Black in Germany: an American expat’s point of view

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Personal Thoughts / Opinion

Growing up in an all Black neighborhood in East Atlanta, I never felt like the minority. I never had to research hair salons or ask five different people where I could find a particular product because the Afro products and services were easily accessible. There were specialty salons for the natural hair, weaves, locs and some that did any style that could fit on your head. Even while living in London, I knew how to find the community of products and services tailored to us. However, after moving from Atlanta to London and now Berlin, I’ve become not just aware that I am black but hyperaware. I can literally count on one hand how many black people I see in each day.

Luckily, I’ve never had a negative experience in Europe that happened to me simply because I am a dark-skinned black woman. Although, I do believe the treatment from non-Blacks is whether or not I am Black from Africa (presumably being poor) or a Westernized Black person (which I am for being American). This presumption of not having money is also reflected in the network of haircare and beauty products for people of Almond, Chocolate, or Coffee skin tones. You’d rarely see deep shades at you average Drogerie in Berlin. I also found it difficult finding a hairstylist or at least a network of people to direct me someone who was an expert at caring for my locs.

The beautiful thing about CURL is that it challenges the norm of hair and beauty trends by Eurocentric standards. CURL contributes to the elevated approach that Black hair and beauty isn’t just one hairstyle and one type of product, but multifaceted and multidimensional. That there are indeed levels to this ish….

Photo courtesy of    Man Repeller

Photo courtesy of Man Repeller

...and the first time, I was in a room full of beautiful black and brown people who look straight out of a magazine. The CURL Ambassador Event had that same variety of black and brown beauty that I knew all too well in Atlanta. There were well-known people like Toni Dreher and Sandra Lambeck who were even more stunning in person as they are on social media. The energy and excitement of CURL was felt by everyone, which confirmed a strong desire to bring more focus to the market of Black people in Germany. I could also see that many of the Influencers already knew each other and that their reach of over 2.9 million people would surely make an impact.

CURL Founder Nana Addison, speaking at CURL Ambassador Event on 21 March 2019, (C) Philipp Primus

CURL Founder Nana Addison, speaking at CURL Ambassador Event on 21 March 2019, (C) Philipp Primus

I love that the Black community here feels very close-knit. There’s an idea called ‘six degrees of separation’, but the room felt more like two, which was a beautiful thing to witness. Being in a room of Influencers that reach over 2.9 million people, solidifies the notion that we as a people are trendsetters. The solution to hair and beauty brands lack of visibility in Germany could be solved by endorsing the actual people that set the trends, and not the other way around. One of the goals of CURL is to provide a platform where no person of color, with curly or kinky hair, and darker skin has to look too far to find their Afro lifestyle community. A community that uplifts and celebrates the millions of people of color in Germany that should be reflected within the hair and beauty industry.

Author photographed (left) at the CURL Ambassador Event on 21 March 2019, (C) Philipp Primus

Author photographed (left) at the CURL Ambassador Event on 21 March 2019, (C) Philipp Primus

Author: Danielle Bullock, @daveranicole