[ad#Link share in post google replacement]Now, for those of you who have never seen a picture of me, let me describe myself so you can understand what I am about to write.
I’m a not so tall white guy. I have brown hair, blue eyes with epicanthic folds (probably due to a bit of Native American blood) and most people guess that I’m around 28-30 years old even though I’m actually 38 years old. I’ve got a wrestlers build and even though I haven’t been doing any regular exercise, my biceps look bigger than they should. I’ve got a bit of a belly no matter what I do (even after Marine Corps Boot Camp when I was 18) and while I don’t see it when I look in the mirror, I guess I must be a little handsome or if I’m not, my personality makes me at least a little attractive.
What I’m trying to say with all of that is that I am basically a white guy. So, I don’t want anyone to think that I’m writing this from any other perspective. In the good old USMC one of my nicknames was zebra because all my dark green friends (that would be black but a Marine is always green) said that I was white but I had black parts (um-hmm I don’t think they were talking about that part).
Now I’ve just come from living in North Africa where my wife is from and she and every other Moroccan it seems, do their best to lighten their skin. I had to throw out the skin lightening cream and assure her that I prefer her skin to be dark and that gets us into the meat of what this post is about. I’m amazed at the strange associations people have with black folks all over the world.
For instance, in Morocco people commonly think that it is a shame to be black. Black people are called Africans despite the fact that everyone living in Africa is really an African. My wife used to actually get mad at me when I would say she was an African! But I can tell you for sure, she is past it (and the skin lightening creams) now.
In Morocco, I had a number of students that referred to people from Senegal as African-Americans! A dim witted US teacher had told them that it was the right thing to call black people. I explained the difference and a little bit of geography.
One thing they didn’t call black people in North Africa was niggers, but upon coming to Turkey, I was incredibly surprised to find that Turkish people (like Germans and Spanish) commonly refer to black people as niggers. This, to me, is shocking and offensive but of course upon asking, it turns out that it is simply referring to black people by a term they know and not using a totally offensive hate filled word. Still, I’m telling my students that a better term is black.
The funny thing is that they have almost no notions of black people at all besides what they see on TV since in Turkey it is quite rare to see a black person at all (in my experience). This is different from Morocco where black people are seen the way American’s see Latinos from south of the border. They see them as poor illegal immigrants trying to escape to a better life.
There isn’t really a point to this post. It’s simply that as an American, I find all of this a bit odd. To me, black people are simply people even if the Marines made me say they were dark green.