30 August 2022: Racism in Spain: August woes; Fighting Frogs; & Other stuff

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Awake! For, Morning, in the Bowl of Night, has flung the Stone that puts the Stars to Flight
And, Lo, has caught the Sultan’s Turret in a Noose of Light

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable
Christopher Howse: ‘A Pilgrim in Spain’

Cosas de Spain/Galiza

Yesterday, I read a long article on racism here in Spain. I first wrote about this almost 20 years ago and I’m not sure things have improved since then. The Dutch critic – Vincent Werner – certainly thought it was a feature of Spanish society. Witness:-

–  There is discrimination and racism in selection procedures, though this is aways denied.

–  Racism is barely discussed in Spain, yet it is omnipresent.

The writer of the article would surely agree with that, having cited these comments from third parties:-

In ‘After the fall¡, the Financial Times Madrid correspondent between 2012–2017 Tobias Buck writes: ‘Spaniards are, in my experience, far more casual when it comes to voicing stereotypes and clichés about other nations than northern Europeans. I have seen perfectly reasonable and educated people jokingly pull their eyes into slits when the conversation turns to China or Japan. Words, expressions and jokes that would strike the average Briton or American as unquestionably racist are thrown about with any awareness that they could hurt or insult.’

During ‘Black in Spain,’ YouTuber Stephen Christoph says many Spaniards believe racism to be ‘something more direct that’s meant to insult or harm.’  [If I had a pound for every time I’ve heard: ‘It can’t be racist, as I never intended to upset them’. . . .]

Stephen Christoph recounts a night on the tiles with friends in Madrid. Amazed at the sight of Christoph, a well-oiled local felt perfectly entitled to share his astonishment: ‘Hey black guy! Your skin is so dark! You should stop sunbathing so much, man!’ His Spanish friends, however, saw nothing particularly unusual about his story. For them it was just a harmless bit of fun.

In ‘Doughnut Economics’, Kate Raworth explains how inequality slows entire economies down: ‘It does so by wasting the potential of much of the population: people who could be schoolteachers or market traders, nurses or micro-entrepreneurs – actively contributing to the wealth and well-being of their community – instead have to spend their time desperately trying to meet their families’ most basic daily needs.’

So, in the end, Spain is paying a high developmental prices for these continuing attitudes. As the article writer said: All evidence suggests that Spain has yet to fully grasp the social and economic value of real diversity. One wonders how long it will take in Spain to recognise the untapped potential of its diverse population.

A trivial point? Despite – because of? – its African connections, there’s little evidence that Spain embraces the cuisine of any of the African countries – eg Moroccan – in which it’s been ‘involved’. Contrast the cases of Britain and The Netherlands

Below is something on the Spanish government’s campaign against racism/discrimination. 

Some Spaniards who have bigger things to worry about right now

And a moan from me . . . Yesterday, I came up against the largest group yet of Spanish tourists being guided around Pv’s old quarter – at least 40 strong.  And service was very slow in the restaurant where I lunched with my visitors. So, I naturally felt more than a twinge of sympathy for the author of this page on the plight of ‘saturated’ Santiago de Compostela. Roll on September.

The UK 

A myth is already being spun: of a mighty leader who, having got Brexit done, vaccines delivered and Ukraine supported, was brought down by a conspiracy of pygmies. Johnson will scarcely be shy of propagating it himself. 

So, what are Truss’s chances of success as PM? Not high, it says here.

The EU

Good news for my pension in GBP?  The euro ‘will plunge even further’ as gas prices rocket. Currency traders have been accused of underestimating the risks of a full-blown energy shutdown in Europe this winter, with investors expecting the euro to be in the front line of a market sell-off driven by surging gas prices.


As if flying these days wan’t sufficiently troublesome  . . . Two Air France pilots have been suspended after fighting in the cockpit during a Paris-Geneva flight. 

Quote of the Day 

Diana was a harbinger of our victim culture. We discovered 25 years ago that Britain has become a country where feelings trump reason


A geographical reminder . . . On the standard Mercator map, Greenland seems to be the same size as Africa, and yet Africa is actually 14 times the size of Greenland! 

For new readers: If you’ve landed here looking for info on Galicia or Pontevedra, try here. If you’re passing through Pontevedra on the Camino, you’ll find a guide to the city there.


The Ministry of Equality is preparing a new campaign to fight against racial discrimination. The idea is to create several advertising spots for social networks and television of a few seconds. They will tell stories based on real events that highlight the racism present in society.

One of the issues to be addressed with this initiative is access to housing. The example of a gypsy couple who are not allowed to rent an apartment because “gypsies are not allowed in the building” is given. There is also the case of a young man of African descent who is told that the apartment he wants to rent is no longer available. However, when his white friend inquires about the same property, he is told that it is still available.

Another sector on which the Ministry’s campaign focuses is nightlife. To address this issue, they propose to tell the story of a group of young people waiting to enter a discotheque. The doorman lets all of them in, except for a girl wearing a veil and an African boy. 

The world of work and the discrimination that may exist when it comes to getting a job also have their place in this initiative. Seeking to exemplify this, Equality proposes the story of an Afro-descendant who receives his university degree at the same time as his white friends. In his conversations with them, he sees that he is offered lower-skilled jobs and they put many more obstacles in his way.

The main objective of this campaign is to raise public awareness about the rejection of racial discrimination. In addition, both victims and witnesses are to be encouraged to report such situations. One of the ways would be through the Service of Assistance and Guidance to Victims of Racial or Ethnic Discrimination of the CEDRE, which seeks to give visibility.

The Equality Department stresses that the message must be “simple, clear, direct and forceful, with a tone of denunciation”. They seek to avoid the normalization of situations of racial discrimination, “deeply rooted in our society”, making it clear that “the best tool to fight racism is a community that rejects it”. 

The campaign will run throughout this year 2022 and will cost 121,000 euros for the Ministry of Irene Montero. As a reference, previous campaigns such as “Anti-racists”, “Proud of all that we are” and “The violence you don’t see” will be taken as a reference.


  1. Hmm. No, Spain doesn’t embrace the cuisine of African countries, yet most of its typical cuisine is of Arabic origin.

    Racism exists, yet we don’t consider ourselves racists for joking about someone’s origins. We consider a racist someone who actively discriminates against someone because of their origins (such as Vox).


  2. Racism. Back in 2005 I sat in the stands near the pitch watching Depor v Real Madrid. As the wonderful Roberto Carlos thundered up and down the left wing, several people like mad banshees screamed at him. They appeared almost possessed. “Macaco” they screamed. This was accompanied by monkey sounds and monkey gestures.
    I left after an hour. I have never been back.

    Ref Truss article. Twice the term “levelling up” was used. I am a northerner, I speak regularly with northerners. They hate the term “levelling up”. Me too. When you think about it, it doesn’t make sense. How can you “level up”. Not only that, my northern English compatriots say it is a lie. They ask, why HS2, but no electrified train line linking Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds & Hull? (It is the crucial pennine section that is not electrified). My friends in the North East complain that if there is any levelling up going on, it is only in and around Manchester. Again many question HS2 and the obscene amounts being invested, that could have been better spent improving the overall rail network structure across the whole nation. Similarly, their is stupor at the almost 20 billion spent on Cross Rail, as all that happens here is many Central Line users, take Cross Rail or still Central. So TfL don’t actually make more money. Time to stop going on about “Levelling Up”, or maybe just abandon this stupid term altogether.


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