Your Spain Experience—Interview with Sarah

Hey everyone! I really liked the response I got to Erin’s interview. (Well, except for one, but when you bring up anything even semi-controversial, I suppose you can expect some of that!) So I decided to reach out to another woman of color in Spain, Sarah. Again, we “met” on Twitter, and she has lived in Valladolid for the past year. Now she’s coming to Madrid! But I’ll let her do the introducing.

Just as an aside to any Spaniards reading: With these interviews, I aim to highlight a different side of Spain and blogging about Spain. In no way am I saying racism here is worse than in the U.S.; it’s just different. And, yes, it exists in Spain as well as the U.S.! The women I have interviewed here like Spain, even love it.

Sarah in Spain

Describe how you first got interested in Spain.

When I was in elementary school, my hometown was predominantly white.  However, by the time I got into high school, the school was 70% Hispanic.  The huge influx of immigrants into my town made me really interested in learning about Hispanic culture and of course the Spanish language!

Going into college, I was most excited about studying abroad.  During my junior year, I studied abroad in Salamanca, Spain. I chose Spain because it was a semester long program versus the other countries that were only short four week programs during the Summer months.  I had no idea what to expect upon arriving.  It was by far my favorite semester of school.  Within four short months, I had fallen in love with the laid back lifestyle, kind people, rich culture, and delicious food–set a plate of croquetas in front of me and I’m basically in heaven.  Since that semester, I was aching to go back to Spain and live la vida española again!

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

When I first arrived to Spain, I could not speak Spanish at all even though I had studied it for YEARS. I remember getting in the car with my host family for the first time and barely being able to form sentences correctly!  Haha.

I definitely had occurrences where people would treat me poorly or rudely because my Spanish was subpar.  For example, going into the supermarket or a shop in general and asking for something but you can’t remember how to say it in Spanish, you get a lot of eye rolling or general attitude.  This constantly happens in my bank! Ugh.

However, my personal favorite experience happened this past year in Pamplona, I was in a shop with a friend talking to the shopkeeper.  He had asked us where we were living in Spain.  I dread getting this question because it’s quite difficult to properly pronounce “Valladolid”.  Anyway, he asked us and then didn’t understand us.  We repeated it multiple times.  My friend even tried spelling it.  We said it slowly, we said it quickly, we articulated it, but he just did not get it.  Finally, when he understood us (after about 10 million tries) he yelled at us pretty intensely saying that we need to properly learn how to speak Castellano and that we were an embarrassment.  He yelled so intensely we dropped everything we were looking at and just ran out of the store.  That’s probably the worst I’ve been treated here in Spain.

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

I didn’t know much about Spain’s diversity in general before arriving.  I had never read anything or even looked anything up.  I guess you could say it wasn’t even on my radar to look into any of that kind of stuff.  I’ve never lived in an area where I have felt aware or been treated differently because I’m a POC.  So, I never even considered that I would have to prepare myself to be a POC in Spain at all.

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

This question was particularly difficult for me to answer.  I think this is particularly because I haven’t been personally attacked for being a POC in Spain.  However,  I’ve had conversations with Spaniards about the racism in Spain versus in the US.  I had a friend in particular defend Spain by saying that what Americans would view as racist and unacceptable is viewed as acceptable and normal in Spain.  Take for example when the Spanish basketball players posed in a picture during the 2008 Beijing Olympics with their eyelids pulled back portraying a Chinese person.  Many Spaniards didn’t see the issue with that picture at all.  I’m not saying that all Spaniards are blind to what’s racist and not.  I would just say that this is a clear difference between what is considered racist in the US versus in Spain.

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Did any aspect of your experience surprise you?

At first, it greatly surprised me that there are some racist things that occur in Spain that Spaniards don’t realize could be even the slightest bit offensive to POC.  I’ve heard people say that Spaniards are just ignorant to racism.  I don’t think this is ignorance.  However, I think it is just the difference between how the US views racism versus what Spain views.  In America we have such an intense history of racial maltreatment that we are much more sensitive to racism.  I constantly have to remind myself that Spaniards weren’t brought up with the same racial sensitivity that Americans are.  It doesn’t make it okay, but it’s just something to think about.

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

Positive-ish:

I wouldn’t say this is necessarily positive, but it’s quite funny that this happened.  I worked in a small pueblo of Valladolid called Medina de Rioseco.  Let me first say, I love this town with all my heart and now refer to it as my own pueblo.  I stick out in the town for a multitude of different reasons.  One of the main ones is that I was the first auxiliar de conversación to ever come to the town.  During my first month as an auxiliar, I was walking down the street to my school.  An elderly lady stopped me on the street to say hello and welcome me.  I thought it was so nice and kind of her! Then at the end of our conversation, she said to me “You’re the first black woman I’ve ever met in my life!”  I ended up just laughing the comment off and saying it was lovely to meet her.  It wasn’t an offensive comment at all.  Just something I’ve never come across in my life!

