Brown men in Barcelona

Story By: Vedanti Shinde

In 2017, I was on a Youth Exchange in Barcelona for about 2 months after which I travelled around Europe for a month. One of the most curious incidents I experienced is what I call ‘weird reverse racism’. I hadn’t felt ever felt unsafe in Barcelona except for the few times I felt unsafe because of the actions of brown men. There are lots of Indian and Pakistani men in Barcelona selling samosas or drinks in the parks or on the beach. I had even had decent conversations with one or two in Hindi/Punjabi. But this one night returning home from the club, some of them followed me a few metres and sang lewd Bollywood songs. I ignored them and hurried home. Later, I spoke to some of my local friends. They had seen these men selling water to party people on the beach, but these men had never ever harassed them.

A few weeks later, a brown man followed me home – continuously trying to talk to me in Hindi/Punjabi – and I panicked. I stopped, readying myself for a fight. Luckily, another group of party people arrived and the man left. Yet again, my local friends had never even heard of something like that. It sparked utmost disgust and anger in me – why did brown men in a foreign country respect “foreign” women with distance and respect, but if they saw a brown woman, harassment was the first thing that came to mind? Where did the sense of entitlement to brown women come from? What crappy version of racism were we directing at ourselves?

I sometimes still think about these incidents sometimes but I still don't have answers to this till date.

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