New step: USA. Am I a new immigrant?

Dear friends, after almost one year, here I am again. A lot of things have been going on since my last post in December 2014.

First, I finished my master’s in Madrid, found a temporary job as an English teacher and got to work at the Ministry of Health of my adopted country. Could never have imagined! It was short, but I am sure they did like my classes and had good impression of my work.

After that, I accepted my new challenge. It was back in March, while working at one of the African Film festival I have collaborated with along these last 3 years, I received a call from my alma mater university telling me that I was selected for a job-scholarship to teach Spanish at an American University! Wao! It seemed that I was going to make it after all. I had applied for the same programme one year ago, but was shortlisted and ended up the first in the waiting list. So, yeah. If you have read earlier post, you might remember that this is something I had always wanted to do, as a way to improve my English and also cause, we translators love travelling and enjoying our target language within context! I was not allowed to do it before because I did not have the Spanish citizenship, and therefore couldn’t apply for similar programs sponsored by the Spanish Government, even if did fulfill the requirements and all… But finally, life shows me as always, that if you really want something and work for it, you end up finding the way. Even us, those who were born to poor parents in poorer countries, us children of immigrants who dangerously migrated to earn a better living.

So, after the paperwork and saving some 2000 dollars + some help from my family, I took the flight for Northern USA. And here I am. For the first time, I am fully aware that life is giving me good rewards for the efforts my family and I have made these last decades. Apart from being able to send most of the cousins who live back in Central Africa to school, I can save some money for myself. I want to save some 10 thousand euros to open a chain of African restaurants in the biggest cities of Spain… among other dreams.

But, there is a but. I have travelled to richer countries so far, either as a student (in the UK) or as a tourist (to France, Germany or Italy), but this is the first time in which I feel like I may become an immigrant in a place. I mean, the truth is that despite the English language industry boom right now in Spain- which would guarantee me at least that I won´t end up starving, especially after the master in Education-, there is a huge unemployment rate in the country (over 25%). A social tragedy that affects mostly young people (< 50%) and underqualified people who used to work in the construction sector (as my father). That’s why I have had to keep on studying ever since I finished my first degree in 2010. I took another degree, took a working gap year from college and went back again to take a master. I can’t know if I would have found something this year in a high school there or not.

On the other, fully of this reality, and also because they believe I don’t have the same opportunities in Spain in spite of my education, my family has been throwing the idea of staying in the USA on the table. Not as an illegal migrant, of course not, hopefully there is not need for that. But, they want me to find my way and make a good living in the USA. They kinda have that idea that everything is better here, or at least much better than in Spain. The truth is that I don´t know what will be my next step. One thing has stricken me here. At the University in which I work, there are many professors and professionals from all over the world. Something really difficult to find in Spanish universities, where there is a sickening spread of endogamy and clear corruption in job appointments. And also, I had no problems coming to teach Spanish here, although it wasn´t my mother tongue (but really works as such) and I do not hold a Spanish passport. Even border’s agents were very kind and welcoming to me. It’s not like that in the most of Spanish airport regarding Africans. Was it because I come from an European country? Or because I come as a graduate professional to work? Does this make me any different from other migrants who did not have the opportunity to study two degrees? I guess it’s a different story. I´ve heard similar harsh on Mexicans and other Latin American citizens. Such is the world right now.

But yeah, I will stop beating around the bush and say that I am so happy and conscious of my life path right now. I am fully open to what life has ready for me to go for it.

And, finally, I must confess, that for the first time I am having a second thought about going back to my home country and try to improve things getting myself into politics. I know it’s dangerous and a temptation to corruption, but really, this world wandering opens my eyes. For the first time since a long time, I feel like a proper immigrant. I mean, this time I came by my one feet, there is always some African nostalgia in me. I don´t know why. I am a rebel heart. During recent years there has been like a spark of revolution within the African youth, championed by the Senegalese movement “Y’En a Marre”, which spread to Burkina Faso and other francophone countries. I have been following the moves and achievements and I feel like there is a historic moment about to happen and I want to be part of it. Dictatorships and kleptocracy are, I think, the biggest one to blame regarding current state of misery in our countries. Politician who apply heartlessly the neoliberal measures of the IMF and the WB, who favor free trade capitalism widely when other countries subsidize their companies and farmers, they build enormous burocracy and complex systems to hide their blatant corruption and unlawful enrichment… meanwhile, their people are emigrating, dying in the sea and wandering around the world. Most of the time, in very different conditions that I do. And I feel profound sorrow for my people. Sorrow that low and middle class have to rent and sell their goods to send their children abroad, as a prospective breastfeeder for the whole family. Such was the case of my family. Both my father and mother came from poor families, who once had a profession and could save enough money to migrate, did not have a second thought. I wasn`t even aware of what was going on. Today and thank them and I cry at the same time for this faith many people are forced to admit. So, yes. There is a little something burning within my heart. But I want to be well prepared and have something to contribute with. I am so happy that the candle was lighten within the continent first, that it didn´t come from outside. Let’s work for a better future. My next specific goal is to have the next university graduate among my family. On the road!

