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Black English Teacher going to Wroclaw


CzarDaniel 1 | 17
1 Sep 2010 #1
Hello everyone!

First, I must say that I have spent many hours and many dark nights on this site reading, absorbing and contemplating about life in Poland as much as I can. I recently accepted a job as an English Teacher in Poland. I have a good friend who I taught with in Asia that has been in Poland for 2 years now and she loves it. She is, however, white and I'm a black guy...albeit of multiracial descent but nonetheless black (American 1 drop rule blah blah).

I have read many things on this site and the many hours I've spent researching on being of african descent in Poland has left me with feelings of uncertainty. One of my closest friends is Polish and lived there all his life but he recently emigrated to Germany and he often says "Don't worry you'll be ok and you'll have many friends!" but I dont know if he truly means that or if he is just being the positive (naive) person he is.

I am hoping you all could give me a general view of how people would feel about a black english teacher in Wroclaw? Would they potentially not want me to teach them? Will my race be an issue in day to day living? My mother is petrified for my safety and I am hoping to assuage her concerns and mines in some sort of way. Many people, white and black tell me not to go to Poland because they are racist but I am sort of the challenge loving type and I love to travel but I don't want to have to fight and defend myself against others. My friend that is in Poland (we will also be rooming together) said that if she had any inclination I would have to fear for my safety or that I would be ill treated she would tell me not to come but at the same time I don't really know if she would even be exposed to negative attitudes like that. She is after all white. Any tips, opinions, advice would be appreciated! and please dont be mean to me its my birthday :) Thanks!
convex 20 | 3,978
1 Sep 2010 #2
I am hoping you all could give me a general view of how people would feel about a black english teacher in Wroclaw? Will my race be an issue in day to day living?

Expect to be stared at, have slurs mumbled as well as directly yelled at you, and plan on defending yourself if you decide to go out with a white woman. Avoid groups, they won't say a word to you unless they out number you.

The interesting thing is, when most find out that you're American, it becomes cool again. I think it's half racism, half punk b*tch short man complex that a lot of Poles suffer from.

Happy birthday, and don't take sh*t from anyone here.
mafketis 22 | 7,751
1 Sep 2010 #3
Practical advice: Dress and act 'American'. Most Poles can tell the difference between an American and African accent in Polish, make sure that the Polish you learn has a discernible American accent.
Wroclaw Boy
1 Sep 2010 #4
its my birthday :)

Happy Birthday.

I can say that ive lived in the city and have seen quite a few coloured fellows around ive also had business with Indians and for the most part racism has not been mentioned. When ive been in the Rynek ive seen African blacks and have monitered the crowds to see what kind of reaction they get, cant say i noticed anything untoward.

On the other hand thats city centre, if youre going to live outside the Rynek in some of the poorer areas I wouldnt even feel safe walking around at night with all the beggars and drunkards let alone a coloured person. I remember having a lenghty conversation with George the African black guy who worked in a club in Krakow, he told me that hed had to fight a few times and the mobs did occasionally cause problems.

My advice - do it but be careful where you go, carry a can of pepper spray, its legal and you always know you have an ace up your sleeve if need be. People like yourselves are ambassadors for black people and the more the indegenious population can experience positive contact the better in the long term for black people.
Harry
1 Sep 2010 #5
Would they potentially not want me to teach them?

That does happen from time to time. When doing placement test interviews prospective students would very occasionally ask "I will have a white teacher, won't I?" I can sort of see where they might have been coming from, given that I've met some African 'teachers' in Warsaw to whom English was a second language and I had trouble understanding them (but then I've also met Irish, Scottish, English and Canadian teachers who I found hard to understand), but it is probaby more possible that they simply didn't want to have a non-white teacher because they were racists. However we never had more than two or such students per year and sometimes had none per year.
OP CzarDaniel 1 | 17
1 Sep 2010 #6
Interesting responses, well im from New York so I can safely say I'm no stranger to being cautious lol. My friend did also mention that I do not look like an african lol (father is hispanic) so that would be to my benefit even though its kind of sad to say that. Pepper spray sounds like a good idea. I'm typically the atypical american lol. I dont drink much prefer not to be loud and draw attention to myself (this seems to be the consensus in the places I've been on how americans behave) and just like to go with the flow. While in Asia I've had people walk up to me and salute me...try to drag me into corners and touch me for god knows what lol and been followed by children giving me gifts and holding my hand lol. For the most part, I've never had to fear for my safety. I honestly expect the students wanting a white teacher scenario to come up because once again in Asia it was similar. They somehow got the impression (wonder how) That blacks didnt know how to speak proper english lol. I blame TV lol. There were the typical stereotypes (fried chicken, watermelon, basketball), The occasional references to me being from Brazil because of the way I look and the occasional student screaming at the top of their lungs in the auditorium, "BLACK TEACHER!". A gasp here and there was the norm and the eyes watching me really didnt phase me. I guess if things are kind of like that it wont be so bad. I'm mainly worried about monkey sounds or physical attacks. Don't wanna have to get all kung fu on somebody! ;D

