A land without looky looky men!

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MURPHY: Mistaken identity

MOJACAR of the early 70’s knew nothing of the problems of racial discrimination. There just wasn’t anybody to discriminate against.

Traditionally Spain “had a thing” about the gypsies, but here they were a settled lot, living the same coexistence and daily fight for survival as everyone else.

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They weren’t tinkers knocking on your front door while their kids were out back stealing your chickens. They were us and just like us. If anything it was a label you could throw at a few of them that sang or danced unabashedly at any and all of the village fiestas. Nothing more.

There wasn’t anyone or any group that you could point your finger at and suggest they were different other than us, the obvious newly arrived foreigners. Loud, brash, colourfully dressed and ostentatious in all our undertakings we were innately convivial enough to always invite everyone else around us within shouting distance to partake in any of our celebrations. 

Yet, Africa was just 90 miles away you never ever saw a black person. They just weren’t around and if they were would have been easily noticeable.

I never thought about it at all until one day it was mentioned to me by a visiting friend from the states “where are all the black people? There should be some with Spain’s proximity to Africa, there must be a spill over?” But there wasn’t. None could be seen, even in the distant fields. They simply didn’t exist in our land nor on sea.

Spain was happy just the way it was. Reading about them, or seeing them in movies. Everyone knew they existed, but they didn’t seem to get into the country easily, didn’t like donkeys or paella for some reason. Their presence was never questioned because it wasn’t acknowledged.

Our children were brought up the same way. Knowing not of the plight of blacks in far away places with strange sounding names. They saw them on video films and there really wasn’t much council dedicated to explaining the problem that didn’t exist here. We went to the movies a lot and they saw them there. A popular movie at that time was with the American black comedian Eddie Murphy. That was life.

However, when we decided to visit the states as a family I thought nothing of it until I saw an African personage walking toward me in Chicago’s O’Hare field. We were on the escalator to collect our bags and he on the other escalator coming toward us taking passengers to the planes. The youngest of us picked up on the dramatic event and grew his eyes as big as saucers. He tugged on my sleeve and exclaimed out loud for all to learn to their astonishment, “look Ric, there´s Eddie Murphy”. And that man became instantaneously 10 foot taller with a smile that lit up the runway.

By Ric Polansky ©


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