Good luck and strength, dear friends. May your wishes be accomplished.

¡Feliz Navidad y Año nuevo, amigos! (Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!)

Dear readers,

As you can read through this blog, I am now happily living in Madrid, coming from northern regions of Spain. I write this post only to wish you a wonderful year 2015, hope your expectations will be fulfilled and that love and health will keep your bodies and your souls warm and ravishing.

As for myself, I just hope I will be able to successfully finish this master I am taking. Well, actually it is now a must because I was granted a scholarship by the Spanish Government to be able to take this compulsory master free of charges, for it’s a professional sector considered as a national priority (Teachers of Secondary Education), especially those meant to teach English, as it is my case.

Concerning this, I would like to discuss about two aspects.

One: Can we measure language proficiency? Really? I mean, there are many factors affecting our ability to speak and being gobally fluent in a foreign language that I just find it hard and always incomplete. We are required to prove a level of C1, according to the Common European Framework of Reference, that’s to say, the equivalent to the Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English, or, obviously a university degree in English Studies and Literature or Translation of English.

The problem is that the average level is low in most of those degrees in English, and obviously even more for those who studied different subjects and had to prove a C1 level. I am a mix of both circumstances: I hold a Cambridge certificate proving to have at least a C1 level and I studied Translation of English and, especially, French. I honestly believe that my knowledge of English should be much higher and I am determined to get a bilingual level in order to properly teach. However, I am sure that it ‘s not even a criterion to pass the competitive exam to secure a job as a state worker-teacher. Contents include History of the UK and US and its literatures and politics; some units on the Commonwealth, in Linguistics, and finally about the Spanish culture and Educational system and laws of Education. Obviously, proficiency in the Spanish language is mandatory, even more than in English (unfortunately for my Irish, Russian, UK and US classmates).

Two. I am officially a middle- class person in Spain (really?). That means that I am not entitled to receive any extra allowance meant to support students from poor families while they study. Not anymore. For some years, things were the opposite for me. You may think that it’s a good news because our family incomes have increased, but it’s actually because the profound social and economic crunch has scrolled down the poverty standards. Currently, they consider that a family of 4 members (as its my case) live within the national income average if they earn 12.000 euros/year (yes, 12 thousands!).  In other words: 3000€/per capita and 250/month. Truth be said, the number of applicants for these scholarships have dramatically risen, and so were the requirements to be eligible. Things are getting really fucked up over here people. I don’t know either to feel sad or happy for this new status … Well. I am still unemployed and studying at age 26. You judge.

To be fair, I can’t really complain. For I was given a tuition fee waiver, so I can save around 2000 euros for other issues such as my bills and my accommodation fees in the expensive Madrid. And, although I still need to get a job to gather enough money to survive during the rest of the academic course, at least I feel confident about it. I can always teach English French or English to gain pocket and leisure money. I am grateful because the basics are covered and my personal savings will allow me to cover the rest of it. But, what about those who can’t????? The job market is unaffordable and quite awful today for many people. You need to have a strong qualification and privileged personal network to make it… or just be brilliant and lucky.

I have another good news. I have recently learned  that I can apply to be state teacher after my masters even with my current African nationality because I am considered a family of an European (Spanish) citizen. It seems that now that my family is formed by 4 nationalities (2 European/2 Africans) we are given more rights.

Anyway, I still think that I need to live in an English-speaking country for at least a couple of years to feel confident to teach English at a good level. And I am actually looking for opportunities abroad to teach French or Spanish or to translate. So if you know or hear of something, let me know. (I don’t mind, South Africa, Kenya, India, or the USA … as long as I can teach and learn) It would be of great help for me and for my future students, wherever I end up living.

Until then… Have a wonderful beginning of year 2015. Love and hope from Spain.

