Paul Beatty is the author of three novels: White Boy Shuffle, Tuff, and the recently published Slumberland, which takes place in Berlin. He is also the editor of Hokum: An Anthology of African-American Humor.
I love the analogy and once I thought about it some more, I remembered a trip to the Berlin zoo with my kids last summer. It was one of those rare but very hot days and you could practically see the penguins sweating. I couldn’t figure out why they put birds accustomed to arctic temperatures in a sunny spot sans shade. Anyway, the penguins wouldn’t slide in the water waiting to cool them. It’s as if they were so freaked out by being in the “wrong” place that they couldn’t make it right again, even though the water was right there, begging them to hop in.
As a black person in Berlin I haven’t experienced what the security guard did, but that was another time, he is another sex and now, there are a lot more penguins.