Stories of the (Very Real) Existing Problem of Racism in Egypt

By: Jana Shorbagy

“We were all created as human beings and should treat each other as such no matter your skin color, religion, or culture”- anonymous

I used to think that racism in Egypt was limited to “funny” comments or disgusting looks, which of course are not okay, but I definitely was not prepared for the stories I’ve heard, they’ve proved me very much mistaken. All these stories make me think this society isn’t mature enough, considering that we’re in this age where equality is being fought over everywhere and we’re stuck in the 19th century, where having dark skin color means you’re a servant or being Asian means you’re always being sexualized, being white making you racist and being Muslim means you’re a terrorist.

“I was grocery shopping yesterday and this woman kept looking at me so I asked her if she wants anything, and she asked me if I wanted to work for her as a nanny, she actually had the audacity to ask that kind of question”

Just because you have dark skin doesn’t mean you’re a maid, nanny, or whatever this girl could be rich enough to hire a nanny herself  but she’s still defined by her skin color, it’s not the 1700s here, there’s no such thing as slaves.

“Racism isn’t words it can be looks too”

“My wife has lighter skin than I do and we would walk down the streets with people giving us questioning looks, not to mention when my daughter was born my wife’s friend actually asked her ‘is she as light as you or as dark as your husband’ that woman wasn’t allowed into our house anymore because she couldn’t respect me or our marriage”

People of different races, cultures, religions, or any sort of different backgrounds shouldn’t be judged for getting married or involved in anyway. Love is love and your skin color or facial features don’t define that.

“ one of the perceptions that I think Egyptians seem to have or think is that they see foreign women in a certain light they think oh you must be here as a refugee or ‘you’re here on our grounds’, with me unfortunately because I’m Asian the way they look at me it hypersexualized they think ‘oh she must be easy’ or ‘oh this is what we see in pornography’ so we can approach her and say inappropriate things and she will accept that and I’m like no that’s not appropriate I’m not a walking sex object I’m a human being, and this is a challenge”

Why should you be thought of as easy just because of your facial features? This country should be more civilized than looking at someone and having these ignorant racist thoughts.

I got these stories from people around me in my day to day life. So, yes it is more common than you thought it was. Racism in Egypt is also brought into our TV shows in the way they always portray the character with darker skin to be a maid/butler or the uneducated and lazy character in the show.

In Egypt, racism is all around you, like those kids making fun of the “boy with darker skin” in your class or the “girl with tiny eyes” how about “the girl with the veil”. These are all offensive remarks that you hear on a daily basis, no one’s ever taken a moment to realize that this is racism, that this is NOT a joke. So here’s a thing to do: listen closely to what people say and that’s when you’ll notice how backwards this society is, we shouldn’t be moving backwards to discrimination when we’re supposed to be moving towards the rise of a new era where we all can accept others as equals.

Because in the end race, class, gender, culture, and everything in between doesn’t even matter, we’re all human.

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