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40 replies
Black girl in Italy... Good combo?
igotz2travelCB
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I’m taking a trip to Italy this summer for 2 weeks and I was wondering what the general Italian perception of black women or black people is. I’m just really curious. Anything I should know or look out for? I’ll be just about everywhere in Italy. Milan, Venice, Florence, Assisi, Rome, Pompeii, Sorrento, Naples, Capri, and Sicily. Any info anyone has would be much appreciated.

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I’m not going to tell you how it feels to be black in Italy as I wouldnt know. But there is a pretty large African-Italian contingency over there…so if you think that you would stick out, you wouldnt. You might get some comments from dudes, but thats because you are a girl..not because you’re black.

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who cares, as long as you just do your thing, and be careful, nothing will happen to you. Have fun, and don’t worry about other people’s perceptions of you. That will take away from your experience.

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I believe the lady is looking for some helpful advice. Not some "Oh the world is fine, and we’re all brothers and sisters, and give peace a chance" comment.
I’m sure she’s going to do her thing and be careful.

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only from bits and pieces of info I have from black or female friends who have travelled in Italy – wouldn’t say you shouldn’t go, but you might get attention that you aren’t used to – partly due to your colour, and partly due to the general sexual politics. e.g stares, comments, ‘flirting’.

My brother-in-law is a UK Afro-Caribbean, said he got stared at quite a lot, but nothing heavy. His fiancee is UK Pakistani and got comments and come ons – but as others have said, thats partly just cos she’s a lass.

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I am a 23 year old Black female who was in Italy for two weeks last September….Florence and then Rome, and I had no problems. I did get alot of attention, which I hear isn’t unusual for Italy but I think alot of it was that I am Black. But it was adoring attention, nothing like here in the states when a man is tryin to get your attention…..more like everywhere you go, men and women are telling you how beautiful you are, running down the street after you telling you that they will die if you dont speak to them (very corny, but in Italy it has a sense of romance). The only bad thing I can say is that it became overwhelhming at times. I was with my family, so we were a group of 6 black people all over the city and we were treated with nothing but kindness, Id say it was better treatment then 6 black people receive in the states. There is a decent sized African and Afro-Italian population in Italy, so you won’t stick out as a black person, but more so as an American. You shouldnt have a problem. I’ll be back in Italy this summer for a week, this time Naples and Milan if that tells you how much I enjoyed it.

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Thanks to all those who responded. I wasn’t freaking out or anything I was just simply curious. I’m definately looking forward to my trip and hopefully this one will lead to much more.

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I’m glad someone asked this question because I have also been wondering how I will be treated in certain areas. I know that certain parts of Europe have very diverse populations but I also wondered about places like Italy. I am a Dominican girl but I really look Indian. I wondered if Italian guys were even attracted to darker girls, but from what I’ve read, they seem to be attracted to any female.

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this thread title… BLACK GIRL IN ITALY sounds like a porno movie title!

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Way to pick up on my hidden subliminal message. You deserve a present brought back from Italy.

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Hi!

I just would like to give you a different perspective here. I am from Italy and have been following the tentative immigration/integration process ongoing here in these years for a while now.

To get away from the attention men reserve to women (only tourists.. if you were wondering. they would not even try with a local), you know that you will either be taken for a black immigrant (therefore identified as African) or, due to you clothes, attire, attitude, as a tourist. But expect some confusion to arise every once in a while.

When taken as tourist, all what the previous postings say is definitely a truthful depiction of reality. If you "look money", you will be well received.

IF instead you are taken as an immigrant (and it may happen from time to time), expect a somewhat different treatment.
Just not to get people starting getting overly angry about this, let me remind you first that a large share of the immigrants now in Italy are illegal and that vast maiority of Italian population fears a cultural loss from immigration waves.
This said, I will not hide from you that most of Italians are quite racist. We still consider "Italian" caucasians only with roots digging in the country a few generations.