And last but not least, I have learned that more thousands of African immigrants have died while crossing into the Spanish border this year. The influx has risen. Meanwhile, African authorities stay speechless and doing nothing visible to me. We need to do something to stop these selfish people, we need to organize inside and outside our countries of origin to force them to improve, to move forward. Pressure! This makes me really sad. It’s horrifying that all those people can just keep on smiling and filling their pockets and bank accounts in Switzerland while allowing this to happen.

One of these people has arrived to my house this month. He crossed the border and was sent to our city because he said he had relatives there. He is family of my father- in- law and one more victim of these governments that force their people to leave as the only option… We need to do something. We are all affected by this. If they tell them not to come that way, risking their lives, they won’t listen because it much worsed to stay at home arms crossed watching the polititians in their lives if luxury and travelling. What do you think. What should we do? Where shall we start from? Hope. Hope. And strength.

The figures of the year 2014 Thanks to my 4 500 visitors! I didn’t know my words were flying that high…

Los duendes de las estadísticas de WordPress.com prepararon un informe sobre el año 2014 de este blog.

Aquí hay un extracto:

Un tren subterráneo de la ciudad de Nueva York transporta 1.200 personas. Este blog fue visto alrededor de 4.500 veces en 2014. Si fuera un tren de NY, le tomaría cerca de 4 viajes transportar tantas personas.

Haz click para ver el reporte completo.

Madrid: New city, more opportunities?

Hi there, dear friends!

It has been ages since the last time I shared words with you. Yes, I know. I should write more…

How are you doing over there? Well, I’m sure you are doing really good. On my side, I cannot complain. The last time I told you about my doubts on whether to pursue my Masters in International studies or to get a Postgraduate in Secondary Education. Well, after a year working occasionally as a freelance translator and as a shop assistant in my small northern city in order to save enough money, I have eventually moved to Madrid. I am doing the second option, so you will soon have a certified teacher (hopefully in July 2015). After that I plan to move to an English-speaking country to improve my English proficiency.

Meanwhile, I keep on working as a spontaneous translator. But that’s not what I was looking for. I need a proper and steady job. I have sent hundreds of CV throughout this last year, since I graduated in July 2013. I have been unlucky, even for jobs I was overqualified for. I am quite an optimistic guy, I admit I have been lucky until now. I always got my goals in school, and then at University. I knew my fate depended on me. If I studied I would pass. However, I have become suspicious recently. Life is not that much on my hand. There is that feeling that I got my CV rejected because of non rational reasons, that feeling that I will have to pave a harder pathway to reach my goals. If you know what I mean. But it’s just a feeling and I am determined to find my way sooner or later. Even if I have to leave the country.

So, with this bitter feeling in my mouth, I decided to move to the capital city of Madrid to search for new job opportunities. Meanwhile, I take the masters 3 days a week and give some French lessons at a Language Academy. I keep on sending CVs and trying to be hopeful. I need your good vibes, people. If you heard of someting worthy…

By the way, there are lots of black people in Madrid. I have met 2 African-Americans friends, and I cannot avoid thinking about the new book by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the much awarded Nigerian writer. (Yes, I did not say black Americans, because I am starting to understand the complexity of the topic… so I respect their feelings.)

See you soon.

Hi there, people!

I am happy to let you know that I am alive, yeah. Life has not treated me very well lately, but I am alive and happy. Imagen

After I graduated and came back home, I have been looking for a proper job as a professional translator and/or journalist. I had around 5 job interviews to work in Spain, and other 3-4 for India and China. I was offered a job as a journalist in Madrid, but very low-paid, so I refused. The same reason why I also refused to work in India, even if accomodation and living costs were included. 

Meanwhile, I’ve been work in shop close to my house, the same place I used to work to pay my university tuition fees. In one word, a work for which I am ovequalified. I got a bit depressed, but life keeps rolling, so I’ve got to stand up and walk. 

 

 

So far, I have decided to apply for a Master’s course in Madrid or Barcelona the next year. Still not sure wether to choose a get the Qualified Teacher Status, to enroll in a Marketing degree as  my bachelor in communication allows me to, specialise in Medical/ Literary translation or to study Internation Relations in order to work at an international corporate level. Still not sure… 

 

What do you think, guys? Too hard. I need some advice. 

Aside

The issue of the African citizenship

Dear Friends,

Life has shown me that my fate is within my hands and the pathway I choose to take. I hope you are doing well and you will keep on working hard without cease in order to achieve your vital goals and spread good vibes around you.

Well, today I would like to talk about something common to other people of African origins in wealthier countries: citizenship and what it implies.

