Being Black in Barcelona

In the United States the last few years the black experience has been documented, filmed, produced over and over from every day life influencers to mainstream entertainment. From TV shows to Black-ish to famous blogger Jackie Aina I have not worried about finding my community of people in the States. After receiving my acceptance letter the first thing I wanted to know about Barcelona was if black people were here. Initially, I only found a handful of “famous” black people in Spain. The first being Rita Bosaho, a black politician from New Guinea. Secondly, Desiree Bel-loedde, a black female author who wrote the novel Ser Mujer negra en España. So seeing that there were few black women worried me because I had no clue how race was treated in Spain or here in Catalunya (the area in which Barcelona is in).

So before traveling across the Atlantic I had many nights filled with anxiety. Anxious feelings about where black women were on the social totem pole. Anxiety about my academic success. Anxiety about how Spaniards feel about Americans. Thoughts of whether I would be considered a woman, a black person, a refugee, or an American first. However, none of those identities dictated how I operated in this country.

My first week I was under the impression that racism did not exist and that I was free to be whatever and whomever in Spain. After talking to a local bartender she told me, ‘rascimo existe en toda cultura.‘ or, “racism exists in every culture”. This stuck with me so much because when studying in another country you can not be ignorant to the host country’s issues and think about everything as black versus white like in the States. So far I have not been discriminated against or anything — However, I will say it is important to find the people of color.

At the beginning of the semester I had braids and of course I brought oils and edge control, but after the braids it was hard finding the beauty supply stores for curly textures. I never realized the importance of having a decent population of people of color — because this means an existing black economy that caters to the cosmetics for people of color. From haircuts to curling creams to a new concealer.

Ultimately, there are no worries to have. Barcelona is a great city and life is stress free for the most part. I suggest joining Facebook groups, going to intercambios, and meeting other students to make the transition easier.


Loving life in Barcelona!

Tierra Mack is a student at Hampton University and an ISA Identity & Inclusion blogger. She is studying abroad with ISA in Barcelona Spain.


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