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Should I expect racism as a 'black' woman in Poland

19 Nov 2014 #1

I'm a Polish/Caribbean Canadian girl looking to study Polish in Poland in summer 2015. I'm a university student just looking to do something different this summer.

My concern is that I might experience some hardship due to racism. I'm a very dark skinned in the summer and I wear my hair in a big afro. I don't know any Polish at all, but I'm aware of Poland's pride and weariness of 'outsiders.' I don't have particularly 'black' features, but my kinky hair draws stares even here. I don't read as particularly Polish either. Should I be concerned?

Also, are there certain cities I might want to steer clear of? I was considering Lublin or Lodz, as I want a strong Polish feel, not a city feel.

And are there language programs you would recommend?
gumishu 13 | 6,064
19 Nov 2014 #2
Should I be concerned?

Well, there is some racism lingering in Poland especially among low-educated male youth (hooligans) - your physical appearance can draw stares from people but they should rarely be hostile
24 Nov 2014 #3
hmmm, unfortunately Poland doesn't have a high rate of immigration.
It means in cities like Lodz or Lublin (I'd recommend Lublin!) you will be...phisically outstanding.
People can look at you, but I hope that would be it.
I don't know this 2 cities so difficult to say more (I am from Poznan and here I wouldn't expect anything more).
But this is no America and no UK (where it's normal and ppl are used to see people from all possible races and skin colours).

Wish you a good time!
JollyRomek 7 | 481
25 Nov 2014 #4
It means in cities like Lodz or Lublin (I'd recommend Lublin!)
I don't know this 2 cities so difficult to say more

So if you do not know the two cities, what do you base your recommendation on?
moniq - | 3
25 Nov 2014 #5
I've recommended Lublin cause its more polish and that is what the girl was looking for.
Lodz is a typical big city, close to Warsaw and she won't get there necesairly taste of polish roots.
kpc21 1 | 763
25 Nov 2014 #6
I would say that in £ódź in the neighbourhood of the University of £ódź buildings, it is quite usual to see some black people (that means foreign students from Africa). In the area of £ódź University of Technology too, although there they are not so common. If you don't look like a black person, but rather like a white one after a lot of sunbath only, it's even better for you.

I can't say anything about Lublin.
JollyRomek 7 | 481
25 Nov 2014 #7
I've recommended Lublin cause its more polish and that is what the girl was looking for.Lodz is a typical big city, close to Warsaw and she won't get there necesairly taste of polish roots.

Lodz is 130 km away from Warsaw, Lublin 180km. I am sorry but can you see you why I am questioning your reasoning?
Levi_BR 6 | 219
26 Nov 2014 #8
I lived in Lodz in the second semester of 2011, i have a latin american look, and i never felt even a small drop of racism (of course that i ever had a very good behaviour towards the natives, this is a sine qua non condition).

By the way, i don't know Lublin, but if you want to have a strong sensation of Poland as you told, Lodz is a city that i recommend. I just felt in love by their simplicity.
1 Dec 2014 #9
My 2 cents:

You will attract attention. In large or university cities, it will mostly be discreet. Out in the sticks, people will stare unabashedly. However, any kind of of hostile situation is highly unlikely to happen. The one type of people you should definitely be wary of are groups of young unemployed men, usually with cropped hair, sweatpants and some degree of inebriation. You will usually see them around liquor stores, night clubs, bowling alleys and the like, and out in the vast condo suburbs. Steer well clear of those dumbasses.

Racism in Poland is IMO almost exclusively based on lack of exposure. Most Poles have never even seen a Black person, and very, very few have had any meaningful interaction with people of other races.