As you may think, I hold an African citizenship – the one my father passed to me. Since I have lived in Spain for much more than 10 years, I could (and can) change my original citizenship to get the Spanish one. This is not mandatory, of course. Until now, I‘ve been living as a permanent resident here. Anyway, this means that I have almost all the rights with very few exceptions.

But not small exceptions: As a student, I had the same rights of movement, scholarships, grading, living, etc., but as a professional, there is a clear positive discrimination on the behalf of European citizens. For example, last year, in order to improve my language skill and have some time to think about my professional career, I wanted to apply for a year-long Teaching Assistantship abroad, but was not entitled to due to my nationality. Also, I cannot vote, be a teacher in a state-owned/funded school, work for the Administrative apparatus, nor other publicly ruled institutions here or in the EU. I can only work for private companies, and only those that do not require a Spanish passport for international jobs. So, yes, this is serious. Of course I can also work as a freelance professional, certainly.

To be fair, I do not blame the Spanish authorities here, they are simply protecting their interests. I do not feel completely discriminated against, as I can change my nationality and have full access to all these things if I want.

However, the truth is that I was okay this way. Being an African citizen and holding a long term residency in Europe was quite right for me. It reflects both parts of me, and also, I don’t feel completely Spanish, or only African. Dual citizenship would be perfect, but none of my tree prospective countries would provides this, for now. And, some people would say that I just want to accumulate everything, and they may be right. But I think that it will ease some realities that will increase more and more as Africans move and the world moves.

Moreover, I have the feeling that if I leave my current citizenship for a European one, I will be rejecting part of myself. For many people it is not a big deal, though. It’s a practical matter. I disagree. It‘s much more than a practical process. iT has important political implications as weel. On both sides. Spanish citizenship would offer me free access to a whole continent’s labor market, yes. But, yet I will still be African, and black. And I outline this because I am aware that race is still an issue in Europe and worldwide. 

And also, I really care about my continent of birth. I was born there and have my people there. If I was sure that I would have a normal job there, I would go. I mean, we all know that life can be hard there, I see people leaving each year. But I don’t really see immigration as a solution. Only in few cases. Tourism is something completely different.

But, who will remain there to make it a better place if we all abandon? Who will respect us abroad, if we leave our original land in the world in the hands of many corrupt politicians and there acquaintances? What kind of message will we send to our children and grandshildren? 

I support freedom of movement, but there is not such a freedom when people have to emigrate for economic and political reasons. The feeling of being a third class citizen in a foreign country is not comfortable for anybody, and this is how many African migrants may feel today. I feel like renouncing to the nationality life gave to me is like abandoning my duty to contribute to the continent. And this may be innocent, as it sounds like I think of myself as a savior, but I really think that we should all contribute to stop this tragedy that keeps stealing innocent lives of our people along the borders.

Our future is in our hands and hearts. History teaches us that we can change our circumstances and soften our burdens; we should learn from others and apply.

This being said, it is also true that African citizen do not give me many advantages now.  With my current nationality I can’t go to more than 20 countries over the world.  I need visas even to visit other African countries (another proof of useless leaders). Also, If I go back home, I would restart as if I were a foreigner and deal with the whole political system that makes me sick. Honestly. I can’t stand knowing that my representatives are selling the country to fill their pockets and saving the profits in foreign banks while people are suffering to get basic needs covered. And you may say that corruption is everywhere… yes, but the kind of corruption I saw last time I went back home was a daily and normalized thing, present in every aspect of daily life.

Another reason is that Spanish civil servant is very powerful and they apply pressure in order to decrease competition on the labor market. It’s logical, in a certain way.

For example, Spain is currently in need of well- qualified English teachers, but they prefer to hire national people with an ‘Intermediate level’ rather than native ones, because civil servants would and do actually complain, as they did last in year in Madrid. I understand that people want to work, but do we have to sacrifice education quality for this? How is this country going to improve? There should be another way. It seems like everything needs to be subsidized by the state. This protectionism applies to many other economic fields.

I don’t really know what to do. And also, being a homosexual doesn’t help to imagine a good future in Africa. I have read some terrible news about this for years. Sometimes I just believe that life was so generous to me by putting me ‘in safety’ in a country where this is a not a curse or a crime. But, again, how can I blame anybody if I don’t fight for the things I believe. How can we really change something from outside? Wouldn’t they say we are ‘Un-Africans’? That we want to apply Western standards in Africa?

