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Editor’s Note: This article was originally published as a blog post on the website of a graduate student living in Moscow.

A reader wrote to me:

I’m leaving this comment because since you have lived in Russia and know much more about what’s going on there than I do, I was wondering if you could answer a question for me. I was wondering, do you think it would even be smart at this point for a Black student to go to Russia to study? I was planning on going there after the summer for a year-long study abroad program but after hearing about all the racism I’m thinking that it might not be the right thing to do. Did you have a lot of close calls when you were over there?

This is a painful question for me.

On the one hand, I have had amazing experiences in Russia and I have been indelibly marked by the time I have spent with Russian history, literature and contemporary society. I can’t imagine my sense of the world outside of my interactions with Russia.

On the other hand, I simply don’t know if I can, in good conscience, advise people of Asian or African descent to travel to Russia in light of the continuing problem of racist violence.

In the past ten days, there have been attacks on Bangladeshi and Chinese students in Moscow, in addition to the earlier assaults this year on citizens of Cameroon and Vietnam. Last December, a nineteen-year-old African American was stabbed multiple times in Volgograd on his way home from the gym.

While these are certainly the most extreme types of violence, interviews with African students also reveal pervasive everyday racism in Russian society. If you travel to Russia, you are, quite frankly, playing a numbers game with your life and your well-being.

Photo: author

That said, you can do some things to improve your odds.

Personally, I was never attacked and I never experienced anything worse than dirty looks, stupid comments and mumbled threats. A number of factors probably account for my “luck” and I’ll share them with you, both as useful precautions and as information that might give you some insight into life in Russia for those of us of “non-Slavic appearance,” in case you are still considering your travel options even after the warning above.

First and foremost, I had the gift of genetics and a bad disposition–I am over six feet tall and, generally speaking, not of a soothing appearance; when I would hang out with African friends in Russia, they would joke that I was their bodyguard. To give you a more clear picture, a few years ago my high school students nick-named me “Mr. Buster, AKA Suge Knight.” If your friends haven’t given you a similar handle, then you should up your worry level a little.

Second, as soon as I got to Moscow, I asked other Asian and African residents about safety and took their recommendations very seriously. I rarely wandered around alone after dark. If there was a major soccer game, I avoided the subways and took a taxi instead to avoid the possibility of running into a crowd of drunken racist football hooligans.

In general, I kept an eye out for groups of sketchy-looking young men and walked away from them, even if it meant I would be late to wherever I was going. And, at the insistence of a Russian friend, I typically carried a small, easy-to-reach knife as a last resort.

Lastly, I tried to maintain a serious appearance—I wore a collared shirt and I always carried a briefcase (even when there was nothing inside of it) to look professional. This was mainly to fend off police shakedowns that tend to victimize people who the police think won’t have their papers in order and won’t want to take matters to their bosses or to court. I also worked on the assumption that skinheads targeted people that they perceived as weak, poor or unconnected.

In short, not a day went by that I didn’t consider the very real possibility of being attacked. I told myself that it was worth it to get my project done and I coped with the stress of constant worry. I also tried to focus on the positive interactions that I had with people in Russia.

Which is one reason why it hurts me to give such a negative report. Most people in Russia are not violent racists and I really love many things about Moscow: the libraries, the architecture, the museums, the street food, the random folks who chat with you at the market, the landlord who picks up the rent and stays to talk for three hours, the other migrants and foreigners who share the pain and the pleasures of being an outsider…

If you read through my posts from the year I spent in Moscow, it should give you some idea of my diverse feelings and experiences in Russia.

But can I responsibly tell a young person of color (who could presumably choose to travel to any country in the world) that it’s advisable to sign up for a year in Russia? Sadly, I just don’t think so.

The world is large and there are many options. You shouldn’t have to fear for your life every day.

UPDATE: I later learned of two more attacks on African students in Moscow; five persons were injured and three suffered stab wounds.

Community Connection

Planning on traveling to Asia? Get one traveler’s perspective about why racism in Asia might not be what you think. Matador’s Julie Schwietert has also written an excellent blog post about race, sex and economics in Cuba.

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About The Author

Buster

In 1992, the guidance counselor at Buster's high school distributed forms to students so they could indicate preferences for Career Day. Buster refused to take part, declaring to the principal, "I don't want a career. The point of education shouldn't be job placement." He has spent the past 17 years avoiding anything resembling a career. He's collected money from the federal government to learn obscure languages of the Caspian littoral. He's taken money to do drugs before being loaded into an MRI machine. He has read over 1,000 surveys filled out by women with breast implants. He's now in 23rd grade and spends most of his time reading library books and begging for money from various institutes, foundations and societies. He still hasn't given in.

  • Christine

    Wow, great piece. I had no idea there was such violent racism in Russia. Thanks, Buster, for both your blog and for re-publishing this piece on Matador.

  • http://www.lolaakinmade.com Lola

    Thanks so much for sharing this insightful piece Buster. I love your frankness about the issue of being black in Russia. While chatting with a white colleague of mine about my dreams of visiting Russia, he did caution me. “You might be the only black face you’ll see for miles”.

    While travel is such a profound experience for all of us, we black travelers (to some extent) experience it a whole lot differently

    Usually at both extremes – total acceptance (borderline fascination) to absolute rejection.

    • http://matadortravel.com/travel-community/rsw Tim Patterson

      I’d love to read more about the experiences of people of color who travel to places where the locals aren’t accustomed to seeing people who look like them.

    • http://thelonglayover.blogspot.com Carlo Alcos

      While I agree in general about this, I also wonder to what extent this is played out in our own minds? Like being very conscious that we have different coloured skin, that we stand out more. Do we project that into our experience and make it a reality?

      Just like traveling with a closed or open mind, or with negative or positive attitudes, changes the way we experience places/people, how much does being conscious of our skin colour play into that?

  • Keisha

    I had a feeling that this was what was going on. Russia has never been on my list of places to visit and explore. However, I do hope that the situation gets better because no one should be hindered to visit such a significant country due to the color of their skin.

  • Akira

    Russia is not one of those places I wanted to visit but after reading this article there is no way on hell I’m going now. Racists bastards. But great article- just let’s you know that no one is invincible.

    • http://na kamilla

      Hi Guys,

      I just wanted to add that most of the people in russia are not rassist.
      Keep in mind that Russian’s were isolated from the world for a very long time.
      The first time we could leave country was in probably in 90′s.
      So for for most to see a black person for the firs time in her life would be shocking but i wouldnt call that racist…. ignorant perhaps.

      russians never slaved black when the rest of Europeans were doing it. the only encounter was when i think the french brought a little child (Abram Petrovich ) to Peter The Great.

      And not to forget our greatest Russian poet Pushkin http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Pushkin
      was indeed black. He is great-grandson to Major-General Abram Petrovich Gannibal brought and adopted by Peter the Great to become major-general, military engineer and governor of Reval.

      so to finish this i think that now with russia’s borders opened we have a lot to learn .

      Regards

      russian married to african american :)

  • http://musictravelwrite.wordpress.com Michelle

    Wow, really interesting piece. I didn’t know racism in Russia was quite so extreme. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://thelonglayover.blogspot.com Carlo Alcos

    For the record, I’m Filipino (but look more Spanish)…and have brown skin. I never experienced any racism traveling through Russia late 2007 (over one month). I had some very meaningful encounters with Russians throughout the trip. Saying that, my wife is white, so I suppose that could have made a difference. Also, we were rarely out on the streets at night, although we were a couple of times in Moscow.

    Right now, Melbourne is getting a very bad rap in terms of racism. Either that’s true or the media is blowing things out of proportion (you don’t say?), but reports of Indian students getting beaten has been on the rise. So much so that India has reacted strongly and advised against Indians coming to Oz to study. This has caused a sharp decline in Indian students enrolling in schools. What’s not reported so much, or not stressed nearly as much as the attacks on Indians, are the “normal” weekend attacks/ fights/beatings on white Australians.

    I hope that a single article and a few people’s experience isn’t enough to taint an entire country and brand “Russia” as racist. Things like this tend to get blown out of proportion. The fact that there were some Chinese or Vietnamese or whatever attacked doesn’t necessarily mean the attacks were racially motivated. You have to ask, how many white people (Russians) were beaten/robbed too over the same time period?

    I guess the point is, racism is still a big problem in this world, and it’s not confined to Russia, far from it. And also that everyone needs to keep everything in perspective and not jump to conclusions.

  • http://www.twitter.com/jackventures Jack

    I concur with Carlos.
    Racist acts must be put in perspective with overall crime. It’s true we must be careful, which is why I appreciate this article and the author’s experience. However, we could say the same thing about the South in the U.S.. We still have white supremacist groups here, in virtually every state, but it’s not a reason to not travel the U.S. The vast majority of Americans are not racist, just as the majority of Russians are not as well. It’s easy to generalize to an entire community after a tragic/salient event.
    Psychologists have documented the trend that racist (or anti-minority/immigrant) sentiments increase in tough economic times–happening in the U.S., and it appears it’s happening in Russia. Media coverage fuels the fire, and makes any type of event ‘more common’ than it really is.
    Let’s all be careful travelers out there, and not allow the extreme, but rare events deter us from seeing the world (okay, I know there are limits, like we shouldn’t got to places with large scale conflicts, etc…so I hope you know what I mean).