So you should be aware that there is a widespread sense of racism towards the black population in Italy. This may manifest in stares when you go buy food at a small grocery stores (usually run by older people, often less open to foreigners) and maybe hostel/hotel people will check your documents more in deep than those of other travellers or will ask you to pay in advance rather than after your stay. Refusing customers is not unheard of either, but I doubt you will encouter this problem. You should also know these are worst case scenarios (in my opinion AND if you are a wise traveller). Nothing worst than this should happen to you and your travels should be more than safe.

You would definitely encounter worst barriers if you were here for longer and were trying to rent an apartment (almost impossible in some cases, if you were mistaken for an immigrant), look for a job or other things.

Since you will be travelling for two weeks, keeping your wits and keeping in mind how things are here, enjoy your time!

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how was your trip? I plan to go some time this year.. or early next year.. I’m an African American Female, I had the same question you posted.

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I am an italian man, well… Italy is a country with different kinds of people like any other country. If you go in places for tourists…you will hardly find the italians who have a busy normal life. YOu will find there people hunting for tourists: both guys looking after girls, and people looking after your money, legally and, unfortunately, sometime not legally. If you like to enter in touch with italians…you got 2 ways: or going in pubs at night and discos over the weekend…(there you will find young people) or, just making new friendships throught the net, then meeting in public places the good ones…never in lonely places. Anyway remember, italians are not racist, love women from everywhere in the world, and if you stay for a long time in italy you surely get dated with an italian guy without any problem…
If you need any answer feel free to contact me here or with my yahoo ID claudioramor. I love black afroamerican beauties.

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I know it’s just a select few doing this at soccer games (i.e. inter milan, ac milan), but it really gave me the feeling that Italian people weren’t friendly with people of african descent, or there was racism on a whole different level then i’ve seen. When I was watching a game, every time a black player touched the ball they made disguisting animal noises. It was simply dispicable action by a select few losers. I am not a black person, but if I was I would be cautious there.

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I have dated a young woman from Torino for some time and have made a few visits myself. We have spoken about the impression some Italians have of Africans. It’s been mentioned that many Africans have entered the country and have a great deal of trouble leaving if they decided to. This, combined with the difficulty to find solid employment has led to many being forced (in a sense) to sell themselves. Therefore, some Italians tend to associate black women with prostitution.

Maybe someone else can provide some insight as to whether this is a northern/southern Italian thing or not…

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ClaudioRamor, I would love to meet you, I am a latin/black american woman my sisters and I are visiting italy soon, do you live there and how old are you?

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Sorry… I made a mistake… my email is not claudioramor_bannato06@yahoo.it but claudioramor_bannato09@yahoo.it Juana… sorry for the mistake!!!
ciao!

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Quote:
ClaudioRamor, I would love to meet you, I am a latin/black american woman my sisters and I are visiting italy soon, do you live there and how old are you?

Might be a little difficult since this thread is three years old Frown

I am leaving from New York, NY and traveling for 64 days
Reykjavik, London, Lille, Berlin, Kraków, Lviv, Istanbul, Selçuk, Pamukkale, Kızkalesi, Göreme, Kars, Bat'umi, Akhalts'ikhe, Tbilisi, Telavi, Istanbul

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Look at Claudio picking up ladies on Eurotrip

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heh
Funny how Claudio’s username and email address have changed~~Wink

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Yes…nick and address changed because i made a mistake : I forgot my password and had a problem in recovering because I registered the wrong email domain extension in my profile…
Now you know why…. Had to register a new account with my correct email address..
Well… is it picking women a bad action ? It’s not my job, and I don’t do it every day of my life.. I do it when I think that there’s a good reason to do it, and surely meeting a woman coming from a far country could be for both an interesting situation… I would like it very much !

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I don’t think that you should worry about that. I had the same problems when I was preparing myself to go on a trip with the Alaska Cruises, but it seemed that I shouldn’t had because people are ok. Only if you think that they are not then you will see that they aren’t. So it is just a matter of perception.

