Global Racism

After watching the documentary of Dark Girls and discussing a few concepts with peers I felt like a larger or more in-depth discussion of global racism was needed to not only clear my head, but to gather thoughts and experiences from others. While this is going to be a long post I'm still hoping to get some intriguing discussion from people with similar or different experiences in countries that we share in common or not.

What I'm going to discuss countries that I have felt no racism versus those that I have. Afterwards, I will add on other statistics that do occur in these countries whether I was a direct recipient of them or not. I will discuss the content of the racism in these countries as some are not inherently racist proceedings, but they lie in the context of discrimination.

No Racist Experiences Countries:
Peru - Within Lima, many Peruvians have lighter skin than those found near Cuzco, in the Andes and surroundings as they are more closely related to the Quechua people. Apparently this is an issue, with Lima feeling that is in another class than the rest of the Peru due to fairer skin. While many Quechua people I encountered were poor (some of the kindest people you'll ever meet) it didn't seem like racial strictures were being placed on them.

Argentina - Buenos Aires is quite different than the rest of the country. More indigenous groups are closer to Patagonia and central Argentina. However, most people thought I was Brazilian and spoke to me in Portuguese. There was a certain class level in Buenos Aires, but not one of racism and nobody was disrespectful (best cab drivers so far). Odd note: The national beer is named after a decimated indigenous group of people.....yeah

Uruguay - Not here long enough, but I will note that both darker and lighter skinned Uruguayans were peaceful to each other in Colonia.

Mexico - If you can call anti-American attitudes racist? Overall, I was fine here even without knowing Spanish during this time. There were many odd events that happened on this trip, but none of them were racist. If anything the classism in Mexico is some of the worst you will ever see - walking back to the US border gives you perspective

Canada - While I don't have the strongest memory of the emotional perspectives of this trip, I didn't see nor experience racism aside from my dad and I being the only black people around (Toronto has much more than Vancouver). However, one would could comment on the First Nations people, but I didn't learn enough about it to say much.

France - Yes, I know nearly everybody tells of racism in France. From it's issues with North Africa, disputes with West African immigrants and more. However, we had zero experiences with it. I can't even argue and say that I saw tons of migrant workers; I didn't. If anything, there were constant French who responded to me in English that was more annoying than anything else. Seriously, we found none and yes some Senegalese men tried to rob us - but like the events in Mexico, that's not racist that's just unfortunate.

Spain - I was constantly waiting in Spain to deal with North African disputes in Sevilla or Cordoba, Catalonia issues, or even Portuguese friction. I found nothing. Spain remains the number one country I would live in outside of the US. The people were agreeable, Barcelona/Catalonia was not spouting off in Catalan (everyone there spoke Spanish) and there wasn't a fair versus darker skinned battle going on. Spain is great, seriously no issues.

Portugal - If you know the history of this country well then you'd be surprised on how little of that you feel here. Portugal has one of the best connections with former colonies I've seen out of the old European powers. While the Azores, Porto, Coimbra and Nazare have cordial people, Lisbon is telling from the plane ride in. People from Macau, Goa, Mozambique, Brazil (all speaking Portuguese) and elsewhere return often to progressive little Portugal. Lisbon itself is a highlight as it fusions several concepts together to make it a global city. I'll always promote Portugal, but seriously anybody will have a good time here.

Switzerland/Ireland - I've discussed about how I debate if I can count these countries. Recently, in Morocco, an Irish guy said I could at least count Ireland. As such, no traces of racism here, not here long enough, but both places had friendly people.

Racist Experiences Countries:
England - Even outside of London, I found this country to be the most progressive on racial differences I've ever seen. I felt zero hint of racism towards my family here and we went into several eateries and met several different kinds of people. However, the reason why this is down here is because of two reasons: everybody wants their treasures back and the Indian labor force. After awhile in England you get a sense of how much they've taken from everybody (State Apartments in Windsor and British Museum) and why some people have some complaints with them. Beyond that, all of the menial tasks (janitorial, small transportation within the airport) is relegated to Indian workers, if you know England's sordid history with India that should tell you all.

Morocco - Whether it's the haggling of anyone white, telling F* You, racist (although I would say more ignorant) kids thinking that black or African descent equals monkeys, or odd critique of anything Brazilian, Islam is not at all your issue here. Overall, Muslims are kind (so that debunks American myths); however, Moroccans can be aggressive in the main squares or touristy areas. I've never been directly cursed out in another country but it happened here. I've also never had an exact racist confrontation, but a few Moroccans kids think every white woman is gorgeous and for sale and every black man is closer to the jungle....mind you Morocco is in Africa and its people were originally Berber or Maghreb (westernized Moors) and looked far more sub-saharan than the influx of Arab descendants who have influenced particular mindsets. In another weird moment, if I wore a Brazilian soccer jersey and ignored them they would hate on the Brazilian team. This would lead to angry Arabic phrases as well. However, when I was by myself most of the Moroccans and Berbers thought I was one of them. Be wary when traveling in groups here. Still, Morocco is a great country.

