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Mixed race girl in Poland, good idea?



JemmaR34 1 | 3    
7 Mar 2010  #1

I am a mixed race girl from England and there are now many polish people at my school. Most of them are very friendly and help me learn Polish and hang around with me, but there are a few who can be racist towards those of a different skin colour to themselves for no reason what-so-ever. I have been thinking about going to Poland for a while in the future but am kind of worried about what the Polish people will be like, (not from my own thinking but from stories that i have heard about my 'coloured' friends going to poland and being disrespected.) I love learning Polish and would love to go out there but I don't know If It would be a good idea or not. What do you all think? what are your views on black and mixed race people in Poland?

dziekuje :)


Trevek 26 | 1,704    
7 Mar 2010  #2

Hi jemma,

Do you mean just visiting, or coming to stay for a while?

In bigger cities, like warsaw and krakow, there are quite a few Black/MR people, so being mixed race wouldn't be a problem, I imagine.

In some of the smaller towns you might need to get used to being stared at, as there aren't many (if any) Blacks in some of these places. However, the staring is more from curiosity than 'hate-racism'.

Another thing to remember is that many people have never met a Black/MR person and , as English is their second language, might not realise they are being offensive when they call you 'n*gg*r', they think it's something people do (they've seen the films with rappers etc). I recently had to explain to my class that it wasn't a good idea to use the word. Some were shocked.

I think you'll have a good time.
enkidu 7 | 625    
7 Mar 2010  #3

but there are a few who can be racist towards those of a different skin colour to themselves for no reason what-so-ever.

And how this racism demonstrates itself - I wonder?

BTW - I find your question extremal impolite an somehow... racist.
Trevek 26 | 1,704    
7 Mar 2010  #4

BTW - I find your question extremal impolite an somehow... racist

Don't be too hard on the girl. Like she says, she's got Polish friends but she's experienced some racism and heard some stories. It's no different to Polish newspapers telling stories of how the nasty, horrible British hate all the poor Poles. I keep getting asked if it is true that the British hate Poles, because someone's cousin's colleague's friend was allegedly refused service in a shop somewhere.

If you want evidence of racism, how about the Morrocan actor who played at a festival near where I live and was seriously beaten up by two drunken villagers, who used racist abuse whilst doing it.

How about all the Jews who are convinced if they visit poland they'll be attacked by the raging anti-semitic hoardes?

Jemma is asking a perfectly valid question and has been sensible enough to come to a place where she might get some useful information. isn't that better than just believing the stories?
RevokeNice 15 | 1,867    
7 Mar 2010  #5

And how this racism demonstrates itself - I wonder?

Non whites are obsessed with racism. Its a major industry in itself.
OP JemmaR34 1 | 3    
7 Mar 2010  #6

thankyou trevek :) i would start of just visiting as I have never been before. I appreciate your comment.

Enkidu - sorry to have caused offence, it was not my intention at all.
how they demonstrate this racism , well when with my polish friends they refuse to talk to them and myself, i have asked them why and the people who refuse to talk to me tell them that it is because I am not white, I have been called a n***** several times also.

Two boys have also said that they would talk to me is i was white. sorry again if the question was in your opinion somewhat racist .
beelzebub - | 444    
7 Mar 2010  #7

And how this racism demonstrates itself - I wonder?

Let me tell you how. I am white and was mistaken for Polish all the time so as a foreigner until I opened my mouth I wasn't treated any differently than a local. Now here is how it manifests. I have friends from other countries who are not white. When they visit they and I notice people staring in public and occasionally even saying things when they think we can't understand. I have berated more than one person for this and in typical Polish fashion they attack ME rather than saying "you know I am sorry it was rude of me".

So be as offended as you want. If you are not like that you shouldn't defend those that are. Poland is a homogenous, white and often racist nation....it's a fact and not an attack.
enkidu 7 | 625    
7 Mar 2010  #8

If you want evidence of racism, how about the Morrocan actor who played at a festival near where I live and was seriously beaten up by two drunken villagers, who used racist abuse whilst doing it.

I was seriously beaten up myself. Unfortunately I am Polish therefore I am unable to call this act "racist". :-)

How about all the Jews who are convinced if they visit poland they'll be attacked by the raging anti-semitic hoardes?

Anti-semitic hordes. That is quite interesting. Have you seen them recently? If some Jew is sure that some brown-nazi-shirt are waiting for him in Poland - is that our problem? I think this is a problem of this particular Jew who obviously is anti-Polish paranoid.

