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The invisible Spaniards

Brendan Boyle


The acceptance of lazy stereotypes and racist language passed off as harmless banter in Spain has contributed to the socioeconomic, cultural, and political marginalization of many non-white Spaniards. Without a radical change in education, integration policy, and even the language used around race, Spain will fail further generations, damaging itself in the process.

‘There is a vanishingly small number of changes tailored for those struggling the most that wouldn’t ultimately benefit us all.’

The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together, Heather McGhee

Humidity-induced sleeping difficulties during summer vacation along the Catalan coast carried me, an easily distracted, slow reader, through the works of two Spanish writers: Desirée Bela-Lobedde and Moha Gerehou. These authors — the former born and raised in Barcelona, the latter in Huesca, northeast Spain — forced upon me the grim realisation that I will be accepted more by Spanish society than they ever will in their own country.

Because I am a white immigrant — the good kind in Spain — I am afforded liberties that many black Spaniards are not. I am given the benefit of the doubt. In six years in Spain not once have I been stopped by police to show ID. Nor have I been discriminated against in the property rental market.

While Bela-Lobedde’s Ser mujer negra en España (Being a black woman in Spain) and Moha Gerehou’s Qué hace un negro como tú en un sitio como este (What´s a black guy like you doing in a place like this) are personal accounts, they share many similarities: feeling like an outsider in your own country, the jokes, the insults, the uneasy looks, the stereotypes, the ignorance, the portrayal of Africa and Africans in Spain, racial profiling, the “where you are really from?”, the sexual innuendos.

The chapters overflow with anger, frustration and fatigue.

Summer reading.

Black Spaniards exist

During a 2017 interview with El Español titled The only black woman in the national police force speaks, Carmen Ada Edjang laments the reality of being a black person born in…



Brendan Boyle

Irish - living in Galicia. Write about Spain, its cities and culture; real people and places; current affairs. Supporter of real journalism.