Friday, August 07, 2009

The Only Chocolate Chip in the (Spanish) Cookie--Part II

Of course there is another side of this story. Being the only chocolate chip in a sea of (Spanish) vanilla can be liberating in a way. Liberating in the sense that as one of a select few, you are free to be different. There's no way to hide your skin color, so you might as way go all out with NOT blending in, which is kind of fun.

I already know people are going to stare at me, so sometimes I wear really loud colors and lots of jewelery -- things I like but wouldn't dare to wear at home -- because it's like, folks are going to stare at me anyway, let's really give them something to look at. I wear my hair differently, I take more risks on how I put myself together in terms of dress, and I find myself displaying a little bit more attitude than I would in the United States because I can. There aren't any Black girl rules here for me to follow or break. I make my own.

And then there's always the hip factor. In an admittedly overly generalized way, I can say Black Americans are thought to be pretty cool. The other night, my brother, my husband, sister-in-law and my kids went out here in Spain. We stopped for a bite to eat at a little outdoor cafe and were treated really well by the wait staff. Come to find out, the waiter thought my brother was! Last night after eating dinner at an upscale pizza restaurant here, he was invited to a private party by the restaurant owner. I think my brother is a cutie, but that never happens at home.

So, yeah, being the only chocolate chip in this cookie has its annoying/irritating side, but it has its advantages too. I try to focus on the positive seeing as I don't have to live here all year round and life is too short to worry about things you can't really do much to change.

When you travel do you stand out? Why? and How do you handle it?



Dee said...

I've never been out of the country (yet!) so I haven't experienced racism across the pond...but, when I was younger, the doctor I used to go to was Indian and her office was situated in the Ironbound section of Newark--a area well known to house a lot of Portuguese people. No blacks to be found there at all.

Anyway, her office was on a busy street, and since my mother couldn't park directly in front of her office, she'd had to park it near a Portuguese restaurant and we'd have to walk several blocks to get to her office. Well, we often got stares since we were the odd ones out and more than our fair share of unwanted attention. I could often feel their eyes on me, sizing me up, jabbering on in Portuguese.

One time, this girl gave me this look like, "what are you doing here?" I decided to speak up. "What? You've never seen a black girl before? Well, get used to it, because you're gonna see a lot more of me. Who knows? We might even move here." Of course, we weren't going to move there, but the look on that girl's face was priceless. She couldn't think of anything to say, and we went on our way.

ieishah said...

i love this lori. i love that you've chosen, and it's a choice, to ENJOY the attention. i have a friend (black, english girl), who came to barcelona 19 years ago, with a unique, sexy style of dress. colors, jewelry, head wraps... but then she got so much attention that she stopped. not modified, but totally stopped dressing this way. now she wears grey and black, baggy clothing, even out at night. so here she is, divorced single black mom in spain, looking to date again, except, she's completely taken herself out of the game. totally sacrificed all her 'sexy'. (i'm sorry--- you need your 'sexy' if you're trying to date!!) i find this strange, because the only type of girl who may get more attention that black girls in spain are blonde girls... and i NEVER see them rejecting that attention or covering themselves up... so why do we??

you and your bro should enjoy all the hot parties and free champagne you get!! hell. i do!

(btw, didn't i tell you he'd be okay??)

Martine said...

One of my best friends, whose family is from India, and I often travel together and we always laugh at how we cause a sensation in so many places we go. In lots of countries not used to seeing people who look like us, having either a black woman or an Indian woman show up is sensation enough but to have us both show up in one day is like a special occasion. In Morocco we felt like celebrities with all the attention - people shouted out names of famous Bollywood stars and curious strangers reached out to touch my hair and skin. In Chile while visiting the presidential offices the national guards wanted to know everything about us. In Argentina cab drivers and store owners were overjoyed that we could speak Spanish so they could asks us questions. These stories go on and on but we’ve never felt unsafe or any menace. It just seems like people are curious. So we never try to blend in, we just always know we’ll get stares so we smile, say hello and remember how lucky we are to live in NYC where it’s a little tough to get anyone to stare because everyone looks differently.

LT said...

Good for You!

Thanks for that. I needed to hear that.

Great story. I like your attitude about the whole thing.

ieishah said...

seriously, martine... i love you.

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Rita L. said...

I'm going to be living and working in Madrid for the next two years or so. I leave on Monday, so I will soon find out how much I will stand out. I'm not really super nervous because I've stood out in every majority white school I've attended. However, I just hear conflicting stories about how blacks are treated in Spain, thus I feel a little uneasy.

To feel a little better, six months ago, I read Kinky Gazpacho. It was fun and informative, but I guess to really calm my fears, I just have to experience it for myself.

LT said...

Rita L.,

Good luck! I'm sure you'll have a wonderful time. And the thing is, everybody's experience is different. I think the best thing to do is be prepared for whatever happens. Good or bad. Keep us posted.