South Africa - Directly towards me no, but the fact that apartheid's end is only 20 years matters here. The museums tell a great deal of history as to how bad gentrification and apartheid hit from the Dutch's racist restrictions. To give some history, South Africa's first people are most closely like my skin tone in the winter and it is one of the few places where biracial or mixed children (especially those of black descent) look more like the norm. However, everybody is here from the British, the Afrikaner (more on that later), the mixed (colored), the darker skinned (Bantu), and the Indian diaspora (head to Durban). Therefore, in some cases like Cape Town you see more modernized places contrasted with shantytowns on a class rather than race level. However, Johannesburg is a bit different as there was heavy critique on the ridiculousness of the Afrikaners by several darker skinned South Africans. The most jarring seen came from my Afrikaner (white/Dutch) cab driver being condescending to the staff at a B & B I went to. I ended up befriending said staff more than anyone else and got to learn some Zulu. Lastly, the people of Robben Island, Nelson Mandela's house, and Sophiatown will tell you everything about the racism latent in the soil of South Africa.

Dominican Republic - I'm sure this is a moot point considering what's going on right now in the DR, but it has always been there. Having Dominican women telling you that you are not black when you share the same skin tone is bizarre. Of course most people thought that I was Dominican in the country (with my current tan, most New Yorkers do too). Still, a couple of women said I wasn't black and that being black was bad - full on conversation on this, one of the deepest I've had in another country. Some of my Dominican students also think they have zero black descent and that being black is bad. The DR is Taino, African and Hispanic in terms of ancestry. It is nigh impossible to look how many Dominicans do without having African heritage. Lastly, a darker Dominican lady and a couple of Haitians told me how some white foreigners and some other Dominicans call them "F*cking n*ggers". With all that, I'm not going to recommend the DR until they get their act together with Haitians.

Japan - In subtle ways here. I never felt that Japan was exactly racist, but subtle racism is sometimes worse. A few people took pictures with me - men because I was African-American, women because they found me legitimately attractive, and a couple of children as I was a gaijin (foreigner - they tease and hey I was a foreigner) to them. Yes, you will also see the occasional misconception of ignorant blackface on marketing (Mr. Popo from DBZ anyone?!?!), but most of this is ignorance as Japan is very homogenous. I felt there was a constant curiosity to me and the schoolkids loved to talk to me English for practice - it was an assignment. Lastly, the Japanese love black culture BAPE, some guy on Harajuku Street bumping hip-hop and asking me(hey bro!) to check out the shoes, and the Ganguro look(I meant to take a picture of this but forgot as this one lady had a huge red curly weave and skin darker than mine - tanning).  I recommend Japan, just be aware that unless you're Japanese you will stick out so feel free to educate.

Italy - While I didn't face this directly in Rome or Florence, I saw this on the periphery. The police harassed many North African immigrants selling their bric-a-brac on streets. Of course they didn't have a permit, but I had a feeling that the variation of how things worked Italy was not in their favor. Beyond this, there was a clear discussion of colorism from the lighter Northern Italians in Florence and the darker Southern Italians I saw in Rome. It's there, but I didn't directly encounter it.

Brazil - Colorism abounds! So racism and classism take place here. There is only a recent move to improve the lives of people in the favelas - several have very kind people. Note: From what I saw, more dark skinned Brazilians were in the favelas while more lighter skinned Brazilians were in the nicer areas of the city. Everybody in the country considers themselves Brazilian, but there are occasional subtle moments that promote fair skin over dark skin that can be found everywhere, but definitely in job acquisition. Outright racism is frowned upon, but subtle racism is often harder to quantify, but it's here because of how multi-racial the country is a whole. Many of my Brazilian friends have a wide range of views on this subject. As for me, I didn't face much because people thought I was exactly my heritage(Black and Portuguese)/what I look like - Brazilian.

Netherlands - This is another country when my racism discussions were more with women than men. I met a Dutch woman in Argentina who discussed a ceremony with like a Santa Clause and little black elf helpers. She found no racism in it and said that people just celebrate their enjoyment of gift giving and happiness for the black elves (they're not mistreated or made fun of). I didn't see it directly, but I found the concept telling of how different American PC culture is different from others. Where I directly saw some racism was in Amsterdam with the dividing lines of the red light district -clear distinct sections for white women, older women, multiracial women, transsexual Thai women, and a black women section. Also this pale platinum blonde lady who was thugged out and dating a black guy was flirting with me as fetish. It was weird. Like all things Amsterdam, you kind of just accept the differences.

Turkey-No critiques of me being black occurred here; however, Turkey is an ancient country that comes with its differences. The most common was with people thinking I was Arabic (some of the poorer women thought I was rich and were trying to get money or green cards from me for their families) which led to zero haggling when alone (they thought I was Turkish) and constant haggling with anyone white even with a wonderful Turkish friend. Lastly, the Kurdish people would speak of the contentions between the Turks and Kurds as their Eastern border is not peaceful.