Ethnic purges and decades of isolation behind the Iron Curtain may also explain to a degree why any kind of physical or sartorial "abnormality" seems to attract a lot more attention in Poland than elsewhere. I am of Polish descent myself and have experienced inordinate amounts of attention in small towns the last time I went to Poland. I am standard-issue white and plain-looking, and speak Polish without an accent, but still many people would look at me with a sort of wary curiosity. Granted, I am fairly tall, wear glasses, and often walk around with a camera, but nowhere else in Europe has this ever made me stick out like a sore thumb. Once in a town in Pomerania, after trailing me for a few hundred meters, a middle-aged couple caught up and asked if I was a journalist, then insisted I write a report on the town's currupt mayor. They said they recognized me from a local paper. O.o

So I wouldn't be surprised if you get mistaken for some celebrity. To people with no exposure to other races, all dark-skinned people look the same...
lublin us
14 Jan 2015 #10

Hope I'm not too late in contributing to the forum. I know how weary it can seem to as an African-American, African, Caribbean, etc when travelling to countries where to say we are the minority is and overstatement. I'm pretty much like you..minus the fro and I'm American!

If you are really keen on getting an authentic Polish feel and are deciding between £odz and Lublin, I would suggest Lublin. I have been studying in Lublin for 3 years but that in no way at all influences me telling you its the best option! I certainly wont lie and say the experience will be all roses; but except for the standard lude comments from "Lubartowska guys" I have never experienced any extreme racism; however I I have had classmates and friends who unfortunately have. You will certainly be stared at which is one thing which has always made me uncomfortable, but honestly after a while you get used to it. Another thing to mention is that if you are planning to come summer 2015 Lublin will be extremely quiet and you wont see many foreign students here during that time. Lublin population grows largely due to the erasmus programs between all the universities and naturally in the summer months everyone goes home.

If its places to steer clear from of course really small towns or in general any place where you just feel uncomfortable whether it's a village, town, bar, party, etc. As far as language courses don't waste your money! There are so many platforms where you can meet people who would be more than willing to teach you some basics and more in Polish in exchange for conversational English. :)

I hope I was able to help but if you have any more personal questions you'd like to ask outside the forum let me know and Ill leave my email!

Good luck xx
14 Jan 2015 #11
My concern is that I might experience some hardship due to racism

If you are in Warsaw or Krakow quite the opposite if you are a good looking girl the boys/ girls whatever your preference will be queuing up for your attention. Among the young and trendy black boys/girls are a nice fashion accessory. In Warsaw there are a couple of African restaurants/ bars also there is a club evening at

Enjoy - one love.
johnny reb 40 | 8,546
14 Jan 2015 #12
I'm a Polish/Caribbean Canadian girl

I am confused on that one. Could you be more specific ?

My concern is that I might experience some hardship due to racism.

Since you are black you should have nothing to fear of experiencing becoming a racist as only white people are racists.

I wear my hair in a big afro.

The days that was intimidating are long over, now it is just out of style.
When in Rome, do as Romans do.
That is what I tell my black friends from the hood when they come to visit the mostly white area that I live in.
Pull up your pants, turn your hat around, cover the vulgar ink and leave the hood slang at home.
Speak proper English so you are understood.
Have eye contact with a smile and if they use adult language don't get angry because you think they are flaunting their superiority.
You can't DEMAND repect, you have to earn it.
Act as a guest in any foreign place having manners and respect and you will get the same in return.
I still am puzzled to what a Polish/Caribbean Canadian is though ??????
14 Jan 2015 #13
I was considering Lublin or Lodz

Lublin in an absolutely brilliant city. I'd certainly choose Lublin over Lodz.

I still am puzzled to what a Polish/Caribbean Canadian is though ??????

I'd imagine that that would a Canadian who has one Polish parent and one parent from somewhere in the Caribbean.

Water has no enemy.

It doesn't have any friends either. Almost all of us (in this country at least) take a dump onto water every single day, and that is not what one does to one's friends.
johnny reb 40 | 8,546
14 Jan 2015 #14
I'd imagine that that would a Canadian who has one Polish parent and one parent from somewhere in the Caribbean.

