Dota – Grenzen (a german song about borders and refugees)

2015-09-10 refugeeswelcomeDota Kerr is a singer-songwriter from Berlin of especially local popularity. She has been making her mixture of intimate acoustic guitar music with poetic everyday life observations revolving around big city life, lover’s grief, cultural and political themes with her trademark witty, intelligent wordplays. Formerly known as Kleingeldprinzessin (princess of small change) and gaining a loyal fanbase by busking, she also integrates elements of Bossa Nova and brasilian traditional music into her music

Dota is going to release a new record on January 15th of next year, and even though it is not yet ready for a proper promo cycle to begin, she released a video of a song of this record that deals with the concept of borders, in order to publish a statement about the current situation of refugees in Germany.

Check out the song in the video and a translation of some lyrics excerpts below. FInd the official german lyrics on Dotas Official Facebook Profile.

(Again we have the problem of translation. The main point of the song is that the german word for borders might stand for borders as well as for „limits“, so every time Dota sings „es gibt Grenzen“ she implies that everything mentioned before is caused by the existence of borders, but also that the circumstances already have crossed the line of the tolerable.)

Who is inside, who is outside?
I draw a line. You must not pass.
Air meets Air here
Ground meets ground
Skin meets the bullet.

There is frontex and push-backs
Fences, weapons, refugee defense conferences
Themediterrean sea becomes a mass grave
There are borders / limits

They lead to nationalism with its nutty consequences
You disfranchise people just because they came from somewhere
There are borders / limits (…)

I sign off, hand me a passport,
that states: „World inhabitant“
Just „world inhabitant“.
Please tell me where to go to for this
I sign off, I re-register
It can’t be so difficult
Just sign me up as world inhabitant.


Media-related Update on Refugees in Germany

German weekly Newspaper DIE ZEIT interviews two medical physicians working voluntarily in the Dresden refugee camp tent city, who report that the conditions of medical care and treatment, hygene and sanitary facilites in the camp are violating German Constitutional Law. Expired medication, no possibilites for sex segregation in sanitary facilities, not enough toilets, incially even without running water, unexperienced, overburdended, but dedicaded voluntary doctors. They speak of a humanitarian catastrophe. This illustrates various points of the recent debate:

  • Germany has been overwhelmed by the recent increases of asylum-seekers arriving here and still is trying to catch up regarding the organization and the regulatory processes.
  • There is a great need of improving the cooperation of the involved parties.
  • Anti-aslyum-seeker-violence and sentiments in various parts of the nation, as well as the reservations certain parts of the political world and the population hold regarding the dimensions of support Germany should offer to these people, have hindered the process of attending them.
  • Additional obstacles in the way are the physical and mental health conditions of the asylum seekers, cultural and language barriers, the recent heat and the vacation period in Germany.

Nevertheless, the great commitment of various civilists and volunteers donating basic necessities or offering their private space for a period of time should not be unmentioned and gives some spark of hope.

The price of the best headline this week officially goes to Foreign Policies. They headed their recent overview on anti-immigrant attitudes, violence and racist actions with the fitting summary: Germany Has a Refugee Problem, and the Problem Is the Germans (english article).

An Intellectual Punch in the Guts // Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly (Album Review)

This is kinda out of my comfort zone for various reasons. Recently, I’ve been repeatedly accused of being contaminated with „white guilt“ (probably not without any reason, considering my status and me being grown up as white, male and european, but my attempts to grow on that field might or might not be the topic of another blog entry). I rarely listen to a lot of HipHop regularily (with a few exceptions). And I’m not informed thoroughly on the topic.

Nevertheless, neither the recent police violence against black adolescents and the subsequent revolts and demonstrations of the population in various areas of the United States nor the current hype of Kendrick Lamar’s sophomore album To Pimp A Butterfly have passed me by without attracting my attention.

2015-08-08 kendrickBy combining deeply personal and self-critical reflections with political statements and historical references, Kendrick Lamar creates a very dense and complex image of the situation of the black community in his country. This record aims at nothing less than being a historical document of the present time – and the most surprising thing is that it succeeds in this ambition. Knowledge of history, the scene, present events and and an untamed sense of vigor, determination and playfulness characterize this record and therefore make it a powerful political statement hard to ignore. The fact that he doesn’t even shy away to cause controversy even in his own camp is remarkable. (I especially love the part where the article states that second single The Blacker The Berry is „delivered with creative venom that made headline writers scramble for to find synonyms for “pissed off” (it’s “blistering,” “scathing,” “seething”)“)

And, not least, he completes the package by a wild and free-spirited combination of HipHop, Funk, Jazz and Soul that not only is incredibly inspiring, but also incredibly catchy and versatile. As rare as it is – listening to this record not only is intellectually overwhelming, but also very much FUN!

Here’s a man very confidently claiming for everyones attention to notice these topics that concern everybody, and he won’t swallow down his anger or leave his argumentative fist hidden in his pocket.

To immerse yourself a little deeper into the man, his music and his mission, i recommend the following articles:

Tl; dnr: Kendrick Lamars sophomore album is a punch in the guts, an intellectual challenge, and an absolute fun to listen to. Even if the revolution still is yet to come, we got the soundtrack right here.

Aprox. 40% of war zone-escaping asylum-seekers suffer from PTSD

According to data from the German Federal Chamber of Psychotherapists, about 40% of the asylum-seekers entering Germany suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The prevalence of this condition stems from the experience of a huge number of stressful and traumatic events they experienced a.) in their homeland, under the conditions of war, violence, poverty and various kinds of deprivation and b.) during their flight to a safer country, including harassment, stigmatization and persecution.

