I am back, I had a good break away from here, wish I could say “its nice to be back” but alas….it is not so.
I thought blacks had it bad in England, but I gotta tell you, we have it worse here. Far much worse.
I hesitate to say this but it is a fact.. there is an insidious air of racism that lies under the surface of society. As a person of color you feel it and if one is not careful, it drags you down slowly. Danes are generally mistrustful of all people brown or black. The news especially print media is filled will endless stories of “foreigners” doing one thing or the other and 99% is negative. The general air is “if THEY were not here, IT (theft, murder, riots etc) would not be happening…. The only pages I now limit myself to are the job ad section.. thank you very much.
I’m not sure I can articulate what it is like being black here.. all I can say is that.. Denmark is not Black friendly at all. If you are black.. do not apply. I have been told it is worse in Germany and France.. what do I know, I have never lived there.. but at least you have black professionals in those countries.. in this country.. you should see how surprised people are when they learn of my qualifications and then smile and say.. “but ah, you don’t speak the language, it will be very hard for you to get work.” They are proving to be right on that front, but I shall not be beaten….
I find myself increasingly reluctant to bring up my children in this country. I fear that they will grow up with a “closed mind” that seems to plague most Danes….
Ok enough with the Denmark bashing… got my rant out… Like I said, if you are Black, come visit, just don’t come and live here.
UPDATE: OCTOBER 25th 2013
Being Black in Denmark Part II
I decided this would be the best place for this update.
7 years later I finally feel compelled to say something about being Black in Denmark. I still get random comments from readers and after the last comment I decided to look into the statistics of this post. This month it recieved over 120 vists. That’s big for me. I never pulled numbers like that during my blogging era.
It all sounded good in my head, when I thought about writing this post. As I write the thought running through my head is “what do you want to say, what has truly changed, is it relevant and is it at all related to you being black”
A lot has changed. I have two children now, own part of a mortgage, got a steady income, still married to a great guy, still love and like him yet I still pine for home. I pine because I know and believe that my career life would have been different. Certain things would have been easier. My heart would have smiled a little bit more. I pine because I am at crossroads in my self journey. Trying to reconcile my dreams and my reality.
I feel that if I had not been in Denmark, my journey would have PERHAPS been easier. What do I know, PERHAPS NOT. I feel Denmark stripped me of my confidence and I haven’t fully gotten her back. My career died here and I have not been able to resurrect it. I still do blue collar work. I hate going into work everyday. Yet the job applications don’t pan out.. how come? Could be the economy, could be because I am black, could be my luck run out. Every other aspect of my life is perfect.
Socially…that is something else and that is all I am saying. Danes and non-Danes living here know what I mean.
There is a program on TV, a kind of docu/reality series called “Den Sorte Arbejde”, directly translated means “The Black Work”. It follows the life of a Nigerian couple who own a cleaning business. As a black woman it leaves a funny taste in my mouth, because when you watch this show, you are not laughing with them, but at them. Yet at the same time I feel such a sense of compassion and understanding because I get the way they are thinking, the why and how. It’s complicated. Last week, I turned it off because it was too much, I was embarrssed for them and irritated by them. The credit roll features 2 black sambo like caricutures and apparently that is ok…
Being Black in Denmark is complicated. That’s the best I’ve got for you 7 years on!
Chika Unigwe explains it best here
Before I go I would like to say that I personally know only 3 black african proffesionals. All three got thier jobs before coming to Denmark. One can hardly string a sentence in Danish, but works for a multinational. The other works for one of the UN branches here, does not speak Danish, another speaks enough Danish to get by. All the other black Africans I personally know work blue collar and are not university degreed. I say this to give you a perspective of being black and educated in Denmark.
UPDATE: 7th NOVEMBER 2014
Oh my God! Like really… seriously… what!!
