Interviewing Tibor Sturm and An Introduction of His Book “They called me Necktie N-Word: A Black child in white Germany”

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Interviewing Tibor Sturm

Today, we have the pleasure to interview Tibor Sturm, author of “They called me Necktie N-Word: A Black child in white Germany.” Tibor learned to hide his anger behind a smile from a young age. Growing up Black in Germany in the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s was not an easy experience, and he bottled up all his rage because even a single sharp remark could result in overly harsh penalties. All that anger finally found an outlet in his memoir, his story that he hopes will open the eyes of the world to the truth behind racism–it is everywhere. Tibor is a Globetrotter from Germany with his wife their children. He hopes his children will grow up in a better world and that the Black Lives Matter movement will open a line of communication and eventually change for every black person. In his downtime, Tibor enjoys fishing and being an incredible dad. He hopes to spark change and inspire others to speak up about their experiences because one voice can be lost in a crowd, but many voices can be deafening and impossible to ignore. So speak up and be heard!

According to Tibor, what motivated him to write this book is after he studied being a psychotherapist and took hypnosis sessions. These brought out long-hidden trauma from his childhood, and so he had to write this book to provide testimony to the long history of racism. Tibor got information and ideas for this book from his life as a Black German child in a small Bavarian town. His life experience gave him enough ideas and motivation for this book. In this book, his favorite part of the book is the part about his first great love, and the carefree, short time we were allowed to have together is what he likes most. It took him six months to complete the book because his family gave him time to write it.

Introduction of the Book

The book, “They called me Necktie N-Word: A Black child in white Germany,” is about the author’s life as the only Black child growing up in a little white German town. His first years were full of racist insults and a mother who never could love him as a son normally. This is because of a brutal family secret that she revealed as he was 13 years old. This story was a big fight for himself. He became a wanderer and traveled from town to town to find himself and the meaning of being Black overall. The author met his mentor Harry Belafonte who told the author stories about MLK and Obama that made up his mind. The book is even about German Police brutality and structured racism in the German Police.

Excerpts from the book

So I lived with foster family Schmidt well before my first birthday. Hans Schmidt was a journalist and covered the globe. He traveled the countries of the world in a big pink camper van and wrote reports about the Middle East, North Africa and so on. The Schmidts play a central role with regard to my own racializing. When I visited them again in the early 80s, I became aware of the role my being Black played in my life and the power differences that existed with white people. One thing is certain: The back and forth of my childhood made me restless and internally unstable. Throughout my life, I kept asking myself, “What world was I born into and why am I like this?” The starting point of this confrontation was certainly my time with the Schmidts. It remains a mystery to this day why I first came to the Schmidts, only to leave them again in 1977. Anyway, I came back to M. and her husband, my father Eduard. She had married him during my absence in 1976.

Racism is not logical, Harry Belafonte once told me. I met him once through his daughter Gina, whom I happened to know. Harry taught me more than any other Black person in my life. His stories about different issues showed me that if you want to make great things happen, it’s worth holding on to your opinions and ideals. For example, even as host of the Tonight Show, he had interviewed Robert F. Kennedy. The latter had good contacts with the Justice Department and in 1958 had the idea that the U.S. government should send a sympathetic message in view of the peaceful protests in Birmingham.

If officers happen to meet one, they take down the personal data, because he might have done something wrong, and then it’s good to have the information at hand.” I replied that statistically, the most common crimes are committed by white people. Maybe he should rather stand in front of a bank and ask for the personal data of all customers, because a bank robber could be among them. He didn’t understand that. This is also a phenomenon of white racism: people do not understand or do not want to understand. Racism is group-based misanthropy. It affects Blacks, Asians, or other people who stand out in the majority white society primarily because of their appearance or cultural characteristics. This also applies to sexual orientation. The white majority is so full of prejudice that it does not accept the minorities. I now play out this clash between majority and minorities in my “Blue-Eyed” workshops. I learned the concept for this from Jane Elliott. Her workshop is based on an experiment that shows the harsh, unfair face of racism. Participants often burst into tears when they experience exclusion themselves for the first time and feel the pain that racism causes.

Until today, until this book, I have not talked to anyone about all these experiences. While there were witnesses to some episodes around me, I don’t think anyone grasped the full magnitude of it. We Black people pay a heavy price for being born with more melanin in our skin.

It’s bad when many white people claim about us that we all look “the same.” They never tire of claiming that it’s “not so bad” or “no offense at all” to use terms like n*****, bimbo (i.e. darkie) or M*****kopf (German pejorative term for a small chocolate-covered cake filled with foamy sugar).” But anyone who argues like this is obstructing an even-handed discussion. We should all be clear about this: Everyday racism is an inherent part of Germany and every other country. Even as children, we acquire racist mental patterns

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