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Negative:

This is probably one of the more significant racial issues that occur in Spain.  “Blackface” is when a person who is not black paints their face black in order to portray a black person.  This is common in Spain particularly during the Christmas holidays as people start portraying the Three Wise Men.  It can also be seen during the holidays of Carnival in February.  At my school during Carnival, there is a great festival where all the different grade levels (teachers included!) dress up and do a musical number in front of the whole town.  The cafeteria staff portrayed the classic Sister Act nuns.  It was hilarious to see them all dressed up until one of them came out with a painted face and black afro to portray Whoopi Goldberg.  At the time, I felt quite uncomfortable because no one else had reacted to the apparent racist nature of the costume.  It was obvious that I was the only one who wasn’t comfortable with what was occurring.  Everyone just assumed I would think it was hilarious as well.  The worst part was that I didn’t know how to react, I didn’t know where to go, who to talk to, or what to say.  I felt that if I had spoken up about how I thought the costume was inappropriate, it would be just me against the entire school and community in general.  It took another occurrence of “Blackface” for me to realize how I should have handled this situation.

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I worked at a summer camp this past year.  Each night there were different activities for the kids to partake in.  One specific night was a celebrity night.  A group of the Spanish monitors dressed up as the Spice Girls.  One of the monitors painted their face black to portray Scary Spice.  Again, it didn’t occur to them that this was an inappropriate costume–especially at an English summer camp.  However, two of the American teachers took it upon themselves to appropriately speak up about the situation.  By speaking to our immediate boss who then spoke to his higher up, the situation was resolved.  The monitor removed the face paint was explained to why “Blackface” is racist and inappropriate.

I wish I had had the courage to speak up about my hurt feelings during carnival, but I’m grateful I now know how to handle this type of awkward situation. I believe that by educating people (in an appropriate way) on the racist aspect of “Blackface”, it hopefully won’t occur as much.

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

Apart from the Carnival incident, I never had any wrongful experiences with my school.  My coworkers were all extremely welcoming from day one. I’m grateful they never treated me differently in any way.  They were all very supportive of everything I did at school.  Additionally, the entire town welcomed me with open arms.  It’s nice to know that even though racism is a very real problem in Spain, it’s clearly not an innate trait of all Spaniards.

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What have you learned this year?

I’ve learned that it’s definitely okay to voice your opinion if you see something that you believe to be racist or inappropriate in any manner.  Sometimes Spaniards (as well as people in general) don’t realize that what they are doing can be hurtful.  Education is how people learn, grow, and change.  Stand up for yourself, speak your feelings, and help others realize that racism is a real issue here in Spain.

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

Don’t be afraid to turn an offensive, uncomfortable, or awkward situation into a learning experience.  If you’re feeling personally attacked, make it known–don’t just let it go and move on.  Sometimes the racism in Spain occurs because Spaniards are unaware that what they are doing or saying can be offensive.  If the racism isn’t directly targeted at you, but you still find it offensive, it’s okay to find an appropriate way to voice your concern.

Finally, remember that what’s seen as inappropriate and racist in America could be viewed differently here in Spain.  I’m not saying that makes it okay, it’s just something to think about.

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Thank you, Sarah! You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram!

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67 thoughts on “Your Spain Experience—Interview with Sarah

  1. I’m loving these posts too! I think it helps us and Spaniards understand these major cultural differences. The blackface thing always has really bothered me. I don’t expect every country to understand my perspective or to understand my country’s history of racism–we had an entire war fought over slavery, there was the Civil Rights’ Movement, and blackface was used in minstrel shows in the US in the early part of the 20th century (so just a little over a 100 years ago) and there’s more (such as current events in St. Louis right now) but I’ll leave it at that. When you put that into context for Spaniards, I think it makes it easier to understand why blackface is just a huge NO and we probably have a higher population of people of color to begin with.
    I wonder what immigrants from African countries think about this? I know how Americans will react to it, but do they get offended? It would be interesting to know.

  2. Loved reading Sarah’s experience in Spain; it sounds mostly positive and that she’s been able to successfully show people that blackface is *not* okay. The three kings always make me uncomfortable when they do paint their faces although I attended an epiphany parade 2 years ago with an African immigrant playing the part of Baltasar. :)

    Glad you’re keeping this series going, Kaley!

    1. Sorry, I’ll write in spanish to explain well (más o menos).

      Uno es racista con el vecino diferente (no somos racistas frente a los uzbecos, ya que no viven en nuestro barrio). En España hay racismo con los gitanos, en primer lugar y ya luego, en la actualidad, con los emigrantes: rumanos, chinos, moros, ecuatorianos… Entiendo yo que el racismo (no entender al diferente, menospreciarlo y no querer cambiar esa actitud), como el liarse a trompadas con cualquiera que te discuta, es algo instintivo; la educación y la civilización nos han de hacer cambiar esos sentimientos (no por ser de otra cultura, diferente, se es peor o mejor ni se ha de dejar de convivir).

      En cuanto a los carnavales o Reyes Magos, bueno. En España no ha habido poblaciones negras (personas de origen subsahariano, no melanesios ni drávidas) desde el siglo XVII (esclavos o libres: Quevedo dedica un poema satírico a ellos). Si te has de disfrazar de mujer, te pones falda y tacones, si de astronauta, un mono (“over all”) con escafandra y si te disfrazas de africano… En una fiesta de crítica y diversión no te preocupas por los sentimientos ofendidos de otras personas (los norteamericanos estadounidenses no son el centro del universo), un fallo cierto.

