It was about 7 pm and we were nonchalantly travelling home from work in his car. From the passenger seat, I could see the fully uniformed GUARDIA CIVILs blocking the roundabout with armalites on hands. More and more cars were pulled over the side of the street while some were allowed to pass smoothly.
My uncle was unmoved. He has been stopped by the same check point in the same spot the day before so he thought the police might recognize his face and let us pass without trouble. He was wrong.
An officer signaled us to park on a sidestreet. With the weapon clutched to his arm, he growled,
¨Documentacion, por favor¨
My uncle showed him the car´s documents as well as his personal ones.
¨A usted tambien¨ (Yours, as well) referring to me.
I gave him what I got and he moved away to check on them if they are real or were bought from the Nigerian ¨Looky-looky men¨ who sell fake Prada Glasses and Rolex on the port.
10 minutes...15...he hasn´t come back. My heart was like a mad animal wanted to get out of its cage. I checked my image on the side mirrors. I bit my lips so that the color would return.
Cars were now piling up. Some of the drivers had to step out of the vehicle for further questionings. I then noticed the obvious: all of us that were pulled over looked different. We´re much darker than the Spanish. Moroccans, South Americans, blacks and Asians were the only ones being asked for inspections along with some Romanians and a couple of tattooed British.
This is not the first time that this happened to us. Two years ago, the same incident occurred. However, that time, the police let us passed without further hassle after they saw a car filled black men (presumably Nigerians) whom they all brought down to the station. Two weeks after that, more check points were on the roads and to tell you the truth, we were stopped three consecutive afternoons by the SAME police, on the SAME spot! On the third day, I got so annoyed that I asked the police if he did not recognize us considering the fact that we have been there almost everyday. He just smirked and after 20 minutes of waiting, he let us go.
The coast has always been known as the playground for the rich and famous. Unfortunately, it is also known as a playground for big time syndicates, criminals, mafias and scammers. But if the Spanish authorities would just used their head for once, if they are really up to catching these people, why concentrate on little brown, yellow and black people who don´t have anything in their minds but earn a meager living so that they could provide for their families back home?
Why not go to Marbella where the real thieves are inside the City Hall, using public money for nose jobs and to buy Miró or Dali works?
Why search on our cars filled sandwich wrappers and bottled water because we can´t afford to buy expensive lunch when you can search on your city hall officials´ villas where you can find millions of euros literally packed in garbage bags?
We´ve heard a lot of stories of racism in Spain, though we can never generalize. The Spanish can be very good and generous with foreigners but you can never be one of them. To give a simple example, in my three years of being here, I have only seen 3 coloured people in the Spanish TV. A black Cuban actress for a children show, another black latina in a comedy show and a Nigerian man in a soap, playing of course, someone discriminated. Asian people are always on comedy shows. Laughing stocks.
I saw a program one time called ¨Super Nanny¨and it is about this Mary Poppins like nanny who goes to different homes to teach kids the proper manners, etc. On this particular episode, she was helping a Spanish lady with an adopted 3 or 4 year old Chinese girl.
Nanny: Ok, let´s play now. Let´s pretend that I am on a restaurant and you are the waitress. Now, bring me some rice, some vegetables etc. etc.
The girl quickly moved and served her the meal.
Not putting down the waitresses all over the world, but here in Spain,there is a misconception that all Asians are Chinese and all Chinese works in a restaurant or shop. I fumed when I see the stereotyping being done to a 3 year old kid. Isn´t there any other jobs that she can let the kid play pretend? what about a doctor? or say, a vet? My Spanish professor said I was just exaggerating. I told him, he still has to see WHEN I am exaggerating.
At these times, I wish I were in the U.S. so that I could bring all these people to court and sue them for racial discrimination. At least there, I can sue even the most trivial offense people can do unto me.
After almost half an hour, the police officer went back to return our documents.
¨Cuidaos¨ (take care of yourselves)
¨Gracias¨, we replied.
Yes, I´m gonna take care of myself. I´ll stay away from the sun and use bleaching products so I can be as white as you.