Solidarity Language of Rights 44April 27, 2024

44. Colombia: The strategy that decriminalized abortion

Hosted by Akwe Amosu
Produced by Peter Coccoma

In the United States’ election next November, reproductive rights will effectively be on the ballot, thanks to the Supreme Court’s 2022 “Dobbs” decision that there is no constitutional right to abortion. But also in 2022, two thousand miles further south, Colombia’s Constitutional Court ruled in the opposite direction. Colombian feminists, buoyed by advances in Argentina in 2020 and Mexico in 2021, had mounted a huge campaign to get abortion completely removed from the penal code and regulated instead under Colombia’s health services. Although that goal wasn’t fully achieved, abortion was decriminalized up to 24 weeks a huge victory for the reproductive rights movement. Catalina Martínez Coral, Vicepresident in Latin America for the Center for Reproductive Rights, recalls the strategy that built the campaign and the arguments that prevailed.   

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The Interview

‘We wanted to have equal participation in our society’

For Catalina Martinez and others in the campaign, the goal was not simply about giving women access to abortions without committing a crime. “We also wanted to frame this as an important matter for our democracy... being able to make decisions that put us in an equal position and in an equal participation in the democracy... We are not only fighting because we want women to have abortions or because we want women to have access to health! Yes, of course, that is one of the aims of the fight, but we are showing up because we want to be citizens of the first category in a democracy. 

The Coda

The library that became a home for black Berlin

Racial justice activist Daniel Gyamerah celebrates the foresight of an Afro-German woman who over the course of her lifetime collected hundreds of books by black authors and bequeathed them to Berlin’s black and diaspora community to create the library that became EOTO – Each One Teach One.The crucial part,” he says, was the community-building that came with the youth. They took over the keys. They were laughing, they were cooking, they were dancing, they did workshops. They took over the space. 


Music featured in the Coda:

“Tchakare Kanyembe” by Tchakare Kanyembe from the album “Live at Sacred Bloom.”


Akwe Amosu: Hello and welcome to Strength and Solidarity, I’m Akwe Amosu, here with episode 44 of our podcast about the tools, tactics and strategies being used to defend human rights.  And this time –  

  • The campaign that got abortion decriminalized in Colombia 
  • and in the Coda: how a library built by black Germans became the heart of their community 

AA: Two years ago, the Constitutional Court in Colombia decriminalized abortion up to the 24th week of pregnancy. Coming after historic shifts in Argentina in 2020, and a big step forward in Mexico in 2021, there had been excited talk of a marea verde – a green wave sweeping the Latin American region – green because that was the color of the scarves and bandanas worn by activists in those campaigns.   But in fact there is still wide divergence across the region, with some countries still treating abortion as a crime even to save the woman’s life; some which allow that exception; and some which take the less aggressive position that abortion is permitted if the woman’s health is at risk. Just seven Latin American countries provide abortion on request. For feminists and others fighting for reproductive rights, there are choices to be made about strategy. Women in the US are accustomed to the idea of a woman’s right to choose being at the heart of these battles. But listeners who heard our episode 6 interview with Victoria Tesoriero, a leader in Argentina’s campaign, may recall that they de-emphasized arguments based on a woman’s bodily autonomy and decided instead to lead with a social justice approach that centered women’s health and safety, realizing that this would resonate more powerfully in a country that was mourning the loss of so many women to back street abortions. And when I asked Catalina Martínez Coral, Vice-President in Latin America Director for the Center for Reproductive Rights, what had been the central theme in Colombia’s Causa Justa, or Just Cause campaign, I learned their focus was different again; they chose to lead with the argument that treating abortion as a crime was a deep affront to women’s dignity and prevented their equal participation as citizens in democracy.  

AA: Welcome, Catalina. 

CM: Thank you. Thank you so much, Akwe. Very happy to have this conversation. 