      Vuelvo a decir que el racismo es un sentimiento cultural (se da en todas las poblaciones humanas frente al vecino), no biológico. En nuestra ignorancia desconocemos que la mayor diversidad entre gentes (efecto cuna) se da en África. Hay más diferencia genética entre un congoleño y un etíope que entre un noruego y un yanomamo, no siendo ninguno de ellos, por el hecho de ser de una determinada etnia, peores o mejores que los otros.

  3. I have been reading every Spain blog on the worldwide web in preparation for moving to Madrid, and very few of them move past superficial expat issues to discuss topics as important as racism. Thanks, Kaley and Sarah, for your willingness to bring this to our attention!

  4. I am enjoying reading these posts! Great point about how Spaniards see racism differently, this can also apply to other European countries too. I think that with younger generations things will change the more diversity there is.

    Well in Spain and Italy I am the impossible Scottish girl. No one ever believes that I am from Scotland, it’s always ‘impossibile’ for me to be from there.

    1. with my deepest respect..if you are not considered Scottish by us Spaniards…what has it got to do with racism?

      we don’t see you as Scottish ‘cos you don’t fit the Northern European stereotype that us have in our heads stuck since the 60’s when massive floods of Sweedish, hence the old famous saying “que vienen las Suecas” (the Sweedish girls are coming) started to come to the sunny coastline.

      that is the reason why us tend to only consider guiris those people who fit the blond haired and pale skinned stereotype that we think that all Northern Europeans have.

      call us ignorant if you wish to and i accept it, but please do not try to make us look racist just because you are not seen as a guiri from Scotland, based on our ignorance of course :-)

      1. Maybe I should have explained my comment a bit better.

        When I lived in Spain before I would have conversations with people in Spainish. They would ask the usual questions: ‘What’s your name? How old are you? Why are you in Madrid ? (My reply to improve my Spanish and to teach English.) Where do you come from?
        My answer would be ‘I am Scottish’. They would keep insisting that it was impossible that I am Scottish and imply that I am a liar. I would then have to basically have to tell them my life story…. ‘My dad is Scottish and my mum is South African. I was born in South Africa but I have lived in Scotland since I was 3. I have spent the majority of my life in Scotland and I have been brought up in the Scottish culture, so I therefore consider myself Scottish.’

        Only then they would believe me. The majority of the time they would then start speaking in English and tell me that they went on erasmus to the UK for serveral months to a year and would love to practice speaking English. At which point I would start to wonder why they didn’t believe me at the start that I was from Scotland considering they lived in the UK for a period of time. You don’t only learn a language but the culture too. You cannot call these people ignorant because they lived in the UK and would have seen the diversity of people.

        Also in the UK we have the stereotype that people from Sweden and the rest of Scandinavia (Norway, Denmark, Finland and Iceland) are in general are all blonde. It’s not normally a stereotype of the UK but it depends on people’s opinion. The stereotypes of us tend to be that we have bad teeth and we drink tea all the time.

        1. i get what you mean…however, it does not matter if those Spaniards have been living in Britain and have seen the diversity, just like i know it…they will never see you Scottish because of the guiri stereotype that i have mentioned above….that is why i say that most of us are ignorant thinking that all Northern Europeans must have blonde hair and pale skin, and if you add short trousers and sandals with white socks in summertime as the Germans love to get dressed, then you have the total guiri we’ve in our heads stuck.

          1. I think this just highlights one major problem Spaniards have – the need to actually SEE what is beyond their stereotypes and perceptions. I know what you’re saying, but honestly, it’s frustrating that anyone would defend ignorance. A lot of Spaniards are simply ignorant of anything beyond their scope, and yes, this applies to many other groups as well. However, in Spain, it was VERY obvious that a lot of people had never seen much beyond Spain, and that is a huge problem in this globalized world. I, like sunshineandoliveadventures, have experienced similar things in Spain when I told people I was Canadian. I would always hear “but where are you really from?” which is something I had never heard before in Canada or the U.S. Spaniards thought all Canadians were blonde and blue-eyed despite the fact that the only “real” Canadians are Natives (who are much darker than the blondes). It just goes to show a lack of education on that front.

        2. sunshine…yes most Spaniards will never consider you to be Scottish ‘cos you don’t fit the Northern European stereotype…..it has nothing to do with racism, it’s got to do with ignorance.

          that is exactly why Moroccans, Italians, Americans (mainly from Central and South America) or Portuguese are not seen as guiris, ‘cos they don’t fit the blond haired or blue eyed stereotype…they are seen as immigrants, not as the guiri/holiday maker.

          http://www.unmundoperplejo.com/2007/08/01/aprendiz-de-guiri-barcelona/

        3. I had the same experience as you being a mixed-race English girl in Madrid. People didn’t seem to be able to swallow the idea that I was English without me giving a backstory as to why my skin isn’t white and why my hair is so curly.
          One man had the nerve to say: “you, English? No way, you can’t be. You’re too dark to be English, you must be a gypsy.” I kid you not. I’m not saying everybody in Spain is as ignorant as he was, but the facepalm factor went through the roof that day…

  5. He tenido que buscar que significa POC en the urban dictionary y se me ha caido el alma a los pies. Me recuerda que una vez leí que en USA llaman a los gordos con unas siglas que significan “paciente que come en exceso” (facepalm.jpg)

    Los norteamericanos estan programados a fuego por el puritanismo imperante en su país y la corrección política, pero la cultura española es diferente, y aqui la franqueza es lo predominante todavía.

