28/04/2015

XENOPHOBIA - A-Z Challenge

XENOPHOBIA
has been in the news lately, and Tenerife is no exceptoin to this prejudice. It is a difficult subject to broach and discussions can become heated. 
I am British, and a large number of Tenerife residents are also foreigners here, but every nationality seems to have sent more than its share of  perceived stereotypes to the Canary Islands.
For example, Rumanians are often in the papers for committing robberies, and drugs come in from South American countries on a regular basis. This makes everyone view both nationalities warily.
More personal is our own experience that if someone shoves to the front in the market waving a €50 note for a bunch of bananas it is always a German. The experiences of far too many gullible tourists prove that you have to be very careful when buying a camera or a phone in a shop owned by an Indian, and when a drunken idiot falls from a hotel balcony it is usually a Brit.
We have friends from many countries, and we are all embarrassed on occasions by the way some of our own countrymen behave, but the instances above are indisputable facts. Small wonder that, although most Canarians are lovely, welcoming people, a few are xenophobes – you’re just unlucky if you are served by one in a shop or cafė.

A few years ago there was a flood of Cayucos – those unstable wooden boats that crossed 300 kilometres of ocean from Africa. I was actually in Los Abrigos when one was escorted in out of the night by a lifeboat, and I saw the exhausted people being given bread and water by the local restaurateurs before the Cruz Roja took them away in ambulances.

But it's not easy being black here.
One black friend told me he used to drive a fancy car but the policia stopped him every time he went out in it. The assumption was that if he was black he must have stolen it. Now he drives a nondescript car just for a quiet life. Surprisingly, it doesn’t seem to make these minorities bitter – perhaps the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. Our Centro Cultural hosts a Nigerian party each year, and when I was drawn by the music I stopped a toddler from escaping into the night. I picked him up and a moment later his mother claimed him – I thought she was never going to stop thanking me, and I was invited in and given a plate of food and a beer. A memorable evening.
We always remember that we're strangers here too - XENOPHOBIA flows both ways.


6 comments:

  1. That's a lot of cultures all living side-by-side - I guess there will be trouble occasionally. But, it would be lovely to live in a world, one day, when our differences are celebrated not feared.

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    1. The trend seems to be going the other way at present, which makes me fear for my grandchildren.

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  2. That's a very thought-provoking post, Lizy. Timely, too.

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    1. I wish I could come up with a definite position to stand in but there are so many sides to the subject.

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  3. Events in Baltimore reinforce how scary things can become if we don't deal with this issue. Nice post Lizy.

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    1. We've been watching the news too - dreadful.

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