    Cheers,
    Jack (Taiwanese American, BTW) :-)

  • http://www.paul-sullivan.com Paul Sullivan

    Powerful piece, really interesting and thought-provoking. Thanks for sharing Buster.

  • http://matadornights.com Kate

    Jack – I appreciate what you’re saying, but think an article of this sort is incredibly relevant.

    People have a right to know if there’s a higher than average chance that they’ll be targeted for assault or worse and to make decisions accordingly. If there is racist violence in Russia, it serves people of color to know about it an to be prepared and to strategize about how best to protect themselves.

    Even in the United States, those who practice violent acts and hate crimes are spurred to action by their own ignorance and difficult circumstances. If circumstances are difficult in Russia for certain uneducated segments of the population and they turn to scapegoating easy targets – people who look different than themselves – then those planning to visit Russia need to know this information before going rather than being surprised after they’ve arrived.

    As travelers, it behooves us to know if we are entering a volatile situation before we make our plans.

    • http://thelonglayover.blogspot.com Carlo Alcos

      I think the issue here is, is there REALLY a higher than average chance that you’ll be the victim of a racially motivated attack if you visit Russia? Maybe there is, I don’t know, but I don’t think that this can be concluded by this single article. (Besides, the author’s experience is limited to Moscow, which is hardly “Russia”, it being the largest country in the world.)

      This is what readers have to understand. This is one person’s anecdote. If you were to find out that this type of thing makes up for 1% of all violent crimes in Russia, would that change the conclusion? I just don’t like reading people’s comments who say “after reading this I’m NEVER going to Russia”.

      Back to my Melbourne example, it’s widely reported internationally that there have been attacks on Indians. What doesn’t make it out there is the weekly violence perpetrated on/between white people (alcohol fueled mostly). So, if you’re a white person traveling to Melbourne and like to go have a few drinks on a Friday/Saturday evening there is probably a better chance of you being involved in some sort of violent act than if you are an Indian (or other ethnicity) in the city.

      To be clear, I’m not attacking the validity of this article, but just wanted to urge readers to weigh the facts before making conclusions.

      • Kenneth Spaulding

        RUSSIA IS THE LARGEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD BY AREA, NOT BY POPULATION. CHINA IS THE LARGEST BY POPULATION.

  • admin

    Thanks for this article. Beyond the real dangers of overt racism, there’s also the profound isolation that a traveler of color can feel while on the road in a country where he or she is the only [fill in the blank].

    I’ll never forget when my husband (a black Cuban) and I were (a white American) were walking down the street in Mexico City and were all but accosted by a man from Ghana. “Please talk to me!” he said, grabbing my husband’s arm. “You’re the only black person I’ve seen for a month! Please!” He was just desperate to connect with anyone who looked like him– who could understand, perhaps, what it was like to want to travel beyond your own home while looking totally different from everyone around you.

  • http://www.theroadforks.com Akila

    Buster, thank you for this insightful and honest article. As a minority, I often wonder how I will be treated in another country and, without fail, I get the response that “I will be fine.” While I agree, Carlos and Jack, that many (if not most) people of color will probably be fine in Russia, this article helps create awareness to a problem in Russia and will allow people of color to be more alert in that country. I am Indian and going to Australia in one month and plan to be more careful than I otherwise would be because of the recent problems there.

  • Nadya

    I grew up in Moscow and (me being a slavic-looking woman though) never witnessed racism motivated aggression. There are football as well as just plain hooligans out there in the streets, and the same basic safety tips suit everybody: do not wander alone in the dark if you don’t have to, do not hang around drunk football hooligans when you can just as well be elsewhere… I’m pretty sure these tips are true elsewhere in the world. The bit about staying away from underground is not really true – in general there is just too much people there as well as police for hooligans to do anything major.

    Now I do not claim that racism does not exist in Russia – i would be lying if I say that you won’t be getting any dirty looks from douchebags in the streets. But all this is hugely exaggerated by press. I am convinced that most violence that people connect with racism is just plain violence. The attack on foreign students who were unlucky enough to be in the wrong place in the wrong time gets international press, “regular” crime does not. Just like the crimes committed in Russia by foreigners get Russian press.

    I did not live in any other Russian cities long enough to say that this would be true for them as well, but for a person of color visiting Moscow is just as safe as for anybody else. Which is more or less safe if you follow the basic safety rules – something like that.

  • http://www.sputnikguides.com Emily Liedel

    I lived in St. Petersburg for a year, and one of my friends was an African-American student from Baltimore. He was rather large (over six feet tall and heavy) and Russians were certainly more afraid (or perhaps intimidated) of him than the other way around. In my experience, racism against people of African descent is a very minor problem in Russia. However, this article did not mention the people who really DO have a problem in Russia, Caucasians (that means people from the Caucus region, such as Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan) and people who look like them. Caucasians generally gave dark skin, much the same color as Hispanics, Arabs or Southern Europeans. Thus, Hispanics, Arabs and dark skinned Southern Europeans are far more likely to have problems than any other group, including African Americas. In fact, if someone in Russia is called “black”, it is a very derogatory term for Caucasians, not people of African descent.

    That said, the only place where this is a big problem, according to my experience, is in Moscow, and it is primarily (and unfortunately) a problem with the police. My piece of advice for anyone who looks obviously non-Russian, especially in Moscow, is to avoid the police at all costs and carry a cell phone and the number of your embassy with you, as well as copies of your documents. Saying that you will call your embassy usually causes the police officer to decide your papers are in order after all.

  • http://thelonglayover.blogspot.com Carlo

    Thank you for your comments Nadya and Emily, and for confirming what I suspected to be true.

  • http://moscowthroughbrowneyes.blogspot.com Buster

    First off, thanks to Christine, Lola, Keisha, Akira, Michelle, Paul, Kate, Admin, and Akila for your supportive comments. Greatly appreciated.

    Admin, I made many friends in Russia precisely through encounters such as the one sketched, from Afghan students to Congolese engineers.

    Emily, I take your point that ethnic violence in Russia is generally directed at migrants from other parts of the CIS, though I would note that there has been a slight shift toward targeting Central Asians instead of Caucasians in the past few years (likely related to the “conclusion” of the war in Chechnya).

    Your impression that racism against people from Africa and its diasporas is “a very minor problem,” however, doesn’t jibe with reports of African students in Moscow and Petersburg, continued protests from African migrant groups, and warnings from African embassies in Russia to their citizens.

    The reason I used the phrase “people of color”–in Russian I would have said temnokozhie–was that there have been plenty of reports of violence against Chinese, Indian, Vietnamese, Central Asian, and Caucasian folks in Russia–mainly in the European section, but by no means limited to Moscow. The organization SOVA (linked to on my blog) is fairly thorough about documenting these attacks.

    That said, your advice to carry a mobile phone with embassy phone numbers is a good point.

    Nadya, your claim that “for a person of color visiting Moscow is just as safe as for anybody else” doesn’t stand up to the facts, as reported by any number of Russian human rights groups, international watchdogs, media organizations, people I know or myself.

    Carlo, your string of comments pretty much defines bad faith.

    • http://thelonglayover.blogspot.com Carlo

      Buster, I would love if you could paraphrase that for me. I’m not sure what I just read, but I think you are saying my comments are racist? I could totally have misread that though.

      To reiterate, I’m not disputing anything that you are saying, and am not disputing the fact that embassies serve warnings. On the contrary, I said maybe Russia really is racist, but I just couldn’t draw that conclusion by what you’ve written above. It’s a sweeping statement and I think a lot of countries can fall into the same category.

      We’re looking at one side and not taking everything into context, I don’t feel. I would like to compare violent acts against people of colour and violent acts against white Russians. Further, how is it determined that an attack is racist? I don’t think the fact that the victim was of coulour is enough to deem it racist.

      I don’t think I’m being naive here or blinding myself to reality, I’m trying to understand the issue in a larger context. Like with my Melbourne example, India has served severe warnings to its citizens about coming here because of recent violence against Indians. I am not convinced this is necessarily true. The relatively few violent acts against Indians are blown way out of proportion due to the media. Maybe a couple of them have been blatantly racist (the perpetrator saying racist comments) but most haven’t been determined, other than the fact that they were Indian. And no one talks about the violence that occurs on a regular basis against white Australians.