    En mi pueblo, conozco a gente que lleva como apodos bizco, cojo, manco, canijo, cabezón, orejón, etc, incluso a gente que lleva apodos tales como negro, chino o gitano sin serlo. Si tienes algún defecto físico, indefectiblemente irá unido a tu nombre, como el cojo Vazquez, Pepe el bizco, etc. Nadie va a poner una denucia en el tribunal de La Haya por ello.

    En fin, diferencias culturales, pero para un español, quejarse de racismo porque te llamen china siendolo, o por ver al rey Baltasar, resulta incomprensible.

    1. LOL make sure never to learn or think that what you’re doing is wrong. And we call black people black too, btw. How do you refer to all non-white people, hmmm?

      On Saturday, August 23, 2014, Kaley…& Más wrote:

      >

    2. But people call ALL Asian people “chinos,” and ummm … they’re not all Chinese. I think that sometimes they are, so they get it right with Erin. And the black king isn’t black. I understand that it comes from ignorance, but once someone says something, people should change their behavior because many black Spaniards DO find it offensive.

      And in your village, whatever. I know a Spanish girl who is called “gorda” in her village, and you know what? It hurts her. She doesn’t say anything, but it does hurt her. I think it’s interesting that you’re defending making fun of other people disabilities. I don’t know; maybe I’m weird.

      Anyway, here’s some links for further reading:

      http://edition.cnn.com/2014/05/05/sport/football/diop-monkey-chants-racism-football-atletico-madrid/
      http://atlantablackstar.com/2014/01/08/8-worst-countries-black-people-travel/2/
      http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/23/world/europe/fans-in-spain-reveal-their-prejudices-and-social-media-fuels-the-hostilities.html
      http://www.elmundo.es/deportes/2014/04/29/535f83a1ca4741711f8b4577.html
      http://www.elconfidencial.com/sociedad/2013-12-15/el-nuevo-racismo-en-espana_66193/
      http://www.lanacion.com.ar/1705853-conmocion-en-espana-por-un-brutal-ataque-racista-a-un-joven-asiatico
      http://www.xojane.com/issues/david-campayo-spain-soccer

  6. Los casos narrados en estas entrevistas, son equivalentes a que yo me fuera a vivir a USA y me sintiera ofendido porque el grueso de la población norteamericana no sabe distinguir a España de México y países hispanoamericanos.

    Mi blog tendría entradas contando lo ofendido que me siento porque hoy un compañero de trabajo me ha pedido una receta de tacos, que en una discoteca presupongan que se bailar salsa, o que la gente me llame cuate y diga andale y demás ejemplo de jerga mexicana.

    También me quejaría amargamente de que se hubieran referido a mi persona como español, cuando todo el mundo sabe que yo soy un SEM (southern european male).

    Yo vería lógicas esas distorsiones porque gente de otros continentes no tienen porque ubicar bien mi país en sus coordenadas culturales exactas, y hasta me harían gracia.

    1. Quote from her interview, “I constantly have to remind myself that Spaniards weren’t brought up with the same racial sensitivity that Americans are. It doesn’t make it okay, but it’s just something to think about.”

      Wow, what a huge complainer!!

    2. Because someone asking if you know a great taco recipe or thinking you know how to dance salsa is equivalent to making fun of someone’s appearance? That’s a terrible example. Those examples are equivalent to someone thinking all Americans eat hamburgers every day and that we’re all fat. It is a good example of ignorance, but it is NOT an example of racism. Someone thinking you might possibly be from Mexico does not imply racism, but ignorance. That’s like someone thinking I’m from Canada or Australia but I’m actually from the USA. This doesn’t apply to the kinds of things people of color have to confront every day in their lives AT ALL.

      I’m starting to think Spaniards may not understand very well what racism is simply because their population is not as diverse as the USA (and I know what I’m talking about when I say diverse, I work in NYC and it’s a mish-mash of people when you walk just one block of the city. I see orthodox Jews, black people, white people, Asians, Hispanics etc… people from all walks of life when I’m in NYC). Racism is not someone getting your country of origin wrong. It’s about thinking you are superior to people whose appearance is different from your own.

      But I know my words are falling on deaf ears. I’ve said my piece.

      1. El problema es que todos los americanos teneis un Ned Flanders interior, y a nosotros nos resulta muy chocante que llamar china a una china o la tradición del rey Baltasar sean muestras de racismo rampante.

      2. But Amelie, we are all fat and ignorant. I eat hamburgers every day, and hot dogs at least twice a day. And I assume all English speakers are from the United States of ‘Merica.

  7. El puritanismo etnocentrista norteamericano no admite la disidencia. Solo pretendía mostrar como ve un español este asunto desde nuestra mentalidad.

    Ah, y tu comentario de twitter está distorsionado jejeje.

    En fin, gracias de todos modos.

      1. Let’s just be grateful I’m now going to laugh about “Puritan ethnocentric North American” forever. This should be in your Twitter bio.

  8. I think this is a great series. I can definitely relate to some of the experiences Erin and Sarah have had. Luckily, nothing major has happened but sometimes the little comments start to get to you. I’ll be on the look out for the next one :)

  9. in Spain there are some racists who insult at football stadiums, but Spaniards are not racist in general…..in the USA some black people are shot death by racist policemen, but US citizens are not racist in general.

    having said that, what is the purpose or reason of two blog posts in a row that bring up racism in Spain? i’ve asked meself the question in the last couple of days, and i’ve two answers:

    1: perhaps the reason is to bring up racism so people can take the advantage to slag Spain off.

