Last week we had a discussion with the students at the local university, Mohammed the 5th University. The topic was racism and colorism in Morocco. This was a topic I knew I could not comment on too much because I do not experience racism like some of my peers in my program. However, I thought it was important to go and listen to other perspectives, especially Moroccan ones.
The discussion helped me understand not only about racism in Morocco, but the United States as well. I have been around black students in Morocco when they have received racist comments. For example, I was with two friends in Meknes when someone pointed at them and said “Ebola.” This is just one of the many examples of racism that the black students have received during their time in Morocco. This racism is a result of several things, one of them is the complex Moroccan identity. Morocco is in Africa, however, many Moroccans don’t view themselves as African. Moroccans tend to distance themselves from Africa and more with Europe. There is this sentiment of Moroccan superiority over the rest of Africa. This superiority leads to racist remarks and mistreatment of other Africans. Unfortunately, this racism is rarely dealt with because the majority of the people think that there isn’t racism here in Morocco. This was demonstrated at the discussion by one of the older, male students at Muhammed the 5th University. This man repeatedly denied that racism existed in Morocco, even after a black student shared her experiences of being called derogatory names and slurs. In fact, he was offended that she said people were racist towards her because “Morocco is not racist.”
One thing that my classmates pointed out after the debate was over though was that the man denied racism in Morocco when a black student was sharing her experiences. But when students of lighter skin tones began to acknowledge that racism exists in Morocco, he seemed more accepting that racism could exist in Morocco. This just shows how deeply engrained racism is in the conscious of some Moroccans (not all). Other Moroccans were able to acknowledge that racism exists in Morocco and there should be a dialogue in order to fix it. I think it is essential to discuss issues like this because it was easy for that man to say racism does not exist because he has never experienced it. This is a huge issue even in the U.S., people think that just because they have never experienced racism that it doesn’t exist. I think discussions like these are important because they open a dialogue between individuals and are hopefully eye-opening.