Erin titled all her photos "Me with ____". This is "Me with Hat".

Your Spain Experience—Interview with Erin

I don’t remember when, but a few years I got a notification that someone new was following me on Twitter. I used to check everyone’s profiles to see why the person was following me of all people. The new follower’s name was Erin, apparently she lived in California, and she loved … Real Madrid? Odd, I thought, but I decided to follow her back. And what a good decision it was! Erin has definitely increased my love for Real Madrid, and she has shared her experiences in Spain via her blog but also via Twitter.

Erin has a much more unique perspective on her time in Spain than most blogs. Why? Simply put, she’s not white. A lot of the “Expat in Spain” blogs are written by people just like me, and that can get a boring and monotonous, don’t you think? After reading one of Erin’s most poignant blog entries on racism in the classroom, I thought about interviewing her, because you people must get tired of so many white-chick-dating-a-Spanish-dude stories. So here you are; I hope you will find it as interesting and thought-provoking as I do.

Erin titled all her photos "Me with ____". This is "Me with Hat".

Erin titled all her photos “Me with ____”. This is “Me with Hat”.


Describe how you first got interested in Spain.

Two words: Real Madrid. Haaa, no, just kidding.

I studied Spanish in high school and I loved learning the language, minus my inability to roll my R’s. Before she died, my grandma and I also made a silly promise to visit Spain together (she’s here in spirit) since it wasn’t part of her only trip to Europe. In college, Spanish art history became a huge part of my academics. Maybe had I grown up a Boca Juniors fan and my school offered classes on Argentine art history, things would be different, but after a certain point it seemed like all signs pointed to Spain.

How good was your Spanish when you first got to Spain? Do you feel like your level of Spanish affected how people treated you?

According to BEDA’s tests at orientation I was at the B1 level, which seems about right. In Spanish conversations I mostly nod and say “vale” a lot.

At school, my coordinator and teachers knew I spoke Spanish and were very grateful for it. In general, at bars or grocery stores, people tend to assume I speak Spanish, so aside from a moment of awkward staring, I’m treated like any other stranger.

But in other situations, if my level were any lower, I think things would be extremely difficult. People look at me and assume my native language is Mandarin or Japanese instead of English, and that throws them off. When I was at an appointment to empadronar, the funcionario let out a very audible sigh while I walked up and pretty much stared lasers into my soul, speaking to me as quickly as possible. His demeanor completely changed later, when he asked for my passport and saw that I was from the U.S. He even spoke slower for me.

What did you know about Spain’s diversity and treatment of POC before going there? Did you read anything specific (blogs, articles, books) to help prepare yourself?

If someone has suggestions for all of the above, I would love to read them. I saw quite a few articles about Chinese immigration to Spain, and one about Colombians, but my research fell short after that. I do know a bit about populations in Córdoba pre-Reconquest due to thesis research, but that wasn’t particularly helpful to my situation.

Interestingly, a blogger who taught English in Taiwan probably helped me the most. Formerly “Black in Asia”, he now blogs at Owning My Truth and his experiences were really eye-opening, and I encourage everyone (especially people looking to teach anywhere in Asia) to read some of his posts.

Me with sports

Me with sports


What’s different about racism in Spain vs. the US?

In the U.S., and California in particular, I mostly suffer microaggressions and the street harassment explicitly involves my race maybe 60% of the time. In Spain, and Madrid in particular, it’s 100%.

People are very open with their racist thoughts. They’re not afraid to tell me about the stereotypes they hold against los Chinos, nor do they differentiate between the many countries in Asia in making these comments. This isn’t “harmless ignorance” as some people like to see it, and it goes beyond the typical blunt manner of speaking. I’ve been told more than once that “my people” are causing la crisis because they’re taking business away from honest Spaniards. I’ve been physically assaulted, and while all of these things have happened to me in the U.S. as well, it’s happened with more frequency here.

I’m not saying one is worse than the other, and before the #NotAllSpaniards brigade comes in, I’m not saying all Spaniards are racist either. It’s just different.

Did any aspect of your experience surprise you?

In my experience, if the person is over 65, they barely acknowledge my race, or do so in as complimentary a manner as possible. In the U.S. we have that stereotypical idea of a racist, grumpy old grandpa stuck in his ways, but most abuelos have always treated me with extra kindness. I don’t know. Maybe it’s because I look young enough to be their grandchild’s friend.