AA: Well, one of the reasons I wanted to have the conversation is because I think many of us, around the world have been kind of fascinated to see the way that campaigns for abortion rights have really made such progress in the Latin American region. And this is a chance for me to ask you why, since that’s the work that you do.  

CM: Yeah. Well, I think this is the result of a fight of many years from many women, across the history of the region and the country, and I want to recognize that because we couldn’t have been having these big victories without that accumulated work, and most recently, these wins are also the result of the understanding that legal victories are important because we can change the law and we can change the policies but if there is not other work being done so that those victories can be implemented, it is going to be very difficult to really have the social change that we want to have. So I think that part of the work that feminist movements are doing in Latin America and in Colombia that is my country, is around working on what we have called the “social decriminalization” of abortion, which means basically to really be able to create a public conversation around this, to really be able to take the streets again, as a form of making change and explaining to a society why a matter is important, and with the aim of getting to people’s hearts and minds, that at the end is, I think, the only way to create cultural change. And even with a matter as polemic as abortion rights, right? So that is what has been very important for us right now, and the understanding that the final battle is not to have the legal win, but to really be able to do a cultural transformation. 

AA: So let’s then zoom in to Colombia and leave the regional level and get a lesson from you in how the campaign has been built. When did it start? 

CM: The abortion fights in Colombia have been done by many women for many years. But if we zoom in to the Causa Justa experience – the Causa Justa experience is the movement that we built in order to do this fight before the Constitutional Court for the decriminalization of abortion, it was in 2017 when a national organization in the country called La Mesa por la Vida y la Saludde las Mujeres, it’s like ‘the table for life and health for women,’ – it’s a national organization that works across the country and they decided to invite many activists, women’s rights activists, experts in the field, academics, not only from the country but also from other countries in Latin America that have been like also having their own experiences, so that we could sit down together and understand what next step for abortion rights we wanted to take in Colombia. And in doing that conversation, I would like to highlight three things. The first one was to be able to put together a strategy that for us was “just,” no? That is why the name of the movement is Causa Justa, Just Cause. We really wanted to have this sense of justice and to really challenge how the system has been regulated, like the majority of countries have a regulation inside the criminal codes. So even if you have some kind of legalization, for example, if you can access abortion under the ground of health, or even if you can access abortion under a gestational limits model, the regulation still is in the penal code, in the criminal code. And this is very complicated because you are passing very contradictory messages, no? You are saying that abortion is a right, it’s a health service, but also it continues to be part of the criminal court. So it continues to have this very heavy connotation.  

AA: And penalties 

CM: And penalties, of course, for women and even for professionals that deliver services. So what we wanted to do in Colombia was to pass to a different model, to totally eliminate abortion from the penal code and to be able to regulate this health service through health initiatives. And this is a model that, for example, only Canada has, or two districts in Australia. Those are like the only examples that we have around the world. And that is what we wanted to have in Colombia. And the first conversation was, can we put together this strategy? And at that moment, many women were saying, “but maybe this is not a strategic, maybe we can go with something more achievable.” But then after having deeper conversations, we really understood that this is not a big ask, like asking for the decriminalization of abortion of the elimination of a crime that the only thing that is doing is creating burdens on women is not a big ask. And we needed to believe it first to be able to put it together for the public, no? Like, what is the sense to have a health service regulated in a criminal code? It doesn’t make any sense. Is it because we want to prevent abortions? And if that is the reason, really to have a crime on abortion is preventing women for having abortions? So we started to answer those questions and we decided that that was what we wanted to do. And some of the people from the movement across the region, weren’t very convinced, like, “we don’t know if this is very strategic,” but at the end, we decided to go with this position. And I think it was the right one, like for sure. 

AA: And there were two other things. 