Honestly, I don’t want to impose western laws anywhere, I know this is a cultural view that needs time to change or not. External pressure does not really help on this. The only think I need is a neutral place where I don’t feel like a ‘criminal’ only on the grounds of my inner thoughts and personality.  I believe and know that I did not choose to be black or gay or straight. I don’t think I should be applauded for this, but nor do I think I should be judged as a criminal and ‘un-natural’ sinner. Nature cannot create unnatural beings. As I see, If God had wanted me otherwise, I would have created me otherwise. Well, even this is only another aspect to be taken into account. I dream bigger.

I just want the opportunity to contribute to change things for the better. Even if this means I have to sacrifice personal interests for a while. History is made on sacrifices and struggles. And we Africans are raised on the importance of the collective achievements. As a philosopher said, I am because we are.

To cut a long story short, I guess I hesitate to give up because I did not choose to move out, I was moved by my parents. And we cannot really renounce to something we never had, can we? I may need that opportunity to experience what I renounce, or not.

What would you do if you were in my shoes?

Paris, Lampedusa, Nelson Mandela and the ability to forgive the unforgiveable

Dear friends, firstly I whish you all Mery Christmas – or happy holidays for those who do not believe. 

Secondly, you may wonder the link between the three topics of the title, but yes, there is at lest one. 

But let’s start from the beginning. Paris. Yes, after my summer job, I gave myself a small family tour and visited my people living in Paris and Italy. I spent almost a week there, and remember some impressions which may be unexpected coming from me, but that’s what I felt. 

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I don’t know about the exact demographic figures, but there were lots of black people in Paris, really. Francophone Africans complain a lot about French influences and history in Africa, but the truth is that nowadays many African have found a better life in their country, which has become their country. I saw people from African descents working in every kind of jobs, engineers, recepcionists, policemen, doctors, nurses, bus drivers, etc. I also noticed that there were almost no white people in the suburbs areas, and that the Gare du Nord  undergound station was basically the starting point to travel to Africa. I was told that, as I saw black neigbourhoods, there were also Arabic and Chinese or Latino areas. I also experienced the feeling of frustration when I realised that banlieues where like other world, without order or law, a place where people sold grilled corns on the road and skipped paying the metro ticket. Just to nane a few misbehaving situations I saw. And this was not a black issue, but an issue about a precise area where people of foreign origins lived. People worked together, but did not live together, I felt quite strange about that. I definitely do not support acting against law nor racial segregation. 

I could also felt the black offspring’s pride, I saw very daring fashion styles, young people walking with their heads up and confident about themselves. People who felt at home, transmitting that inner courage to face the world. I like seeing people with good self-steem, but was it gemuine confidence? Hope so.

Anyway, France has got it history within, it is obvious that they first to Africa, and now Africa has come to France. Despite the offensive words against their black minister Christiane Taubira.

 

Then I went on to Italy. I must admit that I had bad prejudices about that country. I had only heard about racist issues concerning the football player star Balotelli or the newly arrived minister Celice Kengye. I had also learned that the whole population were mean towards black people living amongst them. I still don’t have a response about this. I opened my mind and went on, and to be honest, I felt wellcomed. It’s true that in Bergamo I was accompanied by a Spanish friend or his Italian friends, who showed me around. But from Bergamo to Torino, I was alone and found a lot of black peopleon my way. Especially Cameroonians and Senegalese guys. I learned that most of them came as students. I also saw many of them working along the street as in Spain. I loved Venice and fell welcomed in every single moment, which challenged my pre-asumptions about the country, but after all I was a tourist. It’s always different to spend money than to earn it in a foreign country. Yet, my uncle did told me that daily life was difficult. There were an explicit racism, especially towards blacks and Romanies or gypsies. Almost at the end of my stay, I watched the news of the tragedy of Lampedusa. Over 300 people died and the pictures were heartbreaking. Incredibly sad. The majority came from Somalia. I went back home with that dreadful impression.

I remember that Italian authorities stated national mourning days. Lots of volonteers went to give a hand and save the victims from the sunken boat. Yes, this is the way some of our people risk their lives to search for a better life in Europe nowadays! People are condenmed to live in poverty of corrupt countries, unless they are rich and grant holder students, they are denied to get a visa, free movement is almost impossible. These deadly pictures happen in Spain, in Italy, Greece…

Europeans were never asked a visa to travel to African nations, yet they refuse free movement of Africans today. I heard lots of good words about changing this shamefull laws, even from the Pope from Argentina. Some voices criticised European governments, but I criticise African authorities. I did not heard of  official mourning days by the African Union or any other authority from our countries of origin. Non of them offered to take the corpses back home and give them a traditional funeral. This shows us where the problem lies. Not only we are denied some basic rights as the freedom of movement, but we are also meaningless to our politicians. Doble shame. It seems like we only depend on our own fate, no institutional assistance other than foreign charity. And since we are poor, we will keep on accepting this charity.

