Meet Caro from Berlin! Raised in Germany from the age of two, Caro has German-Dominican parents. Her self-perception is German. Whenever she meets full on Germans who don’t know her, she is asked where she is really from, although her German is perfect. The motivation for that question is benign in Caro’s eyes. However, the effect on her is, that she feels like a foreign part of society, as if she does not belong. During Caro’s 1 year school stay in the US, she felt more accepted, as the US students where more diverse within themselves!
The practice of diversity seems to be a well overlooked fact, when we talk about tolerance and diversity in Germany. As simple as it sounds. We need more diverse positive role-models for example in schools, on TV, in Magazines or politics. That way it will become normal, that Germans of all backgrounds feel they belong and can thrive within this society. That way we can bond and couple with diverse people. That way we identify with each other and create common values. The “me” and “them” could be dissolved.
My photography is an expression of that feeling, that our surrounding shapes us. We are not only our own perception, but what others see in us. This can have positive as well as destabilising effects, as in the case of Caro. Nationalism helps reinforce the destabilising effects on migrants. Nationalism was a result of the end of many big empires. With today’s globalised reality in society, nationalism seems to hold us back.
Why did I reflect Caro with the public transportation train, S-Bahn, in Berlin? That was one of the things she missed most, spending one year in a typical US town. Safe public transportation gives Caro the freedom to meet her friends independently from the schedule of her parents. In a typical US town, you would need a car and before a certain age, your parents, to move around.
Writer and photographer: Semra Sevin
Crossing Identities is a project, sponsored by the Berlin Senate