  • http://moscowthroughbrowneyes.blogspot.com Buster

    Carlo,

    I think the entry my previous comment linked to was fairly explicit:

    [Bad faith] is a denial of human reality, an effort to evade freedom, a flight from responsibility, a choice against choice, an assertion of being the only point of view on the world, an assertion of being the world, an effort to deny having a point of view, a flight from displeasing truths to pleasing falsehoods, a form of misanthropy, an act of believing what one does not believe, a form of spirit of seriousness, sincerity, an effort to disarm evidence, (a Gordon innovation) a form of sedimented or institutional version of all of these, and (another Gordon innovation) a flight from and war against social reality.

    How does this apply to your string of comments?

    Your reply to Lola indicates that you think that people of color are projecting the problem of their experienced racism: “I also wonder to what extent this is played out in our own minds? Like being very conscious that we have different coloured skin, that we stand out more. Do we project that into our experience and make it a reality?” Implicit in your argument is the rejection of racial consciousness in a world in which racism is a social reality. (See “an assertion of being the only point of view on the world, an assertion of being the world, an effort to deny having a point of view” above.) Moreover, this is just condescending.

    In a separate comment you noted, “I hope that a single article and a few people’s experience isn’t enough to taint an entire country and brand “Russia” as racist. Things like this tend to get blown out of proportion. The fact that there were some Chinese or Vietnamese or whatever attacked doesn’t necessarily mean the attacks were racially motivated.” Now, had you been truly interested, you could have followed some of the links in this article, or on my blog, to discover a wealth of information on the well-documented problem of ethnic violence in Russia. You also erroneously portray the article as branding the entire country of Russia as racist (whatever that may mean?!), when in point of fact, I took the trouble to explicitly make it clear that was not the intent of the article; rather, I indicated that Russia has a real problem with ethnic violence (a separate and demonstrable claim). Again, on my other blog, I’ve written about this at length, and were you to have approached your question in good faith, you might have looked at that writing (or others’), rather than approached this post with denialism. See “a flight from displeasing truths to pleasing falsehoods” and “an effort to disarm evidence.”

    (If you or others are interested, try the articles produced by this simple search: http://moscowthroughbrowneyes.blogspot.com/search/label/violence )

    Then you extrapolate from nowhere: “Besides, the author’s experience is limited to Moscow, which is hardly “Russia”, it being the largest country in the world.” It’s true that I haven’t been everywhere in Russia. I have spent significant time in Moscow, the ring cities, Petersburg, and Kazan, as well as shorter trips to Ukraine, including Kiev and Odessa. I have also read up on the problems migrants face all over Russia. And met and talked with folks from across the country.

    From the same comment: “This is what readers have to understand. This is one person’s anecdote.” Actually, this post wasn’t an anecdote. It was a personal reflection with links to many sources. Some of these were lost when the Matador editors took out the links to material in Russian, but if you refer to the original variant on my blog, you can find more documentation.

    Then there’s the ever-buzzing bee in your bonnet about the media and violence against Indians in Melbourne. Even if I conceded that such reporting is inaccurate, it does nothing to discount accounts of hate crimes in Moscow. This analogy smacks of a false sincerity and seriousness, while basically just distracting one from thinking about the claims at hand. (See above, again.)

    More funny stuff: “To be clear, I’m not attacking the validity of this article, but just wanted to urge readers to weigh the facts before making conclusions.” An argument in good faith might have presented readers with these facts to help them make some conclusions.

    Then, after all your motions about not relying on anecdotal evidence, there’s this: “Thank you for your comments Nadya and Emily, and for confirming what I suspected to be true.” Well, with those anecdotes in, suddenly everything is resolved? Rich.

    I know that you want me to over-simplify and just call you racist (by which I will assume you mean prejudiced) so you can ignore me, or “clear” you of the charge of “racism” so you can rest easy. But things are a little more complicated, I’m afraid. My understanding is that racism is a system. And the type of bad faith exhibited by your comments sustains that system, regardless of whether or not it is fueled by racial prejudice or animosity. Its lineage is clear from the discounting of black men and women’s legal and historic testimonies under slavery to the more recent hi-jinks with Sergeant Crowley. This bad faith allows folks to ignore the real continuing problem of racism in this world under the cover of “serious questions.”

    Think it over.

    • http://thelonglayover.blogspot.com Carlo

      Buster,

      I appreciate you taking the time to respond so thoroughly. You are right in the fact that I did not follow your links to get more information. Perhaps this was premature on my part, but on the other hand, not many readers will but will still come to the same conclusion as a couple of commenters here (“I am never going to Russia after reading this”).

      As I thought this over, I realized my other comments might be misconstrued, which they were. My reply to Lola wasn’t accusing her or anyone of colour of projecting their internal beliefs on the outside world, it was just a question if it’s possible that we do, hence the “I wonder…”. It has been much discussed, especially here at Matador, about how travelers tend to have experiences that reflect their own inner thought processes. For example, two people visiting the same place, one with a positive attitude, one with a negative attitude, will have very different experiences. One might say what a horrible place it is while the other will have only good things to say. This is all I meant by this comment – is it possible that we project our thoughts about being different? As Tatiana mentioned, she looks at Afro American hairdos because she is fascinated by it and thinks it’s beautiful. Might the subject of her staring perceive it as racism? Very possibly, maybe likely.

      “Thank you for your comments Nadya and Emily, and for confirming what I suspected to be true. ” – I freely admit this was a poor choice of words. What I meant was thanks for confirming my own perceptions and experiences about the issue. By no means is this the truth.

      The idea of using the Indian issue in Melbourne was to provide an example (where I have some closer experience) where the facts don’t support the claims and media hype.

      I may have oversimplified. I probably responded a bit hastily. And clearly there is much I don’t understand myself. My real intent was to respond to those commenters who read this, that proclaim they will never travel to Russia after reading this. I only wanted to point out that more needs to be looked at before deciding something as drastic as that.

      Tatiana mentioned that it’s different for people to live there (like yourself), who will experience life as a Russian and all those problems that come with it, and those who travel there (like me). Again, I can only go on my own experience of traveling there and not seeing/hearing racist acts myself.

      I’m not looking for any kind of exoneration and I don’t want to ignore you. In fact, I can learn a lot from you. I question things, that’s what I do. In the mean time, I will do as you suggested and think on it. And also check out some of your links.

      Carlo

  • http://www.taniastraveldiary.blogspot.com/ Tatiana Efremova

    I am Russian, but I live in Australia since March 1995 and regard this country as my home. I agree with Carlos (about Indians in Melbourne). I have an Indian friend in Melbourne, he lives there for many years (15 maybe?) and he loves the city and I have never heard (or I do not recall) him complaining about anti-Indian incidents.
    Since I came to Australia and suddenly became an ethnic minority I experienced quite a few unpleasant situations which can be classified as racism. Especially in the beginning when my English and knowledge of local circumstances were very poor. In no way it makes Austalia a racist country. A few idiots we meet do not make the whole nation, racists neither. The same applies to Russia.
    I lived in China for a substantial period of time and I observed a real racism over there. A person of African visual appearance could be rejected on arrival to the school even if his/her job application were accepted prior via mail/e-mail. Private schools do not want to have black ESL teachers because their customers do not want them. I know it from the people involved in similar stories, and there were quite a few stories like this in 1,5 year in China. I call it a real racism. It would not happen in Russia.
    I am not saying that there is no racism in Russia. Since Gorbachev things deteriorated so rapidly that Russia stopped being a safe place, not only for foreigners, but for everybody. As it was mentioned earlier – economical reasons prevail. Racism in Russia is predominantly local, based on the local financial and criminal situation. People from the Caucasian areas in no way provoke problems from people of Mediterranean appearance as it was suggested. Only an absolute simpleton won’t understand phonetic differences between Georgian/ Azerbaidjanian and Italian/Spanish. Caucasian nationalities fill Russian markets – and various criminal issues exist around those market. Chinese vendors also fill the same markets and there are multiple legal and financial issues liked to it as well. I am not trying to justify violence which breaks out frequently due to those problems, but it has little to do with racism as a philosophy but mostly with the weak government which cannot reinforce its own laws, with the corrupted police etc. Some paces are worse than others. From my observations in 2007 and just recently in 2009 – Sankt Peterburg is a much more criminal place than Moscow, but I would not call Moscow a safe city either. There are more safe places but foreigners tend to cloister in the 2 capitals mostly. If you go as a tourist for a short trip – it is quite safe (the worst what can happen you will be robbed by a pick pocket). If you go for a year and want to live on your own – you are facing the same dangers as all Russian citizens, and the same advantages. You will meet many nice people – and not only among foreigners. There are many friendly and intelligent Russians (and people of all nationalities native to Russia) as well.
    What about people staring at Africans and whispering etc… Well, black people really stand out in Russia. It cannot be helped. When I arrived to my first job in China in a small town of Yima in Henan province I was, probably, the first white person ever entering that area. My first shopping outing was a total fiasco: I could not reach the shelves in the shop – people stood around me like a wall, touching my hands and face, checking on my naturally red hair, discussing me openly. I was not upset. Not if I liked it too much, but I understood that they saw something so different. Well, I accepted a role of a zebra in a zoo. It came as a part of my job package.
    When we see something very unusual we cannot help ourselves. We stare. When i am in the USa I stare at Afro American women with their incredible hair-dos. I cannot help myself: they are so intricate, so creative, so complex – I adore them. Maybe some of those women felt offended or intimidated by me (for which I apologise) but it is not a negative stare.
    There is a Russian proverb: don’t go to a forest if you are afraid of a wolf. Russia is no more dangerous than Argentina (I just returned from Latin America) or Thailand. But every forest has at least one wolf…

  • Cassie

    @Buster–actually, if you read the tone of Carlos’ comments vs. the unbelievably condescending and pretentious tone of yours you’ll see that Carlos actually was trying to understand the situation, or at least offer his perspective. The fact that you cite a paragraph of academic theory straight out of a grad school seminar and then sniff about how “obvious” it is really illustrates how in touch you are with people’s attempts to understand these issues.