Jemma is asking a perfectly valid question and has been sensible enough to come to a place where she might get some useful information. isn't that better than just believing the stories?

If I would ask a question on lets say Nigeria-Forums : "Hey guys! I am white. Should I be afraid to be cocked and served as a main dish if I decide to visit your country?" Is that would be perfectly valid question? Or maybe prejudice and racism sign? Heh?
1jola 14 | 1,884    
7 Mar 2010  #9

Another, seems like a monthly, thread where we have to assure the poster from some distant and foreign land like England that

Most of them are very friendly and help me learn Polish and hang around with me, but there are a few who can be racist towards those of a different skin colour

Strangely, I have been to over 40 countries and have never thought me having blond hair and blue eyes would be an issue, never mind concern or fear.
beelzebub - | 444    
7 Mar 2010  #10

Jola you haven't been to the middle east yet have you? Then again the kind of attention you get for blonde hair and blue eyes is probably wanted by most women.

I too am white and don't worry generally but there ARE places we are not welcome and it really shows you what some skin colors have to go through in our homes.
1jola 14 | 1,884    
7 Mar 2010  #11

Last month, and a few other times.
beelzebub - | 444    
7 Mar 2010  #12

Read the rest I was editing while you replied. You cannot compare your view because you are not of a skin color that is hated or looked down upon in most places. I have seen how friends of mine who are get different treatment and have myself in a few rare places gotten it as a white man.
enkidu 7 | 625    
7 Mar 2010  #13

So be as offended as you want. If you are not like that you shouldn't defend those that are. Poland is a homogenous, white and often racist nation....it's a fact and not an attack.

Homogenus and white - ok. Racist - don't think so. Without minorities in Poland we haven't got a chance to learn how to become racists. Starring at somebody is not a racist act - well unless someone (a very hyper-sensitive) decide that it is.

I've seen some ppl in Poland who expect a racist attack on themselves in every word, every gesture made by Poles.
I am sure - I would be starred at when visiting Greenland or Swaziland Republic.
1jola 14 | 1,884    
7 Mar 2010  #14

Beelzebub,

OK, fine, but the OP is in England and has contact with Polish people. Her own statement, which I quoted, sums it up about right.

She needs to take the same precautions you or I would take and she will be fine. Nothing really exotic in Warsaw to be dark-skinned.
Trevek 26 | 1,704    
7 Mar 2010  #15

Anti-semitic hordes. That is quite interesting. Have you seen them recently? If some Jew is sure that some brown-nazi-shirt are waiting for him in Poland - is that our problem? I think this is a problem of this particular Jew who obviously is anti-Polish paranoid.

Have I seen any? Well there was Roman Giertych on TV last week;-) But you miss my point. It is, of course, a fallacy but many people believe it. When I was first working over here it was amazing how many people commented, on my return, about how anti-semitic Poles were, people who should have known better. One was an anthropology professor, who is supposed to teach about being open-minded and non-ethno-centric!

What I'm suggesting is that if someone who has never been to a country hears stories from others who have (or worse, others who have heard the stories) then how else are they to get positive information?

I was seriously beaten up myself. Unfortunately I am Polish therefore I am unable to call this act "racist". :-)

Depends if they were calling you an "f*ck*ng polack!" while they were doing it. If so, yes.

Should I be afraid to be cocked and served as a main dish

maybe I'm being a bit freudian here...

But there's a difference between asking if it is safe to be a white, Polish tourist in Nigeria and asking if you'll be eaten. How many Polish (grand)parents were convinced their little ones would be sold into the sex-slave trade when they went to Britain? I knew one. then there were all the reports about farm workers being maltreated in italy etc. Would you blame someone for asking about that kind of thing?
beelzebub - | 444    
7 Mar 2010  #16

Of course you wouldn't think so...no Pole wants to admit this. I am saying from an outsiders view seeing it objectively you are. There are places in my country that are the same...mostly white..racist. But my country is so varied and mixed that it is not a national trend. Poland is all white and it is pretty consistent.

If you think racism simply means an attack you are mistaken. It manifests itself in how you are treated all around.
Seanus 15 | 19,748    
7 Mar 2010  #17

There is some racism, like everywhere, but it tends to lie latent unless you get close to Poles. Many want to create a good impression and thus don't openly voice it. They tend to say it more amongst themselves but only a select few are hostile with it.
Matowy - | 296    
7 Mar 2010  #18

Jemma, maybe you would be more comfortable sticking close to the bigger cities like Kraków and Warszawa.
1jola 14 | 1,884    
7 Mar 2010  #19

There is some racism, like everywhere, but it tends to lie latent unless you get close to Poles. Many want to create a good impression and thus don't openly voice it. They tend to say it more amongst themselves but only a select few are hostile with it.

