Thursday, April 2, 2009

The racism that I experience here is very different from what minorities experience elsewhere, but it is racism nonetheless. Here are the comments that I can expect to hear from strangers during a typical 40 minute walk. Note that this is on a busy street and that I am being singled out in the crowd. (Ordinarily Cameroonians don’t call out to people they don’t know.)
Friendly: 10 – 20 people will greet me pleasantly (“Bonjour, Madame”, “Hello, Mother”, or even “Hey, White Lady!”, but said nicely.)
Unfriendly: 1-3 people (almost always young men) will greet me with an unpleasant comment such as, “What are you doing here?”, “Ntangan!” (Ewondo for “Foreigner”) or “Hey, White Lady”, said in a nasty tone of voice.
Sexist: 5-10 men will say, “Hey Honey” or “My baby!” or “Can I come along?”
Curious: Sometimes children will follow me, giggling and pointing. One or two brave ones might try to feel my skin or my hair.
Afraid: Upon seeing me, a child might burst into tears or run away in fright.
Greedy: 3-5 people will ask me for money, for my visor, for a trip to the US. Seriously.
Antagonistic: About once a week, a driver will deliberately veer toward me, as though trying to hit me.
I often wish that I could be invisible.


  1. When you get back I will invite you to lunch and just call you Nancy!