This leads me to the death of Nelson Mandela. Few months ago I was lectured about the Apartheid system, the incredibly miserable atrocities commited by the afrikaners on local black majority, with tolerance of international powers such as the USA, UK or France. I saw pictures about the Shaperville massacre, so striking. And then I realised how generous black South Africans were and still are. If something similar had happened in other country, the white minority would have been eliminated after recovering political power. That’s why Nelson Mandela was so great. Because he embodied this generosity, and taught the world that we, black people, could forgive the unforgiveable. Victims could live and work with their former torturers… but not only that, he also managed to make sure that economic power remained in former hands. He was very much criticised for this. But, looking trough modern African history, looking at the fates of Patrick Lumumba, Thomas Sankara, Mamadou Dia… Those who dared to dream of a proper change of the status quo…They were killed. Did Mandela really have other choice than to foster the rainbow nation? I think that, from many perspectives: no. Militarily and economically, he was in a weaker position. He was just clever enough to make it happen without greater violence and giving dignity both to black population and white South Africans. 

I felt very bad about his death. Because I think he was a great man, but overall because I think his transition remained unfinished. Poverty is still overwhelmingly present within black communities. The difference is that unlike many of us, they seem to trust their country and do not emigrate desperately.

I always wonder why we use terms like “African Americans”, but not about European -Africans. How do they feel about themselves? I guess a mix of guilt and pride. I read somewhere these days that white South Africans were more in love of Madiba than black ones. May be because he did not ask them to forgive their once torturers or share their money with poorer citizens? Who knows…

By coincidence, last  October I participated in the African Film Festival of Cordoba, and guess what… the only few people I met from South Africa were 2 white women and an Indian-descent girl. And nobody made a big deal about them being non-black and calling themselves Africans. Nor were they labelled “European- African”, it was obvious that they had European features somewhere. One of them, a cimena expert teaching African cinema in London, wore a typical African dress in the closing night and looked wonderfully happy and without any kind of complex. 

Only then, I suddenly understood why this man was called the ‘Father of the nation’. He made millions of white grand children feel at home. We still have a long way ahead to find a white European leader who will made us feel at home in Europe. After decades of migration, we are just a non stable minority is Europe, risking our lives only to get here, and afterwards, we have to deal with people like Marine Le Pen in France.

 

PS: What do you think? If you were a black South African, how would you feel about your white fellow citizens? And if you are from S. Africa, please give your feedback. 

Happy New Year to all. May life you a bit of your dreams during this year 2014. I myself am dealing with a kind of transition, from student life to professional life. Transitions are never easy to handle, as history teaches us. Those in weaker position always have to give more than they receive… in order to reach peace. Or not. 

 

The syndrome of Martin Trayvon or how to feel self-dangerous for other.

I have recently observed  with outrage the tragic story of Trayvon Martin, a teenager of 17 killed by a volunteer security guard in the US. The teenager happened to be black American or African-American (I don’t really see the importance to call people Africans only because they inherited some of their forefathers features, that is, being black.); and the killer, Zimmerman, happened to be mixed race latino and white or European American (same applies for this term). According to what I read – and I read a lot, believe me— the security guard found Martin to be suspicious because of his black skin colour, his wandering pace around the rich area and the, above all, because of his hood over his head. So, he called the police. They told him to stay on his feet and wait for them to come. But, no. He decided that it was his job to be a heroe policeman and followed the young man. After all, he had a lethal weapon. He carried a gun with him. They ended up fighting and Martin was shot dead. And of course, Zimmerman stated self-defense. We all know which was the verdict. Sad. And no black member in the jury, speechless.

 

However, aside this terrible story, I have drawn a few conclusions.

 

1)    The Black struggle for total equality is not even near to end in the USA. The fight from slavery to nowadays legal equality is something I think I will never understand completely. We sometimes may think that we, as black people in the world, understand each other and can feel what our fellows have being through. I already feel sad when I remember that my African forefathers were colonised, killed and suffered genocide in their  homeland by foreign intruders , while millions of their children were taken as slaves to the Americas. I can even imagined how I would feel if I knew my granddad was seen as a underhuman not even a century ego, in the country I live in. We are asked to forgive, to forget about the past and to be almost saints in our daily behaviour.