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Ciao,

I take a group of African-American women to Italy every year. To learn more about our tours and read stories, visit www.BlackGirlTravel.com.

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Good Times wrote:

I have dated a young woman from Torino for some time and have made a few visits myself. We have spoken about the impression some Italians have of Africans. It’s been mentioned that many Africans have entered the country and have a great deal of trouble leaving if they decided to. This, combined with the difficulty to find solid employment has led to many being forced (in a sense) to sell themselves. Therefore, some Italians tend to associate black women with prostitution.

Maybe someone else can provide some insight as to whether this is a northern/southern Italian thing or not…

Well there’s a difference between immigrants from Africa, and American tourists of Black descent (African-Americans). Two very different groups of people, and they are perceived differently too. Everyone in Europe knows about African-Americans, they’re a very prominent part of American culture, and the world is bombarded by American culture through film, television, music, etc. And certainly Italy is used to millions of tourists, business travelers, and the like, coming and going. People can tell the difference between a tourist and a recent immigrant, so African-American tourists usually don’t have to worry about being mistaken for an immigrant and all the social stigma that one may anticipate from that.


beach-lunch-siesta-beach-shower-dinner-nightlife-repeat

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Hi there,

I lived in Italy and I can tell they have no problems with black tourists at all. There are some xenophobe manifestations in Italy, but they refer mainly to gipsy people establishing there and trying to make a living by stealing or rubbery.

All best
radu

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Hmm, you shouldn’t be that worried. I am also black and I have been several times there. Each time I was there I didn’t face any trouble with the Italians,what is more they even liked me very much. So, you shouldn’t worry, Italians aren’t racists.
__________

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I am black woman looking to travel to Italy alone. I want to have a good experience, but I want to do it safely……Any suggestions?

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Folks,

43 million foreigners visited Italy in 2008 alone; this number includes tourists, backpackers, cruise passengers, Catholic pilgrims, business tavelers, fashion models, academics, short-term study-abroad students, and anybody transiting through the country that stayed overnight at least one night. And an estimated 3 million immigrants live in Italy. And millions of Italians travel outside their borders annually, too. Seriously, folks, do you think they’ve never seen Black people in Italy? Do you guys think Southern Europeans are less enlightened than Northern Europeans? And that they’re isolated from the world, living the same way as they did 200 years ago, and never having seen foreigners? Why not the same concerns for Ireland and Sweden? Is it because the US media gives Americans this distorted image of Italy, of a backwards, yet romantic country stuck in the 1950s?

The only places you should really be concerned about, when it comes to safety, are Russia (where there have been attacks on Black people), and parts of eastern Germany, and that’s it. And then there’s places in Europe where you’ll get non-threatening curious stares, like Ukraine. But in Italy where millions of tourists come and go and where millions of immigrants now reside…no one will give you a second look. Not that racism doesn’t exist, but it’s an overall safe country, and the natives are used to being bombarded with hordes of foreign visitors every year.


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I don’t think that people are asserting that people in Italy have never seen Black people, luv_the_beach. I think that folks are posting legitimate questions on an online forum, so that those with experience can share their personal anecdotes. Isn’t that what this forum is for? They aren’t asking about Ireland and Sweden because this thread is called “Black girl in Italy … Good combo?” Your comments are helpful in the aggregate — but I think if I’m looking for info in the aggregate, I’d go to the US State department postings for Americans abroad. On a site like this, I appreciate people’s varied comments. If you haven’t been abroad before, you will have a lot of questions — and I applaud the people who ask them instead of making assumptions and jumping to the conclusion that they shouldn’t leave home.

And by the way, I’ve been to Italy and Russia… but I’ve not been to Ireland or Sweden, so you can bet I would ask the exact same questions about those countries in the appropriate forums… not because I think everyone’s racist… but because if you don’t ask, then you’ll never know the answer!

I’m going to Rome again this spring, this time with my husband, who’s never been. Good travels to everyone on this forum!

