‘I Felt Very Alone’: Boris Kodjoe Recalls Childhood Facing Racism In Germany

Boris Kodjoe has been candid about his experiences as Black man in America. Now he is opening up about the racism he experienced growing up in Germany.

As the son of a German psychologist and Ghanian physician, the actor recalled a childhood in Freiburg during which he constantly endured the taunts and intimidations of other children simply because he looked different.

Boris Kodjoe
BEVERLY HILLS, CA – NOVEMBER 15: Boris Kodjoe speaks at the People’s Choice Awards nominations press conference held at The Paley Center for Media on November 15, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic)

“I was part of a true minority,” he told Page Six. “It was me and my brother basically. So it takes on a different dynamic when it’s just me walking to school and being bullied and called names. I’m on the soccer field and I’m being attacked and bullied. It was part of my life every single day. Words about my hair and skin. I felt very alone, I felt very isolated. So you start building these walls around you.”

Concerning the American phase of his life, Kodjoe, 47, said that in his current home country “you have the luxury of being part of a subculture that’s represented by millions of people, so you don’t feel so alone.”

On the other hand, the United States is plagued by a history of racism that “rears its ugly head every single day.” The former model moved to the U.S. after being awarded a tennis scholarship.

In an interview with BET, Kodjoe also addressed the importance of blending in to American society, to the extent that many do not know of his foreign heritage.

“I work really hard to adopt these behaviorisms so people identify me as an African-American, because I’m not, he said. “I’m from a tiny, tiny, small town in the south of Germany. But if I still had my German accent, I don’t think I would ever work here as an actor.”

When asked about some Americans’ bias against biracial people, Kodjoe called the idea of not considering a biracial person Black “short-minded.” He referenced his parents, noting that as a biracial, “I represent both cultures. But at the end of the day, when I walk the earth, I walk the earth as a black man. That’s what I’m being perceived as, that’s what I look like and that’s what I feel like.”

At home with his family, Kodjoe stays true to representing both cultures, as he explained to Page Six. He mentioned that during the Covid-19 lockdown his son and daughter were both exposed to his Germanic rearing methods, as he created schedules to keep them from sleeping “till 2 p.m.”

“It’s part of our culture, we are pretty organized,” Kodjoe noted. “Even though at home it wasn’t like that, it’s part of the mentality growing up. You’re on time, you make sure you take care of your stuff, you respect people. I’m sure I’ve passed it on to my children. It’s not dogmatic in any way.”

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