To be or not to be…politically correct

23 Mar

The other day I was discussing with a friend the difference between the United States and Europe (Barcelona, Spain to be exact) when it comes to expressions of racism or dealing with race. Both of us have a Caribbean background (Dominican and Puerto Rican), both have lived in the states, and now live in Spain, therefore we clearly know how race is dealt with in these regions, and trust me it is all not the same.

The discussion came down to one question: ¿What would you prefer, to live in a country that is politically correct but still expresses racism in other less apparent ways? ¿or in a country that has no sensitivity towards race, and where their citizens feel very comfortable expressing their racism?

The big difference between the U.S. and Spain lies in the fact that the U.S. has a culture of political correctness towards race (an exaggerated one is my honest opinion) while in Spain there is a lack of sensitivity towards race and cultural differences.

In the United States, for example, there are lines you do not cross when it comes to race, this I believe sometimes ends in hypocrisy and really ridiculous statements or attitudes. The best one that I´ve hear was a reporter asking a blind person ¿how does it feel to lack visual acuity?, but there is also the typical discussion of “black” vs. “african american”, ” latino” or “hispanic”; I cannot remember how many times a white person has been uncomfortable in describing someone of a different race, they usually try to describe them as much as they can without mentioning their race, yet race is something you cannot deny. To be honest I am more offended when an American does not know where Santo Domingo or even worse where the Dominican Republic is located then when they categorize me in a particular race.

Do not be fool by the veil of ignorance that American put over blacks, Latinos, índigenas, Asians, muslims, jews or anyone not caucasian. The matter of fact is that in the U.S. a white woman is still worth (41x) more than an African-American and a Hispanic woman. There are still many economic policies that mainly affect the black and hispanic communities that result in discrepancies and inequalities. Which is why american political correctness that tries to deny or ignore the fact that racial and cultural differences exists bothers me, I believe it is important to acknowledge race and that inequality is still perpetuated.

But here comes Spain into the picture, coming from the Dominican Republic and after living in the U.S. Spain seems like a utopic paradise compared to D.R. and the U.S.; social services, free public healthcare, gay marriage, are some of the issues that are not controversial, they are a reality. Spain, or should I say many Spaniards lack sensitivity on race, we must accept though that immigration has been a recent “issue” or “problem” (as the right wing would say). During the Franco years (until 1978) Spain was a slightly “homogeneous” society, even thought they are many cultures within Spain, they have never had to deal with arabs, latin americans, and blacks until recently [This of course is debatable since Spain has a history of moorish invasion and jews that lived in the Iberian peninsula, who clearly got mixed with the locals]. What I have noticed is that in Spain, there is an extreme comfort in making generalizations about other groups, and calling these groups derogatory names such as: moro, sudaca, negros.

My white/ politically correct /american friends please cover your ears for the following explanation. In the moro category we find arabs, mainly Moroccans/north Africans and muslims; the sudaca (which refers to South Americans) includes everyone from Latin America or the former colonies regardless if it they are not technically in south america. While negros are the sub-saharians or very well any black latin american.

I´ve encountered many people, and I´m talking about educated and not specifically conservative people who feel really comfortable in making generalizations of all these groups. Statements such as “there is good immigration” (anyone from europe) and “bad immigration” (arabs and south americans) are heard on the streets and on newspaper polls. As well as statements such as “is better to have immigrants from Latin America than Morocco because they share our religion” . I have not experienced, I believe, any racism directed towards me in Spain, on the contrary people have treated me really well. However there is no denying that people feel very comfortable making generalizations in front of me, why? I do not know, I´m a `sudaca´ that looks like a mora and is actually a mulata and I´m equally offended on any of these generalizations.

My conclusion is however that I rather deal with racism when people are honest about their views towards race rather than hide it under political correctness, this option might hurt people more but at the end it is easy to spot the signs of racism and challenge them rather than hide it under the veil of ignorance.

2 Responses to “To be or not to be…politically correct”

  1. rubio 04/15/2010 at 5:32 PM #

    hmmmm…..How about having an open honest discussion about race without using Language that has historically been used to repress minorities?

  2. yoymiconciencia 04/15/2010 at 5:41 PM #

    how can we communicate and have an open discussion about race without using a language that has been used to oppress minorities???? Dont exactly know how to do this since the languages that I speak have been imposed and used as oppression.

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