Ojibwe playwriter, author & filmmaker Drew Hayden Taylor was visiting Germany again (2017), filming for his documentary on the continuing Winnetou phenomenon, stereotyping…and playing of “Native” by Germans and other Europeans. I was interviewed for a segment in the eventual production, on why I’m in Germany and also making a film. After filming, we walked to a local café and had casual conversation and coffee with the crew.
For the record, I was in Germany anyway, and am a writer, psychologist and educator, focusing on healing inter-generational trauma, anti-racism/colonialism and correcting Eurocentric history. The willful situation of cultural exploitation and hobbyism is not the over-simplified “Us vs. Them” scenario regularly presented, although it can be considered “No bueno”. The history of Germany, of its people and their connection to world history, the psychology and trauma, is also at its root. It is complex and sad. That is persistently ignored and minimized even though symptoms and effects are epidemic and widespread in German society. The rigidity of mind and compartmentalization? Most cannot see the forest for the trees.
Thus, my documentary (LINK) “Forget Winnetou! Loving in the Wrong Way” is more on why it’s time to Forget Winnetou. It’s due to western society’s and Germany’s issues of racism, neo-colonialism and stereotyping directly contributing to rising hatred, racism and nationalism. Systemic racism is not a joke, its not funny, and a privileged position continues to try to make it into a casual debate or something humorous, when it has and continues to negatively affect all peoples. As the title of my film and its mission knows, Natives have been treated wrongly, and even having them as a “favorite” mascots misrepresents, dehumanizes and objectifies them. There are better ways to have intercultural respect, that actually respects those peoples on THEIR terms, not white Eurocentric ones or ways.
I was invited by CBC to write an op-ed on these topics, which was published in January 2018 at their website (LINK): “Native Hobbyism is Modern-Day Colonialism”. My article focuses on how hobbyists and cultural appropriaters are given TOO much attention for perpetrating systemic racism. Yet the many, MANY hard-working Germans who are trying to combat the racism and white supremacist ideology and practices in their societies are virtually ignored in mainstream media. SCHADE, as they would say, but Typical.