Invisible Woman by Ika Hugel-Marshall
Growing Up Black in Germany

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"In March 1947 I was born. My arrival was celebrated within the inner family circle, quietly and anxiously. When I was a year old, my mother married a white German man; a year later my sister was born. We grew up relatively unburdened during those first five years, just like most children. We felt we were a family, even though I knew that my father was not my real father. I had no reason to doubt that with my white mother, in my white family, in my white hometown, I could grow up and be happy".

So begins the story of Ika Hugel-Marshall, daughter of an African American serviceman who left Germany for America the day after learning that had impregnated the German woman with whom he was having an affair.

When Hugel-Marshall was seven, the state intervened in her happy family life, recommending that she, like other "occupation children", be placed in an orphanage. Here, she was subjected to the daily tyrannies of her caretaker, Sister Hildegard. She struggled to come to terms with life as a German -- the only life she knew -- among people who seemed bent on disavowing her existence.

Not until she was in her late thirties did she meet other "Afro-Germans" who as children had shared fates similar to her own and who encouraged her to seek out and meet her biological father. In 1993, with the support of friends, she set out on a journey from Berlin to Chicago's South Side to discover a past -- and a family -- she had never known.


About Ika Hugel-Marshall

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Ika Hugel-Marshall has a degree in social pedagogics. She is teaching gender studies and psychological counseling at the Alice-Salomon-Fachhochschule fur Sozialarbeit und Sozialpadagogik in Berlin. Trained as a counselor, she primarily works with intercultural teams and bi-national couples. Ika Hugel-Marshall has published various articles on anti-racist consciousness raising and is co-editor of Entfernte Verbindungen: Rassismus, Antisemitismus und Klassenunterdruckung (1993). In 1996, Ika Hugel-Marshall received the Audre Lorde Literary Award for the completion of Invisible Woman. She has given numerous readings in Germany, Austria, and the United States. An artist, she has designed book covers and exhibited her drawings and wood sculptures.
Published January 1, 2001 by Continuum International Publishing Group. 158 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences, Travel, Education & Reference, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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The author survived, became a social worker after college, and married, but the marriage broke down—her husband was ashamed of her blackness, and Ika (even with her feminist friends) felt alienated from German society.

| Read Full Review of Invisible Woman: Growing Up B...

ForeWord Reviews

Similarly, deep friendships with African-American writers Audre Lorde and Gloria Joseph, and interactions with the burgeoning Afro-German political movement, help her understand the oppression and torment she experienced as she came of age.

Oct 16 2000 | Read Full Review of Invisible Woman: Growing Up B...

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