So that would make her a mixed Canadian ?
A mixed Canadian should not fear racism anywhere in the world short of a Muslim country.

Water has no enemy.

It doesn't have any friends either. Almost all of us (in this country at least) take a dump onto water every single day, and that is not what one does to one's friends.

However fish do their 'deed' in it too and that IS what one does quite often with his/her best friend so that is another much nicer visual. :-)

Should I be concerned?

NO !
16 Jan 2015 #15
I have heard of a black gynecologist in a small town in Wielkopolska. Apparently, he was a real hit with many women. All ladies wanted to be his patients! No kidding.
casey128 - | 1
17 Jan 2015 #17
lublin is very provincial....its in a poor corner of the country.....rather go to the major prosperous cities where you will be appreciated for whatever you are.....dont worry,you will have plenty of polish flavor even there......there is no history of racism in poland simply because there have been few people of other colors living have a tabula rasa so make of it what you like....i dont know why you assume you will be met with racism in poland....from what i can see,the poles at least in the cities are enthralled by outsiders and are flattered that you have visited....nota bene.....i as an white polish american will attract stares in small villages and towns, but this occures less and less nowadays...if you are of polish decent,i'm sure you will be greeted warmly once they find out....get a big polska t shirt and wear it!
Adi - | 12
17 Jan 2015 #18

I'm a Polish/Caribbean Canadian girl ...

Cool :)

... And are there language programs you would recommend?

I can help you with language, just send me a private message.
5 Apr 2015 #19
I love it when ppl in Poland or any part of another country stare unabashedly..... staring is not rude.... its curiosity.... however, now i see so many Africans in Poland, that i no longer get as many stares.... too bad for me.... i was going three times per year.. to Katowice, Poznan and Wroclaw, Krakow.. now there are blues in Prague.... hopefully i can attract stares there!! lol.
Levi_BR 6 | 219
8 Apr 2015 #20
Really Fran?

Everytime i go to Warsaw i still attract a lot of stares (i am not black, but i have a Phoenician/Latin look, so still pretty different of the majority)
8 Apr 2015 #21
i still attract a lot of stares

It works BOTH ways. When I'm in Mexico or another country in Latin America, people stare at me too (most of them treat me as a wallet just because I'm white). So those who are over-sensitive about 'racism' should first think hard how white poeple feel in their own countries.
Wulkan - | 3,243
8 Apr 2015 #22
It works BOTH ways.

very good point
8 Apr 2015 #23
Witam! It is lovely to read all these comments from teenagers who don't live in Poland and who want others to believe that Poland is a paradise. Since 99.99% of Poles have never seen anyone different, it is almsot impossible to integrate Polish society if different. Of course, Blacks, Jews, Muslims...... can come to Poland but they won't be able to live within Polish society. Of course, normally, no physical violence, but staring, dirty looks, nasty comments (if the target does not understand Polish, so much the better) and isolation. I often see in Warsaw Blacks, Indians and the like walking in pairs; they obviously don't interact with Poles as a whole.

In over 18 years in Poland, I have never heard, never read positive comments from Poles about Jews, Blacks, Muslims... Poles are NOT worse than any others but since they are not used to exposure to different people, they are not tolerant and therefore cannot even imagine that other people can be different.

Of course, some teenagers will come up with 2 or 3 examples, and such low figures shall prove my statements. And please do not mention students since in any society, students don't represent more than 1% of population! Whereas in Western countries, inter-racial socialization and even mariages are normal, in Poland where 99.99% people are white, European, catholic, it is very hard to be anything else. As said, of course, anyone can come for a visit (more especially as tourists since money has no color ;)) but should ,not expect to be welcomed and saying the opposite shows lack of knowledge of the Polish society.