    This is why I find PhD’s so obnoxious at times–I know this is a separate issue, but it is so clearly demonstrated here. Are you not attempting with your dissertation, to some degree, to study the ways people think about racism? I know that’s an extremely, insultingly simplified version of your dissertation and I’m sure you could spend several paragraphs debunking the concepts of “racism” and “prejudice” but for just a second, remember that you’re not in a seminar at Yale. “A choice against choice?” “A flight from displeasing truths to pleasing falsehoods?” Actually, this is far from “explicit.” This sounds like something, frankly, out of a Cold War propaganda pamphlet from the 1950′s, and the fact that you use it with such lofty condescension is, in my opinion, quite sad. Are you really that far removed, or, even worse, do you consider yourself that far removed, from the way people not currently getting their PhD’s in humanities discuss these issues?

    I’m sure his responses dovetail to some degree, perhaps even perfectly, with what you are studying. But I think, if you’re going to do a PhD in this area and write your dissertation about such issues, than maybe, instead of condescending and dropping snide comments like “rich” and “more funny stuff” and “the bee in your bonnet” you could make an effort in good faith (to borrow from the preferred terminology here) to illustrate your point by actually explaining, with some patience and perhaps even a little empathy, why the situation of Indians in Australia is unrelated to that of people of color in Russia (instead of scoffing that it “smacks of false sincerity”) and why you find it so absurd that someone would make a comment like “Russia is racist.” The fact that you have to say, dripping with incredulity, “whatever that may mean” literally makes me shudder. Are you that out of touch?

    It makes me sad that someone who apparently devotes a large chunk of his life to these issues finds himself so theoretically and intellectually above the people who are making earnest–if, perhaps, erroneous or misguided–attempts to understand them.

    • http://thelonglayover.blogspot.com Carlo

      Cassie, thanks for your supportive comments.

      Another thing that as a bit vague in the article is the distinction between traveling and living there. First, the title: Should People of Color Go To Russia? This doesn’t indicate either way.

      In the opening, Buster says “On the other hand, I simply don’t know if I can, in good conscience, advise people of Asian or African descent to travel to Russia in light of the continuing problem of racist violence.” So it seems it’s about merely traveling to/in Russia.

      But near the end of the article he says “But can I responsibly tell a young person of color (who could presumably choose to travel to any country in the world) that it’s advisable to sign up for a year in Russia? Sadly, I just don’t think so.” So here it’s changed from traveling to living in Russia.

      I think it’s an important distinction to make if people are going to be basing their decision on visiting or living in Russia on this. If this was solely about living in Russia I never would have said a thing because I have no experience with that. But I do have a bit of experience traveling there.

      • Kate

        Well, in some ways I agree with you. But I have to say that these progressive modes of thoughts and the dogmatic stick-to-it-iveness that goes with are really the only way to get progressive thinking down to the rest of us that don’t think so hard about these things.

        And Buster may not be spelling it out for you, but it seems to me very generous that he’s taken the time so you can arm yourself with the theory – if you’re interested.

        To me it makes sense because I am not a buff or anything, but I read some anti-racist forums and things and it’s important to me. I have grown a lot by saying the wrong thing and getting smacked down and feeling embarrassed and then reading and trying to play catch up and struggling to understand. For me (white) I have to acknowledge that turning a blind eye to ugly thinking in myself, though it’s more comfortable – is part of the problem and therefore I work to understand my inherent racism though it’s always a step ahead of me, it seems.

        And in a way if you believe the supposition that a component of society IS institutionalized racism, we’ve all got a lot of thinking to do. Of color or no.

        It is the minimizing of the problem that you were doing that was offensive – and it really was. And Buster was doing you a favor by pointing it out to you. His points were well considered and yours were anecdotal and wishful thinking in stark contrast to his specific examples. He was very clear and I feel that he was in the right. I imagine that if you do some more thinking on it and reading the theory that he presented links to in his responses, you might come to some similar conclusions about your own acceptance of institutionalized racism, as uncomfortable as that might be.

        A lot of this theory seems subjective and is easy to rationalize against, especially as it makes us uncomfortable. And in a way you might say that arguing against PoC going to Russia is racist as it limits PoC, but it also presents a set of problems – is there a problem? How grave is it? How dangerous is it really? And if it is indeed dangerous, it is really more racist to minimize it and not discuss it seriously with empathy for those in harm’s way.

        Let’s not get into arguments about, “is it a trip or are they going to live there,” and making the argument smaller and smaller as you try to cover your ass and avoid seeing the points Buster was making. Just read the points he is trying to make. Think about them. See how they play as societal trends rather than a personal attack against you. They are valid and heartbreaking and you are playing along. Maybe you will see that and maybe you won’t. It seems like your busy and have other things to think about without getting obsessed by race theory.

        To me Cassie is treading on dangerous territory as she warns him of his tone and bordering on calling him uppity (believe me – this is a big deal). A lot of people of color are angry and rightfully so at the shit the world dished up day after day. While some might argue that dwelling on it is not helpful, I agree when the argument is presented that we must work to eradicate societal racism when we see it exists.

        • http://thelonglayover.blogspot.com Carlo

          Hey Kate, thanks for your thoughts on this. If I seem to be mimimalizing the problem of racism, then you can be assured it is unintentional. I again stress that I am only trying to get to the truth of the question at hand in the article “should people of color go to Russia?”.

          I’ve since read the links in this article and they are tragic stories (although I haven’t had the chance to read much of Buster’s blog yet). Clearly many foreign students have been the victims of hate crimes/racism, there is no doubt about that. It makes my blood boil to hear about all of this. On the face of it, it is easy to argue that people of color should NOT go to Russia. But, me being me, I am curious about the other side(s) of it. If it’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s to question EVERYTHING (this is in contrast to denial).

          I intend to look more into this. In the end, I may fully agree with this. It’s more interesting to me because I have traveled through Russia as a person of color. And I plan on going back one day.

          Lastly, I am not trying to detract from the issue by bringing up the difference between living there and traveling there, because I think that is a BIG part of the question. If this discussion has gotten sidetracked by the intention of the article so much that it’s been lost, well, what can I say? I think the folks who come here to read this want to know “is it safe for me to travel/live in Russia?”.

          From what I’ve read here and from what I’ve personally experienced, the answer to those two questions appears to be different. Maybe it’s safe as anywhere else in the world to travel, but maybe it’s very dangerous to live there as a colored person.

  • http://www.lolaakinmade.com Lola

    Hey Carlo

    I totally hear where you’re coming. I’ve actually written about traveling with an open mind for various travel resources, and as a fellow traveler and photojournalist, I judge events and actions individually.

    There are some actions that, no matter how you slice, dice, or analyze it (i.e. being spat on, called names, served last when you were clearly first in line, teased, taunted with cars, etc), that really can’t be chucked up to just someone being an asshole.

    And yet, I still judge those acts individually and I ignore them. I have to.

    One can choose how one travels – with an open, positive attitude or a negative, paranoid one.

    I also understand your point about possibly projecting because we’re conscious of skin color. But this can of ‘projection’, you necessarily don’t want to open.

    I tell you, I get pulled aside every (yes!), every single time I fly by Immigration & Customs – voraciously checking my passport and things because (a) I fly too much and (b) I must be trafficking because of that. The agents have said that to my face too.

    Even when I travel with my fiancee who is Swedish, I get pulled aside. It’s ridiculous, actually.

    Bottom line is, I understand your points 100% and they are valid. When comparing the violence, you have to resort to percentages because the number of minorities compared to locals is usually quite disparate.

    The world is an unfair place. You choose how you navigate it.

    • http://thelonglayover.blogspot.com Carlo

      Thanks Lola. I admit, the “projecting” thing was maybe a bit of a reach, but that’s just me, always trying to look at things from different angles. I thought it was worth throwing out there, but you’re right, probably a can I don’t want to open.

