11-12th June, Madrid had its first ‘Afroconsciencia’ festival. And it was amazing.
I randomly stumbled across the festival on Facebook (Facebook treats me good) and it was easily one of the best experiences I had in Spain, for many reasons. The main reason being that for months, although I didn’t realise how much, I felt lonely in Madrid. I should first probably state that Spain is quite a homogenous country that boasts of multiculturism due to (im)migrants that they now have. Something I have studied and realised, is that animals usually Wherever I went, I saw people who didn’t look like me, who didn’t understand me in way that black people understood each other. It’s a shame to see how My representation was the lollypop-lady, or the man at the bank or the bus driver but selling fake gear on the street or on the pavement or begging for money. It was pointed out when I did something that seemed ‘black’ or when I had a different hairstyle. I was different and I felt it. On the metro, on the bus, at work, there were always stares that followed me, that studied me, that questioned me, what those questions where I cannot say but not only was a difference placed between me and the majority but also between me and the black community. To see that there were people who doubt themselves or felt like they were enough, that they had to be more of something they weren’t, growing up with representations are so important in a society that distinguishes between races and
It’s sociologically proven that people of the same races tend to group together with those similar to them, be it similar in ethnicity, social class, gender, religion, political affliction or race, it’s referred to as the ‘homophily effect’. People are usually more comfortable being around other with similar values, attitude and behaviours. This explains why, though I had friends around who share the same religion, gender, social class etc, I was missing that racial aspect. Growing up in one of the most multicultural cities and living in a self-proclaim colour-blind society which still regards each race different, it was natural for me to feel lonely. Representation, or seeing oneself reflected in the everyday life is important, in fact, there was a study that found evidence of a self-esteem boosting effect of television for white boys, but self-esteem damaging effects for white girls, black girls, and black boys. This is due to white boys seeing lots of white boys and men in the shows they watch and regularly seeing these characters and actors in positive, powerful, and central roles. This is less of an occurance for other kids. (Source: egrollman)
So attending this afroconciousness festival, getting to know other afro-españoles, afro-latinos and other Africans left me in a state of euphoria. There was such a strong ambience of black pride, solidarity and unity through being able to share our stories and be able to relate on a different level, share our experiences and thoughts which were all so similar. Share ideas and mutual desire to help further the development of the afro-español community, learn from each other, empower each other. Fue genial! I loved seeing that certain experiences that I had in 10 months of living in Spain weren’t due to “seeing racism where there is no racism” and having them validated by people who had experience the same. Even more so, my heart was immediately drawn to the inclusive, ‘my hand in yours, we’re going to do this together’ approach, as too many times we take the ‘us vs them’ approach. I think that the black community, in Madrid, in Spain, is developing and are getting tired of asking for the same rights that others have the privilege of freely having. They are becoming solidified. Something I can testify to is that more knowledge is being brought and more people are being educated. Black and White.