I am considering taking down this post because of all the hate and craziness going on. And yes I do get to read all the crazy comments as well as the sane comments. I believe in dialogue etc etc but dang.. this is getting to be too much. I wrote the original post in September 2006 that is 8 years ago and yes in that time I have changed as a person. Do I think that discrimination situation in Denmark has improved, to be honest, no I do not. But I do not give it that much place in my life because I go on about my life the best way I know how. I figured out a long time ago that there is not such thing as Utopia. There are going to be people who think all black people are inferior, uneducated and low-class citizens of the world. That is on them and not on me. I pay them no mind and they do not bother me in the least. There will be people who think that white people are the devil incarnate, murders and thieves of the world. I pay them no mind either.
LIFE IS HARD: That is fact
HATE AND EVIL IS PRESENT: That is fact
LOVE AND LIGHT IS PRESENT: That is a fact
So those who want to hate, no matter what color spectrum you occupy, go ahead and do that. That’s your prerogative.
But enough is enough. This is my little home in the space called the internet and I will not tolerate any more craziness. I consider myself an intelligent person capable of intelligent discussion. We may not all agree, but we can discuss stuff with respect and without insults.
Behave, ladies and gentlemen! Behave or I will delete this blog post cause it is helping no one.
UPDATE: FRIDAY 10TH MARCH 2017
As a result of getting a bit more comments and emails than usual, I logged on to the stats page …lo and behold, folks, I was genuinely surprised. A post I put up 11 YEARS AGO is getting so much traffic. I am averaging 30 views PER DAY…. PER DAY. In the period 2006 to 2008 I was averaging about 30 views per month or less and now it is per day!
A lot of the traffic is coming from the USA and I am curious as to why?!!
Anyway, that said, here is my update. 11 years on, Being black and in Denmark, has anything changed???
Well…. I am still black 🙂
Do things ever change for people of color living in a country that is predominantly ethnically white or lighter than perceived black. Like really..does it ever change? Do the biases go away? Do people start seeing you as a person like them as opposed to a “black” person! My experience…. no! Every week I will have to explain to someone that, “no… I am not a refugee or immigrant,” (you have to understand that the word refugee in this country has a very very negative connotation).
Prior to moving to Europe, I had lived all my life on the Continent of Africa, East Africa, Kenya/Uganda to be exact. I travelled much through East and Southern Africa. I was part of the majority. I never stood out. I belonged to the privileged minority of midclass, educated Africans.
Then I came to Europe and I was suddenly part of a minority and not just any minority, but that minority that was / is perceived as being undesirable and pitied in every way and IT HAS NOT BEEN FUN!!
The thing is discrimination in this country is a subtle animal, nothing overt. How do you mean, you say. Just trying looking for a job or getting credit at the shop. Certain jobs are open to you, no problem…. then there is the other jobs. The subtle way people interact with you, the weird expectations placed on you….
The weirdest thing is meeting new people for the first time and literally seeing thier perception of you change once a conversation gets going… the realisation that they are dealing with an equal… it’s a funny shift, one that irks me sometimes. You learn to live with it.
The book “Americanah” by Chimamanda Adichie Ngozi beautifully illustrates what it is like for a middle-class African immigrating to a Western country.
Don’t get me wrong. Danes are like any human being around the world, you find all sorts of humans, the same applies in Denmark. However as a society or a group…. eh… somethings could be better. In the words of Ms Obama… “they can do better”.
Paradoxically enough, I understand the xenophobia. I get it, this time the difference is that I am on the receiving end of it and it sucks.
My experience here in Denmark has made me a more compassionate person. Opened my eyes to the reality that in my own country, I and thousands like me are and have been guilty of the same ish, I am accusing of Danes.
So for everytime you want to express/impose your bigoted opinions and beliefs on someone else based entirely on the color of their skin, try and remember: this is a human being like me, with hopes, dreams and desires like mine.
That’s all I have folks. That’s about it.
Oh and by the way, I am a very happy balanced person. I promise. I know the original post does not read that way, but I am. I had just moved to Denmark, I was in the midst of an immense culture shock. I lost myself in those first years here. I had to find myself again… that in itself has been a journey of its own.
All in all, I am happy… but I still would not recommend DK to anyone of color, unless you have lived in a place like America and already used to dealing with this ish… if not… come visit, really come visit in the summer …… just don’t look to live here!!