      I used to always get stopped at customs for “random” checks. If they were random, I must have been the luckiest guy! Shoulda played the lottery. But lately I haven’t noticed this nearly as much.

  • F.Adekunle Adedina

    Discussing racism is a dicey affair because you can only feel it if you have been at its receiving end.Being a person of colour in a white dominated society and sometimes in your dealings with Asians may make you feel very bad. What one needs to understand however is that there are good and not so good people that you meet. The main problem is with those who are subtle in their racism.The overt ones you can ignore but it is the subtle treatment that cuts to the bone.
    In my sojourn in Western Australia for studies I have met some wonderful Australians and Asians, so also have I met those that makes my existence in the city a big problem. One way I have tried to deal with it is to realise that the world is not fair and that sometimes one needs to accept the fact that as a person of colour you are like a curio.

  • http://priyank.com/travel/ Priyank

    Hey!

    It was interesting to read this post. I am an Indian guy who visited Russia last fall for 3 weeks. I backpacked all over the place as much as I could and thankfully I had absolutely no problems.

    You do get stared at by almost everyone because you have black hair and brown skin but that’s what would happen to (say) a white guy if he were to walk in Mumbai. I don’t know if its racism, or merely a curiosity.

    I found common Russian people extremely helpful and patient while I struggled to explain them in my baby Russian that I wanted some food without beef but chicken was okay. When I went to NYC, I found a Russian guy fumbling with his English at a coffee place and the Batista simply screamed at him. I never had such a moment, be it while buying train tickets, or buying food.

    I am writing detailed travelogue of my trip to Russia, in case someone is interested, the link is here: http://priyank.com/travel/russia-travelog-stories/ I promise its good.

    Thanks for examining this topic!
    cheers, Priyank

  • Val

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8230158.stm

    This was just released on the BBC today. If it means preserving my safety, I, as a Black woman, will go with knee-jerking “overreaction” every time. No Russia for me.

  • HyderabadChick

    Thank you for saying that, Val!!

    Safety or not, I’m with you!

    Like I’m taking something away from anyone by saying I will not go somewhere because I believe a report told by a fellow traveler…

  • longdeshizi

    The linked article is:
    “Africans ‘under siege’ in Moscow

    Many African students in Moscow are afraid to go outside
    Nearly 60% of black and African people living in Russia’s capital Moscow have been physically assaulted in racially motivated attacks, says a new study.”

    60%.

    Yet blacks and other people are exagerating the danger.

    I think it is very important for people of color to not listen to the apologists among us who want to excuse the inexcusible because it rattles their mental chains.

    It’s a no-brainer for a person of color, particularly african to stay the heck out of Russia. Hopefully the facts of the situation, not some person’s anecdotes will win out in people’s minds, and we will save a few people of color from injury and death.

  • Pam

    I have just finished reading through this thread and find the banter and conversation quite refreshing..something we don’t find on cable TV these days!

    Before I read this article (by Buster), I had already heard rumblings of and too many horrifying stories about racist attacks on people of color in Russia (large cities). It is very difficult to explain to someone what ‘racism’ does to the psyche of a person who is an easy target of ‘hate’ just because of the color of their skin. I don’t wake up in the morning nor walk around the city, constantly worried or concerned about the fact that I’m a Black woman. Probably similar in the way someone feels/thinks who has blue eyes.. it’s a fact and that’s all it is.

    But if you were to be ostracized, brandished and possibly even attacked because of the color of your eyes, what would you do? how do you think you would feel?

    It’s not that I’m not interested in Russia and all it has to offer any traveler, whether you visit or live there…but as Buster stated, ‘you shouldn’t have to fear for your life everyday’. That is the part of racism that no one can understand unless you have lived and experienced that type of hatred. And it is something that as a person of color, as a woman, I must weigh against my desire to travel to Russia.

    I’ve had several of my Russian (and Polish) students and friends tell me that I ‘should not’ visit Russia nor Poland just for the simple fact that I ‘could possibly run into some problems’. This came from people from these countries, who know how things are, and more than likely know how their friends and family back home would look at and treat me. I don’t need much more coaxing or reasons…you don’t have to beat me over the head to get my attention – I get it!

    It wasn’t always this way…after college, I spent two years traveling and living throughout Europe with no issues or problems…now this could have been due to my naivety or my general joie de vivre about exploring the world on my own as a young 20-something. But in 2009, there are more warnings and hazards that one must at least be aware of before you randomly or foolishly set off on your travels. And for people of color, it would be absolutely, downright ‘stupid’ to think that we could go abroad and not encounter some form of racism (like the expats who were able to and flocked over to Europe in the ’20′s and 30′s…)

    To be isolated and far away from home is daunting enough…to be a marked target of some unknown possible assailant, whose language you might not speak or understand as well as a foreigner with no legal rights, you have to ask yourself, is this what i want from what is suppose to be a nice vacation or life experience.

    I just moved from the Middle East (UAE) where most foreign women are looked upon as prostitutes and/or non-persons (2nd class or below). It was a very lonely existence and not one I could or would recommend to any person of color.

    For me, it all comes down to the quality of life…and if I have to live under a cloud of fear, be it pre-conceived or in my face, I’d rather rather not waste my time nor hard earned money on or in a country that doesn’t really want me there.

    So I’m here to say that Buster and his one article did not change my decision nor sway me to consider ‘the other side of the coin’. I’m NOT GOING TO RUSSIA! To me, 90% of a good trip abroad is what you get through your connections with the natives…not touring all of the churches, mosques and countless museums. I’m going where I know the I can live, love and laugh and not hide in fear.

    That is not my definition of living.

    Just my 2 cents:-)

  • http://jondayres.blogspot.com/ Jon Ayres

    As an American who has been living in Moscow for the last six years, I have to disagree with a lot of this. You will find racists in every country and of every race and though Moscow and St. Petersburg has its share of racists, they are few. This problem is way overblown and in some cases, does not even happen.

    I see people of all races and nationalities in Moscow every day, last winter I saw a black man with his son walking in the forest next to the park next to my apartment. They were alone, nobody with them, if there are so many skinheads here looking to scalp minorities, that man was foolish to risk not only his life, but his son’s life in such a dangerous place all alone in a nature preserve. As a matter of fact a couple of years ago over 60 Russians were killed in this forest by a madman. Plain and simple fact was, this man and his sone were at no more arisk than a Russian would be.

    I see African students working out in front of metro stations at all hours, nobody is bothering them. There are now a large number of Indians here, along with Asians and it is rare that there are any problems here now. I would be lying if I said minorities are completely safe, but anybody has to watch out what is going on around them and who is around them. If you look like you have money and your heard speaking English, you can very well bet that you are at more risk.

    If you look at my blog, I have written an article about this issue always getting blown out of proportion. I also have a link to a posting made by an African American who is married to a Russian who posted his experiences on the WayToRussia forum. Generally Africans and African Americans are well treated and respected by Russians, I see African students and Russians skating in VDNKh, hoding hands as they walk down main street and I can show you photos because I photograph street scenes. One of the Russian oil billionaires married the African American model Naomi Campbell not long ago. So this saying Russians are racist just is not true.

  • HyderabadChick

    It always fascinates me to hear/ read from one who is no position to have the experience make the claim that “the issue is blown out of proportion”.

    ??? What’s the “right” proportion and who decides?

    This man described his experience and suggested that, if asked, he would NOT recommend Russia as a travel choice for people of color. He did not say picket Russia, no suggestions for instituting sanctions against Russia, no suggestions of retaliation in the face of violence. “I” will not recommend it – is what he said.

    That’s “way out of proportion”??? Really???

    Because a white resident or traveller ‘sees’ a handful of blacks who ‘have no problems’ in Russia?? So apparently, until it happens before your eyes – I, as a dark-skinned black woman, am ‘overreacting’ by removing this country from my list of destinations?

    I’m noting that, those with the biggest complaints regarding this author’s story are people who are NOT THEMSELVES BLACK. It’s not happening to you but you have the best gauge about the scope of the situation?
    This attitude reminds of the sites where readers can suppress entries they disagree with/ disapprove of.

    I’ve never been to Russia but I will stand right by Buster’s comments. I’m sorry he had those experiences and I choose to be wary of this country where they happened.

    The denials by other Russians and other white or ‘people of color’ who are themselves pale skinned are comments I have decided to take with a big spoon of salt. I can’t say that the Russians are lying, nor do I deny the person truth of posters like Mr. Carlo. Seems that those are THEIR personal truths. What’s that got to do with Buster??? Or with me? Buster’s comments resonate a lot more with me – physically, I am likely to be viewed as he was.

    The other side is that it’s considered human for people to judge based on what they see. Esp. outside the United States. In the US, there have been all kinds of concerted efforts to literally train people to ‘look beyond the surface’. It starts when we’re small and in school – it continues in the workplace when we’re adults. In some cases, even churches join in and attempt to teach this.
    That’s not true in other countries – they may have the sayings but not the same level of effort to counter nature. The natural tendency to judge on appearance runs unchecked outside the US.

