In Audre’s Footsteps beautifully portrays intergenerational, queer feminist conversations, which reach across national boundaries and honor the visions of our ancestors. Each encounter is marked by a vulnerability and openness to express pain, and yet, simultaneously, the resulting exchange focuses on how to transform and transcend. To look beyond. This book is an incredible addition to the Witnessed Series and a precious gift to us all.
—Sharon Dodua Otoo (Witnessed Series Editor) from the “Preface,” In Audre’s Footsteps: Transnational Kitchen Table Talk
Rest in perfect peace, paradise, and power, Erika “Ika” Hügel-Marshall.
March 13, 1947 to April 21, 2022
Me and Ika (November 2021)
Many years have now passed, and Heidi is still interested in the further development of the Black Diasporic movement in Germany and in transnational exchange. She remains committed to ensuring students broaden their view of Germany with its still too obscure Black history, especially because many in the U.S. who are familiar with the work of Audre Lorde often do not know her impact and the significance of her Berlin years. It is precisely these lessons that Heidi makes possible for her students through direct experiences and encounters.
—Ria Cheatom, Ika Hügel-Marshall, Judy Gummich, and Jasmin Eding from the “Foreword,” In Audre’s Footsteps: Transnational Kitchen Table Talk
Most of the conversations [in In Audre’s Footsteps] happened at kitchen tables or over meals to reflect the true nature of our friendships and honor the traditions set forth by the elders and ancestors who continue to make our cultural, political, and personal work possible. With In Audre’s Footsteps, we offer ourselves as another “communication network” in service to “the struggles for freedom of all our peoples.” In doing so, we grapple with the contours of solidarity, friendship, processes of radicalization, critical pedagogy, the challenges of building and resisting simultaneously, romantic partnership, motherhood, knowledge production and dissemination, and so very much more. We do this not to provide answers or solutions. We do this not in pursuit of sameness. We do this to generate ideas and questions. We do this to nurture the kind of dialogue that has sustained us. We do this, because as Audre points out in Showing Our Colors, “To successfully battle the many faces of institutionalized racial oppression, we must share the strengths of each other’s vision as well as the weaponries born of particular experience. First, we must recognize each other.” —Dr. Heidi R. Lewis from the “Introduction,” In Audre’s Footsteps: Transnational Kitchen Table Talk
Creating Spaces to Fully Express Our Blackness: A Conversation with Katja Kinder, Peggy Piesche, Prof. Dr. Maisha Maureen Auma of Generation Adefra: Black Women in Germany
Katja Kinder, Eki Ani, Dr. Heidi R. Lewis, Prof. Dr. Maisha Auma, Deborah G. Moses-Sanks, and Peggy Piesche
Generation Adefra is a socio-cultural space defined by and for Black women and gender independent people, whose contribution to social movements is often minimized if not rendered invisible. Their focus is on creating movement spaces that aim to connect Black lives while honoring their complexities, intersectionality, diversity and differences. Movement spaces are often romanticized and examined through rose-colored glasses as spaces of common understanding and unity, but how can we connect across differences in space, time, and identity, particularly when we’re in conflict with each other? How do we create spaces in which we are able to express our Blackness fully?
When we share our stories with each other, it’s vital that we be vulnerable. I can’t listen through layers upon layers in order to understand that person’s core. Their vulnerability has to be shown before they can be fully heard. Then, even if I don’t agree with what that person is saying, I can at least take what they are saying seriously.
This question of how we as a community, as a collective, can envision a future which is borne out of intergenerational love and love for community allows us to survive the atrocities in the physical places in which we live. The older I get, the more I see how imperative it is to work from a strong foundation of love for community. From there we can build our own chosen families. Here I’m able to achieve a feeling I couldn’t within my own biological family. That love is political. —Peggy Piesche
We are taught not to love blackness, not to love ourselves, and we are also taught not to give each other dignity. It’s becoming clearer to me that actually seeing each other with tenderness, to experience those small moments of Black joy that are part of our daily routine, are incredibly important. Yes, there’s that foundation of love, but it’s also a foundation of Black joy.