    2: perhaps the reason is to increase the number of comments of this blog, for the owner recently said that she hasn’t blogged much because literally as she said “practically no-one responds”

    both reasons are legitimate and respectable, and since i love debates and controversy i have nothing against it, although the first reason makes me feel sad, and you know what? because of those racist policemen who have shot two black guys in Missouri, and because of the people from Missouri who seem to defend such racist crimes on online papers like Saint Louis Dispatch, it would be very easy for me to slag the whole of the USA off, but i shalln’t do it because it wouldn’t be fair.

    anyone who may read this comment enjoy your summer :-)

    1. It wasn’t two posts in a row. And yeah, I just loooove being mean about Spain; that’s the purpose of this blog. (Sarcasm.)

      It was just to bring up something that isn’t talked about much. Racism in Spain exists, just as in the US. But my blog isn’t about the US, so I don’t talk about it. My blog is about me and Spain and Spanish and my relationship to Spain! That’s why

    2. There is nothing to “debate” about Kaley’s recent posts. She’s letting us share our experiences as women of color. The harassment I face is not up for debate; it happens, I don’t make these things up, and it’s racism. That’s that. She’s never been the type to post for views and she didn’t come begging for a controversial topic. She’s been listening to me talk about these issues for quite a long time now and she reached out to help give me (and others) a platform.

      If you’re having such a hard time reading this, then scroll, scroll, scroll. No one’s forcing you to follow her blog.

      And you know what? You *should* call the U.S. racist, because it is. Institutional racism is a big part of society there, as well as everywhere else. I criticize my country all the time, and because I live in Spain, I criticize this one too. It just so happens you’re only reading the discussion about Spain because, surprise, Kaley’s blog is about Spain!

      1. and when have i said that i have a hard time reading this? when have i suggested that i feel forced to follow? i love to read blogs, that is what i can say.

        it is really a mistery how on earth you come to the conclusion that i have a hard time reading this blogpost since i have not mentioned it……i’ve only hard time reading some travel blogs with things like the best 10 places..the best kept secret, etc often being sponsorised, that is why i have stopped reading such blogs.

        please read well what i say before you put in my mouth things that i have not said nor have i suggested.

        and no, i shalln’t call the USA racist, no way….because some people are racist does not mean that a whole country is…..just like Spain is NOT a racist country in general even if there are racists as anywhere.

    3. There is a ton of racism in the U.S. though, and any educated and well-informed American would admit to that. Racism is EXTREMELY visible when it comes to African-Americans, particularly with policing. Again, have to admit that. Natives are also discriminated against in Canada/US, and only an idiot would deny that. What bothers me is that Spaniards can’t just admit that Spain has more than its fair share of racism. Are you really that self-involved, or is it just a lack of awareness?

      1. are you talking to me? i’ve no idea what you mean by “are you really that self-involved”….

        anyways us Spaniards do admit that there is racism in Spain, only that it is unfair to say that Spain is a racist country in general….at least it is my opinion.

        if you were not talking to me, then i am sorry for addressing you.

        1. Yes, I’m replying to you.

          When I was in Spain, I usually heard, “people are too sensitive” or “other cultures are too politically correct”. I never once heard, “yes, there’s racism here, and we can be racist”. I did hear “yes, unfortunately some Spaniards do discriminate against Latin Americans” once, but that was from an extremely educated young woman I was friends with (who traveled a lot to Latin America for her school, so she was extra aware). However, in general, I never heard Spaniards admit to any racism in their own country.

          No quiero decir que no entiendes, pero hay gente en Espana que no entiende eso.

          1. so in Spain you have never heard a person in general admit racism? well…well…which Spain have you lived in? perhaps in a Spain located on Mars? just kidding..

            entiendo d sobra lo k dices..en lo k respecta a lo d politicamnt correcto, dejame decirte k normalmnt somos incorrectos….por lo mnos yo siempre digo lo k siento y lo k pienso, y no me importa para nada lo k otros puedan pensar, eso es ser politicamnt incorrecto y autentico……casi siempre los k son correctos son pelotas y le bailan el agua a to’kiski por pura conveniencia….yo no soy asi :-)

          2. Digo que estas hablando sobre eso con otra gente.. Pero no es lo que toda la gente hace. He dicho ‘y en ingles tambien’ porque eso me dice que quieres hablar con personas de otros paises. ‘More international’ como decimos en ingles.

          3. hablo en ingles xk este blog es de una Norteamericana…no se trata de kerer hablar, mas bien d dar mi opinion cuando un tema me interesa, si no me interesa un tema pues komo k paso…

          4. and why should i consider meself different? i’ve never claimed such a thing or summat.

            what i say is that i am always politically incorrect, which means that i don’t say what it is supposed to say, or what others like to hear…i always express my opinion, with respect, and if someone doesn’t respect it “pues que se vaya a tomar por saco”.

            i’ve never been “a pelota”..and it seems that on a certain blog or place you’ve to be “a pelota o bailar el agua”, if not, someone may be agressive and disrespectful against you instead of celebrating different opinions, which i think, it does enrich people.

