Dear Pete

This blogpost is an answer to a comment by a certain “pete” on another blogpost of mine https://robertcallus.wordpress.com/2009/09/04/beautiful-memories-anda-bitter-reality/ that couldn’t remain unanswered.

This is the comment:

 “I am an African, who have been to most part of the world, I arrived Malta in 2010 for a 2yr master’s programme. I personally chose Malta against England because most of my family and friends were studying in England, and i wanted something different, and when i saw that Malta was an English speaking country, and a strong Catholic society, i decided to come to Malta to study.

If you know about the Maltese educational system, you will know that foreign students pay a very high amount for studying in that university, for my master’s programme..i payed like 15,000 euros, not including my feeding and accommodation for that 2yrs. But during that 2yrs of my study in Malta, it was the worst time of my life. I witnessed all sorts of racist behaviors in the bus, on the street in the club, every were. One of such incident that got me mad, and tired of Malta, was one evening when my friend, also a black, who just graduated from IMLI ( International marine time institute), and we decide to celebrate in paceville. In one of the clubs (Bar Native), after checking our documents by the first security guard at the door, who happen to be a non-Maltese, to make sure we are not “illegal”, he allowed us in and at the next door we meet another security guard who happens to be a Maltese, without any reason or asking for identification asked us to go back, after we have been asked by the other security guard to go in, and when my friend tried to ask why we were been sent back after security check at the entrance, he said because you are not wanted here…and when my friend tried to ask why, he pushed him so hard that he lost balance i fail to the ground. In order to avoid any further problem i stepped in and held my friend, who was still recovering from the push. My friend being a lawyer, deiced that he wanted to take the case up, i tried discouraging him because i have heard of lot of stories regarding black people in Malta, even how some were killed without justice, but he insisted that he wanted to speak to the authority. So we went to meet some police standing close to McDonald in Pc, after explaining to them, they were very reluctant to take any action, and one of them finally said that “if some body does not want you in his house do you have to force your self inside”, and that was when i and my friend new that Malta is not a place for “black” people.

I have a lot of bad experiences in Malta,even on arrive from abroad, at the airport, i was subjected to unnecessary security search, all because i was black.

Don’t get me wrong, there is racism everywhere, but the difference between countries like Germany and Malta, is that the law is no respecter of nobody in the former, while in the later, the racism is more pronounce among the people who are suppose to protect the victims of such acts.
But thank God, today, all those bad experience are behind me now, and they did not stop me from achieving my goals of coming to that country, although i almost quieted, but finally i graduated as one of the best in my master’s programme and i have moved on with my life, but will never advice my enemy to visit Malta for anything.”

Dear Pete,

I refuse to believe that the Maltese (or most of them) are racist. Sure we have our racists and in certain areas they are more represented than in others. One of these areas is online, another is in the profession of bouncers (I hate to generalize and I’m sure there are non-racist bouncers but that does seem an area where racists are hugely represented. I also noticed that quite a few of the online racists happen to be bouncers, some of whom flaunt their own racist violence in public)

Obviously this doesn’t mean racists aren’t found in all segments of society. But what makes us look so different from the Germans for people like you? While you may be partly right in that the Germans are less overt in their racism I think the main reason is not that. I think the main reason is that until very recently we were a very insular society and when this changed, many people were shocked. (Change, even if it’s for the better always causes an amount of stress, especially when it’s quick).

In the past 15 years many things happened that changed this country from a dot in the Mediterranean where most were blissful of their ignorance to a more cosmopolitan and secular society.

In these 15 years, we joined the EU, while more ideas as well as people flooded in thanks to the Internet, cheaper and faster communications and travel, student exchanges, so on and so forth. Coupled with an increasing number of Maltese who emigrated, looking for better opportunities abroad.

And………

15 years ago you would barely see a black guy walk the streets of Valletta except for the occasional tourist or student!

This changed for the reasons mentioned above, but even more so due to the fact that we started having the first black African refugees.

Keeping in mind that our politicians only think up to the following election, the PN government backe then tried to defuse the shock this would have on the Maltese but putting the refugees in detention (which was indefinite back then which changed only due to a court sentence). It worked in the short run, in the same way alcohol helps you deal with difficult emotions – until it gets out of control.

Government tried to sweeten this with kind talk and flaunting Christian values about helping these poor people while the Maltese public only saw them behind bars or handcuffed jumping the queue at hospital so as not to waste the time of the officers.

We also saw the emergence of a far right movement. (Once again this exists in Germany too and is lately embroiled in controversy after it’s alleged links with the NSU terrorist cell). But unlike in Germany, in Malta this was a novelty. And when the mainstream politicians saw a firebrand leader’s ideas on exterminating Jews, hanging traitors and deporting all non-whites from Europe gaining ground around a relatively small but extremely fanatical and loud crowd, they panicked even more. And insisted even more on detention while calling the refugees a burden!

A vicious cycle.

The good news? Unlike racism, insularity is less ingrained. It changes both in individuals and even more across generations. Today, racism is far from gone, but I already see a big difference than say, 8 years ago where some people didn’t even sit beside a black guy on the bus.

And I strongly believe this will continue to change.

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