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Ayim, May (1960–1996)

Joshua Kwesi Atkins


May Ayim was a Ghanaian German artist, academic, and activist; both her poetry and her scholarly writings have been crucial in the inception of the Afro-German movement, and continue to challenge and inspire scholars and activists in Germany and beyond. Her pioneering academic work on Afro-German history, innovative analysis in the field of critical whiteness studies in the German context, and her empowering poetry, continue to attract readers interested in the insights she gained from developing and deploying a conscious Afro-German woman's perspective in her interaction with Germany and the global African diaspora. Born to a Ghanaian father and a German mother, she grew up in a foster home and with foster parents (the Opitz family whose name May carried until 1992) – as an African student in Germany, her father had no right to take the child to Ghana, as he had wished. Her mother, apparently unable to cope, took the infant to a foster home, from where she was taken to a white foster family. Her thesis, first rejected by her professor on the grounds that “there is no racism in Germany,” was the first thorough research on the presence of black people in Germany from the early middle ages to the present. It later formed the basis of Farbe Bekennen – Afrodeutsche Frauen auf den Spuren ihrer Geschichte (Showing Our Colors: Afro-German Women Speak Out) ( Oguntoye et al. 1991 ). Along ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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