 

2)   I have heard and seen documentaries about the huge amount of black Americans that live in US prisons. I once heard that almost half black population in this country spend some time of their existence in jail. This made me cry, I confess. The documentary, on Al Jazheera was about racial bias in Justice application. My flat-mate, who is a white American, told me that the reason was poverty. If you have no money, you cannot pay a proper lawyer to stand for you. This a anti-human neoliberal system. At the end of the day, people die because they have no money to pay a Health insurance, they do not get higher education for the same reason. They stay at home and go to jail for the same reason. In this sense, here in Europe, the Welfare state is more universal.

 

3) Referring to money. I live in a northern city in Spain where I meet a lot of American students who take summer courses of Spanish at local University. I rarely see black Americans. Actually, I can only remember 3 black girls this summer. And believe me, I work in a very visited shop, where I basically attend foreign customers because I can communicate with them.

 

4) Last but not least, the president Obama’ speech was really striking for me. As it refered to that daily subtle and long track discrimination that many black people endure. He said he had also felt observed while entering to a supermarket, while walking along the streets and so on and so forth. The permanent feeling of being regarded as a criminal on the only basis of your look. Yes, I also feel this at times.

 

5) I read the story of an African American comedian talking about the moment in which he shares an elevator with a white woman and feels in the need to make her feel safe. The need to prove that he is not a dangerous threat. Yes, It’s a long story that seems not have an end.

 

And dear readers, what saddens me more about this is that some people backed and endorsed Zimmerman right to see danger in a black teenager walking through his neighbour. Because, statistics show that…

But I’m happy that the Obama dared to raised that subtle and terrible discrimination toward black people in the US to public. Bu as I said, many people won’t never understand it if they don’t suffer it in their bones. Empathy has limits. The same, I am afraid, I won’t ever fully understand how my fellow black Americans feels about their situation in their country. But know that you have all my profound support from Spain. Life is done to be enjoyed. Let’s do it fully no matters what they feel about us.

 

I know it’s hard to believe you can be more than a prospective criminal when you are told, by many kinds of nuanced messages, that you are and you have no choice. For this we need to be stronger than the majority, at the beginning it seems that it is to prove something, but at the end, it’s a question of surviving a having our future in our hands (and our pockets).

 

Let’s move on!

 

Hello dear bloggers! I’m back over one month after. I’ve got good news for you, well, at least for me. This week I have finished my second bachelor’s degree. In some weeks, after I receive my diploma, I will be officially a translator and interpreter. This is wonderful because I really love the second part, interpreting is a very stressing activity which hooks you up very easily. My dream would be to interpret for the African Union, but I need to add more languages in my curriculum, such as Portuguese and German o Chinese. And, need some contacts! So guys, we got a new goal for the upcoming years!

In the meanwhile I’ve got to start searching for a job. It’s really tough to see your mum working so hard and not being able to help her with the charges. She thought after so many years of studying I would be already a successful professional living the Spanish/European dream. But the credit crunch opposed her plans, and sometimes I feel as if I deceived her by not finding a proper job after finishing my first degree. So, let’s see what Spain can offer us. I know that being a black African professional is still unthinkable for many Spanish people and immigrants living here, especially in the small cities and regions. But, I am ready for this.

I remember that this morning my aunt told me by phone how astonished she was when she saw a black man working at our local bank branch. The fact that she was so surprised speaks for itself. I tried to calm her down, saying that this is absolutely normal, but in my inner side I know that it isn’t. Spanish society is still unaccustomed to see African working on something else apart from the construction sector, domestic jobs and taking care of elderly people.

People are surprised every time I say I work as a teacher. Also, I remember when I was doing my internship at Spanish National TV and I was shooting a video piece of our local mayor. Suddenly the current Vice-Prime Minister arrived to the building and the mayor wanted her to be on the video, so we were waiting. It was funny to see her face when she entered the office and saw a black camera operator, she almost freaked out. But the mayor told her who I was.

But I also have to say that, except very few cases, people react well, or at least they try not to be very openly unpleasant. After the surprise, they react positively –apparently.

But, as I was saying, I’m very happy in these days. In a couple of hours I’m moving back home after a whole year living in another region, and working so badly to pay my bills and university fees. Finally I’m free, at least for a couple of weeks.

But today I’m also a bit sad because I think, once again, that living with European people is very hard for me at times. Sometimes I think it’s impossible. We are just so different in many ways. I have always shared flats with Spanish students, and after living with more than 10 different people, I can just say that we have shared things because I was raised here so I can understand the way they live and think, but not the other way around.