          5. even an opinion based on ignorance must be respected, or at least it does not deserve an attack or a reply to laugh at it.

            most Spaniards have got the blonde haired and blue eyed stereotype applied to Northern Europeans, including meself, so are you suggesting that such an opinion is not good, or that it must not be respected even if it is based on ignorance? of course i am fully aware that there are Northern Europeans with dark hair, but such a guiri stereotype is stuck in our heads unconsciously so we think of Germans, Swedish or Scottish having blonde hair.

          6. Well, if you’re talking about more homogenous societies like those found in Scandinavia, I understand that stereotype. England – the UK as a whole – has a lot of different types of people. Thus, the blonde-blue-eyed stereotype is outdated. Most people from there (I mean the ones with ancestry fully tied to that area) aren’t even blonde. Personally, I respect everyone’s right to have an opinion, but no, I don’t respect ignorant opinions or judgments. Why would I? Ignorance usually perpetuates stupidity. You’re talking about how we’re too politically correct and how you’re not that way, but guess what? Not respecting idiotic opinions is actually not PC.

          7. England or the UK has got different types of people including from Paquistan, India or Bangladesh, yes i am aware of that….but as i’ve said above and now i repeat it again: British people are included as Northern Europeans, hence us unconsciously and mistakenly, think that they’ve blonde hair for example (i hope that i don’t repeat it again).

            i’ve not said that you are politically correct….i’ve said that some people are, or at least this is what i see on a certain blog when everyone comments things like: “great blog post….i love it….your pictures are nice….”, etc and you know what? perhaps some of those people may really think “the blog post is boring…..what a horrible picture…it is just rubbish…..the angle doesn’t favour the picture”, etc but at the end they are politically correct and say nice things so the owner of the blog is happy and the enviroment is normal.

            finally, i fully disagree with you on ignorant comments…i shall always respect ignorant comments whether it is a North American who says that us Spaniards look like Mexicans, or that Spain must be located somewhere in Latin America, whereas as you say you don’t respect my ignorant comment that Northern Europeans must have blonde hair or blue eyes because of a stereotype that dates back to the 60’s and it is stuck in our heads since then, at least along the coastline that is overrun by Northern European holiday makers.

  10. These interviews are a fantastic way for Kaley to feature opinions about Spain. Erin and I have merely showcased our experiences being different in Spain. If we didn’t love Spain, we wouldn’t live here! I don’t think it’s fair to say that we are “taking the advantage to slag Spain off” … We are just telling our stories of our different experiences dealing with racism in Spain.

    Like Erin said, we are not making up these stories. They are real and it happens. Yes, racism occurs in the US, but this is a blog about Spain. Quite frankly Kaley can write whatever the hell she wants to write on here. I think it’s fabulous that she’s showcasing something that’s not so often talked about. It takes some guts to publicly write about something so controversial.

    I personally can’t wait to read the next interview! Keep up the awesome work Kaley :)

  11. i am fully aware that you lot love Spain, if not as you say, you would not be here, so that is why i love to read blogs ´cos it makes me feel proud of my country seeing people from other countries living here and appreciating it.

    i have not said that these interviews are bad or not fantastic nor have i criticised them.

    i have never assured that you are taking the advantage to slag Spain off… i was just doubting if it could be one of the two reasons of the two blogposts, along with the increase of comments, so in no way i was assuring that you lot want to criticise Spain…..just giving my opinion..

    i have never denied the right of Kaley to write whatever the bloody hell she wishes…who am i to deny such a right? when have i denied it? i am the sort of a person who loves blog posts that bring up something interesting…and when someone writes a blog post with something like racism that is controversial, people should accept others´opinions above all if such opinions have been expressed with respect, as i have done.

    if you scroll up you will see another comment of mine, a reply to a woman full of respect, hence that person also replied to me with respect.

  12. La motivación de esta nueva serie de entrevistas está para mi clara: son una pantalla de humo para desviar la atención de las brutales revueltas raciales que ahora mismo acontecen en EEUU, algo así como un “¿veis como el racismo no es algo exclusivo de los EEUU?, ¡en España también pasa¡ ”.

    Claro que luego comparas los brutales asesinatos por parte de la policía que en EEUU suelen desencadenar esos brotes raciales, con la tradición de los reyes magos, y como que no cuela. No es algo ni remotamente parecido por mucho que os esforceis en meterlo todo junto en el mismo saco.

    1. Varilarguero, te lo voy a decir en mi idioma, kiyo tu tienes un problema bastante importante, deberías hacértelo mirar, campeón, no creo en absoluto que la intención de este post sea faltar al respeto a España, ni mucho menos, creo que se ha tratado un hecho concreto que le ha ocurrido a Erin, y nada más, buscar otras consideraciones es mezclar churras con merinas, racistas hay en todas partes, y por supuesto en España no iba ser menos. Mi apoyo a Erin, y a Kaley espero que sigas así con tu blog me parece muy interesante, ameno y original. Gracias.

      1. Gracias Pedro, y gracias por entender que no lo hago por motivos anti-España ni nada así. Lo hago porque hay racismo en España, es la verdad y quiero hablar del tema.

        Obviamente, reconozco que en EE.UU. también hay muchísimo racismo y suele ser más violento. Pero en mi blog, no hablo de EE.UU., sino de España.

