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Typical Chit-chat and a Robbery

The best way that I have been able to contextualize the issues of identity and race in America is to relate them to the problems other countries have. For my blog, I am going to share a few personal experiences from studying abroad and then describe how they made me think about American society and the problems we have here. The first experiences are the conversations I participated in with my Spanish family about race, and the second experience is an identity/crime issue.

If you read my last blog post, you know that I lived with a host family while living in Granada. My family was very curious about everything, from my religion to my thoughts about gay marriage and politics. Before this experience I had no idea about the problems other countries had about race. I can tell you now that America is certainly not the only country with issues. I remember watching TV with my Senora one day and there was a story on about an interracial couple facing some sort of legal issue. My Senora became enraged, and started telling me about these two people she knew that used to date, and one was “so white” and the other was “so black”. She made it seem like the whole city knew about this scandal, and that it was seen in such an awful way. The way she expressed herself with no filter made me think that this was typical chit-chat in Spain, and talking to her about this issue really made me realize how much America has grown since slavery. I believe concepts like interracial relationships will become more and more accepted as time goes by. I told her that in America there are undoubtedly people against interracial relationships, but that there has been progress in its acceptance among society. It didn’t seem like there had been much progress in Spain.

Now, onto identity issues. I do not know much about law, but I was shocked at the lack of legal importance in Spain. One night when I was out in Granada, I was walking home through the Albaicin (which is the old quarters of the town) and a man went after my friend and tried to rob her. I went back to help and was pushed over in the man’s attempt to grab my purse. We got away fine because a group of guys came down the hill and yelled at him to get away, but the memory still frightens me. I think this can be related to an identity/gender issue, because if it were men that were walking along, they would not have been attacked (according to my host family). When I told them about this experience they said that there really was nothing that could be done, and that filing a police report would be pointless. From this experience, I began thinking about the differences between Spain and America. This event really surprised me, because I believe that in America it would not be taken so lightly. I know that there are differing ideas about identity between countries, but the complete what seemed like lack of respect for women was appalling to me because everyone talked about it like it was just something that usually happens. In fact, when I told my host family (all women), they fed me numerous stories of their own about getting robbed, and practically blamed it on themselves. I think in the America there is still a problem of women being seen as prey and not as respected as  men, but I do believe that our legal system is helping to combat this issue. I am certain that identity and gender roles have evolved to different extents in different countries, and that our country is one of the most developed. But has it developed enough? Should we be proud of our development in relation to many European countries, or is this not an accurate way of measuring right and wrong?


About alyssakinell

I am a senior Management and Spanish major at Bucknell University. I am originally from East Lyme, Connecticut and I hope to live in a big city after I graduate. If I could be anywhere, I would be on a mountain with fresh powder and hot chocolate. I am incapable of eating a meal without finishing it off with something sweet (generally ice cream).


2 thoughts on “Typical Chit-chat and a Robbery

  1. I definitely agree with you that racism is a problem in other countries outside the US; these problems even make America look great in comparison. Take for example the racism that is involved in the Middle East. Most the fighting that takes place in the area is due to differences in race and religion. One of my friends from the area told me that the people in her country think that America is perfect; that there is no crime or any kind of racism. This is not true but the level is a lot less intense than that of the Middle East. I took a Middle East anthropology course last year and I learned a lot about the issues in the area as well as the different perspectives from the ethnic groups involved; it was a real eye opener. It definitely made me appreciate the less intense racism that is experienced here in America.

    Posted by Amanda Skonezney | February 28, 2012, 9:23 pm
  2. Alyssa, I am interested in your discussion about interracial relationships. My boyfriend from senior year of high school through junior year of college was half Asian. His mother is American with blond hair and blue eyes while his dad is from Chinese from Shanghai. At my high school, we had a lot of diversity and interracial couples are completely normal, in fact the majority of couple at my high school were probably not of the same race. My parents didn’t care, but my conservative grandparents did. Andrew did not look completely Chinese but he definitely gave off a Pacific Islander or Thai look. Throughout the four years, my grandparents would make snide, racial comments about Asians in front of me and sometimes in front of Andrew. They never invited him to family events or their country club dinners…even after four years! My other set of grandparents were much more welcoming but my grandmother still told me and I quote “be kind to everyone but marry your own”. She literally wants me to marry and blond haired guy. It’s just crazy how that generation thinks so differently than ours. I feel like our generation is definitely much more accepting of interracial relationships and acceptance will only grow from here.

    Posted by Lauren Daley | February 28, 2012, 11:26 pm

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