What have been some positive experiences you’ve had? Negative?

The cutest family in my school must be the Madrileña mom, Catalan dad, their 8-year-old Chinese and 3-year-old Ethiopian daughters. The mom is the biggest sweetheart and she was so happy I was there for her children, because “they don’t get to see a lot of successful women that look like they them.” Whatever tiny role I played in helping shape their confidence, I am forever grateful.

I mentioned some of my negative experiences in previous questions, but the worst was probably the last day of La Liga. Atleti was playing for the title, but Real Madrid also had a game that day, and I was at the Bernabéu. Afterward I went to meet up with other friends for dinner, still in my jersey since I hadn’t had the opportunity to change, and I am not exaggerating when I say that was one of the most terrifying walks of my life. I was not making eye contact with people, focused on texting my friends to provide distraction, yet I was stopped on every block (and in the metro). At one point, two girls got into my face and started yelling obscenities I wish I didn’t know in Spanish, telling me to go back to China and take my team with me. She reached out her hand and had her friend not pulled her away, I don’t know what would’ve happened. Immediately afterward, a large group of guys surrounded me and I had to push my way out and pretty much started running.

People are going to say it was my jersey, not racism, but that’s only half the picture. I saw plenty of people still wearing their shirts without being harassed the way I was. These people singled me out because I was alone, I was female, and I was foreign. Their insults weren’t just about my team, they were about my gender and race (the group of guys asked how much a China would cost for a night, if I trabajar como un chino in bed).

I know, this isn’t limited to Spain. I’ve been harassed for wearing San Francisco Giants gear in the wrong cities. But this was another level, and it’s not something people think actually happens with frequency in Spain.

Me with babies

Me with babies


Did any of your coworkers treat you differently because you weren’t what they expected?

There was definitely an “Oh…huh.” moment when I arrived, especially because the auxiliars were shifted around on the first day of school. Some of my teachers have been sweet and welcoming since the beginning, and I will never forget their kindness. Others took a while to warm up to me, skeptical that I could teach English (Funny enough, these were the teachers who didn’t really speak English at all). A few parents were always surprised when their children introduced me as the English teacher. It took a little convincing, and teachers I didn’t work with were less than friendly all year, but the ones I saw every day ended up being great coworkers. I was really lucky.

What have you learned this year?

That I have the right to be upset, angry, and hurt. Anyone who has met me knows that I am very calm (exception being sporting events); one of my teachers asked me how I could possibly look so feliz all the time. When I talk about the racism I’ve experienced, people tend to picture me as a perpetually angry woman getting offended about everything all the time, but I’m really not. I rarely react in any of the situations I’ve been put in, except to get away as quickly as possible, and I’m extremely non-confrontational.

But it’s a relief to have my feelings validated, to realize that I am allowed to be upset that someone screamed, “Ni hao!” in my face as I came up from the metro, I am allowed to be angry that someone grabbed my ass and told me he’d never been with a China before, I am allowed to be hurt that my students mock me and pretend to speak Chinese when I’ve only ever spoken English and Spanish with them. I have the right to expect respect.

 

Any advice for future WOC (and/or POC) who come to Spain?

This is a hard one. It took me a while to understand that what was happening to me in everyday life wasn’t fair and that microaggressions are more than what they seem (Chuks, the blogger I mentioned, has a great post on this topic), and not every POC has turned this corner. Beyond that, POC is a really broad category, and what I experience as a Chinese American is not the same as a Black American, or a Mexican American, etc. Some people may never run into the things I have, or they may not process it the same way. I don’t want to invalidate anyone’s experiences; what deeply offended me might not even register in someone else’s mind.

But if I could go back and give myself advice? Whether or not I want to be, I am an ambassador for my race and my nationality. When I want to, I can turn an awkward encounter into a teaching moment. But I also have the choice to run. I am not obligated to listen to someone insult my race because of social etiquette; no one is.

Me with my mom

Me with my mom

 

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53 comments

  1. What a powerful interview. Thanks so much, Erin, for sharing your story.

    I felt my legs grow weak just reading the story about the La Liga aftermath. What a terrifying and infuriating way to be treated.