    If I am to accept that on some levels color consciousness and racial prejudice are ‘only human’, then by exactly the same token, I have zero reasons to dismiss Buster’s claims nor to believe that they’re ‘overblown’.

    The ways that white peoples view black people is interesting – and I think I’ll take that view for what it’s worth. Kinda like seeing Naomi Campbell as “African-American”.

  • longdeshizi

    It’s fascinating that the fairer-skinned commenters on this thread believe that their words have any weight on this issue. It’s not your skins at stake; you can afford to have a rose-colored view of the subject. That gives you zero credibility to someone who actually bears risk in this area.

  • Jon Ayres

    HyderabadChick,
    Just because I’m white doesn’t mean I do not know a little of what’s going on here as far as non white experiences go. I work with many Asians and Africans here, so I’m pretty aware of what their experiences and life is like here. I come from the southern US and have many African American friends, so I would recommend that you take a good look at yourself first instead making such as-sine statements. Forgive me for trying to help somebody to see an interesting part of the world, I’ll just keep my mouth shut from now own.

  • HyderabadChick

    John Ayres,

    My response was direct in general to those “not living in the skin” but who insist on telling those of us who are, how WE should feel.

    To speak or not is a right you’ll always have. I never suggested you shouldn’t. I responded to specific point of view: the belief that white and fair-skinned people can heavily weigh on by saying: “oh, but I have PLENTY of black friends and I’ve NEVER seen this happen – therefore those of you who are dark are making a TOO BIG a deal out of this.”

    You know a little and you’re pretty aware, are you? Why congratulations, Sir. My – how did you put it? oh, yes My “asinine statements” now stand corrected.
    Now, that you say you’re pretty aware of what goes on with the Blacks and Asians who work in Russia, it has to be that the following from my original post have been proven wrong:

    - When the subject is racism towards blacks, I choose to take denials from whites and those who are fair-skinned with a big spoon of salt.
    - I stand by Buster’s reports regarding his experiences as well as his right to express those views to OTHERs who look like him.
    - Posters who write of their personal experiences are describing THEIR personal truths. And when this comes from fair and white people – it has NOTHING to do with me. (I know John – how could that possibly be true?)
    - In the US there have been efforts in school and workplaces to train people out of what is actually a natural human reaction – (Another asinine statement, right ,John? That’s never happened in the US.)

    Surely it was “asinine” of me to ask “Who gets to decide what’s the right proportion?”

    Also asinine was my pointing out that the only re-action the author suggested was that he would caution dark people against visiting – Oh no! Would not suggest it? How dare that man?! Calm down and get a grip, Buster!

    Oh, and thanks for your ‘help’, Sir.

  • Jon Ayres

    The problem is you already had your mind made up and to me that is as-sine. I can give several blog pages of African Americans living and working in Russia and not a single one has ever had any problems here. I work with students from Africa who attend one of the universities here and most never have any problems, except with their own government. The BBC blows this racist thing all out of portion to get attention off the racist attacks that go on in the UK. I never said there was no racism here, there is in every country because it exists sadly every where in the world. But if you know where to go and where not to go, you’ll never have any problems.

    I see Africans every where here working and playing. Last winter in the forest next to my apartment, I saw an African man walking with his young son, according to some here, he must have been a fool to take his son out in a forest for a walk and to play in the snow with so many racists running around here. Often I see Africans waiting at bus stops for buses at midnight and I see African young men with the Russian girlfriends roller skating in the VDNKh exhibition park, if there are so many racists here beating and killing foreigners, these people must have no common sense at all. What I consider as-sine is many African Americans are on this race trip, because of some bull they see on the BBC, they become afraid and think everybody is racist and that just is not true. They let some bull on the BBC frighten them and scare them away from seeing a wonderful and interesting part of the world. If the truth be known, there most likely are more black racists than there ever will be white racists. But to make your mind up because of some idiotic BBC propaganda is as-sine and and to tell me, an American who comes from the state of Georgia and has lived in Moscow for six years that I do not know what is what is also as-sine. But I have blog links on my blog of African Americans who are living and working here, I have worked with African American teachers here and I work every day with students from Africa, so you can believe what ever in hell you choose to believe, I really could care less. I’ve always tried to help people interested in coming here and I did work with one African American and he was one of the most popular teachers here, everybody loved him and wanted him to be their teacher. But I only tried to set the record straight and if your insulted, I’m sorry, but I tell it like it is.

    • http://matadornights.com Kate

      What is as-sine? Secondly, you are the one that is upset (as evinced by your poor spelling and grammar) and constructing an argument based not on any statistic, but rather your personal anecdotal evidence of seeing “Africans working and playing.”

      Thirdly, this article was written well before any BBC article if you care to click the original link where it was published on Buster’s blog.

      Certainly , Hyderbad Chick does not need me to leap to her defense and I hope we hear from her again here. You seem to suffer from fear of white guilt and I would like to point out to you that you should shut your mouth and listen instead of telling People of Color how they should be feeling or behaving. You are part of the problem (whether you have plenty of black friends or not) when you minimize the point of view of People of Color when you dismiss it with the point of view you hold and which you so clearly value above that of those for whom this article is more relevant. Give it up. This isn’t about you.

    • Kenneth Spaulding

      ASSANINE

  • HyderabadChick

    All kinds of people have personal experiences and stories. But Mr. Ayres comes from Georgia and has black colleagues and black students – ergo when Mr. Ayres reports – Man, that is the LAST WORD. NOW, the record’s been set straight.

    I have no clue what BBC report you refer to. I’d certainly made up my mind at the time of your posting – that’s true.

    But before then, how many reports had I read about Russia? How many people had I asked of their visits to Russia?

    How come your “making up your mind” about my reaction isn’t asinine – or do you know the answers to the questions above? Maybe to you those questions and answers don’t matter?

    The Russians themselves have said: “If you can’t stand the heat – stay out.” Buster’s just saying “It’s hot here.” And I’m agreeing with BOTH.

    Thanks for the enlightenment, Sir – OF COURSE there are more black than white racists. Evidence being, for example, when any black person dares to suggest – “umm… how about we skip this place on our tour”. Provocative statement that – I can see why posters would have to vehemently contradict THAT decision.
    If ‘truth be known’ about black racists – aren’t we doing the Russians a favor by staying out?

    And OF COURSE I’m on a ‘race trip’ when I find the words “blown out of proportion” dismissive. It’s because I’m on a ‘race trip’ that to me those words say “Here’s how YOU should see YOUR experience” and ‘Believing my prism is more accurate and “less asinine” than believing Buster’s view.’

    My “race trip” means I have no problem erring as to the extent of black/dark skinned people’s safety issues in Russia. I’ll constantly search for and listen to reports of black travelers. Every trip itinerary will be based on those reports.

    Like anyone’s losing face, when I, a black female, give credence to Buster’s first person account. Because if the 20 out of 100 or so black people who read this account decide to skip a visit to Russia – well, that race trip’s gotta be stopped!

    Thanks for permission to believe “whatever in the h* ” I choose.

  • RLC123

    It was extremely interesting to read all of the input here. I got a lot of value out of the discussion. It is especially interesting a black male in similar size and profile to Buster (e.g. 6’5″ or 2m tall and…a larger body frame) who is really thinking about travelling to Russia.

    I have had the luxury to have a consulting job that has required me to stay (usually a month or two at a time) in over 45 countries. I can only do what Buster has done, offer my perspective. I will say that there are some countries where I really feel that I was able to travel and be worry-free and there were other countries where I felt like there was a negative attitude towards foreigners. And inter-mixed into all of this was places where one could be the “right” or “wrong” kind of foreigner. So to me it is grey no matter where you go.

    Personally, despite what I read here and through the links to the other sites, I am looking forward to visiting Russia and have decided that I will go. Not because I discount Buster’s perspective or weight the views of Carlo et al any more. Rather, I think the experience is worth whatever risks there may be.

    Buster has clearly reviewed data and analysis and come up with an assessment…an assessment that has the value-add of personal experience.

    I do have to say that I see Carlo’s perspective. Now having sorted through that same data and information, Carlo might have come up with a different assessment. It makes neither Carlo or Buster right or wrong. If either of the personal views ultimately results in a decision being made which they later regret, then they alone bear the consequences.

    And we also have to respect that NOT being something doesn’t mean that someone is unqualified to understand. I won’t speak for Jon on all points (he seems a capable person of defending his own views and I had differing opinions at times), but what I took away as one of the themes in his comments is that some things are a shared event or experience. My mother (from the US south), was together with a white many in the 60s and later married him in the 70s. My stepfather certainly has experienced the consequences of racism as acutely as my mom or I have, even if he is not a person of color.

