Traveling brings along with it loads of new experiences.
I moved to Spain in 2015 and went straight to Madrid. This was a major city that I had read a lot about and I was able to find a job related to my field before moving over.
It was a fascinating time in my life and I wanted to travel. I wanted to experience the world and it was always going to be Spain in my mind.
This is why I ended up deciding Madrid was where I wanted to go and that’s where I ended up. While all of this is great, how was it being black in Spain?
Being black in Spain is a rollercoaster ride of emotions but you do settle in. I was a black American in Spain, which included the change in culture but also how the society perceived me depending on where I was going.
It was an experience that took a bit of time to adjust to and I understand those who are looking to move to Spain as Black Americans or black people in general.
Here is a breakdown of what I went through along with a few tips I would provide to black Americans moving to Spain.
Advice For Black Americans In Spain
Be Prepared For Racism In Some Areas
It’s important to be realistic.
Spain has various regions and some are more in tune with different races compared to others. I noticed this while traveling around Spain after settling in Madrid.
Madrid is an international city, which means being black in Spain is not a big deal there. Yes, it is not the same as walking in New York City but it is still a reasonably similar affair. However, it does start to change when you go to some of the smaller pockets around Spain.
I noticed racism in these parts even when it was not directed at me. It was never harsh racism. It was always an off-hand comment or an assumption that was made about me based on the color of my skin. I feel this is an essential detail to remember for those who are going to a nation such as this.
When you move here, you will get a bigger dose of this but it is rarely going to be harsh. I would say it’s never going to be harsh in a major city.
Sometimes, Black Americans will mention racism that has been seen in Spain through football. This is a common point that’s made and indeed it has been an issue in parts of Spain. There have been issues with racial slurs and blackface in Spain but it is not rampant.
I believe football brings along fans, which is a different environment and often far more overt.
This does not happen as openly on the streets of Spain or when I have moved around from place to place.
English Is Common In Major Cities
Now, this is a common question I am asked by anyone that knows I live in Spain.
For the most part, you should be good with English especially when you are in a major city. I learned how to speak the local tongue, which made it easier to adjust but I wouldn’t say it’s impossible to get around with nothing more than English.
You will need to be patient if you are going to some of the smaller cities where English is not going to be as common.
If you are patient and respectful, you will get a long way. I find this to be true anywhere I go whether it’s in Spain or not.
Those who are respectful of the local traditions will end up doing well in a place such as Spain. In the major cities, you are not going to have much of an issue with English on its own.
I haven’t found it to be a real concern while residing in Spain.
African Immigrants Are Seen Throughout Spain
Black Americans in Spain will often notice how there is a difference between African immigrants and Americans.
Why is this the case?
There is a difference due to the general culture associated with each community. It is commonly assumed I am also an African immigrant, which means I don’t speak English and that I have specific traditions that I adhere to.
This is untrue and it does surprise people from time to time when I state I am a black American. Don’t be worried about this as most people are being curious and are still adapting to the idea of speaking to a black person due to it being rare.
Get Involved With The Local Black Community
This is one of the most important tips I would give to a black person in Spain.
Don’t be afraid to look for the local black community in the city you’re residing in. Within major cities such as Madrid, this is going to be a breeze as there are quite a few black people spread throughout the major cities.
I would take the time to get involved with the local black community and learn more about it with time. You will develop a group of friends and a network that is going to be quite useful while you are living in Spain as a black person.
You Will Be Treated Better If You’re American
Now, this is one of those things people are not going to think about.
You will assume being black is being black in Spain.
No, it is not.
You are going to be treated much better due to you being a black American in Spain. This is due to those differences I mentioned earlier when it comes to African immigrants. It is assumed they don’t speak English and sometimes this is assumed with you too.
However, when you have an American passport, you are going to get a lot more done than others won’t. This has less to do with the color of your skin and more to do with where you come from.
Moving to Spain as a black person is a major change but not one you should be fretting about.
I understand it is a change you are going to see and notice right away. There is nothing wrong with this and it is a part of moving to a foreign land.
I recommend being patient and following the advice I have listed here about moving to Spain. If you take the time to do this, you are going to enjoy living in Spain as a black person and it is going to get a lot easier with time.