Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Is Spain Really Racist?
By Relir


Unknown/BBC © 2005 England and Chelsea footballer Shaun Wright-Phillips was one of several players targeted with abuse at a Spanish football match, recently.

Has race and racism got a strong foothold in Spain?

BlagMag, Sep 25, 2005 GMTSOURCE: BlackMag
Shaun Wright Phillips

I am a Spanish national by birth and have many family members who currently reside in the country. In the mist ethnic unity in Spain, racism, intra-racism and purist attitudes remain as blatant forces within the country.

Despite these issues social mobility and economic opportunity in Spain is a realistic pursuit for people of African descent living in Spain. As in America, mobility is heavily influenced by the factors of wealth, class and power.

Those with more prominent negritic features, combined with a lack of education/resources, the lack of wealth/power, and an overall disconnection with mainstream Spanish society, are more likely to feel the effects of oppression, classism, elitism and racism.

Those in my family who have more money, have better accents, clothes, or are more ethnically diverse are more assimilated into Spanish society. Basically, the same social issues you have in the USA, or anywhere else in the colonized world, exist in Spain. Subsequently, people of the same ethnic classification disregard their own, family members turn on each other in pursuit of social status, and the poor are treated unfairly.

Most African-Americans who I have spoken with that have worked, studied, lived in or toured Spain didn't notice or encounter blatant racism; most identified Spain as having racial unity. The stories differ, however, when speaking to those who's families have been rooted there for generations or those of lower socio-economic status.

My family, originally of negritic (black) African descent, began immigrating into Spain to reside permanently during the 1960's. They have socialized with, lived among and attended school with people from various backgrounds: from native Spaniards, to Gypsies, another disenfranchised group in Spain, people of African descent from other parts of Africa, to people from all over the world. There have been many who inter-married with those of various nationalities and ethnicities.

In summary, what my family history reveals is that no matter who you are or who you are dealing with, you never know what people really stand for. Change is inevitable; ethnic and national loyalties may dissolve if a group is no longer culturally, economically, ethnically, socially and topically, homogenous. No longer are they unified for the same cause.

Be one black, white, family, stranger, friend or foe racism, inter-racism, classism and elitism have the potential to pop-up in any relationship. Unfortunately, being related to someone doesn't eliminate prevent this type of thing from happening.

Key Multi-Racial Cities

Many inter-married with others of various nationalities and ethnicities. All in all, the lesson has been learned that no matter whom you are or who you are dealing with, whether black, white, family, stranger, friend or foe, you always have to watch your back as racism, classism and elitism has the potential to pop-up in any relationship you have. Unfortunately, that's the nature of man.

There are significant populations of people of African descent in several key Spanish cities. Notice I use the word ‘community’ to describe what I believe to be more organised and socially networked populations:-

Seville - This city has a rather large Senegalese community.

Las Islas Canarias - The Canary Islands is dominated by mestizo descendents of, mostly, North Africans and Caucasian Spaniards. This group is fully assimilated into Spanish society.
*Palma de Mallorca - This is probably the most multi-ethnic and multi-cultural city in Spain. It has been popular tourist town and vacation destination of the extremely wealthy, for centuries now.
*Ibiza - This is the house music capital of Spain. Many performers of African descent have passed through the city. It is currently a sought after party vacation spot for young African-Americans.
*Málaga - I've read about, at least, two African-American jazz musicians who moved to Malaga to live the last years of their life. There may be a local little jazz culture there. Neneh Cherry is known to have resided there.
*Barcelona - has a tightly knit African-American community there; a destination for athletes of African descent who move there to play for various professional sports teams.
*Saragossa (Zaragossa) - There was a time when more than 90% of the African population was from Equatorial Guinea and there existed a large community of Equatorial Guineans in Saragossa. There are now people of African descent living there who are from other parts of the world: Cubans, Dominicans, Americans, etc.
*Madrid - Despite purist terrorism activities being a big issue, there is a population of people of African descent in Madrid. I'm not sure of any prominent community that exists. Many of them are middle to upper class. The city also has a sports and entertainment industry that recruits athletes of African descent from all over the world. The musician Sade is known to have resided there.

Race Profiling

It is uncertain whether the Spanish government maintains a count of the number of people of African descent living in the country. They government is known not to use racial or ethnic classifications when conducting their census.

Consider the various celebrities, athletes, and others of African descent who have worked, lived, played, and toured in the country. With all the Afro-Hispanic people of the world, Spain has no reason to be a racist country. Spain is the mother land of Spanish speakers of every ethnic persuasion. If those purist would just move to and stay in the mountains, everything would be just fine.

Despite the racism, I honestly think that any person of African descent can be happy and successful in Spain. The racism can be ignored and dealt with. Unity, citizenship and education are key factors that I think will help people of African descent combat racism in Spain.

If you would like to discuss this article further, please feel free to email me at aw.relir.@gmail.com.

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