    As people of color, we are hardly minorities in the meta sense…what we are really talking about is physical location and discrimination…whether it is based on something you are, something you believe in, or something you do. And everyone, unfortunately, has the shared experience of that.

    Anyway, I came up with a different assessment based on my personal experiences not of living in Russia, but extrapolations of all of the different cities I have done assignments in. Sure none of those other countries were Russia. But when I read the data in the links provides, I came away with the feeling that Russia hews to the average curve of most other places with a similar majority population profiles. In the end, I’ve decided that I would take all of the additional precautions that I take in any other city (papers in order and a copy of them on my person, my itinerary sent by e-mail to family and closest friends, avoid places in Russia that I would avoid at either of my homes in the US or Europe, understand that at one point in time, I represent one more more groups, and I have an opportunity to positively impact perceptions as well as learn).

    Sorry for the long comment.

  • Kallen

    One thing that I hate is when black people are called people of color. What the f***?

    White people have color, so do Asians, Hispanics and Indians. If whites, asians, and hispanics did not have color, then they would be invisible. If anything, call them by their proper race, blacks or Africans.

    Good article though.

    • Stephanie

      You do realize that “People of Color” refers to Latinos, Asians, Native Americans, etc. as well as African Americans, right? Just thought you might want to know.

  • Fatima

    Very interesting perspectives and comments. I am a 20 year old woman, French citizen with african origins. I really love travelling! and I have the means for it, but I always have to be careful for I am a woman and for I am black.
    I lately developped an interest on russia, and specifically the language that I found really “powerful” and “fascinating” and of an unusual elegance. I would like to learn russian, but learning a language, primarily aims at being able to speak it, so it will require going to the country and speaking the language. But I what I hear scares me, I am sure not all russians are prejudiced or racist; I lived in Spain and met adorable russians.
    I won’t renounce visiting Russia and learning, but I don’t want to be fearful every single day of my stay.
    dilemma…

  • http://jondayres.blogspot.com/ JD

    I’m not going to argue with those who seem to know more than I do after living here for 7 years, I’ll just say go to the “WaytoRussia” forum and do a search for racism in Russia and you’ll find posts made by people of color who have lived here, also visit my blog and you’ll find a link to the blog of an African American woman who has been living here awhile. Read what they have to say because it is true what they say. This will be all I have to say about this since some here accused me of not knowing anything since I’m not a person of color, as if any people of color know anything about racism, but that’s all another matter, there are many people from Asia, India and Africa living, working and studying in Moscow, I work with some of them, well just look at WaytoRussia and the African American lady’s blog link on my blog and you’ll find the truth. Best of luck
    JD

  • Jason

    <<<<<>>>>>>

    IF YOU ARE A PERSON OF COLOR…..
    AND ARE NOT A DIPLOMAT WITH ARMED ESCORT…..

    DO NOT TRAVEL TO RUSSIA.

    I SHIT YOU NOT. YOU WILL BE RISKING YOUR LIFE.

    NOT WORTH IT.

  • wferreira

    All my friends tell me I am a chicken. I do not that would jeopardize my life voluntarily. I know a plane can fall on my head right now, although I don’t live on any flight route.
    I know I can suffer a heart attack this second, although I exercise and eat healthy.
    And the list goes on.
    But I repeat. I will not put my life in risk just for the sake of it.
    I will not travel to Russia, anywhere, only seeing white people every photo I look at.
    And I refuse to receive any advice from a white person, male, who thinks he knows it all about what it is being black.

    I WILL NOT GO TO RUSSIA IN THIS PRESENT LIFE OF MINE!

    • wferreira

      just fixing my second sentence, lol

      “I don’t do anything that would jeopardize my life voluntarily”.

      Cheers.

  • mike

    let me just starting by saying that we have to look at statistics here and not just at a few people experiences, we all know people who have had great experinces in situations where others had terrible ones but if we are going to make conclusions that racist is being blown out of proportion here just because we know of one person of colour which had a different experience than the others that would just be wrong and please white people stop thinking that you understand us and what we feel cause you dont and will never until to go throough what we do
    iam not saying all russia is racist understand this we are not saying its impossible to have great experiences in russia and the as long as you are a person of colour you will be attacked at any pplace at any time
    we just want to bring awareness that one should be carefull

    i know there is a need for white people to always come with a complete different insight about issues that they dont fully understand and make comments like “ts all up in the mind ” no matter how much you read how much you associate with black people you will never know how and what is to be black and go through the experiences we go through, thanks and mind your own business white people please thats all we ask

  • Stephanie

    Carlo, I see what you’re saying. But this one anecdote is still really helpful to people of color considering visiting Russia. I am currently a college student and am planning to study abroad my senior year. I initially chose Russia because I wanted to go to a country where I could really immerse myself in another language after taking a few years’ worth of classes at my school. I had already taken years of Spanish, so I wanted to try a non-romance language. The only thing keeping me from choosing Arabic is the fact that I didn’t want to study abroad in a country where I might fear for my life. Thank goodness I found this article before I invested the next two years studying Russian only to arrive on the Moscow campus to realize that I might be targeted based on my skin color.

    While you’re certainly correct that Moscow is “hardly ‘Russia,’” many study abroad programs are based in Moscow, including my school’s. (Now I understand why I didn’t see a single black person in any of the pictures from past quarters.) While I’m probably not going to base my decision of whether or not to study abroad in Russia solely on this article, I am certainly glad I found it. While racist assaults may not be “typical,” I don’t see any reason to put myself in unnecessary danger. And for the person who compared Russia to the American South, I’m from the South too, and I know better than to go down to rural areas of the deep south where racism and “dixie” flags abound. I prefer to stay around the much safer suburbs. Why shouldn’t I do the same abroad?

  • adrian

    Wow you guys I am British born black guy who has always had a real interest in Russian history ,its people and its culture I would love to visit

    but whoa! some of your comments frighten me with regards to predudice ther etc Its strange I have traveled to many many countries including Ukraine and have never experianced any real problem

    come on please tell me its not so bad in Russia??

  • Ananias I. Malachi

    I Love Russia, of it self, I wish to visit there, I know Russia, has one Black Reporter in Russia; is there a Black peoples community there?

    I will very much love to know…

  • hc

    This young man from West Africa seems to live there . He might be able to tell you:

    http://www.meetup.com/EnglCommClub/members/11693268/

  • http://d lady escaled

    i will not travel to a coutry that has no human rights or any kind of law against racism ..common its 2010. its time to wake up and be more realistic.

  • Starstruckhaven

    I would like to thank the author for the honesty of this article.
    I am so sick and tired of seeing the same sugar-coated lies and BS stories about “how great Russia is to visit” when we have people being killed and attacked in broad daylight.

    And can we retire kill and bury that stupid line about xenophobia?

    Cause I’m pretty sure you know my skin color and my looks when you got gangs of skinheads in Russia WAITING to attack and try to kill blacks and “foreigners.”
    Know what i’m sayin here?
    You aren’t afraid of me and i’m not such a stranger to you when you’re planning to hurt me because of my color. You KNOW who to look for to attack them.

    “I’m an innocent, curious white person that’s never seen anyone that looks different from me before, so that’s why i attack people in public and try to kill them and i shout racial slurs at them, i don’t mean any harm.” ROFL!!!!!

    I know you guys are not buying this BS, its not xenophobia its pure plain hatred and nastiness.

    “Oh i didn’t mean any harm, i’m a sweet little innocent white person and you’re a big spooky black stranger that scared me! I’ve never seen people like you before so i form groups of neo-nazi’s to attack people that aren’t white in public.”

    “I’m not a bad person, i’m just xenophobic, that’s why my friends and i stalk black people in russia then we form groups to beat them or murder them.”

    This is hatred and a deliberate passionate desire to harm blacks by poor white people who need to blame their problems in life on somebody else.

    Don’t let these blood-hungry drunkard pigs off the hook by claiming their deliberate attacks on non-white people is just “Xenophobia.”
    Its hate and its murder plain and simple.

  • Starstruckhaven

    And the staring, the dirty looks, its not iinnocent, its DELIBERATE hatred.

    When someone stares you down hard and looks at you like that,
    they are doing it to try to make you feel like you are not human and treat you like an exhibition at a zoo. We stare at animals, we stare at paintings in a museum, but when we interact with each other as humans most decent people try to respect one another and they KNOW its rude to stare.

    And the typical excuse “they’ve never seen a black person before” BS.
    True there’s not alot of blacks in russia, but so what?
    This line is enough to explain and excuse why they form groups of neo-nazi’s that go around beating and killing people?

    Russia is on planet earth just like all other countries and people look different all over the world because that’s nature, that’s genetics, that’s life.

    Its not like these people are demi-gods coming from planet venus that didn’t know that there are humans that don’t have pink skin and blue eyes.

    You are either stupid, willfully ignorant or an infant, if you don’t realize that there are people on planet earth that have different skin colors and facial features.