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asterisk23 wrote:
And by the way, I’ve been to Italy and Russia… but I’ve not been to Ireland or Sweden, so you can bet I would ask the exact same questions about those countries in the appropriate forums…

Really? Would you, asterisk?

Stick around Eurotrip long enough and you’ll see that the “I’m Black and afraid to visit Italy” question pops up all the time…just take a look at the newest such thread in the Nightlife forum. And it doesn’t stop there. There’s also the “I’m afraid of Italian trains” questions, and the “I’m a blonde traveling to [insert Southern European country], will I get unwanted attention?” (don’t worry sweetheart, chances are you’re overweight or a very plain/conservative/bad dresser, I don’t care what your hair colour is).

Of course I’m 100% supportive of travelers of color who are concerned about any racism they may encounter in Europe. But the fact that this question is always asked of Italy, and never for Northern Europe, begs the question: why is this the case? And it’s not because of any evidence that would indicate ignorance and bigotry are higher in Italy than in Sweden or Ireland. It’s actually because of a bias held by Americans, as I noted above.

Maybe we Americans (regardless of ethnicity) all need to ask ourselves why we so easily and willingly fall for popular misrepresentations of the outside world? …instead of taking it upon ourselves to learn about the world by looking up the State Department travel warnings (to use the example you mentioned) or opening a book….now there’s an idea!


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luv_the_beach wrote:
But the fact that this question is always asked of Italy, and never for Northern Europe, begs the question: why is this the case? And it’s not because of any evidence that would indicate ignorance and bigotry are higher in Italy than in Sweden or Ireland. It’s actually because of a bias held by Americans, as I noted above.

I’d assume that Italy is the more desirable location for American travelers, not because of some bias.

How many people pick Sweden or Ireland over Italy? People think romantic Italy with it’s beaches and gorgeous girls and great Italian food. Sweden and Ireland aren’t known for great weather and great food.

Eat the food, use the wrong verbs, and end up getting charged double.

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Expediteus,
Sorry to bother you, but I’m planning on possibly going to Rome or Florence this summer for a 2-3 month-long internship and was curious about whether or not you’ve gone back to the country recently. If so, have you had the same experience?

I’ve heard issues about troubles brewing in Europe because of the financial situation going on now, and I know you posted your message in 2005, so I’m wondering if life’s the same there now, being 5 years later. Any info would help =) Just trying to choose now whether to go to Italy or France (Paris) for the museum internship – any recommendations? -

Thank you so much!

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wow this conversation got a little heated there. lol I’m thinking about a trip to europe (about 2 weeks) and italy just might be the destination. I’m not so much concerned about the race thing as a black female, I just want to get away and relax! I haven’t vacations in 2 years. if anyone has advice such as a reasonably priced travel package from NYC and ideal destinations for tourists please email me at donttalkshowme (on yahoo)

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dtsm wrote:
wow this conversation got a little heated there. lol I’m thinking about a trip to europe (about 2 weeks) and italy just might be the destination. I’m not so much concerned about the race thing as a black female, I just want to get away and relax! I haven’t vacations in 2 years. if anyone has advice such as a reasonably priced travel package from NYC and ideal destinations for tourists please email me at donttalkshowme (on yahoo)

dtsm,

You’ll probably get more responses if you start your own thread. This one has been around since 2005 and so many posters ignore it.

I’m looking farward to a trip also. Been trying to finish school. Once I get a job…..

Eat the food, use the wrong verbs, and end up getting charged double.

