Merged: Racism in Poland and the word "Murzyn" - racist or neutral? (my views)
First of all, i'd like to say "hi" to everyone while this is my first post up inhere. I'm 26 years old, currently living in Poland.
In this thread I'd like to discuss racism in Poland and among the Poles abroad, as well as the (somenow controversial) Polish word "Murzyn".
The Polish word "Murzyn" was always seen as neutral (an equivalent of the English word "Black" describing a dark-skinned person of African ancestry).
During the centuries Polish people used it and it was never seen as derogatory. Why? It's simple - because Polish people never took part in the slave trade, never collonialized an African country (or no other country, ever), Polish people did not have racism in their genes, you must also remember that:
As in most countries racism has existed also in Poland in a variety of forms and to various extents over the course of its history. Poles were also victims of racism in their own country. [...] (See also: Racial policy of Nazi Germany, Nazi crimes against the Polish nation, and Polish decrees)
In the early 20th century Poland was under the German and Soviet occupation. During this period Polish people were harshly discriminated against in their own country. The Nazi German regime had seen Poles as non-Aryan "subhumans" (untermenschen) that were fit only for slavery and extermination. Poles were the victims of Nazi crimes against humanity. Approximately 6 million ethnic Poles were exterminated during the World War II. Poles were also the subject of ethnic cleansing during massacres of Poles in Volhynia and Eastern Galicia, then the territory of Poland. Polish slaves in Nazi Germany were forced to wear identifying red tags with "P"s sewn to their clothing; sexual relations with Germans (rassenschande or "racial defilement") were punishable by death. During the war, thousands of Polish men were executed for their relations with German women.
... and also please read this:
"Poles were very often called "white niggers" by the WASPs, settlers of White Anglo-Saxon Protestant origin. Hence, the Poles often chose Black women, sharing almost the same social status. Those Poles, the earliest emigrants, were mostly simple farmers for whom black women, born and raised on the cotton fields, were the perfect match. The word "racism" did not exist in the Polish mentality. Poland was bordered by Christianity, Russian Orthodoxy and Islam. Poles, Russians, Cossacks, Tartars, Turks fought together and they lived together for centuries. They had learned to respect each other's ethnic origin and understand various religious beliefs. The 18th-century Polish Constitution of the 3rd of May was more democratic than the U.S. Constitution of that time. Everybody, no matter what God they prayed to, no matter what the color of their skin was, all had the same rights. There was no Holy Inquisition in Poland; no one was burned at the stake for his own belief in God"
You might ask me "so, what happened that some people nowadays see the word "Murzyn" as racist?" I will tell ya - some people, mostly those who are not Polish and don't know nothing about our history, started to wrongfully compare the word "Murzyn" with the American word "Nigger". I must say to those people - don't you dare say this bullsh*t, that the word "Murzyn" is the equivallent of the "N word". The word "nigger" has only ONE equivallent in the Polish language - "czarnuch" which comes from the Polish word "czarny" meaning a black color. Nevertheless, through the popularity of hip-hop culture in Poland, I've heard lots of young Poles use the word "czarnuchu" to refer to each other just for fun, just like Blacks use the word "nigga". Note, that Poles were not involved in the slave trade, the KKK, and all the other terrible stuff, however, Poles were called this term ("white niggers" and "white negros") back in history. Even American Latinos/Hispanics were not called "niggers" so often as Poles were called "white niggers".
There is also a Polish word "brudas" which some consider an equivallent of "nigger" which is only partially truth, while the word's "brudas" main meaning is "dirty", "all in dirt" or "not washed", this word was an affectionate pet form of the phrase "dirty person". When I was a kid i used to write this word with my finger on some very dirty cars, and also as a kid when I got dirty my mom used to call me "brudas" or "brudasek". In modern times (like since the late 90s) it somehow "modified" its meaning to the insultive way of describing a person of darker skin (dark shade of skin ironically compared to the dirt or dust on the skin).
Why since the late 90s? Well, because racism in Poland is quite a new phenomenon. While in the USA and in the collonialist Western Europe the history of racism was like hundreds of years, in Poland it's like since the late 90s, but the situation is still a bit better than in countries like Spain, Portugal or Morocco, where Blacks are called "cockroaches", being treated as a "second-class citizens" etc. Nasty racist stuff. In Poland, a Black-skinned student for instance has lots of benefits only because he/she is Black or simply comes from a far country, i'm deadly serious right now. Polish people take much care about such people and treat them with lot of respect, indulgence and tollerance
Poles don't hate Blacks, they only don't like gays and partially also Muslims, and i TRUELY HATE when people CONFUSE homophobia and islamophobia with racism!!! it's not the same thing! Hating gays and Muslims is not based on their racial origin, it's about who they are inside, not outside! It's like assuming that a person who hates golf, also hates basketball for sure, and probably doesn't like sport at all.
An interesting and an exclusive case are the Gypsies. Polish people have much distrust for the Gypsies and vice versa, Gypsies don't trust Poles (which doesn't mean hate!). It's not racism, as racism is hatered without a reason (when the only "reason" is the person's race or skin color - the appearance). Poles have a reason, as there are too many bad situations and numerous violent incidents involving the Gypsies, too many stereotypes that you wouldn't like to believe in turning out to be true. The main factor however is their strong will of isolation from the Poles - they don't accept mixed marriages with Poles, don't accept sending kids to school, have very few or no Polish friends, don't want to have regular jobs etc. When a minority keeps up the isolation, there always will be many acts of violence and misunderstanding. All ethnicities must learn to live together! I don't blame the Gypsies for that, neither the Poles. Gypsies are raised like that, their culture wants them not to trust any other ethnic group, while Poles during the centurues were the most tollerant nation in Europe, and so, they tried to reach out a friendly hand to the Gypsies, tried to help them to assimilate with the society, but you know, you won't win with the culture and tradition.
