with texts by May Ayim and Julienne De Muirier
«grew up in germany, i’m travelling», wrote May Ayim in 1983, «away from: being a skin colour, being a nationality, / being a religion, being a party, / being tall, being short, being intelligent, being dumb, / being or not being / on the way to me / on the way to you.» The poet, teacher and activist was an influential voice in the ISD (the Initiative for Black Persons in Germany) which began fighting for equal rights in the 1980s. Close exchanges with the African American feminist Audre Lorde led to the coining of the term «afrodeutsch», which makes clear that African and German identities are not mutually exclusive. In the two volumes of poetry that were published before her early death, May Ayim finds a concise, poetic language with which she processes her experiences of racism and lack of understanding alongside her childhood and her desire for love, her joy and her sadness. She plays with sounds, methods of writing and letters, and yet always finds very clear words for what needs to change in Germany.
The director Miriam Ibrahim will devise the play «blues in black and white» together with the writer Julienne De Muirier, combining Ayim’s poems, letters and essays with her echoes in the present.
«Intersectional racism is part of how we are all socialised but it impacts and shapes us in different ways – as individuals or in communities. May Ayim’s texts and poems have given me the feeling that I’m not alone with these issues, but part of a collective of non-white people in Germany. She describes the finely-woven fabric of different experiences, power relations and processes that an African-German woman encounters in various different living spaces and which cause emotion and hurt. She opened a window onto a black experience in Germany at a very early stage and in doing so paved the way form many others to raise their voices and share their experiences and knowledge. As empowerment or as resistance.» Miriam Ibrahim