    A fellow auxiliar of mine was of Vietnamese descent and would relate these same types of stories to us. One day at school a teacher even pulled back the skin around her eyes to refer to my coworker–and this was done in front of a group of high school students.This was completely unacceptable and left me with a much lower estimation of my co-teacher.

    Over the past few years quite a few Spaniards have asked me about racism in the states, implying that black-white relations are horrendous and that we are a terribly racist society. I don’t think they quite understand how much diversity there is, how far things have come….(Not they couldn’t be improved in places, obviously, there are still sticky issues and bridges to be crossed.) However, Spain, with their one-size-fits-all CHINO label, still has a lot of ground to cover.

    1. I find it odd when Spaniards think that the U.S. is so much worse. I guess that’s the idea they get from the news and the media, but in Spain there just isn’t that much diversity, especially in smaller towns.

      1. I had only been in Spain for a couple of months this summer and maybe it’s that I’m in the “honeymoon” phase, but I think I may have the opposite experience. Now that I’m back in the States, I feel more conscious about me being “Asian”. Yesterday was my first day back and I had to send a package to my Southeast Asian country and a man asked if the address is Chinese. I didn’t catch myself soon enough to reply a harsh “Noooo”… At least in Spain, people know a bit of my country. You’d be surprised. What’s better is that they would ask first where I am from, not just guess. But then again, people tend to ask this question less than they do in the US. In Spain, I was just another human being who goes on about her business. I wasn’t harassed in anyway (except for the “Morena” catcalls), not even in smaller towns. In fact, I have never been treated so kindly in the small towns in Catalunya.

        Just another perspective…

    2. I couldn’t possibly count how many times someone has pulled their eyes back at me here, children and adults alike. It just doesn’t register with them that it’s an offensive gesture.

      I think a big part of their perspective on U.S. race relations comes attached with our violent crime rates (How many times must we read about another unarmed black person being shot to death??), which is what the media covers. I don’t blame them for coming away with those ideas, but a little introspection wouldn’t hurt either.

      Thanks for reading :)

  2. Thank you so much for highlighting this subject. I am white British and my boyfriend is of Filipino decent born in Madrid. We have experienced a lot comment and looks about our mixed race relationship. Particuly in Madrid. We lived in the UK for a year a half and never had anything like it. Since being in Madrid I have noticed how differently I am treated to the locals. Even with no language barrier. My boyfriend has had much worse experiences than me.
    I think Madrid is beautiful and full of interesting people but I have never felt more uncomfortable anywhere before. I find it really clouds my whole experience (been here 10 months).

    1. Vicky, you have said what pretty much my husband and I experience. He’s white British and I’m Filipino. When we’re in Spain, we usually get stares. I, myself, always get the China comment, etc. My husband and I are in his town in England right now. It’s a small town where the population is predominantly white. I haven’t experienced anything, even a single bit, like in Madrid where it’s a big city.

  3. I’m African-American and have been fearful of an extended stay in Spain for this reason. It’s fine for a visit because we are in “tourist areas” but I’ve been afraid to stay for a summer. I have an opportunity to work in Barcelona but I’m so nervous that outside of the office, I will not be treated well. Do you know any African- Americans they work in Spain?

      1. Thanks I will check out the link. I guess I just nervous because I live Miami and we are very diverse. I loved Barcelona and just seems like a great place but I don’t want to not be prepared for what I might encounter.

    1. African Americans actually make up a decent proportion of auxiliares in Spain, I’m not sure how many of them blog, but here are a couple I’ve come across:
      http://www.travelingnatural.com
      http://www.yourlandmyland.com (Full disclosure: She has a post on racism that I disagreed with, but we did have a decent conversation later in private about it)
      And this is the YouTube blogger that Kaley mentioned: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1KCtyEHFwZKsUP1lNZPD1g

      I mostly focused on the negatives of my experience in this interview, but like I said, the U.S. isn’t immune to racism either. It’s a gamble we have to take being a person of color in Western contexts.

