Being black in Spain is different from being black in the UK, France or The Netherlands. In an interesting article five black people from Spain share their experience about living in Spain (short translation). You can read the full article (in French) on the blog Noirs d’Amérique Latine
Among the interviewed is television reporter Lucía Asué Mbomio. In the video for the website Live unchained she talks about her her documentary and about being black in Spain.
Marcia Santacruz is chocolate coloured. Black like her father and her mother. Black as her grandparents. But apparently, in Spain, clothing, education and money determine the level of melanin. They nuanced skin tone. The Afro-Colombian, who came to Madrid to complete a Masters in Public Administration, said: “In the Spanish mind black is synonymous for domestic work, poverty and lawlessness. In their subconsciousness, they can’t believe that there can be a black latina who speaks about Sartre.
Spain is not an openly racist country. There is no xenophobic party with parliamentary representation. The country does not represent a clear rejection of black, except for marginal groups of extreme right. But there is subtle everyday racism. Manifested in the way home. It is installed in the eye. You find in the classic statement: “I am not racist, but …”. Or it’s the shop salesman who rushes to serve a black person, just so he can leave the shop quickly. It’s racism in a country where blacks have gone from singular elements and exotic, before being put all in the same bag, which is perceived with some concern: immigrants.
Here, there is neither Barack Obama or Oprah Winfrey. There are not many symbols of success. The Black presence is recent. An explosion occurred in the late nineties.
Spain has about 683,000 African descent. 1.5% of the population, just over 10% of foreigners by High Council of Black Communities (Alto Consejo de las Comunidades Negras).This exponential growth is most striking: in 1998 they were no more than 77,000. And just last year, about 7,500 descendants of Africans born in the Spanish territory.
According to the association that advocates the visibility of the black community, these figures are approximate. First, they counted foreigners residing in Spain from countries with black people, and crossed the result with the percentage of African descent in these countries. These figures have a margin of error. Fortunately, we have no ethnic census, the racial difference does not appear on the national identity card. But the quantification of a minority can be seen through another prism. Especially if the initiative comes from the minority itself.
There are data that say: “We are a growing community. We’re here. Take us into consideration.”
For there was a time when the Spaniards (white) rubbed their eyes in seeing them. Donato Ndongo-Bidyogo, writer and minister of the self-declared government of Equatorial Guinea in exile, based in Madrid, arrived in Spain when his country was still a Spanish colony. A province on the African continent, one hundred percent black. In a recent article entitled Una nueva realidad: los afroespañoles (A new reality: afroespagnols), the Equatorial Guinean wrote several anecdotes of his early years in the white territory.
For example: “Older women who, at Christmas 1965, ran, terrified and scared to see me in a city within the Levantine region, laying hands on her head and cried a black, black, My God, a negro! “[…] My classmates had scratched his head and hands with their fingers and were surprised they were not stained black.
Guineans in the former colony have been the first to arrive so widespread. Today, they are all a little over 23,000. This is the third African country with the most big contingent of blacks in Spain, after Senegal (47,000) and Nigeria (35,000). But migration has been very different. They came to study in the metropolis. To be formed. Today, they perhaps represent the most integrated black community of African descent with a second and third generation.
Lucía Asue Mbomio reporter for Españoles por el mundo (TVE1) is one of them. She speaks with an accent of the district when she wants. She says it is her vulgar side. Born of a white mother and a father Equatorial Guinea, she grew up in Alcorcón, a municipality south of Madrid. She’s 28, and her room in a shared appartment, is filled with pride of her race. From “I Have a Dream” Martin Luther King, to the “Yes we can,” Obama.
You can read the full article (in French) on the blog Noirs d’Amérique Latine
Also see Black travel expert Nelson George of BlackAtlas talking to Black British Judi Oshowole, who has lived in Barcelona for 18 years. See more information about her and the community BIBS (Barcelona International Black Sisters) here.