Hanif Kureishi unhappy at German race questions

21 posts in this topic

Posted

Hanif Kureishi is reported by the Telegraph, in an interesting and wide-ranging article about his life, to have been somewhat offended by questions during a recent trip to Germany. They seem to have reminded him of UK in the 70s

 

http://www.telegraph...f-suburbia.html

 

I thought it might be of interest here. In my experience these sort of questions are usually asked innocently and in a friendly way, and because the person is interested but sometimes the more extreme examples require a thick skin.I know I have had one or two examples of it where ethnic friends were asked why they were there in my group of friends. It's a culture clash.

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Posted

 

Today, he says, Britain has changed and deals with racism well. It struck him just how much on a recent visit to Germany: “People there say to you, are you really English? And you think, what the f--- are you talking about, how dare you talk to me like that? No one here asks you questions like that anymore.”

Seriously, that's the most 'racist' remark he can point to - and that's his reaction?

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Posted

He probably received a "Wieso?" when he said he was English. That's probably what pissed him off.

 

These "Wieso's" piss me off as well.

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Posted

What's a Weiso?

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Posted

It's wieso not weiso.

 

Means literally "how so" ie how come.

 

People say it when they are confronted with something that in their view demands justifying or some explanation.

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Posted

If he lived in Germany, he'd get used to it. Chatting in German to a Mongolian friend recently while waiting in line to get into a lift and the woman in front of us had to turn around every 15 seconds for the usual glare. I don't treat that as racism, more like curiosity mixed with rudeness...best to just ignore it. Looks like it was the same thing Hanif seems to have experienced.

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Posted

His description of questions in Germany in 2012:

 

 

People there say to you, are you really English?

Someone else's description of questions in the UK in 2010, in the Guardian:

 

 

Last weekend, I had The Conversation for the 3,897th time – and this time, it took place in central London just two roads away from the hospital where I was born. As usual, it went like this:

 

Stranger: Where are you from? [Translation: You look a bit brown. Why are you brown?]

Me: London.

Stranger: No, where are you really from? [Translation: You are clearly telling me untruths. Brown people do not come from London.]

When you are in other countries, you are often in different situations and places to the kind you usually get in when you're in your home country. You come across a different kind of people to the kind you'd meet at home - not just because they are foreign but because you are not in the usual kind of place you visit at home. It's easy to make the mistake of comparing those two types of people as 'typical' of your country and the other country.

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Posted

2012, also the Guardian - an article on how British people experience being mixed race - three quotes from different people:

 

 

my answer to the question "where are you from?" never seemed to fully satisfy some people and instead they'd say "no, I mean where are you from?" usually accompanied by a pointed look.

 

 

"Where are you from?" "Cardiff." "Oh … yeah … um." It's a conversation I've had countless times.

 

 

Asking "Yes, but where are you from?" generally doesn't come across well.

 

 

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Posted

German Person: "Are you really English?"

Kureishi: "Yes."

German Person: "That's lucky. To be an Englishman is to win first prize in the lottery of life. If you'd have been a Paki I'd have felt really sorry for you, having to live with all of the shit in that fucked-up country."

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Posted

I actually mostly collect Wiesos from other brown people. They're hoping that I come from their country. Actually, I come from Canada. They believe it (accent) but are disappointed. I relent and tell them my ancestral origin.

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Posted

 

German Person: "That's lucky. To be an Englishman is to win the lottery of life. If you'd have been a Paki I'd have felt really sorry for you, having to live with all of the shit in that fucked-up country."

Except that most of Pakistan is fairly humdrum. Chaotic, often quite poor, but not at all what you see on the news.

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Posted

If you want to see unadulterated integration of humanity, spend a day at the West Edmonton mall or at the Southgate mall of the same city.All races, colours and languages spoken and all do the same; spend money like it is going out of style. No discrimination of any kind noticeable not even staring. Latest imports are Californians who want to experience our winter and make a few bucks as our employment rate is embarrassing low and a lowdown of our development process.So come all and help us get rich. No worry about freezing, the gas price is low and the houses warm, so who cares how cold it is outside? :lol:

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Posted

 

I actually mostly collect Wiesos from other brown people. They're hoping that I come from their country. Actually, I come from Canada. They believe it (accent) but are disappointed. I relent and tell them my ancestral origin.

 

Even more fun if you could tell them they're right, that your parents aren't from Canada. They're from London :)

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Posted

 

Except that most of Pakistan is fairly humdrum. Chaotic, often quite poor, but not at all what you see on the news.

 

Well, you may be right but this is just one other English guy's opinion.

 

 

The change struck him deeply: “I remembered being in Karachi in the Eighties and the liberalism my family lived under then was much under threat,” he says. “Now it’s completely gone. There are no Jews, Christians or Hindus. There are no Chinese restaurants. It has a terrible dead fascist atmosphere.

 

“In the Eighties you used to see women walking around in summer dresses, going to cafés. Now, all the women are heavily covered and not only because they are religious but for fear of being picked up by men. It’s a very frightened place. No one would live there out of choice.”

 

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Posted

 

Well, you may be right but this is just one other English guy's opinion.

What? An Englishman with only one opinion :)

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Posted

It's a very big country, and Karachi a very big city. There's a lot of upheaval, poverty, strange political movements, and so on...but I went to a Chinese restaurant in Karachi not too long ago so I don't know what that Englishman is talking about.

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Posted

Or rather, things HAVE gotten worse in Pakistan, and my mother (left for Canada decades ago) would certain agree it was so, and markedly. It does not mean that it's a monotonous hell-hole whose inhabitants see nothing good about their lives. You can get any of the conveniences and pleasures of the modern world in Karachi and Lahore, if you can stand the traffic. You have slums too in India (seen 'em, I have family connections there too) and China...and Los Angeles. You wouldn't imagine how many Pakistani immigrants to the USA are disappointed to discover the the streets are not paved in gold. And how many brown people in "lower-class" jobs in Germany have half-jokingly asked if I could sponsor their way to Canada. I haven't the heart to tell them that there's no reason why they would do any better there, except that the education system in Canada does take its role as a social equalizer more seriously, I suppose.

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Posted

Of course things have become worse from a stability standpoint. But people live their lives, go to work, school, socialise with friends, get married, celebrate birth and mourn death. Not much different on a daily basis from the lives of Londoners during the IRA bombings. I'll be in Islamabad in 13 days and am very much looking forward to it.

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