      I encourage you not to let fears and nerves keep you from pursuing something you’re interested in doing, but also know that if it gets too difficult, you’re not obligated to stay (work contracts aside). In general, my time in Spain has been really great and I’ve made some wonderful friends, Spaniards included :)

    2. Hi Lyn, I am a Black Women who has visited Spain for many years before I decided to live there for 2 years. While I won’t say you won’t encounter some uncomfortable situations, I will say that for me 90% of the time has been without incident. Actually I experienced some of the most blatant racism back here in the US. I think the news media has a lot to do with the perception of how non-whites are portrayed. I have spoken my peace when I saw children pull their eyes back and explained how it is not nice and hurts people’s feelings (they were 5) and I also corrected folks in a bar saying not every Asian person is from China or every Black person is from Africa selling trinkets. On the flip side, I have also had to tell a few ladies to stop searching for everything to be racist, sometimes it’s the fact that it is just different.(for example the staring- Spaniards stare at everybody! The pushing through and not saying excuse me-they do that to everybody!) I guess what I am trying to say and what I think Erin is saying, “stay positive,be comfortable in your own skin and know you have every right to be anywhere you please”. I found folks to be extremely nice and have maintained great friendships.
      If you have an opportunity to work in Barcelona, take it.

      Erin, thanks so much for doing this interview and Kaley thanks for always providing a different perspective. ;)

      1. Again– your comments specifically mean a lot — I’m nervous but this helps. I have a business trip coming up next month. We shall see– I also mostly work with men and try as they might they don’t seem to get my racial apprehension. I think they are just used to me. Lol

    3. I’ve been living back and forth in Barcelona since I was a kid. 100% IN LOVE WITH THE CITY. I just moved back to the USA after living there this past year, my last two roommates were black British women. We had the best summer :0) in the streets there was the occasional ‘how much’ and ‘whore’ because the majority of prostitutes in BCN are Nigerian, mainly by La Rambla at night. I speak good Spanish so I responded with witty rebuttals and educated idiots. But I got way more ‘guapa’ throughout EVERY day and other compliments so it wasn’t significant enough to make my experience remotely negative, I’m already planning to move back again. Also, I got some weird looks on the street holding hands with a Spanish guy I was dating but that’s expected as it’s not as common.

      In my school, I worked as a teacher in, I found myself having to educate my children more about Asian people in general since they thought they were all ‘chinos’ that worked in tiny bazaars that ‘took’ all Spanish people’s money it irked me so MUCH! I also had my 5 year old students call me ‘china’ on several occasions because they’d only known Chinese people to be the only other race outside of Spanish *sigh* had to educate them every time!!! Other teachers seemed to be disturbed when they realized I grew up wealthy and that both my parents were entrepereneurs (after showing ‘about me’ presentations), they had a negative idea about black Americans that I changed which I believe was more good than insulting because I altered their perspective. No different from people’s reactions here on this soil though.

      I say GO to Barcelona!, you might just fall in love with the city, too. Contact me if you have questions.

  4. So, so fascinating. I can’t even fathom the double whammy of being foreign AND being obviously foreign while living abroad. Major props to Erin for remaining so smart and positive throughout the whole experience!

  5. This post is important!! Thanks so much for sharing Erin’s unique and valuable perspective as a Chinese American working in Spain.

    For better or for worse, white girls (or white guys, in my case) tend to dominate the expats-in-Spain blogging world, so I’m grateful for this counterpoint to the bloggers (myself among them) who don’t and can’t comment on experiencing prejudice that is still very real in Spain. Sometimes simply being aware of the privilege you benefit from as a white person (despite being a guiri) is a first step in combating racism, be it institutional racism in America or hurtful attitudes & actions in Spain.

    Despite some of the rude and downright scary experiences Erin has gone through in Spain, I think it’s important for more Americans who are PoC like her to continue to go to Spain and teach English, because it breaks down the stereotype that America is a “white” nation or even “Christian” nation for that matter–it never has been and the illusion that some Spaniards believe that America is white/Christian completely disregards the tradition and contributions of non-white, non-Christian people that make American what it is today.

    Great interview, Kaley–are you planning on more posts like these in the future?

  6. This was such a great interview. Thank you so much for publishing this Kaley! This is something I wish more bloggers would focus on. This is something white travel bloggers don’t really think about–what it’s like to be a person of color abroad. I’m sadly not surprised to hear Erin had such negative experiences while she was in Madrid, but it seems like she had some very positive experiences as well, especially with the teachers she worked with.

