Photo Credit: TN
The Black Expat: This Is My Experience Of Racism In Portugal
With more and more Black travelers setting up base in the country, the question remains: how is racism in Portugal?
We spoke with Black expat and YouTuber, Petrina, to get a sense of the nuances of life in Portugal as a Black expat. Here is what to expect, what to look forward to and what to prepare for when living in Portugal according to her experience.
Tell us who you are?
I am Petrina, the content creator behind FixWith Pk on YouTube. My channel focuses on living in Portugal, moving abroad, business and travel tips and hacks. I am originally from Windhoek, Namibia, a beautiful country in the southern part of Africa neighboring South Africa, Angola, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
I am an entrepreneur in the business, travel, import and export industries, but not limited to these. I have been in the business consultancy industry for over 11 years.
Why did you move to Portugal?
I moved to Portugal because of my marital family (my husband and kids). Portugal was never in my plan initially, more so to just travel, but it ended up being one of my home bases.
What were your expectations when coming to Portugal?
I did not have any expectations moving to Portugal as I believe that even when a place can meet all your main needs, it will be fully flawed, especially when humans are involved because we govern on feelings and emotions.
Portugal was and will always be just a touch of a home base for me as I live between countries and continents.
How have you felt as a Black woman living in Portugal?
Living in Portugal as a Black woman has been different from other European countries I have stepped foot in. I felt calmer here when it came to the color of my skin, but I have had one encounter of racism with an elderly woman, which is quite normal here as most of the older generation are the ones that tend to see color as a threat or simply a thing of ignorance and lack of education.
Portugal’s history and bloodline is covered with African ancestry, hence their color tones and certain traditions and norms. I don’t get any racial indifference as a Black woman here compared to other women I have met, that also boils down to the boundaries you set and how you carry yourself as a person in general and how you treat and respond to others.
What have you noticed about the systemic forms of racism in comparison to your home country?
In Portugal, discrimination against the Black community does exist and most times is hidden in whispers. Systemic racism is probably the highest level of discrimination because people tend to have stereotypical notions against Black people and people of color and see them as a threat in terms of power and authority.
This is absolutely different from where I come from in Namibia. Even still, I know all too well the evil greed behind racism as my home country has had a long brutal history of colonial oppression from white slave masters. Some white people in Namibia to this day still show their white privilege and tend to be racist. Thankfully, that is slowly dying out as more power and authority is being given back to the Black people in the country.
When you live in an African country, skin color is the least of your worries because 95% of people look just like you, and you grow up proud of your culture and people. Now the media is also covering more Black people and our future generations can see themselves represented honestly rather than a distorted standard of beauty that is not representative.
Final thoughts on making the move to Portugal as a Black expat?
I love Portugal for its welcoming spirit towards foreigners and opening doors to those most in need. For solo female travelers you are also free to roam around and walk around anywhere, at any time without any harassment – except for those uncalled-for catcalls from men, who are mostly foreign men living in Portugal.
It is definitely one of the safest countries I have lived in, and I have been treated well here, thank God, and I truly believe that in my opinion, it is one of the top 5 least racist countries in Europe.
Head over to YouTube for more of Petrina’s personal tips and insight about living in Portugal.