A couple of days ago, my younger brother announced that he was thinking about traveling to Barcelona this summer. It's been a dream of his for awhile. But my sister-in-law, with a whispered warning over the phone, told him he might want to reconsider.
"It might not be safe for you in Spain this summer," she said.
"Why not?" my brother asked.
"Because of la crisis, the economy."
"What does that have to do with anything?" my brother demanded.
My sister-in-law sighed and answered, "Because there have been some 'incidents' against the immigrants and you might be mistaken for one of them."
Translation. Because of the worsening economy in Spain, violence against immigrants, Africans, South Americans, and/or anyone not visually Spanish, is at risk for feeling the frustration of the out of work Spaniards. This according to my sister-in-law in Spain.
When I heard this, I felt sick and all of my paranoid fears about being Black and unwanted in Spain returned. Fears that I thought I'd exorcised by writing my memoir, Kinky Gazpacho, came hurtling back. And they came with new fears this time. Fears of taking my children to Spain this summer and having them (them who look like Moroccans) be on the receiving end of ignorance and violence. Before my eyes, visions of keeping my sons safely ensconced in the house of my in-laws, never letting them out of the yard...like prisoners in paradise, flashed before me. Am I being ridiculous?
"What do you say we go back to Miami this summer instead?" I suggested to El Esposo?
Dear Meltingpot readers, especially those of you who live in Europe, have you seen an increase in violence or xenophobic behavior since the economy tanked? Is it widespread or isolated? Do you think Black Americans get a free pass from this violence because generally people can smell our "American-ness" a mile away? Should a new warning be issued by the Obama administration. Level Brown, perhaps? Do not travel if your skin color may be mistaken for that of an immigrant?
What do race relations look like in Europe when the economy goes bad? Is it safe to travel while Black these days? Please be candid and honest. This may turn into a bigger story.
Check out this story and this story for some more background on the current immigration situation in Spain.
Peace and Happy Tax Day!