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Sisters Are Doing it for Themselves…in Spain

Hello Meltingpot Readers,

Black & Spanish = Kinky Gazpacho in my book.

Black & Spanish = Kinky Gazpacho in my book.

So, all of you regular readers know that el esposo is my Spanish husband and that I met him while spending my junior year of college in Salamanca, Spain and from a very young age I’ve had a love affair with Spain. And then all of my dreams about Spain were crushed when I learned that Spain has a very peculiar response to Black people, which I wrote about in my memoir, Kinky Gazpacho: Life, Love & Spain. Whew, that was a mouthful.

Here's my new online destination for Kinky Gazpacho inspiration.

Here’s my new online destination for Kinky Gazpacho inspiration.

Anywho, Spain has been and continues to be the lover I know I should stay away from, yet I can never resist her charms, so I’m always looking for ways to overlook her shortcomings and stay focused on her positive attributes. But that’s really hard when it seems the only thing written about Black people in Spain seems to be a lament about the country’s deeply entrenched racism and ignorance about cultural sensitivity. Or articles like this. So, imagine the joy when I discovered this new website called, Las Morenas de España (The Black Women of Spain). It is a gorgeous online destination created by Black women expats who are chronicling their own love affair with Spain and helping others along the way. It was just what I needed to get my groove on again with España.

Now to plot my next trip. I’d like to spend some time in Barcelona.

What about you, dear readers? What have your experiences been like while traveling in Spain? Where you welcomed with open arms? Did you find the culture to be racist in any way? Did you eat churros con chocolate at dawn? I’m totally listening.

Hasta pronto!

#WomensLives: Life on the Border Between Europe and Africa

Hello Melitngpot Readers,

A view of Ceuta, where Spain and Morocco meet.

A view of Ceuta, where Spain and Morocco meet. Photo from LookLex

If you’ve read my memoir, Kinky Gazpacho, then you know I’ve lived in both Spain and Morocco, so these recent stories about life in the border city of Ceuta have caught my attention. Ceuta is a city on the cusp of Africa, but it is a Spanish territory. Ceuta’s citizens are Spanish, but the divide between African and European is clear and striking.

Check out these two stories, one about the bone crushing work Moroccan women endure to make pennies at the border of Ceuta and Morocco and the other about the growing tensions between the haves and have-nots in Ceuta.

Life as it stands in Ceuta is not working and will require some significant changes. A handover to Morocco? An influx of industry that can staunch unemployment? What? I don’t have the answers, but obviously something has to give.

What do you think dear readers? Do you think Spain should hand over the city? Would Ceuta as a Moroccan territory solve the issue of unemployment and illegal activity? I’ve always thought it odd that Spain owned a small piece of Africa, but then again the Brits still own a small piece of Spain in Gibraltar. And we thought colonialism was so last century!

Peace!

…And We’re Back: Back to School, Back in the USA, Back to the Grind

Look mom; I went to England and found these cool rocks! #SummerMemories

Look mom; I went to England and found these cool rocks! #SummerMemories

Hello Meltingpot Readers,

I’m baaack!! I hope you didn’t miss me too much. I missed you. Really I did. And I missed having an outlet for all of my crazy discoveries, opinions and cultural critiques that only you, my devoted readers would care to hear about. So, I’m picking up my proverbial pen and getting back to blogging.

This year –yes, I still think of the year starting in September — is going to be crazy busy for me. I’m working on my book manuscript for Same Family, Different Colors, teaching two new classes, getting ready to go up for tenure and of course, still playing mommy to my three kiddos. Can you believe I’m the mother of a teen, a toddler, and a ten-year-old who’s just stuck in the middle? It makes for some good stories, which, of course, I’ll be sharing here. And speaking of sharing, here’s when you can tune in for updates here on The Meltingpot.

I’ve created a very strict schedule for myself in order to get through my to-do list for the year and for the first time I’m going to try blogging at the end of the day. This may make for some blog posts that are riddled with grammatical errors and an overwhelming sense of despair, but that’s when I could fit it in, so we’ll see how it goes. Expect fresh posts on Monday and Wednesday nights, or just tune in on Tuesday and Thursday mornings.

BTW, my summer in London was really great and my final week in Portugal was magical. I feel like it all happened ages ago, but really I only got back to the United States 2.5 weeks ago. The best part was seeing what great travelers my kids were. Three countries in seven weeks and they loved the whole adventure. Sadly, el esposo is scheduled for surgery (minor sports injury stuff that he’s put off for years) for next summer, so the only traveling we’ll be doing is back and forth to the physical therapist’s office. Spring break looks good though!

Thanks for coming back to the Meltingpot! Did anyone else do anything splendid this summer? I’m listening.

Peace!

My European Adventure is On Tumblr!

Hi Meltingpot Readers,

I have not fallen off the face of the earth, I swear. I made it to the UK and it’s been great so far. But you don’t have to take my word for it here. I’ve started a Tumblr blog — just to capture the 57 days I’ll be abroad — as sort of a parenthesis from the Meltingpot. If you’d like to see what I’ve been up to and to follow along, please bookmark this link.

Cheers and thank you in advance for continuing to care!