    Some of the points that Erin raises were some things my American-Korean roommate faced while we did our MA in Madrid. She was adopted from Korea so she didn’t speak any Korean and was raised by a white family which added another layer to her experience. Many Asians in Madrid assumed she spoke Chinese when she walked into Chino stores and sometimes she would get the “China” comment from Spaniards. I don’t think she experienced anything like Erin did in the street but the feelings of being labeled “other” were there.

    On the other hand, my Black American roommate said she experienced less racism in Spain than she did in the States (from Richmond, VA). She felt like she could wear her hair however she wanted because Spaniards didn’t really know how Black hair could be styled (we talked about her hair a lot and I learned so much about the politics of Black female hair) She ended up going natural while she was there since she had to take out her synthetic braids eventually (and she didn’t know of any hair salons that knew how to treat Black hair). She got a few “morena” comments but she didn’t feel they were aimed at her in a demeaning way. Nobody thought she was from Africa, her skin tone was light enough that it indicated she came from elsewhere. No one ever guessed she was American, she always got a range of European countries since she wasn’t very dark, but she was not very light either. She could have been from anywhere. I was always surprised when she told me she felt less stared at in the streets there than she did in the USA.

    Thank you Erin for sharing your experience! I really enjoyed reading it.

    1. I do tend to feel like I suffered slightly more street harassment than normal, and I think it’s because I spent so much time wandering and running errands alone rather than in groups. Easier target and all that.

      But in general, yes, my experience was very positive! I am staying in Spain another year after all ;)

  7. Thank you so much Kaley and Erin for sharing your story with us! This is so powerful and I love to see it when stereotypes are broken down. I hope in the future that more minorities will venture out into world as ESL teachers because sadly in many countries there is a pervasive belief that you can’t be a native English speaker if you’re not white. This reminds me of something I read a few years ago about what it’s like teaching ESL in China. Like in Spain, many Chinese people are very skeptical of any native English teacher that isn’t white, for example those of African or Asian decent from English-speaking countries. I read that there is actually a pay scale grade according to the color of your skin and the whiter you are in China, the easier it will be to get an ESL job!!

    I’m really glad Erin that your experience overall has been a positive one! But honestly, from all the time I’ve been living in Spain your negative experiences don’t surprise me at all. Spain has so little diversity and lack of history of immigration that racism is very widespread even among educated people that should in theory be more sensitive to this kind of thing.

  8. Great interview and very interesting. Unfortunately the Spanish are racist people in general, despite having been “the empire where the sun never sunset”, which should have made us more tolerant by the diversity of races that were part of it. It did not help the isolation suffered by the country during the Franco dictatorship for forty years, and it is costing us to let go of the many defects that were purchased, which makes it still has a certain distrust of people who come from abroad and they are “different” from oneself. At least that’s my oponión.

    1. yes Spaniards are racist in general….and we all love bullfighting and dance flamenco, in fact right now while typing, my feet can’t stop tapping the cracked floor, and i order them to keep still, but they don’t listen to me anymore…olé!

      Americans are cowboys and they all love rodeo, in fact Obama is a cowboy and his dear and beloved wife a cowgirl.

      Brits are drunkards and they all love to get pissed as soon as they arrive along the Spanish coastline ready to party, they all also love to jump off hotels balconies (the new thing to do it seems).

      well to apply certain stereotype to a whole nation in general is unfair….of course there is racism in Spain, but to say that Spaniards are racist in general shows little knowledge of the country…better if you use sentences like “some of them……in some places….certain places….”, etc

      by the way, i hadn’t got any idea that in our glorious and splendid empire of old the sun never sunset :-)

  9. …Thank you both for such an interesting and thoughtful interview!!…

    In my previous Spain experience (i.e. semester-long study abroad), neither me nor my other P.O.C.s on the program never really encountered any sort of microaggressions at all, apart from the occasional stare on the street–though that might have been b/c I was in a university town where there were students from all over (Salamanca)…

    It is unfortunate that anyone has to experience the sort of unwarranted treatment you’ve described–but I applaud you for never letting it deter you from living the auxiliar/expat experience!!…Like others have commented above, I agree that it’s important for more P.O.C.s to move abroad in order to combat these stereotypes and open up people’s perspectives about the level of diversity that can be found in the world, :-)…