I have Blacks in my family and I'll never suggest them to come to Poland.
Like we several times a day can read in PF, "Poland is a whilte country" and this enables to easily understand the meaning. The huge majority of Poles do not accept people who are different and people who are different should be aware of it. Reading comments from teenagers not living in Poland but saying that everything is perfect does not help since reality is very different from their dreams...

Author of the post can come to Poland but should not expect warm welcome!
zibbie - | 1
12 Apr 2015 #24
Having lived and worked in Lublin for over 14 years we get a lot of foreigners including many black people coming to study here and I have never heard of any attacks or anything like that.

Being British, when I first moved to Lublin people would stare at you as soon as you open your mouth and start to speak English, but all that has changed now and there is a lot more acceptance to all foreigners.

Lublin is mainly a student city and has a student population of about 100,000 (around 35% of the total population) attending the five Universities, so there is a liberal attitude to be seen in the city.

As with all cases when moving to an unfamiliar place find your group of friends and you will soon settle in okay.
8 Oct 2015 #25
I'm a Polish/Caribbean Canadian girl

This post reeks of racial/class/masculine (not sure which cap you fall under) privilege! If you must know, sir, racism exists everywhere in the world. And, there are certain groups of people who experience it to greater degrees more than others, and its quite unfortunate. This post, does nothing to answer the original poster's question and it seems to me that you were subsequently offended by the fact that this extremely valid question was asked. While you may be of a particular biological make up that is fortunately exempt from having these concerns, you have no right to be condescending to someone who does. I encourage you to exercise a little more sensitivity and try, in spite of yourself, to employ any bit of empathy and understanding that you may have.

Question1: What is a white area?
Question2: How can a woman with Polish, Canadian and Caribbean roots ( which means that her heritage is from three different places, Poland, Canada or somewhere in the Caribbean, you know 1+1+1=3) do what the Polish do when her genetics is completely different? Is she not supposed to be proud of all three heritages that she really had no choice in, and "pass" as white? Clarify please, because that is a racist response. That leads me to believe that you are essentially blinded by whatever privilege you may have and you simply would not like to believe it exists. It is a harsh reality and a terrible truth, but it is a reality and it is an unfortunate truth for some.

What you are implying to the original poster (and your "friends" from the hood) is that they be less of themselves in order to co-exist in a place where BASIC humane respect should be given automatically by virtue of them being human.

I'm sure your post was good-intentioned, just poorly worded. I hope because otherwise you can't be serious!

PS... If you are serious, this deluded thinking "is just out of style!"
6 Dec 2015 #26
Polish people are cold hearted people. I live in England and there are plenty here. They have come for jobs and they are racist to the bone. They are working in employment agencies and only give jobs to poles. Also they are far more criminally minded and thuggish than Asians or Blacks, and have higher tendency to commit crime. Many criminals are comming over. The polish governments initiative to ofload their criminals on to UK. Consequently they top the ethnic minority crime figures in UK prisons. I have talked with Poles and they admit to racism. They way they talk, referring to Orientals as yellow and viewing blacks and people of colour as sub human. I have come to the conclusion they are not nice people. They are liked by the English because most English are secretly racist. That is why you will often find English giving dimwitted ill educated poles jobs over well educated British born Asians or blacks or Chinese etc. Also, recently the right wing PiS party won elections with 37% of the vote. The PO centre right got 24% and there was a far right party with 8% of the vote. These people either vote right-wing or centre-right or far right. They are a racist scum nation. Less than 20% voted liberal parties. They use the fact that there are not many coloured people as an excuse for hatred and racism. It is not simply about the stares but the hate behind the stars. In many Asians countries e.g. Phillipines, there are not many white people but white people feel welcomed there. The same with India and other countries Egypt, Tunisia etc. They do experience stares but its because they haven't seen a white person before in their country and not because they hate them. Also, if you do get attacked in Poland and your black or brown skinned, then don't expect the Polish scum police or anyone to help you. Poland is a country of scum and I know for sure you will not have a pleasant experience if you are black. It is not that coloured people don't try to mix with Poles but that Poles don't bother to mix with people of coloured complexion.
6 Dec 2015 #27
I Will let you know poles are racist for sure. In UK they have come in hoards and have taken over, despite many having criminal records they are getting jobs, thanks to the racist English ***** giving them jobs. Also, they often have low IQs and they are against immigration and immigrants to their own country especially if they are not white. But they are scummy hypocrites and are migrating in their millions to other countries. It is the same in all parts of eastern europe including places like estonia, ukraine, hungary, romania, bulgaria, slovakia, .... etc. You will be hated so dont go. Save your money and go to Germany to study. You might end up dead in Poland. Contrary to what people say about Germans, i have found them to be sociable and friendly, better than the English *****. I met some in Australia, there are some racist ones but most are ok. The English would not socialise with me but the I went on road trips with some germans.