CM: Yes, the second one is, how to learn from what others have been achieving in the region, no? So, for example, Argentina had this super important win on legalizing abortion in 2019. Then, Mexico in 2020, they had an amazing victory at the Supreme Court. And, and we wanted to understand also what were the strategies that really worked for them. And, and I think that something that we learned from Argentinians, especially that have been, like, very important for our fight, is the mobilization and the campaigning part of the work. Because at one moment, when Argentinians were doing these big mobilizations, they lost their first attempt before the Congress, no? They didn’t pass the law at the first attempt, but the reality is that at that moment, we already realized that they have won a lot in what they created in the social level, no? In the conversation, in the mobilizations, in how people were taking the streets and saying in the streets, “it is already law, en la calle ya es ley!”  

AA: By which they meant, “it doesn’t matter what the law says, as the people, we say this is the law.” 

CM: Exactly. This is what should be the law. And understanding that for us, I think was very illuminating, and across the region has been very illuminating, because that Marea Verde, that green wave from Argentina began to grow across the region. And of course it arrived to Colombia and the green bandana is also our symbol. And we tried and even with more difficulties because Colombia doesn’t have this big history in taking the streets and mobilizing such as the Argentinians have, but we decided that we wanted also to create this momentum for the country. And part of the most important things that we did was to put together strategies to contribute for that “social decriminalization,” like to be able to be in social medias, to be able to be in the traditional medias, to be able to be in the streets, to be able to be in the regions in secondary cities, talking with people, explaining why this was important. 

AA: And then you said there was a third goal? 

CC: Yes. And the third one also was to try to involve other voices in the conversations that weren’t the traditional ones. So, we wanted not only to be doing this work only as feminist movement, but also to have other people from the democratic, liberal community, human rights community in the country engaging and showing up in solidarity with us. So, in order to do that, we created a list of 200 people, 200 people. This is the people that we want that they show up in solidarity with us because they have a long history working for the country, working for democracy, working for the peace, because they have a different audiences, because they are in different spaces, whether they are politicians, whether they are, influencers, whether they are, they are artists, whether they are human rights activists in the country. And we met with each one of them and we explained them what was Causa Justa about? We brought a green bandana, we brought a kind of a one-pager explaining why this was a cause for justice, what we were looking for and what we wanted from them.  

AA: Did you already know that they cared about the issue, or it was just a complete cold call? 

CM: We selected people that never show up in solidarity with these issues, but that we knew that they were very progressive, that they had a democratic agenda, that maybe they weren’t showing up because they don’t have like a close look to the work, you know? So we chose people that weren’t involved in these conversations before, but that we knew that their democratic history will be important for us and that maybe they will understand our matters if we can, like, have an honest conversation with them. And at the end, the 200 people supported our cause. 

AA: All 200? 

CM: All 200, whether they wrote an op-ed for the media, or they intervened in social media, or they put this as one of their points in their political campaigns, or they invited us to have a conversation in a university or – they began engaging and showing up in solidarity with us. And I think that that was very important because that allow us to reach new audiences that we don’t have, you know, so then the country started immediately to talk about this; during the last year of litigation, I think that each week, or if not, each month, we were part of the national conversation. What was happening around abortion rights in the country was part of the national conversation. 

AA: You just mentioned litigation. What was the litigation? 

CM:  So we presented a case before the Constitutional Court in Colombia for the court to declare that the crime of abortion itself was unconstitutional. That was our claim before the Court. And if the crime was unconstitutional, the right thing to do is eliminate the crime and ask for the executive or the legislative branch to regulate it as a health service under health public policies. And this was the goal of the litigation; at the end, we couldn’t eliminate completely the crime of abortion from the penal code, but we had a very progressive decision, a decision that decriminalized abortion up to 24 weeks of pregnancy, which means that women or medical professionals cannot be prosecuted by providing abortions or looking for abortion during this time, which is a very important period that, for us, was important as well, because it’s also a matter of social justice, no? The women that often arrive to health services looking for late abortions are the ones that the system has failed them, no? So, for example, rural women that don’t have access to a medical center nearby, or girls that have been victims of rape or sexual violence, and they don’t know what is happening until that is too late in the pregnancy. So, it, it was a huge win, to have this decriminalization up to 24 weeks of pregnancy. And then what the Court did was that the Court asked for the authorities, the executive branch, to regulate the access to the service during this time. And the movement has been working with the Ministry of Health to be able to create and elaborate the public policies that are, like, putting the rules on the access. And we have been very successful in doing so, as well, the Ministry of Health has already published a public policy that regulates the access. So, yeah.  

