While I could inevitably write a post every day until I head back to California (no, I´m not going to include the cliche ¨back, back to Cali, Cali¨ reference, mostly because no one in California actually calls CA ¨Cali¨), there is one salient difference that has been on my mind the last few days. What´s the issue? Race.
There´s no doubt that Spaniards are less politically correct than the people I know back home. In California (and probably much of the United States), people tip-toe around potentially inflammatory statements, even avoiding making racist jokes in case they could upset a listener. Spaniards, on the other hand, are more to-the-point with their descriptions.
This week, my school is getting ready for Halloween. I asked one girl what she´s going to be, and she responded that she´s dressing up as a ¨chino¨ (Chinese person). Harmless kid stuff, right? Well, I´m not so sure. Here, anyone of Asian descent is filed under the ¨Chino¨ distinction. Additionally, most ¨Chinos¨ are known for owning and operating two types of stores – small snack shacks called ¨Alimenataciones¨ as well as the Spanish equivalent of a 99 cent only store. If you´re looking for something peculiar that isn´t available at a grocery store, a common response is ¨Go to the chino shops…the chinos have everything.¨
While this isn´t necessarily racist, it´s interesting that such racial sentiments and broad, sweeping conjectures are issued without so much as a flinch. While I think in some respects, it´s neat that Spanish culture isn´t as ¨precious¨ as that of America, I think race is one thing it´s okay to be sensitive about.
Have you experienced different views of race during your travels?