P.S. I will also be living 10 min from the Rynek. I'm guessing thats a good thing!
nunczka 8 | 458
1 Sep 2010 #7
Why teach in Poland, when the inner city residents speak ebonics. It seems to me that you could better serve your own people in America. Generation after generation kids from the ghetto still cant speak proper English.
OP CzarDaniel 1 | 17
1 Sep 2010 #8
nunczka, I've taught in america for years as well but my want to travel and experience new places outweighs my desire to teach in america long term. Thank you for your, shall we say, thought-provoking response.

oh and by the way many blacks do speak ebonics but we also know how to speak proper english because there is an interesting phenomenon that occurs in language called dialect when people group up in regions long term and language is altered. It also occurs when they have similiar social status and language changes and it is then called a sociolect. Rest assured how many (not all) blacks speak at home with their families is not how they speak in casual dealings with strangers or when a scenario calls for formal behavior.
jwojcie 2 | 763
1 Sep 2010 #9
Hi CzarDaniel, happy birthday :-)

As for racism thing I agree with what others already posted. So in general you should be ok, but be careful with youth mob especially in the evenings. Some of them likes to fight when drunk, black skin colour as a rarity in Poland can be just an excuse for them.

A lot of people will probably stare at you, but don't panic, most will be just courius.

Last but not least I assume you will be coming in the autumn. If you coming from more southern place than Poland then bring with you positive attitude because when in few months there will be already dark and gloomy at 4 p.m. then you will really need that.
Teffle 22 | 1,321
1 Sep 2010 #10
While in Asia I've had people walk up to me and salute me...

What's this all about? I don't really get this - or is it a perception based on black GIs in Vietnam or something? If so, racist with a back handed compliment at the same time - kind of.

Wierd anyway.
delphiandomine 83 | 17,845
1 Sep 2010 #11
I am hoping you all could give me a general view of how people would feel about a black english teacher in Wroclaw? Would they potentially not want me to teach them?

You might have some issues with people not wanting to be taught by you on the private level - there is an undercurrent of opinion that black teachers are inferior and have inferior accents. Unfortunately, those views are also held by the people who can afford private lessons! But on the school level - the worst you can expect is the occasional idiot making complaints about your teaching ability - but that happens to every native speaker due to some students only wanting to have the teacher with the short skirt/large breasts/whatever.

Really, in Wroclaw, you'll be fine - just use common sense and people won't bat an eyelid.

(and if needs be, just make sure you can beat the crap out of a drunk punk)
OP CzarDaniel 1 | 17
1 Sep 2010 #12
What's this all about? I don't really get this - or is it a perception based on black GIs in Vietnam or something? If so, racist with a back handed compliment at the same time - kind of.

lol, I was in South Korea Teffle and I think the presence of the american military led them to believe that I was somehow a soldier I guess.

@delphiandomine,

I would gather that that would be the case but thats ok I guess luckily enough I will make enough money and have enough savings to not have to give private lessons. My friend has mentioned to me that at the school their most popular teacher every year is the exotic half polish half indian girl in the mini skirt lol :). She is always the one that gets the best review apparently. If I put on a dress will that make it better lol j/k. I know I'd probably get skinned lol!
delphiandomine 83 | 17,845
1 Sep 2010 #13
I would gather that that would be the case but thats ok I guess luckily enough I will make enough money and have enough savings to not have to give private lessons.