AA:  So I mean, it sounds as though that was indeed a major victory. I’m just thinking about what you said on your second goal of mobilizing social forces to support this strategy. Did the win in the Constitutional Court basically make that irrelevant – once your litigation had achieved the successful result, you didn’t need that mobilization anymore? 

CC: No. And I think that this is part of the lessons learned also after the big win, no? Because of course, during the whole year of litigation I think that we were in the streets a lot, like, each time that the court was discussing this matter, we were in front of the court doing a demonstration. We brought musicians to sing to the court. We did feminist twerking lessons in front of the, of the Constitutional Court to engage with young people. Uh, we created a popular reggaeton, feminist reggaeton in Colombia, that became kind of the anthem of the movement, so each time that we were in the streets, this was the song that we were singing. And also this afterwards became a TikTok video, and all young women and girls were doing the TikTok from the feminist reggaeton of the movement. So it, it was like kind of a momentum that was becoming very, very big. And after the win, I think that mobilizations have been reduced. Yeah. I think that once you have the victory, it is a challenge to continue to being as alive as before the winning. But I think that also it is important to not lose the integration and the, and the bridges and channels of collaboration that we have created, because we need to first be able to implement the decision, and second, able to defend the decision, because the win doesn’t mean that there are not forces trying to take back what we have won. And the only way to do both things, both implementing and defending, is to continue to have an alive movement that is fighting for these rights.  

AA: So when we interviewed Victoria Tesoriero from the Argentina campaign, one of the things she talked about was how hard they worked to really understand what was the nature of social attitudes at the grassroots in society, rather than taking the cue from a strongly militant feminist perspective, they really learned that, you know, for ordinary people, framing this as a health issue, which sounds like what happened in Colombia, was very important. That, you know, the idea of “my body, my choice” would never fly as a message in Argentina. They felt that the social framing was very important. And I’m just curious to know to what extent this was a consideration in Colombia. 

CC: Yes, we talked about health, of course, and with some audiences we framed it as a health issue, but in general, we also wanted to frame this as a very important matter even for our democracy and how we are showing up in that democracy being women and being women that are being prosecuted because they want to decide over their bodies, no, and what implications it has to really being able to make decisions in our lives and how that will put us in an equal position in a society and in an equal participation in the democracy. And I think that that conversation around the kind of citizens that we deserve to be, in a democracy and in a society, was really important for women and for young women to be part of the movement and to show up as part of the movement. We are not fighting because we want women to have abortions or because we want women to have access of health – yes, of course, that is one of the aim of the fight, But we are showing up because we want to be citizens of a first category in a democracy. And, and that was the value and the, and the rights language that we used. 

AA: That’s fascinating. Why do you think the Constitutional Court made the decision it made? 

CM: I think that the Court wanted to be very progressive in the decision because the decision is very progressive, it’s one of the most progressive ones worldwide. But at the same time, they didn’t get the point that we were trying to make, right? And it’s like, this cannot be a crime, at the same time a right, and at the same time a health service, like, this is very contradictory. We need to shape the language and the discourse and the way on how we are regulating this issue. And I imagine that the Court wanted to make a balance between women’s rights and human rights and prenatal protections and how these prenatal protections needs to be balanced also. But I think that the Court could have done that same balance, thinking in public policies, for example, yes, abortion crime is unconstitutional and we need to eliminate this from the penal code, and then ask public health authorities to regulate the access in a way that they can also balance this prenatal protection. So, at the end, the decision could have been the same – let’s decriminalized abortion totally, and then regulated it in a free way up to 24 weeks of pregnancy. It’s the same position, but very different one, because here you don’t have the crime existing. And in the decision that the Court took, they still have the crime. 