“Black in Bali:” A Meltingpot Fantasy

Hi Meltingpot Readers,

A Scene from Bali (courtesy of TripAdvisor)

You know that moment when you’ve picked up two of your three kids from school, ferried them to not one, but two different sports activities, rushed home to throw a load of laundry into the washing machine before you start dinner and secretly try to scroll through all of your new Facebook updates while listening to your toddler tell you everything she saw on her walk home from preschool? Well, I was deep in that moment today when I stumbled upon this article from Parlour Magazine about Black expats living in Bali, most of whom who decided life in the good ol’ U.S. of A. just wasn’t worth it anymore and hopped a plane to paradise. Sounds tempting, don’t you think?

Read the article for yourself and let me know if you’ve ever considered starting over like this? Better yet, let me know if you did it and how things worked out. I’m so listening.

Guess Where I’m Going? : Ms. Meltingpot’s European Adventure

Hint! Hint!

Hint! Hint!

Hi Meltingpot Readers,

I’ve been in a whirlwind of travel planning. Remember when I told you that I’d be spending the summer in London teaching? Well, everything is officially a go, so I had to buy my tickets this week and make it official. And while I am totally excited to spend six weeks with 20 college students for six hours a day, five days a week in a city as exciting as London, I know I’m going to need a real vacation at the end of it all. So, guess where I’m going? If you’re thinking I’m heading to the Iberian peninsula, you’re right. But if you think I’m going to Spain, you are mistaken.

I’m going to Portugal! *screams and cheers from her desk at work * For some reason, Lisbon is still my favorite European city. It’s the first place el esposo and I ever took a vacation together and where we returned to celebrate our first wedding anniversary. To me, Lisbon is romance and mystery and warmth and a hint of tropical. It is Black and European and multicultural. The food is amazing, the architecture is stunning, and the people are friendly. And my goodness, those holy custard tarts are ridiculously delicious. What more could you ask for? Oh, and all those castles. Pink castles, people. I’m taking all three niños too for the first time. I hope they adore Lisbon as much as I do.

Dear readers, if any of you love Lisbon, please let me know what you love the best and give me some ideas about where I should I go and what I should do. Especially with three kids. I’m totally listening.

Obregada!

Ms. Meltingpot is Going to London!

Ms. Meltingpot is on her way to London!

Ms. Meltingpot is on her way to London!

Hi Meltingpot Readers,

Guess what? I got the job! No, I’m not leaving my Temple gig. I applied to be the advisor for our London summer program and I just found out I got the job. Summer 2014 the Kinky Gazpacho family will be eating fish & chips, riding the tube and generally having a jolly good time getting to know the city of London.

The course I will be teaching is all about London’s diverse multicultural communities. There’s going to be a lot of touring around trying to show our students who really is a ‘real’ Londoner. Did you know London is no longer a majority White city? So, I would be so thankful if any of you have suggestions about neighborhoods, off the beaten path restaurants, museums, cultural centers etc that showcase some of London’s ethnic diversity, please share. Really, don’t be shy.

As always, I’m listening. And I’m so excited!

Peace Cheerio!

Is Switzerland Racist? Should a Purse Cost $40K? Is Oprah Okay?

Hi Meltingpot Readers,

Do the Swiss have a chocolate problem?

Do the Swiss have a chocolate problem?

So, some of you have already you expressed your opinions, frustrations and disgust over this incident that was reported last week. For those of you who don’t follow Oprah’s every move, apparently the royal O, was shopping in Switzerland. She was in a fancy store and was looking at some fancy purses and reportedly when she asked to see one particular bag with a $38,000 price tag on it, the storekeeper refused to show it to her claiming it would be too expensive. She then tried to offer her some less expensive merchandise. Here’s a link from the HuffingtonPost to how this story was originally reported.

Today however, everybody from Oprah herself to the Swiss tourism authority is apologizing, in a way that seems to suggest that it was all just one, big, black misunderstanding. Oprah stands by her story, but now insists she doesn’t require an apology from the country of Switzerland. The shopkeeper herself claims because she speaks Italian better than English it was just a communication error and she was just trying to be helpful. The only person not apologizing is the alligator who had to lose his life to become that $40,000 purse. But I digress.

Is Switzerland racist?  Is that the question we should be asking after all this? Or should we be focusing on the fact that somebody would pay almost $40,000 for a purse? I know that is so not the point of this story, but I can not understand why anybody – even with a $77 million annual salary –wants to buy a purse that costs the same amount as a decent car, two year’s of a college tuition, or the down payment on a $250,000 house. Come on, Oprah. But that’s just me. Let’s get back to Switzerland.

I’d hate for an entire country to be labeled as racist based on a single incident. I mean, if we’re going to judge a country based on one Black American’s experience there, what about Tina Turner? She has lived in Switzerland for years. She just married a Swiss man and claims she has a better life as a Black woman in Switzerland than she would in the United States. Thankfully, some journalists have taken the time to investigate the claim that the Swiss have a ‘chocolate’ problem after the Oprah incident. Time magazine came up with the following article, titled “Switzerland’s Xenophobia: It’s Not Just About Oprah.  The article explores the current climate in Swiss society as it relates to immigrants, asylum seekers and marginally, people of color. Based on that article, it would seem the Swiss are struggling like most other Western European nations with the concept of a multicultural society.

I’d love to hear from you, dear readers. My world travelers. Have you ever been to Switzerland? What was your impression of the country as it relates to diversity and relations between different cultures? Any thoughts and/or insights are always appreciated. This is where the real learning happens. You know I’m listening.

Peace!