One lesson for Poland - never assume anything. Schools are notorious for signing contracts for x amount of hours, only to then turn round at Christmas and say "uh...actually...we don't have enough work for you".
OP CzarDaniel 1 | 17
1 Sep 2010 #14
I think thats the case with many english schools throughout the world because I have heard of that happening to many friends. Luckily my boss in poland is also one of my closest friends that I met while teaching in Asia so I am sure she would be willing to give me the heads up on whats going on or just flat out tell me, "Look we are losing money because no one wants to get taught by a black teacher." Either way in terms of savings of my own not factoring the money I'll be making from working, I'll be ok and I'll look for another job or just take my happy ass back to the U.S. lol. Thanks for the advice and the heads up Delphian I really do appreciate it and I appreciate the generally positive responses from everyone.
SeanBM 35 | 5,808
1 Sep 2010 #15
Hello CzarDaniel,
And welcome to the Polish forums.

I have no idea what it is really like for a black guy to teach English here in Poland but there was a nice NewYorker black guy who used to post on here.

You might find his experiences of value [action=userinfo&user=12662] masks98 for his profile.

Best of luck with your big move.
Wroclaw Boy
1 Sep 2010 #16
You might find his experiences of value masks98 (click here)

Good point BM, Mask seemed to get along quite nicely over here.
SeanBM 35 | 5,808
1 Sep 2010 #17
Mask seemed to get along quite nicely over here.

After his initial shock, everyone staring at him with his blonde Polish girlfriend.
He did get some slurs but on the whole he really enjoyed it.
MareGaea 29 | 2,752
1 Sep 2010 #18
I'm a black guy...

First of all, after Sokrates' racist intermezzo, welcome to PF. It shouldn't matter whether you're black or not, if you're good at your job, then this is the only thing that really counts. And I take it you are, otherwise you wouldn't get offered a job.

Anyway, I can't tell you much about how day-to-day life in Poland would be as I don't live there, but I can wish you the best of luck in your new job and I hope you won't have any trouble finding a place to stay nor with anything related to the colour of your skin. SeanBM is right, you should check out mask98's posts, it might be of value for you.

Again, welcome to PF and good luck :)

>^..^<

M-G (tiens)
OP CzarDaniel 1 | 17
1 Sep 2010 #19
Thanks guys I sent him an e-mail. You know I read a lot on this site before signing up and saw some of the horrible things some of these jerks on here write and it really made me doubt whether I made the right decision in accepting the job lol but I must say you people who have responded to my original post have truly made me feel a lot better. I know it's just the internet but thank you all very much you all have given me a lot of hope that I will enjoy myself and everything will be ok and that means a lot. I will be sure to stick around and keep those who care up to date on life in Poland :). Don't get mad at me if I b*tch a little ok? LOL. Only 3 weeks now until my arrival! Any tips on places to go and things I must experience while there? I'm sure my friend has a number of festivities lined up for me as she's really excited im coming. Haven't seen her in 3 years!
SeanBM 35 | 5,808
1 Sep 2010 #20
I will be sure to stick around and keep those who care up to date on life in Poland :). Don't get mad at me if I b*tch a little ok? LOL.

Yes, do please.

What would be interesting would be to do like a before during and maybe after.

Maybe write about your doubts, fears, enthusiams, expectations etc... of moving to Poland and then when you are here, you can tell us how you are getting on (or not) and then after, if you leave, you can tell us about how you see it looking back.

It might help the next fella moving over.

There are cultural differences between the U.S. and Poland and you will b*tch a little but that's okay, as the longer you stay, I am sure you will see the flip side (I hope).

All the best
enkidu 7 | 623
1 Sep 2010 #21
Content removed

From the Polish guy perspective:

Would they potentially not want me to teach them?

Because you are black? On the contrary - I think that it may give you some extra students. You know - you look like a "real foreigner".

Will my race be an issue in day to day living?

It depends how you define "an issue".
First - you have to understand that the Political Correctness is virtually unknown in Poland. On the West people are learned to be "color blind" (or at least to pretend). Not in Poland. Therefore from time to time you may be refered as "the black one". Exactly the same way you may be called "baldy, red-head or fatso" if that would distinguish you from the others.