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Italy is like any other country…it has its bigots and it has its nice people. Overall I would say europe is far less race conscious than most North America places

“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list”

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hI ALL
been reading your comments for a while and i had to subscribe just to give my opinion
am black african leaving in italy and i really love the place
when i first arrived Italy there were alot stares of considering the fact that ilive in small village where my family wre the only black people who live there! But with time you get to it and move on
Visiting Italy as tourist be you afro american or afro british is no problem cause they know that you just came to spend your money and later leave the country but for us Africans its not easy at all!
My husband is an executive chef so we have a very comfortable as compare to other africans who live in Italy, we are respected by our peers but still there still that reluctance of openning up form the italians because we are blacks
i used to work as Public relation officer in my country before arriving Italy but as a black i need to prove my self three times more than an italian to get a job in the coomunication field which for now has proven to be impossible, but i keep my fingers crossed
in a nur shell italy in some zones is not aggressive towards black but in certain areas racism is manifested without shame
But when u have the money be u black white red all the doors are open so …

I am leaving from Bologna with $2000 for 13 days
Paris, Nancy, Strasbourg, Hamburg, Munich, Essen
Requesting help with Transport, Hostels, Budget, Itinerary, Nightlife, Food, Sights
luv_the_beach
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mb wrote:

I’d assume that Italy is the more desirable location for American travelers, not because of some bias.

How many people pick Sweden or Ireland over Italy? People think romantic Italy with it’s beaches and gorgeous girls and great Italian food. Sweden and Ireland aren’t known for great weather and great food.

You’re right about Sweden and Ireland, but not about Northern Europe in general. Britain is actually a more popular destination for Americans than Italy, and Germany is about as popular as Italy. While it’s true that countries like France and Italy are highly romanticized in American culture, and are therefore popular destinations that don’t need to try too hard market themselves to Americans (okay, actually they do to an extent, but very indirectly), countries like Germany and especially Britain attract Americans because Northern Europe enjoys that “similar culture” factor (or at least a perceived cultural closeness) with many Americans. By contrast, Southern Europe is perceived as culturally more distant. Sweden and Ireland are much smaller in population, so it’s logical they don’t receive the tourism numbers that Britain/Germany/Italy/France do.

Yes Germany also has lot of US military personnel (hence visiting American relatives), but so does Italy. Britain also has the linguistic factor. What I’m saying is that cultural closeness/distance, whether real or perceived, will shape a society’s bias (whether negative or positive) towards another. One good example of this is how Americans hold France as their scapegoat for anti-Washington sentiment in Europe, even though France is actually mild in this regard in comparison to countries like Sweden, Switzerland, Austria, Norway, Ireland, and Germany, where anti-Iraq war and anti-Afghanistan war sentiment are higher than in France. In Britain, anti-war sentiment has always been as strong as in France. Anti-war sentiment is also much higher in Italy than in France, but Italy enjoys a positive reputation to Americans due to a relatively large population of “Italian”-Americans who have the faintest connection to Italy (their grandma’s brother’s wife’s dog’s neighbor came from Italy, which makes them “Italian”), but who are also highly influential in shaping American perceptions about Italy, even though they are often distorted and ironically fall within an americentric narrative.

Northern European nations, for the most part, are regarded by Americans as peer countries, whereas Southern European nations (with perhaps the exception of France) are perceived as “ethnic” (ie subordinate) whose cultures exist only within an anglo and germanic domain (and especially an American domain), and not as independent peer societies in their own right (and I would argue the same for American perceptions towards Latin America, Middle East, Eastern and Central Europe, South Asia, and East Asia).


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I didn’t mention Northern Europe, including Britain as a whole. Just Ireland and Sweden. I think someone posted about these two countries. It’s been so long I can remember and I don’t feel like reading the whole thread.

London greatly increases the number of tourists in the British rankings. Take the London tourists away and where does Britain rank?

My opinion is that Italy is more in the fore front of someone’s mind than Ireland or Sweden because of reputation, that’s all.

Eat the food, use the wrong verbs, and end up getting charged double.

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mb,

My point is that people ask about Italy, not about Northern European countries because of an inherent bias/stereotype/image that Americans have of Italy, and it was my mistake to compare Italy to to Sweden and Ireland, when Britain is a much more fair comparison. Britain is as large as Italy, and receives a very large number of American tourists, just like Italy does. That’s why I brought up all of Northern Europe. Smile

I know what your argument is, but I disagree with it. I’ve always felt that Americans hold a bias against non-anglo and non-germanic societies, and it doesn’t just pertain to tourism.

