that they've had to think about these things, having experienced racism and xenophobia throughout their lives. They reveal what they hope the #MeTwo debate on social media will achieve and how they define their own identities.

Michel Abdollahi, performance artist with Iranian roots (photo: Asja Caspari)
Michel Abdollahi: "Home is where my bed is. And that happens to be Hamburg"

Michel Abdollahi is a journalist and prize-winning performance artist who focuses on performance poetry. He was born in Tehran in 1981 and moved to Germany when he was five years old. In 2000, he got actively involved in poetry slams in Germany and beyond. Later he co-founded "Kampf der Künste" (translation: "battle of the arts"), which has become Europe's largest platform specialising in performance poetry. Abdollahi thinks of himself as Iranian-German but above all, identifies with his home town, Hamburg.

"Home is where my bed is. Always. And that happens to be Hamburg. However, I also have a bed in Iran, where I sleep whenever I'm there. But Germany is where I most feel at home.

Iran is where I came from. It is part of my culture, part of my heart. It's also a place I know well and where I also enjoy being, but since I'm not always there, I'm not involved with that society. But it's still part of my identity. Identities can change, adapt, mould. Identities are diverse by definition. There is no single ONE identity.

There's racism in Germany. We all know that. All of us who are regarded as 'migrants' know that there is an underlying casual racism, in addition to that ugly kind of heavy racism that is easier to call out. I experience racism every day. Just take a look at my Facebook and Twitter profiles and see for yourself.

At last people are talking about this. People are sharing their experiences openly. Still, there are those who will say, 'You're just making all this up.' That's hard to swallow, I find. The way that things are going I can't imagine that there is a day on the horizon somewhere where all people in Germany will embrace me as one of their own. But you know what, that doesn't hurt me. What hurts is when people tell me to go back to my own country. That's something I can't accept."

Idyl Baydar, a comedian and actress was born in Lower Saxony. Her parents came from Turkey (photo: Cengiz Karahan)
Idil Baydar aka Jilet Ayse: "I don't want to find myself in a situation where others get to decide how German I am"

Idil Baydar was born in Celle, a town in Lower Saxony, in 1975. She is an actress and comedian. Her parents moved to Germany from Turkey. She became famous on YouTube for her alter-ego "Jilet Ayse" – and 18-year-old Turkish girl living in the multicultural Berlin neighbourhood of Kreuzberg. The character is based on students she interacted with while working as a social worker at a Berlin school. In her skits, Baydar like to confront her audience squarely with the kinds of prejudice that people with a foreign background are often subjected to in Germany.

"What I notice a lot is the fact that our politicians seem to have no interest whatsoever in combatting casual racism. There are maybe a couple of token projects against racism, but no real change, no real initiative to define and criminalise racism. No one is interested in that. If I go to the police and tell them that I've been discriminated against and have had to suffer racist slurs, no one even takes notice.

Germany is where I live and can live. But I don't know how long that will still be the case. It depends entirely on the direction that things take. I do think about my alternatives in case right-wing ideologies, such as those espoused by the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, should become the new status quo.

I don't want to find myself in a situation where others get to decide how German I am. Why should someone other than myself get to have the privilege of interpreting my identity? This has nothing to do with civil emancipation. Nothing."

More on this topic
In submitting this comment, the reader accepts the following terms and conditions: Qantara.de reserves the right to edit or delete comments or not to publish them. This applies in particular to defamatory, racist, personal, or irrelevant comments or comments written in dialects or languages other than English. Comments submitted by readers using fantasy names or intentionally false names will not be published. Qantara.de will not provide information on the telephone. Readers' comments can be found by Google and other search engines.
To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.