Friday, August 06, 2010
Michele Obama -- First (Black) Lady in Spain
I don't know where to begin. First, I saw this annoying article this morning that claims Americans are annoyed that First Lady Michelle Obama gets to have a lavish vacation in Spain while the country is in a recession.
Then I got annoyed when I started reading some of the 3000 plus comments that of course, have to rapidly deteriorate into overt racism in terms of justifying why the First Lady can't take a vacation.
But what's more, I almost did a double take by the line in the story that said that the State Department had actually issued a warning for African-Americans traveling to Spain. Seeing as how the story was on Yahoo, I didn't believe it at first, but I did my own poking around and found several references to this 'travel advisory for African-Americans traveling to Spain.' Apparently there was such a warning based on several African-Americans being unfairly harassed and/or arrested by Spanish police. The warning was indeed yanked by the State department before the First Lady's arrival. For a full account of that story, you can read here.
For some reason, knowing that the State Department felt justified in issuing this warning takes my anecdotal evidence of Spain's peculiar attitude towards Black people to another level of reality and potential danger. Not just annoyance. When the police are implicated in a country's racist behavior then one does have to take the warnings a little more seriously than those issued by an author and blogger with a Spanish husband. Will I still happily travel to Spain? Absolutely. I can't wait for our next trip. But will I pay a little bit more attention? Will my racism radar be switched on? Probably.(sigh)
And just to leave you with a question. If the US government warns African-Americans who travel to Spain to be careful because the Spanish police are racist, what kind of warning are they issuing for their own citizens seeing as how Black men get falsely arrested, shot, pulled over and harassed almost every day? Is there a warning for that somewhere on a website?