AA: And how did the conservative establishment, presumably senior in the church, senior in the legislature, in the executive, how did they react to this change? 

CC: It was a very complicated reaction from some of the most conservative leaders in the country, starting with the president. At that moment, the president was President Duque, who was, like, known because he’s a very conservative president, and he made a public appearance after the decision of the Court saying that the Court cannot make these decisions like this, delegitimizing the Court decision. And this was very strong because it was the President of Colombia saying that. And, and this started immediately like a polarization in the public opinion. And, even all the support that we accumulated was sometimes debilitated with this kind of intervention.  

AA: Because people said, “Oh, well, if the President is saying that, then maybe this Court decision is wrong.” 

CM: Or maybe the Court doesn’t have the competency to do this, right? So, we really needed to fight those narratives so that we could continue our narrative as the main one in the debate.  

AA: But, I mean that’s – as you say – it’s a very tough challenge to the Court. I mean, for the President to say, you don’t have the power to do that. How was this resolved? 

CM: Well, the Court also made an intervention and explained why they had the competency to do this. And that was very important, and also political allies from the Congress did the same. So I think that we created a balance there. And I think that another thing that was complicated with the public discourse was the gestational limit that was established by the Court. 

AA: The 24 weeks, 

CM: The 24 weeks. Because when we were talking about the total decriminalization and the elimination of the crime, people weren’t thinking about gestational stage. They were thinking about, yeah, no, of course, like, women shouldn’t, like, go to jail because they are choosing. So yeah, let’s eliminate that crime. But at the moment when you put this gestational limit, and it was 24 weeks. And then women that were against this started putting sonograms in their social media accounts, like, “this was my pregnancy at the 24 weeks,” no? So, it began to create this like ghost of the 24 weeks, like all women are going to wait until 24 weeks to have abortions. And the reality, and I think that that was how we decided to respond to this, is that this is a long period of time, this responds to a social justice, like, point of view, because we know who are the ones arriving late to hospitals, and it’s because the system is failing them. Uh, but no single woman is going to sit down to wait her pregnancy to be 24 weeks, to go to look for an abortion! So let’s also fight those stereotypes and let’s trust more women and their choices, no, like we are rational people. We are going to always make the best decisions for our lives. And, and I think that this narrative around trusting women and understanding the choices that women made was very important to be able to handle the conversation and the ghost around the 24 weeks. 

AA: I’m just wondering about the anti-abortion lobby, I mean, clearly there was an anti-abortion lobby that felt it had been defeated by the Court decision, and presumably this 24 -weeks issue was partly a response from that lobby?  

CC: I can tell you more about the strategies that they put together during the whole process because they did a lot of things. I think that their strategy was to make everything possible, so that the Court needed to take more time to decide the decision. It wasn’t like a fight on arguments or in the substance, but more in the format and in the process. So they began to present recusations against some of the judges that were in favor of, of this matter. 

AA: They began to ask for judges who were in favor to withdraw? 

MC: Yes 

AA: Why? On what basis? 

CM: Because, for example, if some of them mentioned something regarding abortion in the past, they were using that as an argument to say, this person is not objective because this person has already said this before, no? And they presented several of those, or they presented several interventions signed by people, but they presented like 100 of those so that the court needed, like, to take a lot of time responding and seeing that. And at the end, they achieved to withdraw one of the judges that was in favor of the total elimination of abortion from the penal code because this judge did an interview during the process of the litigation. And he said something, it wasn’t like – he wasn’t talking about how he wanted to decide the decision, but he showed his solidarity with this fight. So, at the end, it was enough for him to be recused and having to withdraw from the process and this was very painful for the movement because with him we could have had a framework where abortion was totally eliminated from the penal code and then only regulated under health initiatives. But without him as part of the Court and with the new judge that came to be part of the decision, we lost that opportunity. So yes, they intervene in a way that they damage a little bit the strategy. 