        Muchas gracias de nuevo.

    2. LOL. Yes, Kaley single-handedly hopes to distract everyone from the situation in Ferguson by asking POC to talk about their lives. CLEARLY that is the goal.

      About a week ago, I was eating dinner in one of my favorite American restaurants here in Madrid. I ended up talking to another WOC. She told me that she had seen me walking down the street earlier and wanted to ask me about my experiences about the racism here. Her friend is Black, thinking of moving here, and expressed her concerns the racism in Spain, so she wanted my thoughts.

      My experience thus far in Madrid leaves much to be desired, anyone who even kind of knows me is aware of that. However, I’m more than aware that Spain and its residents have much to offer, and I wouldn’t want someone to not even give Spain a chance because her friend talked to someone who’s had an experience like mine (similar to Erin, it seems like we’ve had a rougher experience than many POC here). I tried to give a fair assessment of my experience and those of other Black women. I didn’t sugarcoat things that have happened to me, but I also said that many people do not experience such things, at least not to such a degree.

      I do wish there were more Spaniards reading things like this would look at them with an open mind. Kaley and the rest of us are not trying to drag Spain’s name though the mud. Plus let’s face it, when the UN says that Spain needs to get a hold of its racism and xenophobia, our comments are almost unnecessary, right?

      Anyway, all that ends up happening is that the Spaniards who act this way are unlikely to change, and the #NotAllSpaniards brigade just gets huffy and refuses to view these circumstances as a legitimate representation of someone’s life in Spain. Which is…not helping its case with the UN, I’ll say that much.

  13. I think this is a fascinating series you’ve started, Kaley. This is not something I’ve seen discussed much on expat blogs and I think it’s really important for people to understand that even abroad, a person of color’s/minority’s experience can be different than what is typically shared and written about online. Thanks! :)

    1. Thanks Erika! I’m glad you like it. Perhaps you’d be interested in talking about your experiences abroad? You can email me if so: kalhendr@gmail

  14. i think that people should respect others’ opinions whether they like or nor, whether they agree or disagree.

    while i loathe racist attacks whether it is Erin who suffers it or Pepita Garcia my neighbour, i also loathe when a person shows an agressive or disrespectful manner against someone who happens to just express his opinion with respect…….the person Varilarguero, whoever he is, has commented what he thinks with respect, yet he has received a disrespectful attitude even by Erin who has told us of the racist attacks that she has suffered, how is that? she’s had racist attacks and yet she laughs and doesn’t respect what Varilarguero has expressed with respect? such an attitude doesn’t surprise me at last.

    it is now, only right now, not when Erin childishly suggested, when i am having a hard time reading this blog, not because i don’t like it ‘cos i do like it by the way, but because of the agressive and disrespectful manner against Varilarguero, and you know what? he only has expressed his opinions even if i may agree or mayn’t agree.

    now whoever you are, and behind your computer you can use Facebook or Twitter to slag me off….i hold my head high, i stand on my own two feet proudly expressing my opinion with respect…i’ve nothing to hide, my name is Pedro, born in Cartagena, living in Puerto Mazarron, my mobile phone is 680234515, i repeat it again: i’ve nothing to hide.

    it is really a mistery that only on this blog i see an agressive or disrespectful manner against someone who happens to disagree with respect, whether it is me, Varilarguero or Perico De Los Palotes!! sometimes it looks as if you were on a place full of landmines, so you must be careful about what you say just to avoid stepping on a landmine.

    this is my opinion, this is what i think, and it should be respected as i always respect people’s opinions, a thing that i always have done!

  15. 1400 niños sometidos a terribles torturas y abusos sexuales por parte de una banda de pakistanies en Reino Unido. Una funcionaria lo denunció y fué castigada a hacer un curso de reprogramación del racismo en clave políticamente correcta (Orwell vive). La policía tenía órdenes expresas de no actuar por no levantar suspicacias racistas.

    http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/sep/01/political-correctness-and-the-rotherham-report

    Corrección política? En vuestros países, gracias. Esto es España, donde “al pan pan y al vino vino ” y “las cosas claras y el chocolate espeso ”.

  16. Oooh this is interesting. I haven’t read all the comments but you definitely have a nice little debate going. As an Asian-American, I can relate to this girl! I have experienced my random “ching chong chings”. They infuriate me! It makes me worry about how my children (half Spanish / half-Filipino) will be treated. Luckily, the comments are few and far between, and people in BCN are more open versus in other parts of Spain.

    1. I’m going to speak spanish because it’s easier for me and you seem to undertand it perfectly.

      He leído el post y me ha parecido muy interesante y también los comentarios. Curiosamente el mismo caso de sunshineandoliveadventures en el que no la veían como una escocesa me ocurrió a mi en Scotland, sólo que al contrario. Iba con unos amigos y uno de ellos es pelirrojo y unos escoceses estaban hablando con nosotros en inglés super rápido y le dijimos que si podían hablar un poco más lento, que eramos españoles y no se creían que lo fuesemos, incluso después de aclarar que eramos españoles, le preguntaron personalmente al pelirrojo si él también lo era, y también era imposible para ellos que fuera español xDDD, como si en España no hubiera pelirrojos. Veo yo más pelirrojos en una semana en España que en todo un mes en Scotland xDDD. La cosa es que nosotros no nos lo tomamos como algo racista, nos hizo gracia.