  10. thank you very much Erin for telling your experience…..what happened to you in the Metro is nasty, disgusting…clearly those two girls and other people who may insult or attack you at any time are miserable and they show the worst of the human race and how cruel and barbarian some people may be.

    you are right that we tend to think of China when we see any Asian person, this is based on ignorance, shame on us!

    having said that, i should like to clarify that racism in Spain in based on crime mainly, whereas in the USA there is a lot more racism and is based mainly on the colour of the skin…..in the USA black people are attacked a lot, sometimes us Spaniards see on the telly that a black guy is shot down by white policemen in, say, Missouri, etc us also see that black people get sentenced to death easier than white people, etc

    in Spain and under my opinion racism has got to do mainly with crime…there is a whole new generation of Moroccans and other immigrants from Eastern Europe, say, Rumanians and Bulgarians who many of them are evildoers, they are the ones who steal your handbag in the Metro, who break in your house (mainly Bulgarians) etc.

    of course i shalln’t say that all immigrants are criminals, no way! lots of them are good people who work and have a good life, but it is fair to say that most criminals in the streets are immigrants or sons of immigrants, the new generation.

    by the way, i do not agree with Trevor’s comment that Spaniards see the USA as a white nation…USA is a nation of immigrants with Hispanic, Asian, Irish heritage, etc…when it comes to white nations we think mainly of Sweeden, Denmark or any other Northern European country because of the guiri stereotype that applies to typical holiday makers who overrun the coastline, usually blonde….anyways it is great to disagree with respect :-)

    finally let me say to you that i love that you are a supporter of Madrid, great! we have defeated Sevilla in Wales, the land of Gareth Bale, we have won the European Supercup! hope we win the Champions League again next year.

    hala Madrid! and to hell with atléticos and culés! haha

    1. Re: Most criminals are immigrants. This comment is worthy of a diatribe that I do not wish to give, but I will say that many Spaniards take advantage of the “Immigrant Criminal” stereotype and commit crimes, since they don’t “look suspicious.” Spaniards commit just as many crimes, they’re just less likely to be racially profiled.

      1. i am sorry if i did not explain it well.

        of course there are Spaniards who are criminals, in fact we see terrible men and women who kill their own children, also the corrupt politicians, etc

        what i meant is that most criminals that you find in the Metro behind your back to steal your handbag or to take money out of tourists’ backpacks are mostly Eastern Europeans, and this is a fact.

        also along the coastline most minor crimes such as drug dealing are commited by Moroccans.

        having said that, of course there are Spanish criminals, in fact the worst crimes like killing children or wives for example are commited by Spaniards.

  11. This is a very important and powerful post. Thank you for bringing some of these issues to light Erin and Kaley. My blog, like many other expats in Span blogs, is written from my perspective as a white American. I truly enjoyed reading your experiences in Spain and look forward to educating Spaniards and my students when/if they ever say anything that approaches racism. Thank you both again for doing this interview.

  12. Querida Erin; como madrileño y después de leer lo que te ha ocurrido estoy avergonzado, abochornado y muy cabreado por que estas cosas puedan ocurrir, no solo en España, en cualquier país. Los que te han ofendido a la salida del futbol, son unos canallas y unos cobardes que no merecen llamarse personas.
    En cuanto a la idiosincrasia del pueblo, en concreto “el madrileño” somos descarados, así echándole ”morro” y eso suele llevar aparejada la mala educación; las miradas en el metro o en la calle, miramos lo que nos sorprende, sin recato, así por las bravas. O bien en la cola del banco… la señora que mete la nariz a dos palmos de tu hombro.
    -A ver señora, ¿le importa mucho el dinero que tengo en mi cuenta?
    O el saludo;
    -Hombre cuanto tiempo sin verte, estas mas gordo…
    -Ya lo ves, pues a ti solo te quedan tres pelos… Después vas y al bocazas le llamas “melenas” y le rematas.
    Te cuento esto, porque aquí la gente no es consciente de que ofenden cuando te llaman “chinita” o se estiran los ojos con las manos, en general creen que hacen una “gracia” es ignorancia creo yo.
    El racismo existe, claro, sobre todo con gitanos y moros, es una larga tradición… de siglos, da para otro debate.
    Espero que te sobrepongas, seguro que también has encontrado gente cariñosa que te trata con el respeto que mereces.
    Saludos, ánimo y ¡Hala Madrid!