It exists, for example, in the way Americans perceive other cultures…ie my peer nations vs “ethnic” nations argument.

A good example of this is how, say, Italian or Chinese cuisine are considered “ethnic” cuisine, rather than foreign (which is what they are). The “ethnic” moniker designates them as included within, while simultaneously subordinate to, the American conscious domain, as opposed to being peer cultures on an equal footing.

Another good example is when Senator Lindsey Graham was called out for “offending Asian-Americans” when he compared Democratic-led healthcare reform to kamikaze suicide missions. Now, I supported healthcare reform, I don’t see Senator Graham’s analogy, and I certainly don’t defend Republicans too often, but the irony here is that the people crying “racism” (including Representative Mike Honda) are the ones who are themselves patronizing toward persons of Asian descent, and [once again] forcing Japanese culture (and all East Asian cultures) into subordinate position within American consciousness. Senator Graham was simply making a historical reference, not a racial one. While kamikaze missions are a thing of the past, last I checked, Japan was still an independent nation with its own culture, history, etc. Had Senator Graham used, perhaps, something from Canadian, British, or German history in his analogy, I don’t think it would have raised such a fuss, and that’s because these countries are viewed by Americans as peer nations, not as “ethnic” cultures that need our patronizing. While some Americans would view this whole thing as “political correctness”, I view it as a subconscious and innocent anglo superiority complex that is actually offensive to the societies in question. In simple English: Japan is a sovereign nation and an independent society in its own right, whereas Americans like Mike Honda (himself of Japanese descent) are advocating the view that that we only understand Japanese culture and history as a subset of American history (ie the story of Japanese-Americans) which is reductionist and patronizing to Japanese people if you ask me.

Aside from the peer-vs-ethnic argument, there’s also the sense of economic superiority, and Southern Europe fits in here nicely. Southern Europe will always be perceived as “poor” even though this is far from true, and the current fiscal crisis in Southern European countries fuels this misperception among Americans. While no one is considering the United States a poor country, now that it’s currently going through a recession and reeling from the severe financial crisis of 2008, this rational thinking [coupled with misperception and misinformation] doesn’t apply to American perceptions of the PIGS countries (Portugal, Italy, Greece, Spain). The PIGS countries are, simply put, countries with large public debts. Their GDP didn’t collapse…and yes, their per capita GDPs were and remain very high by world standards…and this is exactly the reason why the Greek fiscal crisis, and the potential Spanish fiscal crisis were feared to spread around the world, because these are developed countries whose fiscal crises can have a considerable impact on global markets (if it were Mozambique that was rumored to default, it wouldn’t have caused such a stir). And yes, they’re in the euro currency too, but Americans view the crisis through a distorted lens. There’s this misunderstanding that the reason they’re in this fiscal crisis is because they are “poor” when it actually has to do with the need for overdue structural reforms in combination with external factors; it’s not that there’s no wealth being generated. A much more accurate way to understand what’s happening in Greece and Spain is: what’s also happening in California and Illinois.

Another example if the economic superiority is how we heavily criticize sporting events not held in an anglo or germanic country, which then turn out to be a huge success. While the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta were the worst ever in recent history (ridiculously mismanaged, over-commercialized, struck by terrorist bombings), the American media had a field day berating Athens’ preparations for the 2004 Summer Olympics which in the end turned out to run smoothly and become a huge success, prompting many American news organizations to issue belated apologies after the Closing Ceremony. We did the same thing with South Africa hosting the 2010 World Cup which ran without a hitch (but we criticized from day 1 of preparations), and we’re starting to do the same with the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Meanwhile, not a peep about the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, which are alread way over budget, surpassing Athens.


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You’ll be fine.. they’re not racist