AA: And what has happened to that lobby, now? Have they basically accepted that the fight is lost or are they trying to fight back? 

CM: No, they never accept that the fight is lost. They are working very hard to try to make a retrogression in the country. They have presented several new cases before the Court in order to have other interpretations and we are openly responding to that and defending, like, the decision from those attempts. They are also trying to present other litigations that are not related to abortion but that can, in some way, intervene in how the Court interprets the right to life of the constitution. So we need to be very aware of what they are doing, which kind of litigations they are putting together so that we can respond. And also, they are very present in the public opinion. They are writing academic articles. They are working also in social media campaigns that are not right now as relevant or as visible, but they are doing that as well. So part of what we have been discussing in the movement is how we want to respond to that. And I think that the main decision that we have done is, we need to monitor everything and to be aware of what they are doing, to be ready if we need to respond to something. But at the same time, we cannot, like, play their game. We cannot be responding to everything that they are doing. We need to continue positioning our own narrative and why this is important and what we want to achieve with this, and how this has to be implemented, and why this is a matter of human rights. And in controlling the narrative, I think that we have more space to work with people. 

AA: I’m just wondering before we end, what your reflections are on the major reversals that have happened in the United States, and whether you have any insight that is of value to share for those who are really rapidly now trying to work to defend and reinstate a right that they thought was previously established. 

CM: That they had for 50 years. <laugh> For me, what is happening in the United States is like very dystopic, no? You know, one day you wake up and then you realize that you don’t have a right any more that you were already entitled to for many, many years! I like to compare this as if, if for example, tomorrow we woke up and women don’t have any more the right to have a property. No? And it’s, very outrageous. And for me, the most outrageous thing is that not all the community or not all the society is seeing this as the problem that it is, and not only because this is affecting women’s rights, but because this is opening the door to other regressions in the country. This is the way that the Court decided to interpret an amendment that has been interpreted in another way, like to guarantee rights. And this is how many people in the United States have won rights, no? My profound preoccupation is, what is coming next if we are allowing this to happen, no?  It’s very complicated. So for me, two things: the first is that when the Dobbs decision came out, we just won the decision in Colombia – like two, three months after that Dobbs came. And I remember that most of the interviews that we were having in Colombia were like, “how this is going to impact this win that you had in Colombia?” And I think that, not everything that happens in the north can impact or affect us. And I think that we need to challenge that idea because the reality is that worldwide we are advancing in reproductive rights and in abortion rights. In the last 50 years, like, 60 countries have liberalized their abortion laws worldwide, the majority of them from the global south. So, I think that that is the first thing to be very aware that not because in the United States this is happening, that means that the global community is going to go backwards. No, we are going, we are winning, we are liberalizing. We have a lot of good examples. And I think that the United States can be also inspired by that, no, like we are not alone, like there are people in Africa and Latin America that have been working with the most restrictive abortion frameworks from many years and they are achieving victories. And this is something that I, that I know it’s gonna happen also there.  

The second thing is that Dobbs is one decision. Yes, it’s a federal decision, but this is not the reality that stands in all the states in the United States. And that is also important to know, no? Like, there are states in the United States that have abortion rights as part of their, of their legal framework, and they can also be working in solidarity with the other states that are going backwards. And I love to say this because we human beings always look, like, for the bad things and the bad impact, but let’s try also to have hope in whatever context we are working on. 

And finally, the last thing that I will say around that is, like, if what we have done in the South can be in some way an inspiration or a lesson learned that activists in the US think would be important for them, we are of course more than open to share what our strategies have been, how we have worked, even when we had other frameworks. And I think that I am saying, “if it is useful for them” because of course I want to know also what they are thinking and what they want to learn and, and what can be important for them also to implement it. It’s not the same reality, but I think that there are learnings that we can share and in a cross-collaboration way. 

AA: That’s a generous stance. Thank you, Catalina. 

CC: No, thank you. Thank you for this conversation. 