      Y Kaley me gustaría varias preguntas a ti y a toda persona que piense de la misma forma que tú. ¿Por qué, según vosotros, es algo tan racista el pintarse la cara para hacer de negro? (Y sólo por si acaso, la palabra ‘negro’ no tiene ninguna connotación negativa para nosotros) Puede parecer una pregunta muy estúpida pero de verdad necesito que alguien me lo explique xDD. Tengo un amigo que es negro, medio filipino y nacido en España, y le pregunté si él veía eso como algo racista y me dijo que no, la cosa es que él se ha criado aquí entonces ve las cosas según nuestro modo de verlas.
      Si una persona de color se pintase la cara de blanco para recrear a una persona blanca, yo no me sentiría incómoda u ofendida en absoluto. De hecho ya he visto esa escena, en mi colegio una vez un chico blanco se disfrazó del rey Baltasar y un chico negrito se disfrazó de uno de los otros reyes blancos, ya no recuerdo cual de los dos, simplemente porque querían hacerlo, al resto de la gente le pareció algo gracioso y no creo que haya nada racista en ello, al contrario, que un chico blanco quiera ser el negro y un chico negro quiera ser el blanco y los veas llevarse bien y reírse y demás, me parece algo precioso y totalmente inocente. Para mi eso es signo de que no existe el racismo entre ellos. Y desde luego no hacemos eso con intención de ofender a la otra persona.

      Y otra vez oí el caso de un profesor de bellas artes de la universidad de una compañera mía, que al parecer fue a hacer una exposición de cuadros en NYC y llevaba un cuadro que era de unos cuantos niños pequeños de diferentes razas. Pues en el cuadro, al niño negrito le había pintado los labios un poco más gorditos y cuando el hombre a cargo del lugar vio aquello le dijo que era un racista, con muy malas formas, y que tenía que cambiar eso si quería exponer allí. Ya no sé si lo hizo o no, creo que sí, pero si yo hubiera sido él, los hubiera mandado a tomar por culo. ¿Por qué es eso racista? Yo miro esta imagen: https://encrypted-tbn1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRKzsWvrZHoJuC_3TDpjzPBt5hZZ3Ok_I7r-1udDWrNzb4AGfK1 y vaya, claramente tiene los labios más gorditos que la mayoría, también la nariz… en fin, que es como es, no estás siendo racista, es como si vas a pintar a un japonés y un coreano, pues al japonés lo pintarás con ojos más pequeñitos, cara más fina y al coreano con labios más gruesos, cara más ancha y pómulos más prominentes, no sé, porque es mi idea de como son más o menos. No quiere decir que todos sean así pero son rasgos característicos de ellos. Pues lo mismo con el negrito, no hay nada de malo en mostrar a una persona tal y como es. No me malinterpretéis y no os ofendáis pero a mi a veces me molesta un poco que para vosotros este tipo de cosas sea algo tabú en vez de algo normal y corriente, y que seamos nosotros los racistas por no pensar igual que vosotros. ¿No creéis que eso de crear tanto escándalo por algo tan simple y el que no lo veáis como algo normal es realmente la actitud racista?¿Si eso mismo le pasase a un blanco actuaríais de la misma forma? Yo creo que no, que si fuera blanco lo habría dejado pasar, sería un blanco con morritos y ya está :3, creo que no te pararías a pensar nada malo de ello. Pero como era negro, el muchacho se enfadó.
      Llego a entender lo que querían decir por aquí con lo de políticamente correcto, porque a veces pienso que queréis ser tan políticamente correctos que sois incorrectos (a mis ojos). Luego pienso en que vuestra historia con el racismo no es la misma que la nuestra, para nada, pero nosotros también vivimos con gente extranjera aquí, hay de todo, y me cuesta entender esa forma de pensar, por eso me gustaría saber más de vuestra opinión en esos casos.

      El otro día vi un vídeo de unos blancos norteamericanos que estaban intentando pronunciar palabras en español y tenían problemas para hacerlo, cuando se encontraron con la palabra ‘negar’ (to deny) no se atrevieron a intentar decirlo como lo diría un español, sólo un chico lo intentó, el resto incluso miró mal al entrevistador. Es una palabra que no tiene nada de malo para un español, pero para ellos era la palabra N y seguramente pensaron muy mal de esa persona, porque de nuevo no se pararon a ver las cosas con ojos de un español y le dieron más importancia al tema de la que deberían haberle dado, exceptuando aquel chico que sí respondió.

      Por supuesto que en España hay racismo, como en todas partes, ningún lugar se libra, pero creo que a veces exageráis. Si vas a España y te pasa algo como lo que le pasó a Kaley, no tienes por qué sentirte incómodo, puedo entender que no estés acostumbrado pero tienes que intentar pensar como un español. Hace un tiempo vi una noticia coreana en la que decían que el equipo F.C. Barcelona de fútbol habían sido irrespetuosos con un difunto en su funeral por estar con los brazos cruzados, pues bien, para ellos eso es una actitud irrespetuosa, pero para nosotros es una posición de lo más normal y corriente sin ningún significado, seguramente se sentirían más cómodos en esa posición. Fin de la historia. No tiene nada de malo, pero bien que los insultaron.

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