    1. Jajaja estoy de acuerdo con lo sois descarados, pero no sólo los madrileños. Lo digo porque mi familia política es así… y yo, entiendo que no son bordes, sino muy muy sinceros. Siempre lo dicen cuando ven que alguien está más gordo/delgado. Y a mí me sorprendía al principio pero ahora me he acostumbrado.

      Tenienedo esto en cuenta, les quiero perdonar la ignorancia la primera vez que hagan algo así. Lo que pasa es que les he explicado a varios amigos/familiares que lo de estirarse los ojos es ofensivo pero muchos no lo han creído y supongo que siguen haciendo tonterías así. No sé, podrían intentar aprender. No digo que todos, porque cuando le expliqué a mi marido que lo consideramos ofensivo y por qué… Se lo he pensado dos veces y ha cambiado. Ahora entiende por qué no se debe hacer. Supongo que tú serás igual, porque estás comentando ahora y parece que entiendes mejor que la mayoría.

      No quería discutir contigo, pero espero que me entiendas. :)

      ¡Hala Madrid! ¡Viva España!

    2. De verdad mi familia china y vietnamita hacen lo mismo como madrileños jaja. Cada vez hablo por Skype con mis tías me dicen “Qué gorda eres!! Has comido mucho pan??” Con estas declaraciones no tengo ningún problema, es una manera de hablar.

      Pero hay diferencias entre algo así y cuando alguien se estira los ojos con las manos o me llama “china”, porque me siento como no tengo ni nombre ni identidad, sólo “la china” (Y nací en los EEUU pero nunca me llama “la americana”). Yo entiendo que la gente no quiere ofender, pero como Kaley ha dicho, hay mucha gente que no lo cree después de mi explicación.

      Sin embargo, sí, claro, mis amigos españoles son muyyy amables y ya tengo ganas de visitarlos en Madrid. Mi entrevista sólo explica los negativos pero tengo un montón de experiencias positivas :)

  13. Kaley y Erin; por supuesto que tu marido lo entiende Kaley, es inteligente, es culto, ha viajado y además tu le ayudas.
    No trato de justificar, ni de desarrollar un tratado de antropología social sobre el pueblo español, en algún comentario anterior alguien ha dicho que esta forma de comportarse, se debe al aislamiento de España durante 40 años, cierto, también a la falta de diversidad racial, y a la influencia de la iglesia católica. Quizás no voluntariamente, eran otros tiempos, pero, pregúntale a tu suegro por el Domund, creo que somos de la misma quinta.
    El día del Domund, los niños salíamos a pedir limosna por la calle para las misiones católicas, con huchas en forma de cabeza de chino, negro o indio; y pedíamos para los chinitos o para los negritos, es decir para el tercer mundo, para que fueran al cielo, en fin…
    Existe también el reduccionismo de; si tiene rasgos orientales, es chino. Si es rubio, colorado como un cangrejo, habla raro y lleva calcetines con sandalias, es güiri. Y lo podemos ampliar, si eres español, eres torero o bailaor de flamenco, eres un vago, la siesta es sagrada y tu bebida preferida es la sangría…
    Erin, ésta es una explicación de porque hay gente que no asimila que tu puedas dar clases de inglés a sus hijos, no te asocian con EEUU. Su absoluto desconocimiento de las migraciones sociales a América y unos antecedentes culturales bastante lamentables impiden que lo entiendan. Hasta que te ven trabajar…
    Estudié en un internado católico en Segovia; llegó un novato al colegio, era coreano. Traía escrito en un papel, cuatro cosas en español; dormitorio, comedor, aula y profesor. Los dos teníamos catorce años, pero yo era veterano y le adopté. Fuimos inseparables, si, le llamaban chino, pero poco, yo tenía malas pulgas y sobre todo, el era un experto en taekwondo.
    Perdón por el rollo, hay mas anécdotas pero no quiero ser pesado, adiós guapas.

  14. Texto quejica y victimista a mas no poder (el constante uso del término microagresión lo dice todo). Yo soy español de pura cepa y he sufrido experiencias xenófobas mucho mas fuertes en Cataluña, cuando alguna gente no me ha dirigido la palabra o incluso no me ha atendido en algún comercio al percibir que yo era “español ”.