I might say that some singular racist incidents that happen on the streets in the late-night hours could happen also to an ethnic Pole, but then the "racist" badge can't be added to that situation, it would be simple a "robbery" or "street fight". So basically, during the night time, there there can be someone who's searching for additional emotions, and if you're in the wrong place and at the wrong time, you're very unlucky, but this could happen to you everywhere in the world. Racism might be just an additional thing. Poland is not the exception, in fact, I don't know even one incident in which a Black person or a "person of color" was heavily beaten or killed on the street for his racial origin. The only openly racist incidents involving some slogans can be rarely seen on the stadiums, but you know, there is some racist scum in every country in the world. You can not name me one country that would be racism-free. Here I must note, that the situation in Poland is the opposite than in the US, while it is claimed that American farmers are racist (usually associated with the rednecks from the southerns states, Jim Crow etc), now in Poland on the other hand, it is much less likely to meet a racist person among the farmers than among the people from the city. Polish farmers don't know what's racism, and if they atare at a Black or Asian person, it's of curiousity, for real. It's like Black people from the African village staring at a White person. Same sh*t here.
So, back to the word "Murzyn" - it has totally neutral origin, it was simply used to describe a person of African ethnicity and/or belonging to the Black race, but nowadays the media and foreigners make a big deal about it and search for some racist connotations. So I would say that today the word "Murzyn" is the equivallent of the word "Negro" in the 1960s and 1970s USA when it was still neutral, even used in the media and by politicians.
The only controversy is a term "biały Murzyn" (white Negro) which might indicate that the word "Murzyn" also means "a slave". It basically describes a person who works very hard for very little money. Poles often use this term to describe themselves, as they are known for being the "modern day slaves", working in the UK, the Netherlands, Spain and Germany, making some hard physical work, sleeping in tents and earning a few pennies.
PS - Did you know that the word "slave" comes straight from the word "Slav" or "Slavic" because many Slavic people were slaves in the mediaeval times? It's a true fact. Oh... and Poles are an ethnically Slavic nation (so called "West Slavs").
To end my statement i will tell ya one more thing. My maternal grandpa Idzi (R.I.P.) was the Polish refugee to the United States in the late 1980s but came back (deported) to Poland in 1991. He had some far Balkan roots (from Serbia and Montenegro, also a bit of Hungarian Gypsy), but of course he was a Pole. Born here in a small village in central Poland, raised here, having the Polish mentality and good soul. In America he was doing some physical work, cleaning hotels and such, he was working with lots of Blacks and Latinos (mainly Puerto Ricans), also with a few Italians being their bosses. He said that Puerto Ricans called him a "brother" while when they met him, they thought he is Hispanic and spoke Spanish to him because of his darker skin tone. However, my grandfather sometimes reminisced about one of his friends, who was Black (African American) and, while telling me about him, my grandpa referred to him by the term "Murzyn" while he couldn't remember his name correctly. And the thing is - my grandpa was a man who had much love for all the people, was raised in the Polish village, in a religious family of simple farmers, survived the WWII (Nazi regime, being called "subhuman", whitnessing the death of his friends, being the subject of expulsion, survived the forced slave-work camp etc), and he NEVER had hate towards other people. Now, I do not imagine my grandpa using the Polish word "Afroamerykanin", which is to "sophisticated" for a simple elder Polish man and it's simply too long. He used "Murzyn" because it was the only word he knew to describe a Black person (beside of the word "czarny" of course, which literally means "black" referring to a color). For an elder Pole saying "Murzyn" is equal as saying "Arab", "Polak" (a Pole = Polish person), "Włoch" (Italian), "Hiszpan" (Spaniard), or "Anglik" (Englishman) etc. It basically describes the ethnic origin of a person, nothing more than that.
As you see, it all depends on the context. And no, it doesn't also depend on who says it, everyone can say it. Some Americans are so damn sensitive when it comes to racial topics and say that "it depends who says it", while they have this huge problem with the word "nigga". It's history is very racist (the "e.r." ending), but about 15 years ago hip-hop culture "made it cool" to say it and there is a problem while youngsters wanna "be cool". It's kinda like calling your friends the "real muthaf*ckas" without meaning that they are "motherf*ckers". Yahmsayin'... it's just the same thing.
And don't you call me a "racist" just because I speak the truth, I have many Black friends here in Poland, mostly students from many parts of the Sub-Saharan Africa. Moreover, I have some far African roots too, so I think I am quite neutral and objective.
Last words about the Polish "Murzyn": The very same situation is with the words "Cygan" (Gypsy) and "Żyd" (Jew). In the Polish language, both of these words are on the exact same level of "racial offense" as "Murzyn", and the level is rather very low. All of these three words (Cygan, Żyd, Murzyn), when said with some certain emotions and in a certain context, might be seen either as offensive or neutral, but the roots of these 3 words are COMPLETETY NEUTRAL.
. . . .