Second - average Pole has no prejudice towards blacks. Simply because there was so little contacts with them. There are no black communities in Poland or something like that. I think that most knowledge about blacks in Poland are from the Hollywood films. Therefore you may expect questions like: "Can I see you gun?" or "Can you prepare a voodoo doll for me?"

If you are over-sensitive on these points, it may be a source of real issues.
My advice: Trust your sense of humour.

Personal safety:

You are from NY, so you know what to do and where to go and on what time of the day, right?
Thugs are the same all over the world. Your chances of being mugged or beaten are slightly higher than the average. As a black person in the white community you are stand out of the crowd. As a foreigner - you will be seen as a rich guy (worth of mugging). The pepper-spray suggestion is the good one IMHO.
smurf 39 | 1,981
1 Sep 2010 #22
carry a can of pepper spray, its legal

you can buy pepper spray here?
awesome!
where?
delphiandomine 83 | 17,845
1 Sep 2010 #23
Any tips on places to go and things I must experience while there?

One big tip - make sure that you get the paperwork sorted for your residence permit as soon as possible. I mean it - if you go more than 90 days in the Schengen zone and you haven't started the process of residency, you are liable for deportation at any time.

And don't trust anyone, not even your friend to get it sorted - it's your obligation to get it done.

Incidentally, don't work without a work permit either - if she can't provide you with the (granted) work permit in advance of you coming here, then don't go. I've heard too many horror stories about people who have been promised a work permit, only for it to not materialise.
MareGaea 29 | 2,752
1 Sep 2010 #24
Don't get mad at me if I b*tch a little ok?

We're used to sth here :)

Yes - keep us up to date, would be nice!

>^..^<

M-G (tiens)
OP CzarDaniel 1 | 17
1 Sep 2010 #25
Incidentally, don't work without a work permit either - if she can't provide you with the (granted) work permit in advance of you coming here, then don't go. I've heard too many horror stories about people who have been promised a work permit, only for it to not materialise.

When you say work permit do you mean Visa? I am currently in the process of obtaining my work visa with the Polish Consulate in Washington D.C. The school I will be working for gave me a lot of documents that I had to bring to the embassy and things seem to be going smoothly. The biggest trouble I have encountered so far with getting paper work done pertains to my dog that I am bringing with me. Such a hassle!
MareGaea 29 | 2,752
1 Sep 2010 #26
Sadly this idiot is very representative

But Daniel should be soothed by the fact that the vast majority of the Poles are decent and good ppl.

>^..^<

M-G (tiens)
OP CzarDaniel 1 | 17
1 Sep 2010 #27
Sadly this idiot is very representative of a certain sector of Polish society. The good news is that he's in Wroclaw so you might get the chance to ask him to call you a niggger in person and to laugh at him when he won't.

The Funny thing is I actually didnt see his post until you quoted it and for some reason when I search the thread, it still isnt visible. Maybe God is looking out for me or Admin lol. The word ****** doesnt phase me. Racists need to find something else to offend. The same joke for over a hundred years kinda gets old after a while :)
MareGaea 29 | 2,752
1 Sep 2010 #28
You know, I can't even imagine what it must be that ppl actually put you down because of the colour of your skin. What the hell does it matter? Just rest assured that these ppl usually are sick in the head or have other problems which they reflect on you. It doesn't say anything about you yourself and I think, from what I read from you, that you are a strong person, standing way above those tiny little racists with their tiny minds and limited capabilities.

Good luck my friend and keep us posted :)

>^..^<

M-G (darn, when will racism finally fade from the face of this Earth? It's such a cancer)
Harry
1 Sep 2010 #29
the vast majority of the Poles are decent and good ppl.

That is indeed very true.
OP CzarDaniel 1 | 17
1 Sep 2010 #30
You know, I can't even imagine what it must be that ppl actually put you down because of the colour of your skin.

Sometimes it's hard and frustrating but my great grandmother is half black, half english. My great grand dad is from India. My father is hispanic so generally I have seen that love can extend way beyond the boundaries that people put on themselves and others like race and skin color. I've traveled a lot and my mother works for the United Nations and all these things have allowed me to see way beyond race. So at the end of the day I know what some drunk shouts at me on the street won't shape the memory of my life when I'm gone and people like the majority of you all who have commented on this thread furthers that belief so Sokrates can go straight to hell lol.


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