    Lo del futbol…demasiado poco le pasó¡¡¡ Fue una imprudencia meterse alegremente entre la afición de un equipo con la zamarra del eterno rival en un derby de alta rivalidad deportiva, donde abunda la chusma enardecida por el alcohol y la rivalidad deportiva.

    Suerte tuvo de que le pasó en España. Le pasa eso en Italia, Argentina, Grecia, Serbia, etc, y la paliza la tenía garantizada.

    Un saludo.

    1. because this blog post has had success and because some readers mayn’t know Castilian, i am going to translate exactly what the person named “varilarguero” has said about Erin’s interview, or at least to translate it the closest…this is what he or she has said:

      “”typical text/response from a Moaning Minnie, a whinger, self victimised….i am a deep rooted Spaniard and have experienced worse racist situations in Cataluña with Catalan Spaniards against NonCatalan Spaniards whilever i showed that i was NonCatalan, and they would not even speak to me!……as for the football issue, too little she got!!! it was a silly thing to wear a Madrid jersey and get through a crowd of Atleticos supporters with lots of hooligans, increased with alcohol and the hot rivalry……she was lucky, if such a thing had happened in Argentina, Greece or Serbia she would have been beaten for sure””

  15. I’m sad to hear she had so many bad experiences because of her race… it breaks my heart there’s so many mean people, but she inspires me in being so strong. I don’t think I’d have been able to stay the whole time after such things had happened to me. I’ve suffered myself from bullying and discrimination, being harrassed and even hit in my own country, and I’m a normal “white” girl. Again, I had bad experiences in France too but here I am living in this very country right now.

  16. I saw a lot of racism first-hand, particularly the year I studied abroad and many of my closest friends were Asian-American, from “ni hao”s on the street to people pulling their eyes back or referring to my friends as “la chinita.” In my year teaching in a small Andalucían town, I did a presentation that featured photos of my friends back home, and the entire class erupted into unstoppable laughter upon seeing a photo that featured a few Asian-Americans.

    It’s pretty horrifying, and it’s surprising coming from somewhere like California that is by no means free of racism but is very open minded and diverse. Because Asian immigration to Spain is still recent enough that most people are simply ignorant, I have a lot of hope that things will change in the upcoming decades.

    I’m also observing a lot of Asian racism in Australia (it takes on a slightly different form from racism in Spain), despite how high the Asian immigrant population is in places like Sydney, and I hope that it too will change in the years to come.

  17. This is a great interview, although sadly I’m not at all surprised what what Erin’s experienced from what I’ve seen over my few years in Spain. When I worked at a language academy, there were hardly any non-Catalan kids, let alone non-white kids. So the British teacher of Asian descent was ‘la china’. When I pretended I didn’t know who they were talking about and tried to get them to describe her in other terms (name, hair color, height, etc.), they insisted there was a ‘china’ teacher and pulled their eyes back saying “she’s the one who looks like this.”

    Being on the receiving end of stuff like that must be endlessly frustrating; dealing with people who are physically aggressive like the girl after the football game is flat-out scary.

    I think a lot of the ignorance may come from rarely having seen or interacted with people who look different, particularly people who look different who are of the same social status. Even my friends who are educated and have traveled will make occasionally comments that would be viewed as pretty racist in California. (Trying to get them to understand why it’s not okay is an uphill battle). Of course, California, while not racism-free, is way more diverse than any place I’ve been in Spain.

    Like Kirstie, I hope this gets better in the future.

  18. Hey Erin, I think you taught at the 2nd school I taught at! I wish I could have seen them this past year!! Did you meet a kid named Jorge (bright green eyes) in 1st of infantil? He was in my 2 year old group last year and was so incredibly intelligent.

    Enjoyed reading this!

    1. Did he have blondish/light brown hair? I had a lot of 3-year-old Jorges but I think I know which one you’re talking about! I miss the babies already, I might visit them when I’m in town for orientation next week :)

  19. Reblogged this on Afsha M. and commented:
    So glad to know I am not alone and my experiences of racism do not go unnoticed. We are allowed to feel offended and mistreated. A blog post soon to come regarding experiences about racism I have already faced in the first few weeks…perhaps because I look Arabic?

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