National Identity, Citizenship, and Belonging: Afro-descendants in Spain and Catalonia – Gina

The following interviews are excerpts of full interviews taken from a Master’s thesis carried out by Abena Wariebi at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, Spain.
Entitled “National Identity, Citizenship, and Belonging: Afro-descendants in Spain and Catalonia”, the thesis is an investigation of black identities in Barcelona, specifically exploring what it means to be black and Spanish, or black and Catalan. To carry out the project, outside of doing research on the topics of national identity and citizenship, Abena conducted interviews with
six Afro-descendants in Barcelona. Participants were asked about their identity, i.e. how they identify themselves, how they believe they are perceived in Spanish/Catalan society, whether or not they felt included in that society, and if they believe they are discriminated against due to the colour of their skin.

These interviews represent a small part of the black community in Barcelona. This thesis is in no way conclusive or overall encompassing. It does not represent the views or opinions of all Afro-descendants in Barcelona or Spain. Nevertheless, these accounts are powerful, enriching, and demonstrate the unquestionable solidarity that exists within the diaspora.


Age: 21
Profession: Student


Gina – Barcelona based student

Original text in bold.
English translation by Abena Wariebi.

Como española no me indentifico para nada. No. Porque realmente no tengo nadie de mi familia que sea español digamos. Mi familia, por parte de mi madre, es catalana y por parte de mi padre es de África. Despues, en España es como que la gente aunque hayas nacido aqui, la gente que no tiene el tono de piel mas blanco o un poco mas blanco, ya la gente Española no te indentifican como española a ti. Así que yo no me puedo identificar tampoco como española. Si los otros ya directamente es como que rechazan el hecho de que puedes ser de aquí.

As Spanish, I don’t identify at all. No. Because really, I don’t have anyone in my family who is Spanish. My family, on my mum’s side, is Catalan and on my dad’s side is from Africa. Then, in Spain, it’s like people, even though you have been born here, people who don’t have white skin or skin a little more white, to the people in Spain they don’t identify you as Spanish. Therefore I can’t identify as Spanish. It’s as if they reject that fact that you can be from here.

Y catalana mi identifico un poco más porque tengo raices catalanas pero es curioso porque cuando yo no era consiente del proceso de descolonización antes de que me interessase por todo estos temas de África y tal yo no me planteaba del hecho de que podrÍa ser Áfricana. Era como he nacido aquí siempre he tenido mis amigos blancos, mi madre es blanca y es la que tengo más relación. Tengo más relación con mi madre que con mi padre entonces era como he crecido con la cultura catalana, era como sabes, soy catalana. Pero claro cuando empiezas un poco a realmente pensar y bueno fuí a Guinea tambien este año en septiembre. Claro volví de viaje en plan con una mentalidad totalmente distinta. Sabes? Te das cuenta de quienes son tú familia, de donde vienes. Te das cuenta también que hay muchas cosas aquí viviendo en Barcelona, situaciónes de discriminación racista, que quizás pasabas por algo y dices no tiene importancia pero claro cuando eres consiente de tus raices y todo, realmente ves que sí que tiene importancia.

And Catalan I identify as a little bit more because my roots are Catalan but it’s interesting because when I was not conscious of the process of de-colonization, before I became informed about all these topics about Africa I didn’t realize the fact that I could be African. It was like, I was born here, I’ve always had white friends, my mum is white and she is who I have more of a relationship with. I have more of a relationship with my mum than with my dad so it was like I’ve been raised with the Catalan culture, you know, I am Catalan. But later when you begin to really think, and also I went to Guinea this year in September and I returned with a totally different mentality. You know? You realize who is your family and where you come from. You realize also that there are many things living here in Barcelona, situations of racist discrimination, that maybe things happen to you and you say they are not important but when you are conscious of your roots and everything you see that yes they do have importance.

Claro, como identidad sí que soy catalana porque he nacido aquí, mi madre tal cual, pero despues la gente te hace ver de alguna manera que no eres de aquí. Sabes como que comentarios como ‘que bien que hablas el catalan’ es como yo he nacido aquí porque me estas haciendo notar esta diferencia solo por el color de mi piel. Y bueno realmente no se de que manera identifico. Sería como afrodescendiente…pero no sé.

Clearly, as an identity yes, I am Catalan because I was born here, and my mum etc. but later people make you see in some way that you are not from here. With comments like ‘Oh, how well you speak Catalan’ and it’s like I was born here, why are you making me notice this difference only because of the colour of my skin? And well really, I don’t know in what way I identify. It would be something like Afro-descendant but I don’t know…


Gina – Barcelona based student


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