—Prof. Dr. Maisha Auma
Katja Kinder, born in Berlin-West in 1966, is an educator, empowerment trainer, diversity leader, and conflict mediator. She taught German as a second language and Gender and Diversity Studies courses in Berlin and Stendal from 1990-2017, and she is currently the Managing Director of the NGO RAA-Berlin, an Education Rights Agency for BPOC communities. Katja is a founding member of the Black queer-feminist organization Generation Adefra: Black Women in Germany, a Black feminist thinktank she leads with Prof. Dr. Maisha Auma and Peggy Piesche. Through this platform, they carry out different strategies against anti-Black racism and develop Black feminist knowledge production.
Peggy Piesche, born and raised in Arnstadt/GDR, is a literary and Cultural Studies scholar. She is heading the Department of Political Education and Plural Democracy at the Federal Agency for Civic Education (bpb) with a focus on diversity, intersectionality, and decoloniality. She is also an activist with Adefra: Black Women in Germany and a board member of the Association of the Worldwide Study of the African Diaspora (ASWAD).
Prof. Dr. Maisha M. Auma is an educator, Gender Studies scholar, and activist. Her research focuses on diversity, inequality, and plurality in textbooks and didactical materials in East and West Germany, intersectional sexual education as empowerment for Black communities and communities of color, critical whiteness, intersectionality, decoloniality, and critical race theory. She has been Professor for Childhood and Difference (Diversity Studies) at the University for Applied Sciences, Magdeburg – Stendal since 2008, a Visiting Professor at the Centre for Transdisciplinary Gender Studies and the Institute of Education at the Humboldt University Berlin from 2014-2019, and a Visiting Professor at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies of the Technical University Berlin from 2020-2021. She currently holds the Audre Lorde Guest Professorship for Intersectional Diversity Studies in the Diversity and Gender Equality Network (DiGENet) of the Berlin University Alliance (BUA). Prof. Dr. Auma has been active in the Black queer-feminist collective Adefra: Black Women in Germany since 1993. Together with Peggy Piesche and Katja Kinder, she also carried out a consultation process in cooperation with the LADS, the State Agency for Equal Treatment and Against Discrimination for the State of Berlin, entitled “Making Visible the Discrimination and Social Resilience of People of African Heritage in Berlin” in 2018. It was a project within BLACK BERLIN, the UN-Decade for People of African Heritage 2015-2024.
We Have to Stop Solely Reacting: A Conversation with Iris Rajanayagam
Dr. Heidi R. Lewis and Iris Rajanayagam
As younger generations enter movement spaces, create their own coalition work, and come into their own as political thinkers, it is imperative to preserve the memory of past movements. Here, we ask how can we work against the pressure to constantly produce in order to slow down, study, and better understand the challenges that continue to erode political movements and spaces? Trust is the foundation from which we can exchange knowledge transnationally, but it is also the soil that allows intracommunal healing to take place. So, we discuss the challenges of coalition work, what sustains us in movement spaces, and the importance of finding motivations beyond fighting whiteness to create the existences we envision.
In order to shift the focus to creating, we have to stop solely reacting. Honoring the types of knowledge that give energy back into our community is one way to combat that feeling of being overwhelmed by the enormity of what it is we’re fighting against. Finding motivation through creating, rather than reacting to, is one way to sustain that energy. —Iris Rajanayagam
Iris Rajanayagam is a historian with an M.A. in Modern/Contemporary History from the University of Cologne/Humboldt University Berlin/University of Dar es Salaam. She works on post- and decolonial theories, intersectionality, the politics of memory, and social change, with a focus on the connection of theory and praxis. She is Director of the non-profit organization xart splitta, and she is a researcher and lecturer at the Alice Salomon University of Applied Science. Iris is also co-founder of the radio show Talking Feminisms on Reboot.fm, spokesperson of the Migrationsrat Berlin (Migration Council Berlin), and she was active in The Caravan for the Rights of Refugees and Migrants for many years.