“Black Like Me” in Germany

It's a very serious matter, but I must say that I came near to wetting myself from laughter at this pic (lifted from the Danish newspaper Politiken) of Günter Wallraff,  a famous German investigative reporter who went undercover as a Somali immigrant in painfully unconvincing blackface. 

Famous German investigative journalist Günter Wallraff in "disguise" as a Somali immigrant

He has written a book and created a film about the open racism he encountered at every turn in daily life. I'm reminded as an American of the famous experiment carried out by a Texan journalist John Howard Griffin, who traveled f0r 6 weeks through the South in disguise as a black man in 1959 and then published a searing account of the ubiquitous racism he found (in some cases from people who'd received him warmly the previous day as a white man) in Black Like Me.

I don't think the prejudice and discrimination Wallraff encountered will surprise anybody who follows developments in German society with any regularity, but it is nonetheless a bit perplexing that so many people could be taken in by this comically inept disguise. Hence this observation from an article in the UK's Time Online:

Philipp Lichterbeck, film critic for the Tagesspiegel newspaper,
that Mr Wallraff’s disguise made him look like a clown. The fact that
suspected that something was amiss, he says, “does not exactly testify
the worldliness of the Germans”.

Seems to me that have to be seriously, well, inbred not to find something a bit queer about this supposed "Somali" gentleman.

The shirt is simply divine, though. As is the horrified stare of the young guy.

Update: I finally put my finger on why this particular image was so familiar. Anyone remember this movie?





I miss Gene Wilder (and Richard Prior, needless to say). They were a great team.

  • http://oyhabibti.wordpress.com sabiwabi

    He dressed up like any given male character from a blackspoiltation flick.
    I wouldn’t hate on him, but I would most certainly die from laughter.

  • http://www.shafiifiqh.com Abul Layth

    Really? No one noticed his fake blackness? Hard to believe. On another note, I am surprised at the racism he received in such a “liberal democracy”, or wait, maybe they still are nazis!

  • http://akramsrazor.typepad.com svend

    The article I read didn’t discuss how many if any people saw through the disguise, so I have no idea.
    Well, I think Germany is a pretty good model politically in a lot of ways–e.g., they’re pretty pacifistic, more self-critical than Americans, and serious about the environment–but they do have a minority that is racist, thuggish and very resentful of the humiliation their nation has gone through as a result of WWII and the Holocaust.

  • http://www.lenardbradley.com lenard bradley

    This dude is gone straight magnun, bad
    makeup and hair job.

  • Ayşe

    Unfortunately, I don’t know if it’s only a ‘minority’ of Germans that are racist/resentful — or perhaps it is just a very vocal one? Many Turkish relatives of mine living there have experienced a great deal of discrimination.