This is not the first time.
On my way out of Decathlon, a sporting good store, even before passing the anti-theft alarm, the security guard stopped me to check my bag (left over-filled lunchbox). I refused.
Security guard: ¿Me puedes abrir el bolso? (Can you open your bag?)
Me: ¿Por qué tengo que abrir el bolso? (Why should I open my bag?) Para qué es este equipo? (What’s the use of this anti-theft alarm?) Just in case I got a tennis racket inside my lunchbox, it would sound the alarm. Esto es racismo. (This is racism)
Security guard: Caballero, no me acuse de racista porque pido a todo el mundo que abra el bolso. (Gentleman, don’t accuse me of being racist because I ask everybody to open their bag)
If he considered me a gentleman, he should not be accusing me of shoplifting. For whatever reason he had, I was just so used to it. The last time I complained over a security guard’s discriminatory actions, the telegraphic response I got from the management of that grocery store was: “vigilarán más” (they will be more vigilant) Downright bizarre.
Me: ¿Ah sí? ¿por qué dejaste pasar esa chica? (Oh really, why did you let that girl leave?) A Caucasian girl with a backpack, which could contain two lunchboxes, was able to leave the store without getting inspected.
Security guard: Estaba hablando contigo. Si no quiere abrir el bolso ya está. (I was talking to you. If you don’t want to open your bag then don’t)
Me: Pues no me voy a abrirlo, ya está. Me voy a reclamar. Es decir me voy a poner una reclamación o una denuncia. (I’m not going to open it, end of conversation. I’m going to file a complaint) Open, no. Not in this lifetime.
Perhaps a ski board, in time for the snowy Monday in Barcelona, could fit into my lunchbox, or socks, I’m too poor to buy cheap socks. I have had enough of people thinking that you are going to rob or do something nasty because simply you don’t have fair skin or blue eyes. What’s with the fear? What’s with the hate? I just hope all, as in everybody, had their Philosophy 11 with my college professor so at least they could be familiar with the term sweeping generalization. I remember her telling us that you can’t say that all lanzones (or grapes, pick a fruit) in the market are sour because the one you tasted was sour. I’m not saying that there are Filipino shoplifters, well actually there are but it is an error to assume that Filipinos are all shoplifters. Crime is not exclusive to a particular race, even ‘white’ people are capable to commit crimes and lead the world to bankruptcy. Crime has no race, no gender, no social class.
Some people don’t want to be labeled racist but their actions just speak for themselves. Sometimes it’s even funny hearing a group of people accusing another group of people that they are more racist than the other. They don’t deny that they are racists but they can never accept that they are on the top of the racist chain lest be associated to You-Know-Who.
This is not the first time I have had this experience and I know this will not be the last time considering how things are getting uglier each day. And definitely this will not also be the last time I’m going to let more people, especially the powerful and those in the ivory tower (as if they really care), be aware of what is really happening in this part of the society.
I should have not looked for a new backpack and instead should have ended the day with Barcelona snowflakes on my mind. Daniel Infante Tuaño.
Snow falls on Barcelona, 08 March 2010. Photos courtesy of Vice Consul Arman Talbo