Stick to one username please
Polonius3 1,000 | 12,446
6 Dec 2015 #28

HOARD: a stock, supply or store of goods or money; a treasure.

HORDE: a crowd, pack or swarm; wandering nomadic tribe.
3 Jan 2016 #29
I am a mixed raced person born in Slovakia, Poland is one of our neighbouring countries. Similarly as Poland, Slovakia is also post-communist country which was isolated from the rest of the Western world and other cultures. Well, except that it is not quite like that. That is only the version of racist apologists that try to hide the ugly truth. Even during communist regime there were black and asian people in Slovakia. They often came as students because their countries had international agreements with former Soviet union so they could come over here. So they were not such an unknown as an they like to claim. So all this arguments that try to pass their racist behavious as a result of their 'fear of other cultures' is just a lot of hot air.

Racism is Eastern Europenis heavy and sometimes I would say it is extreme. The only reason why the world does not know is the fact that many cases are not investigated because people of colour know they cannot trust the police. Also the majority of the society likes to turn a blind to it or even defend this kind of disgraceful attitude with various excuses. A foreigner will hardly spot the scale of racism unless they speak the local language. Eastern Europeans are aware of the fact that other nations (rightfully) call them racist and therefore they try to be careful around you and act nice. Only a few really nasty people would dare to say something in your face but behind your back...different story. When I was a child my classmates would not treat me badly to my face. I thought they were normal. Until the point when, years later when I learnt that they were often referring to me in various racist terms. Also I had a colleague in my workplace who was polite to me, would join when I went with friends to the cinema but I once overheard her saying she is not ashamed of being racist and also she once had a cheek tonsuggest that non-whites couldn't not become a good member s of their society and cannot function here. I was shocked and went on asking if this is supposed to be true about me ven thoughshe KNEW ME personally. She nodded to that. So, there goes you 'fear from the unknown' excuse.

I also know a Polish man who said that if his daughter dated a black guy he would do everything to stop it. But again, he was very friendly to myself. I also heard people saying that they cannot be racist as they have a black friend. Then they continued that they wouldn't want their 'friend' to be their neighbour or a part of their family.

So, in short, in places like Poland, Slovakia,Czech republic you will never be really respected as a person of colour and always be considered 2nd class or a threat to their perfect lily white world. Prejudice is rife over there and it is not caused by predominantly by fear but rather by aggression, arrogance and ignorance. Racism is accepted here, people constantly make excuses for it and sadly, foreigners often fall for that crap and often realise years later when their Polish 'friends' show their true colours.

What is even more worrying is that Polish society is currently supporting far right parties which are often 'inspired' by Neonazism and other awful doctrines. So, in years to come you may come across even worse forms of racism in future. My advice to any Black or dark skinned foreigner is choose some better place. You might like the attention, feeling exotic but trust me, sacrificing your own safety for it ia simply not worth it!
Wulkan - | 3,243
4 Jan 2016 #30
My advice to any Black or dark skinned foreigner is choose some better place.

Good job, now make sure you post this word of advice in a African and middle eastern forums too.

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