 AA: Catalina Martinez Coral is the Center for Reproductive Rights’ regional director for Latin America. You can find a transcript of our conversation and some background reading on our website, 

AA: Usually, our Coda is about one person – a human rights defender reflecting on something that gives them insight, or strength or energy for their activism. But this time, we’re hearing about a whole community that has been drawing strength from a library run by a group in Berlin called Each One Teach One – an empowerment organization for people of African descent in Germany and Europe. Here’s Daniel Gyamerah. 

Daniel Gyamerah: We started our work, more than a decade ago. The history goes back to a woman called Vera Haya, an Afro German woman whose interest was very much in books – books by black authors. So she traveled the country from bookshop to bookshop looking for books by black and African authors because back then you could not just go to the Internet and say, okay, show me all the books by the African authors. So in her will, she said that she wanted the – I think back then – 1,500 books to be public in a library. And this was really the seed of our work and the founders of our organization wanted to make that dream come true. And then in 2013, we opened our first single small room.  

DG: The dynamic that we’ve observed is actually that books is, is the one thing – maybe if you’re an academic, you realize from the very first beginning, the importance of books and readings. But at the very beginning, to be honest, they were just in the bookshelves. Nobody – like, you don’t go there and start reading all the books that are…  the very crucial part was the community building part. And that came with the life of the youth.  

DG: They, they were there. They took over the keys. They took over the space. They were laughing, they were cooking, they were dancing, they did workshops. And I think that’s a very similar experience across the diaspora. That the very first foundation and the seeds of the work is actually the life of the people and the young people and what they want to do and where they want to go. What we actually did in the last years is the question of keeping this life, this energy alive, and at the same time see how we can institutionalize the sense of community building. Like what are the structures and the building blocks and the infrastructure that we need, that the community building can continue and maybe grow and become a, a broader community. So we did a lot of collaboration projects, with other organizations across Germany. But until now, this is a question that’s really dear to my heart, to, how can we build infrastructure that serves our community’s purposes? So, our work really draws on the experiences of other black communities, activists, organizers, especially black feminists in Germany. A very crucial, very simple recognition was, black people can actually come together, like as a group, as a community, and with shared experience. That’s nothing that has been supported by the state or the broader society in general in Germany.  

DG: From a personal perspective, it was not always easy to grow up as a black man in Germany and to realize the different layers of oppression that you experience that you’re a part of. And what always helped very much is when I was standing in the library, looking at all the books and to realize, okay, all these authors, all these people, the global diaspora, the global African diaspora, actually they’re part of my community. So to have a broader understanding of what community actually means, and, whom and which tradition you can refer to, that we come from a tradition of justice, social justice and liberation. And that, yes, we start in the neighborhood, but we can also see the neighborhoods in the different countries. And I think that’s also something that we’re doing here. So when we come together with such an amazing group of people and we realize, okay, there is something that connects you, it almost feels like home, because you, maybe you don’t come from the exact same point, but we’re walking towards the same direction.  

DG: We come from all parts of the world. We’re old, we are young, we are abled, we are disabled, we are queer, we are trans, whatever, and to really appreciate this kind of inner diversity within our own communities and the totally different experiences that we all have, and even also the oppressive mechanisms within our own community. And this kind of learning journey to, to realize that you come together in strength, but at the same time, the different perspectives is really something that we also have to get better in, and actually to look on ourselves and not say, “okay, the white man, the white woman, they have to do this and this and this.” No, we just give space to actually, what do we have to do better or where do you want to, to grow and evolve, to build a better sense of humanity. 

AA: Daniel Gyamerah serves as the chair of Each One Teach One, in Berlin. 

AA: That’s Episode 44. We’re always trying to grow our audience so if you think that there’s someone who might be interested in today’s show, please share it with them, and rate us on whatever app you find us on.  And as always, if you have comments – positive or negative – about anything you hear on the podcast, we are keen to hear them. Just drop us a line at For now, though, from producer Peter Coccoma and me, Akwe Amosu, take care.