Stopped by the refugee school/housing project today on Ohlauerstrasse. They were mourning the loss what of a woman named Mimi who had been fighting for the rights of refugees to occupy the school and the rights of refugees in Germany. The school has a list of people who live there, and only those people on the police list can pass in and out of the locked and guarded gate. No one else can go there, so worse than a jail, they cannot even be visited. Luckily Mimi was not there when she was dying, she was dying in the home of a friend–so as one woman told me, Mimi was lucky to be in the comfort of a friend and the police were lucky not to have the death of this woman on their hands when they made one of their frequent raids as they did that night.
The police had shut down the street just before our visit; they shut down the mourners, who were just putting up roses and candles to mourn her. The police are presumably “following orders” to keep crowds away from the school. Presumably they believe it to be a threat when refugees and their supporters gather. When black people gather, when poor people gather, when people who present “blackness” gather. What does the mayor of berlin think about this? How come it has turned into a police state near a squatted building, and why does this building have to have so much attention turned to them that the police shut the whole street? Will the police try to burn it down? I would not be surprised. Not that surprised. They have done this to other squats in this city.
This morning I was thinking about queerness as a sense that our bodies (housed within our skin) and our bodies (all of our bodies between each other) can be changed and interchanged, our bodies as selves and our bodies as identities of limit. I was thinking that as queers we know that through play and imagination our cunt is not so different from our cock, which by extension seems to me that our/my birthplace is not so very different from anyone else’s birthplace. And certainly my so-called “right to land” (which I do not have) is not to different from his or her right (or lack of right) to land. Our right to survive in the ways that we find, perhaps as hyenaz who siphon off electricity, perhaps we also have a right to this, as does anyone, have or not have those rights. Do we as humans have a right to even basic survival? I sometimes wonder. But certainly none of us should have more right to survival than any other. It seems that with a queer understanding of ourselves and “our self” as “selves,” we stand next to people who are struggling to live in a squat, whether we happen to live in a squat or a home that we own, and we look, or should look, for the similarities as opposed to the differences between us.
I felt when i spoke to the people standing outside that they were angry and even somewhat protective of their knowledge, though thankfully they did share information with me when I asked them. I felt from the police they too were angry and defensive of being questioned. I felt from the mourners that they were protective also of their right to mourn. I understand that on some level they do not want to be approached by strangers and asked questions. On the other hand, the mourning is done publicly and the person is raised up as a person who struggles for justice and i want to be received in a non-judgemental and non-aggressive way, the same way that I expect to be treated by anyone that I encounter for any reason. we owe this to each other to be included in struggle and to be considered friends. At least, this is my wish.
Through my queerness I see my body as interchangeable with anyones. It is merely a matter of happenstance that I am not a refugee in Germany, just as it is happenstance I was born with a cunt. But I realize in my queerness that I am not fundamentally a woman restricted to expectations of femininity any more than I am fundamentally “free” to be in Germany or anywhere else. Therefore, I too want to do more of my part to be included in this struggle, not just as thinking of unity but acting as unity.
Today was at least an opening, to gather more information and at least to make it known that i am interested and feel affinity in this struggle. I admit I can and could do more. I admit that there is the physical act of trangressing perceived borders, not just the act of theorizing queerness. But this is also a discursive relationship, one that requires the other, acting and thinking, repositioning, thinking and acting from all positionalities.