Tag Archives: europe

Brown and Out of Town: a POC Traveler’s Guide to Racism

by Racialicious special correspondent Wendi Muse

Author’s note: Before anyone jumps all over me, I use “brown” here as a general term for people of African or indigenous American descent, not solely South Asians or Central Americans, though the article discusses issues for all POC travelers, not just the ones with darker skin.

Ah, Madrid.

I had decided that for spring break in 2005, instead of going to Memphis as planned, I’d take a week-long trip to Paris and Madrid instead. After all, in a weird twist of fate, the plane tickets to Europe were only about 100 dollars more than those I had bought to go to the place Elvis and I both called home. I figured as I could speak, read, and understand Spanish and French, I’d be fine. I’d been to Paris before, and loved it, and had heard awesome things about Madrid from my friends, so I thought, “Why not? Just breathe, and take a chance.” So I did, though I wasn’t exactly prepared for the less than warm reception in one of the liveliest cities in the Iberian Peninsula.

Paris was no problem, possibly due in part to the city’s expressed love (read: borderline fetishizing) of black folks (Josephine Baker, anyone?) or the running assumption that I was Moroccan/generally North African and not a black American. Most people just treated me like I was French, before I opened my mouth, of course (despite my perfect French accent, my occasional pause to find vocabulary words from my high school French mental database was a dead give-a-way). No one was rude to me or my friend with whom I went out on occasion (who is half white American, half indigenous Mexican, and clearly “of color”).

Madrid, on the other hand, completely did me in.

On a super basic level, I wasn’t a big fan of the traditional Spanish food, and, instead, flocked to the numerous Middle Eastern restaurants like water in a desert mirage. And though I was only there for three days, these little hole-in-the-wall, family-run eateries ended up being my surrogate safe havens as walking around on the street proved, well, difficult. I would say the city, overall, was far from receptive. While I understood having a pride in being Spanish, or a Mardileño, to be more specific, what I did not understand was why that translated into racism. I faced constant stares, and I mean constant, many of which were steeped in anger or confusion, despite my more than proper attire (I was not one of those fanny pack-wearing, head buried in a map, incapable-of-speaking-the-native-language types of tourists, trust me). I was cat-called, a lot, and though I was conditioned to that from having lived in NYC for four years at that point, what I hadn’t been exposed to was the overtly sexual racist epithets thrown my way (none of which I will repeat here). I tried to search the eyes of other people of color for an explanation. People of Asian descent seemed happy, even moreso there than in Paris. And people clearly from Africa also seemed OK, though I am sure their black skin proved problematic at times (look no further than the Madrid soccer related racism or even the recent Formula One racing incident in Barcelona). It was the somewhat racially ambiguous brown folks who seemed to run into trouble. Continue reading

Pride Magazine: Looking into a Mirror Across the Pond

by Racialicious Special Correspondent Latoya Peterson

I always chuckle to myself when I hear someone say that other countries don’t have the same problems with race in the way we do in the US. I guess we aren’t reading the same media.

On my most recent perusal through the periodicals section of the bookstore,* I happened to come across a new imported magazine called Pride. The tagline reads “Celebrating the woman of colour.” I grabbed the magazine, excited at the potential. Is this finally the magazine that realizes that a black girl may have a latina or Asian or Arabic friend? Am I going to be treated to multicultural women perspectives?

Alas, no. Pride is geared toward black women in the UK. However, my disappointment was short lived as Pride is a treasure trove of perspectives on being black and British – which sound remarkably similar to being black and American.

In the Sista Circle section of the November 2007 issue, author Vanessa Walters chronicles the problems involved in dating a “wasteman:”

When Darwin developed his theory of evolution, he clearly forgot about the Wasteman – the man who hunts women and gathers children but doesn’t provide; the man not in the history books because he has no official name, just several aliases – one for every manor. Like Samuel L Jackson in The Long Kiss Goodnight, he’s Frank and Ernest: in New York he’s Frank and in Chicago he’s Ernest.

My ex was a classic wasteman. I used to carry a box of eggs in the glove compartment of my car; each time I passed his gleaming black BMW (we lived close by) – Kapow! Splat! Boom! Just on of those days that a girl goes through, when she’s angry inside and gonna take it out on you. What on earth did he do to deserve that? Oh, only lie, cheat, slap me in the face, try to bully me into taking out a 10,000 GBP loan for him – you know, the usual.

Whoa, we’re quoting Monica? Well, since we’re dredging up the ghosts of nineties music past, I would like to inform you that your wasteman is a garden variety scrub. Also known as a busta.

Moving on to the Man’s Point of View, Dotun Adebayo continues to stoke the flames of the black gender wars** in “How to Love a Black Man Without Being Shagged Out, Part 1:” ***

Black men are hard work, and when you decide to go soul to soul with a brotha, you’ve only got yourself to blame if you’re not prepared for the stress (and I don’t just mean of the double bed’s springs.) Because black men ain’t built for comfort. We’re rough riders/ Built to last. It’s in our DNA. We’re the survivors in this age of racist misphilosophy. How do you expect us to have gone through all we’ve been through and still be able to hold down a nice, easy, smooth, worry-free relationship?

[...]

So the number one rule in making love to a black man without being shagged out is to have a strong back. Otherwise you’ll snap under the pressure and then you’ll start playa-hatin’ on all brothas just because your man gave you agony and you didn’t have the backbone to hold it down. Continue reading

Morrissey under fire for anti-immigration remarks

by guest contributor Yolanda Carrington, originally published at The Primary Contradiction

The United States isn’t the only society plagued with xenophobia, as a recent controversy over a legendary singer’s remarks shows. And we sure aren’t the only society where white folks’ understanding of systemic racism is jawdroppingly low, nor is this great land the only society where most white folks will do anything to avoid discussing race. The latest racism scandal in the entertainment world involves not a tired shock-jock or stand-up comic, but the ethereal voice behind such classics as The Queen is Dead and Meat is Murder.

Former Smiths frontman Morrissey—a musical icon for many folks of my generation—has been under fire for the past couple of weeks over comments he made about immigration in a piece published by New Musical Express (more popularly known these days as simply NME). When asked by journalist Tom Jonze if he would consider moving back to the UK after over a decade of living abroad (alternating between Los Angeles and Rome), Morrissey reportedly said:

Britain’s a terribly negative place. And it hammers people down and it pulls you back and it prevents you. Also, with the issue of immigration, it’s very difficult because although I don’t have anything against people from other countries, the higher the influx into England the more the British identity disappears [my emphasis].

And:

If you walk through Knightsbridge [London neighborhood] on any bland day of the week you won’t hear an English accent. You’ll hear every accent under the sun apart from the British accent.

Morrissey claims that NME ambushed him with a “stitch-up” job on him in order to sell papers, and he and his lawyers are currently pursuing legal action against the NME and its editor Conor McNicholas. Interviewer Jonze maintains that every quote attributed to Morrissey is accurate, and points out the fact that he never once asked Morrissey about immigration, yet the singer felt compelled to unleash his views anyway. Many people were quick to side with Morrissey against the NME, since the paper has a not-so-upstanding reputation with music fans in the UK. Other supporters defend Morrissey’s right to free speech, while others express agreement with his views on immigration, insisting that it all has nothing to do with racism but just the natural response to a “massive” wave of immigration that is destroying Britain’s national identity and way of life. Now where have we heard that argument before? Continue reading