You could write that about any country where one race is a majority, but thanks for your insight into us Poles, and now I know why I don't spit out racial slurs. :)
Matowy - | 296    
7 Mar 2010  #20

He did say "...like everywhere."
beelzebub - | 444    
7 Mar 2010  #21

That's the think people here accuse me of making up. They say my tales of people hating arabs marrying their women etc are fake and my creations to insult Poland. But I heard those kind of things all the time from people I knew well and their families.

When I was new there they felt me out to see how I though about such things and I was always vague. Inevitably when they felt comfortable they would start being themselves and letting things out about blacks, arabs whatever and how they are glad Poland has tight immigration so it is not "polluted". Believe me I understand them and agree with some aspects but to here people in this forum then turn around and deny adamantly that there is a culture of racism in Poland makes me laugh.
Seanus 15 | 19,748    
7 Mar 2010  #22

Some are racist and some aren't, that's about it really.
1jola 14 | 1,884    
7 Mar 2010  #23

He did say "...like everywhere."

...but spoke about Poles and I wonder who these Poles want make a good impression on? The very people they don't like?
beelzebub - | 444    
7 Mar 2010  #24

He said and I said Poles because we both live/lived there for ages and that is the topic. She didn't ask about going to China.
Seanus 15 | 19,748    
7 Mar 2010  #25

Would you like to be called a racist, 1Jola? It's not very nice so it tends to be confined to moronic potato-headed types. Many other Poles are beyond that. Set and setting, time and place too. Look at football matches, I heard all sorts of nasty stuff there but it's everywhere.
Matowy - | 296    
7 Mar 2010  #26

...but spoke about Poles and I wonder who these Poles want make a good impression on? The very people they don't like?

Different cultures will exhibit racism differently, even if they have the same amount of racism. He was commenting on the way in which racism is expressed in Poland. In some places, racism is subtle, and in others it is blatant, but ultimately it can be simplified into; some people are racist, some aren't.

I think it has little to do with where someone is from, as much as it is to do with what someone is like. There are good and bad people from every place, and there are open-minded and small-minded people from every place as well.
1jola 14 | 1,884    
7 Mar 2010  #27

Often, these thread about the stereopytical Polish traits are like discussions of some alien species. Amuse yourselves without me.
beelzebub - | 444    
7 Mar 2010  #28

Jola you just perpetuate my points about the inability of Poles to admit anything ab out themselves that isn't wonderful. You also have a real problem separating cultural trends from personal attributes.
Seanus 15 | 19,748    
7 Mar 2010  #29

Some alien species, how so? Matowy just summed it up.
enkidu 7 | 625    
7 Mar 2010  #30

There is some racism, like everywhere, but it tends to lie latent unless you get close to Poles. Many want to create a good impression and thus don't openly voice it. They tend to say it more amongst themselves but only a select few are hostile with it.

Racism is about stereotypes and hatred. We have no reason to hate any race simply because until recently we have no contact with ppl of other races. As for stereotypes - you have to got a time and some experience to develop some. We have got none of them.

Let's say - some thug is rather unhappy with kebab is calling a cook "You brown B###ard"
In London - this is racism. Simply because of a long standing tensions between minorities.
In Warsaw - This is simple statement: "This brown-skinned guy is ba###rd". Brown or black are just a colours in Polish language - with no other contexts.

In Poland you can describe people by the color of their skin the same way you can do it by the colour of hair. Calling somebody a red-head is certainly not racist, is it?

Polish individualism means that we are mostly proud of being different than the others. We assume that all the people feel the same. For instance - as a Pole I would not describe somebody as a guy "wearing a blue shirt an dark trousers" in situation where this guy is the only black person in the city. The fact that he is black is what distinguish him from the others - not his shirt. (Of course - I know that in London that would be seen as an racist remark)

Of course - for most of Westerners visiting Poland this simple information is hard to grasp. They heard that Poles in conversation are describe somebody as black/brown/yellow/whatever. By their western standard this is racism. By Polish standards it is not. Some cultural-awareness shall be employed at this point, don't you think? We have any right to be judged accordingly to our culture, not yours.

I don't deny that there are some REAL racists in Poland. But most of this so-called famous Polish racism is just a misunderstanding on the border of cultures and languages.



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