And it’s quite funny because young people think of themselves as very open-minded and ‘tolerant’. The think I hate the most is the selfishness, the inability to feel or to think beyond one’s individual interest. I really think that there are few thinks that we African can teach them. I don’t know. I was raised on sacrifice, solidarity and family. Maybe I’m just in the wrong place.

Well, people. Have a nice day.

 

It won’t bring me down!

 

Zorroza

Bilbao by day

First of all, I would like to thank you people, who share my thoughts and experiences far beyond Spain. Above all, I write this because I think that us, the African Diaspora in the world, we should unite and share ideas and experiences in order to improve our situation where we live and, and therefore, where we come from.

Yes, I’m kind of Pan-Africanist. Viva Nkwane Krumah!

Secondly I would like to give you some quick insight on my Spanish daily life today.

This week I’ve been studying African History at University, and can see that even in the academic world, people still think of African people as children they can patronize; they look at this continent as a chaos that can hardly stand over its feet. It’s sad and dreadful. But, they won’t bring me down.

I have decided to drop off one of my small jobs at the end of May, because I need to focus on my university papers and final exams. People would say that, it’s a privilege I should not take, specially bearing in mind the current figures about unemployment rate in this beloved country. Newspapers report today that we have reached more than 6 million people in dole. It’s scaring!

It’s scaring for young people who are graduating along these years. They say that, for the first time ever, Spanish population has decreased. More than 200 thousands people flew away last year. And immigrants are returning home, especially those from Ecuador. But also, many people who chose to settle in Spain years ago, are re-emigrating to other European countries such as France, Germany or Norway– and of course the UK.

I can swear that in these recent years I have seen so many African people leaving Spain for France or Belgium that I’m not really surprised of these figures. From my inner circle, 5/12 people of my relatives have moved to France. Only those who were really ‘rooted’ here remain.

 

In a broader scale, many immigrants, mostly from Latin American countries, get the nationality and then move to another country taking profit as their new status as European citizens. Such is life down here. And you would read comment of Spaniards complaining about this. I can’t understand their point.

From the recent national census, I have also learned that from the overall 5.5 million foreign people who live in Spain, non-European citizens are over 60%, that’s to say, more than 3 million people. From these people, African descents are still the smallest group, and we are highly represented by Moroccans.

So, some people who ask why I leave my job within this context… Well: I’m gonna be double-graduated in a few months. I have managed to study away from home by taking 4 small jobs, the so-called “minijobs”. They pay very little, so I have had to work as an English teacher for almost illiterate adults (3hours/week) and as an extra-curricular activity for school kids (3 hours/week) or as an occasional interpreter-translator (hardly)… And I volunteer as a Spanish teacher for foreigners, that’s my non-profit contribution to the community.  That’s to say: 6-7 hours/ week. And I should be grateful, they say, as I got a job and I do not have to beg for charity. Well, all I see is that taking these jobs was a way to pay my bills while living and studying out of home. Done. I needed to discharge my mum.  She’s done enough. All I see is that I have accomplished my part of the deal, I was the best student of my High-school class, I successfully finished a University degree, I managed to learn a new foreign language more or less– to enhance my possibilities in the labour market, but all I can do is to accept jobs like these to survive or  leave, as many friends of mine do. My best Spanish friend has just accepted an offer to work as an Engineer in Italy. There is no job in the construction sector here, no more.  It’s sad, indeed.

Imagen

Barcelona by dawn

But, I also think that we should be able to keep our expectations high. I’ve been in more than 10 different jobs during my short life; I worked as a basketball referee, as a private lessons teacher(Philosophy and History), a trainee journalist, a trainee translator, an Interpreter, a French teacher, English Teacher , Spanish Teacher, shop retailer, and so on.

From now on, I can keep on studying, which is maybe one of the best things to do in a short term, but I don’t see the need to get a doctorate nowadays apart from being a university teacher…  I can also start working as a freelance journalist-translator meanwhile I decide if I wanna be a teacher of Spanish abroad or French teacher in a State funded Secondary School, in order words: a civil servant. Being a graduate civil servant still worth it, they pay well enough to live above the average, but we don’t know how long this will be possible, due to the tough economic crisis and the more than likely future bailout of the country’s economy. I’m happy I could prepare myself to work in so many professions and in different countries. I never imagined languages would be so crucial in my life.

As you can see, Spain today is difficult. But, as I always say, they won’t bring me down!

PS: If it doesn’t work as it should, then I may announce you my emigration process in a year. Who knows?