I was honoured to be asked to give a short speech at the Black Lives Matter Berlin protest march, alongside some of the very best activists and human beings I have met in the city (and anywhere else, to be honest). Here is the text of my speech, if you have a moment to have a look.
I don’t know when refugees went from being human, to a problem to be managed.
I don’t know when the dark-skinned man became the savage.
I don’t know when migrants became a thing to be disinfected.
All I know is that these things have happened,
that the refugees once welcome are being herded into shelters,
and the question is what happens now.
And again, I don’t know.
All I know is that we weren’t supposed to be standing here:
The black spirit was meant to be too broken to survive seas and oceans,
And to many who hate them, or are afraid of them,
it is a mystery that the migrants retain their dignity.
Most of us in this crowd are not refugees,
but we are all migrating towards an uncertain and possibly exciting future.
We can look proudly at the thousands of years of work that activists have done,
and remember that our best years to come.
I would like now to quote part of the “Migrant Manifesto”, written by Immigration Movement International:
“We have the right to move and the right to not be forced to move. We demand the same privileges as corporations and the international elite, as they have the freedom to travel and to establish themselves wherever they choose. We are all worthy of opportunity and the chance to progress. We all have the right to a better life.”
“We acknowledge that individual people with inalienable rights are the true barometer of civilization. We identify with the victories of the abolition of slavery, the civil rights movement, the advancement of women’s rights, and the rising achievements of the LGBTQ community. It is our urgent responsibility and our historical duty to make the rights of migrants the next triumph in the quest for human dignity. It is inevitable that the poor treatment of migrants today will be our dishonor tomorrow.”
“We witness how fear creates boundaries, how boundaries create hate and how hate only serves the oppressors. We understand that migrants and non-migrants are interconnected. When the rights of migrants are denied, the rights of citizens are at risk.”
This manifesto has never been more important.
Just as black lives matter,
All of our efforts matter: the smallest acts of kindness, of compassion, of resistance, and defiance.
We don’t need to fear the Nazis:
they’re just unhappy people with good marketing.
Instead, let’s continue to march forwards,
With love for each other, with happiness and with hope,
Towards a gentler future, which we all truly can call home.