Commemorating the World Refugees Day on June 20th, that was installed by the United Nations General Assembly in 2001, the Federal Chamber of Psychotherapists released a press statement demanding amends in the treatment of refugees seeking asylum in Germany.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is one of the few mental disorders where the influence of an external life event by definition is a causal (or etiological) factor for developing the disorder. Symptoms include hyperarousal, hyper-vigilance, impaired memories of the traumatic event while at the same time experiencing intrusive memories of certain aspects, to the point of full-blown flashbacks.

Eptsd beitragsbild2tiological models of PTSD state that the intensified neurobiological stress reaction during the traumatic situation impairs the encoding of episodic memory aspects, which later on leads to an impaired memory recall. As a result, in certain situations affected people aren’t able to distinguish between the memory of the past traumatic event and the perception of a present situation. When triggered, they repeatedly feel caught in the perception of an immediately impending thread, just as it was during their traumatic experience, again and again during their everyday life. This means that even when these people escaped the lifethreatening situations they experienced, the terror of fearing for their life stays in their minds, not just as a memory, but as actually present.

As the research of Neuner and colleagues shows, there is a strong connection between the number of experienced traumatic event types and the development of PTSD symptoms. In a sample of West Nile Refugees, they found that while 23% people reporting three or less traumatic events types developed an PTSD, it was 100% of the people who reported 28 or more traumatic event types showed the symptoms of the disorder. Therefore they conclude: (…) if the cumulative exposure to traumatic events is high enough, these results indicate that anybody will develop chronic PTSD. We conclude that there is no ultimate resilience to traumatic stress (…). In other words: The development of this mental illness for these people does not depend on any individual factors as their growing up or mental state. At some point, experiencing too many of these kind of situations WILL lead to the onset of this illness.

These findings are of high relevance especially in the context of refugees escaping from war zones, as they are most probable to have been exposed to a variety of different types of traumatic events (violence, persecution, witnessing of killed or dying people, assaults, rape, and others).

Sources & further literature:

Gäbel, U., Ruf., M., Schauer, M., Odenwald, M. & Neuner, F. (2006). Prävalenz der Posttraumatischen Belastungsstörung (PTSD) und Möglichkeiten der Ermittlung in der Asylverfahrenspraxis (Prevalence of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder among asylum seekers in Germany and its detection in the application process for asylum). Zeitschrift für Klinische Psychologie und Psychotherapie, 35 (1), 12-20.

Neuner, F., Schauer, M., Karunakara, U., Klaschik, C., Robert, C. & Elbert, T. (2006). Psychological trauma and evidence for enhanced vulnerability for posttraumatic stress disorder through previous trauma among West Nile refugees. BMC Psychiatry, 4 (34), full text availiable online

Spiegel: Gewalt in Flüchtlingsheimen: Traumatisiert und eingepfercht (German article describing the tensions in asylum-seeker camps due to their mental strass and acommodation conditions)

Spiegel: Therapie für traumatisierte Asylbewerber: „Ich kann leider nichts für Sie tun“ (German article dealing with the extremely limited possibilites to treat traumaticed asylum-seekers)

Is the Ugly German Back? Flames of Hate Haunt a Nation (English article on the violence attacks on asylum-seeker camps and shelters.

Tl, dnr:
Refugees and asylum-seekers are an incredibly vulnerable population, escaping from circumstances that not only threatened their physical but also their mental health. This has to be considered in the procedures and treatments they receive when looking for a safe place to stay.

“In every headline, we are reminded / that this is not home for us” – Kele Okereke on racism and homophobia in various music scenes

kele-press2010Last September, Kele Okereke (frontman of UK Indie-Rock Post-Punk band Bloc Party and besides an electronic music dj and solo artist), wrote a piece comparing his experiences as a black, gay artist in the British Independent-Rock music scene and the international electronic and house scene. Actually, this description isn’t completely true, as Kele states that, in contrary to the British Indie-Rock scene, his encounters with both other artists and the music press in the context of house music were characterized by the fact that actually there wasn’t a necessity to emphasize him being black and gay, because – it simply didn’t matter.

In this article, Kele characterizes the very strict limitations and rules from the inside of the narrow-minded British guitar music scene (apparently an exclusive insider club for heterosexual, young, male members with a certain taste of musical style) and therefore reveals that the most rebellious pose has the most conservative scene. (A scene of south park comes to mind where Stan tries to join some Goth kids and they just reply: “If you wanna be one of the non-conformists, all you have to do is dress just like us and listen to the same music we do.” ‘Nuff said, and, according to Okereke, not even a bit exaggerated.).

In both previous interviews and in his art, Kele Okereke has adressed issues and personal experiences concerning racism and homophobia. The dystopian description of UK youth culture in the lyrics of Bloc Party’s second album A Weekend In The City repeatedly adress these topics. Especially the song Where is Home  that features the quote from the headline, deals with the racial violence that lead to a killing of a young black man in 2006 in Kent, UK. During the promotional cycle of this album, Kele was unwillingly outed by Q Magazine, one of Englands biggest music magazines.

To read Kele’s inspired plans about not only wanting to mix up musicial elements, but also to combine certain parts of the spirit and the experience of these two kinds of music, and to get teased about a fifth Bloc Party-Album, read the whole article here (it’s really worth it!) :

Edit: You can find a similar article about Kele and the above mentioned topics on the website of UK newspaper The Indepentent.

Tl; dnr: Reporting his experiences in both the british independent rock music scene and in the international world of electronic and house music in a recent Vice article, Bloc Party frontman Kele Okereke characterizes the former as narrow-minded and stigmatizing regarding him being black and gay, while he found the electronic music scene as more welcoming and open-minded.

Source: image from stereogum

Syrian asylum-seeker prefers to return to his homeland due to attacks against german refugee camps

Dear Homeland Germany,

what the hell is wrong with you?