Spain not so white: a difficult dialogue

There are not ethnic census in Spain. It’s therefore very dificult to really know how many non-white people live in this country. But we do know that about 15% of us have foreign origins. Mostly latin American and Moroccan, as well as Eastern European and Chinese. If you visit the country or live here, you will be astonished for the diversity of people and origins cohabitating mostly peacefully. However, if you watch the societal represented on the media, this diversity is almost absent. No wonder why a lady asked me in the US if there were black Spaniards. I could not understand her question… but looking at what we show to the word…

I have noticed that each time a black person is on TV, it’s because there are talking about immigration, or about their foreign status or racism. There are no black or Arab Spaniards on a daily basis, apart from certain professionals who are gaining more and more attention.

Latter this week I was watching the TV news while eating at midday. In all the news, I saw no person who was not a white Spaniard. Then at night,  there was a political program where citizens from all over would ask question to one of the mayor political figures nowadays nationwide. Different ideologies, different regions, sexes, but all entirely white. I was somehow shocked by the representation they chose to make of the country, it was so mono-racial. I do pay my taxes and have concerns beyond immigration issues or racism. I care about minimum wage, about mortgages for the youth, about culture and education…

Spain just got its first black deputy of the parlament one year ago. It wasn’t a big deal unlike in Italy. But, two events have called my attention recently.

An online campaign was launched by Spaniards who were fedup of their non representation on the public arena and imaginary. The hashtag was: España no tan Blanco (Spain not soWhite). This was very aggressively criticized by people who clearly did not accept this possibility and said there are no black/asian/arab/mixed-raced Spaniards but all foreigners.

One of their supporters was Moha Gerehou, a journalist and activist quite known nationally for his controversial videos about racism in Spain from his position as a public person. Well, some bastards responded auctioning his body on Twitter. Of course, he sued them. The verdict was recently  made public. Fined.

Another issue that came across is a massive blackface in the town of Alcoi. The feminist group Afroféminas complained about their desire to get declared as a Cultural World Heritage activiy by the UNESCO. They started with an article written by a historian proving the original connection of this festivity with slavery. The reponse was a massive denial and refusal to even listening to them. They received threaths online, on Facebook and even on I can not say I am surprised. But I was astonished by the virulence of the denial, and by the lack of almost any support from media- who were very biased about this news- and the politicians, where the only black deputy first supported their claim, but later was presured by her peers and party to remove it! Incredible.

Well, all in all, I am optimist. We are at a level where it’s true that most non-white people come from recent immigration ( some 50 years), and a big amount of us were born abroad, which technically makes many of us fall under the label of “foreigners”, in the neutral meaning of the word. I do see this as scary sign, because some parents transmit this ‘otherization’ of non-white spaniards to their children, who go to school and play with children of all colors and origins everyday.

This reminds me of when my little cousin, a Spanish-born beautiful girl, was told by a class-mate that she could not be Spanish because she is black. Or the Spanish embassy in France asking her mother  by the phone wheter she was sure their children were Spaniards. I told her to let me contact them, so that I could send them a copy of citizenship laws.

And no, Spain is not only white. It’s also black, yellow, brown, blue and green. All colors in one.


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