    But you know the excuses will continue, because like all criminals, skinheads always need an excuse to harm others and rationalize their behavior.

  • Charlotte

    I have just returned from a holiday in Egypt and you may wonder why I am talking about Egypt when the topic of conversation on this blog is about Russia and Russians. I am a black british woman, having been born in the UK but I have never experienced the outright racism that I did in Egypt, from Russians holiday makers in the resort of Sharm El Sheikh. It was shocking and extremely overt. I was pointed at, laughed at and had people stoppping to ‘point me out’ to their fellow ignoramus’! I was so taken aback by it that I have just returned and felt the need to read up on race and Russians, I had seen a documentary that clearly highlighted the prejudices that exist in Russia, but to actually have Russians in Africa, a country where most of its indigenous peoples are not of the fair race, displaying the ignorance they did was both ironic and very sad.

    The level of ignorance was outstanding, what baffled me most was why come to Egypt- if they feel this way about ‘foreigners’. To be candid, the hotel staff and guests were a variety of shades, of everything (if you really have to think about it). I read a comment above about people choosing to see these issues, which I’m afraid I totally disagree with. Who chooses to see people acting that way toward them or have pre conceived perceptions that are so extreme? I consider myself to be an open minded individual who is also an experienced traveller, having been fortunate enough to travel to remote parts of Asia, Australia, New Zealand and sadly the most uncomfortable experiences (albeit not all the time but it was very much there) were in Egypt. That said I had a wonderful holiday and would return, but the feeling that you are left with is one that no matter how resillient you are and stand up to the ignorance, leaves you with a feeling of great sadness.

    I will say this: one of the ways to get past the ignorance is to realise that these people are so uneducated about anything other than what they ‘know’ that unwittingly show levels of ignorance that the those in other parts of the world do not understand and find intolerable which was the case where I was staying. I also chose to think these people do not know ‘me’ they judge ‘me’ on the basis of my dark skin. The saddest encounter was a child who one day spent the whole meal staring at me. I am open minded enough to accept that any person child or adult has a certain level of curiosity, however there comes a point that the curiosity becomes rude and unacceptable. I saw a very clear case of the ignorance displayed within a family as soon they all sat staring pointing and talking. We do not need to speak the same language to know when someone is talking about you. It shows that the ignorance is embedded and as we all know children learn from their parents so if a child can behave that way and not be reprimanded which I experienced on more than one occasion then it really is a sad affair.

    To note I did meet one or two very nice Russian people, there is a risk of appearing racist myself by tarring all Russians with the same brush which I believe is unfair. In every race, colour and creed there are a good and bad people and whilst overall my experience of Russians was not positive, I will still keep an open mind about Russia and Russians as I have the perhaps naive outlook that the I would hope in the next decade attitudes improve by the fact that more Russians are travelling to other parts of the world where they will see a rich melting pot of culture and diversity in many countries across the world.

    • Starstruckhaven

      This is a reply to commenter Charlotte.
      I agree with what you say and i’d like to add that you always hear white people go on and on about how black children behave badly, yet these people here have no problem acting like violent white trash and teaching their kids to hate others.

      Its more than odd, its STUPID, that somebody goes to Egypt and then starts showing how they hate or dislike people with brown skin!
      If you don’t like blacks or browns stay out of africa then! WTF?! Ya know?

      Do you see people going to Sweden and then copping an atitude because they don’t like blondes?

      I don’t think these russians are innocent, clearly they know what they are doing when they stare you down and openly harass you, they aren’t innocent angels.

      I am tired of the same old excuses used for russian racists:
      “Its xenophobia, they are just uneducated and they don’t know any better”
      BULL.

      If you can plan attacks on random people that you single out out of a crowd just because they’re not “white”
      then you certainly have enough brainpower to get a life, learn some manners and keep your hatred to yourself.

  • sodam

    i am quite apuled at this! what happened to mother Russia its people have been attaked by these facits or racesis groups someone should stop this hurting the enocent and harassing others beacause of their skin color. thats wrong! wheres the super Russian miltary hero that stood up for whats right. shuch as fighting the racesist guy and making him look wheek! the Russian miltary sholud fix this bad problem and start protecting those who are colored and of anyother ethnicty. it would be good if they did that. i mean come on the Russians aren’t bad people . they faught against the nazis before and suceeded . im prety sure they can stop these skinnhead loosers. if they try hopefuly.i think these hardworking forien students deserve better .come on Russia you guys are letting the bad guys get away with whatever they want and for those racesist “No one is stealing Russian jobs or life style who ever lied to you got the better end of you . plus those students you guys hurt or inocent people embrace Russias heritage not hurt it.

  • abhinav

    From my personal experience families generally prefer going to tourist hot spots with a very safe track record like Switzerland.
    I really feel sorry for the Blacks and others who were the target of these bald junkies. One look at some of the documentaries on Russian skinheads posted on youtube and you see the grim reality of regional political backing! I remember some Russian tourists saying 90% of Russian business is virtually controlled by the notorious Russian mafia that is to say 90% of Russian life! (I’m not trying to malign anyone, just stating the reality)
    All I am to say is that let countries with a relatively dubious record like Australia be. Just as it is not necessary to take drugs, it is really not necessary to experience these countries which can be best described as underbellies. Why go for a vacation or otherwise to these countries when you’ll have to worry about your life constantly. I personally don’t call that a vacation! You really don’t deserve to have an experience with dirt who call themselves skinheads many of whom can be safely described as terrorists. It is one thing to be bombed in Iraq and a totally different thing to die after be stabbed 10 times and kicked after having racial slurs insulted at you merely because of color of the skin you were born with. Getting those stares when you are on a vacation is no doubt bad but so is the choice of your visiting a country like Russia or Australia.

    • Terri

      Thanks! I didn’t know Australia hated Blacks too!! Perhaps, because they’ve seen what a Fiasco hit America has taken from their Black inhabitants and will not tolerate the shit Blacks try to spark and instigate. I mean, look at the violence in Africa or any other country that has a high citizenship of Blacks. American statistics show/prove that 78% of crime in America is committed by Blacks. Of course, that makes me racist because I quote that–so be it! I don’t like violence, hatred and nastiness which is what I have ALWAYS encountered with the Black Community. It’s amazing of how many people Blacks kill in America and other countries, but when it happens to them, everyone is RACIST!! Grow up and learn what “civilized” actually means. Get your education; have some class and professionalism about yourself; respect others; and behave with morals.

  • abhinav

    correction there “trying to say is that”

  • Tatiana

    Well, I am Russian and I live i Australia… Australia has a dubious record? Maybe, due to this “duboius” record so many people “of colour” from “safe” countries like England, Germany, France tend to migrate to Australia after experiencing that famous “democracy” and “safety”?
    No country without a problem, we have some problems, but “some” does not form a “dubious record”… The same “Switzeland” mentioned in the previous post is good only for a tourist, not for a coloured person who decides to move in permanently… (Or Holland, or Belgium, or Luxemburg …. the list is endless) I have relatives in some Western Europen countries (my husband’s family) – I observed true racism under a very polite behaviour. In Australia if you meet an idiot you see it instantly. People tend not to perform for public in here as it happens elsewhere. And those idiots are very few.
    The same applies to Russia. 90 per cent businesses cvontrolled by mafia… spooky stories from the Gorbachev-Eltsin era. It used to be quite scary. But Russia moved ahead long ago. Most small business operate safely nowadays. Big businesses is a different story – we are not discussing Russian big business here, are we?
    What about stares …. I apologies on the behalf of my nation. Good manners is not exactly a Russian quality. But most likely it has no racism in it. Simply lack of manners…

  • abhinav

    I met those Russian tourists last year in 2009. Surely they were not talking about some past era. I think I mentioned “I am not trying to malign any one, just stating the reality”. Any sane person would tend to believe honest tourists than a woman who cannot face some of the grim realities. Just as you wrongly noted Russian business is a different story, you should have noted that nobody here is discussing “migration” but simply tourism and studying abroad! Most of the above replies have come from students or tourists…
    [Your reply does show that which is typical of most Australians : throw mud at the whole world. Reminds me of how when there were attacks on innocent Indian students by bald women beaters who called themselves skinheads, Aussie authorities blamed the students for carrying laptops and mobile phones with them and not a word was said on those junkies! (Before you point it out, I admit this is besides the topic).]
    I think people are smart enough to judge for themselves the truth from knee-jerk counter comments.

    • Tatiana

      About your first reply…
      You met some accidental tourists and heard their subjective opinion and chose to believe it entirely. You did not specify their level of expertise in these matters. I have met many Russian business people over the years – former classmates, former students, former colleagues, relatives – hundreds of people all together. Of course, my opinion is also subjective, but I insist – it is a more informed opinion than yours, and who knows – may be more informed than of those tourists of yours. Personal opinions are based on experiences, and if somebody had a particularly sour experience, than they form an extremely sour opinion. Would you agree? However, you prefer to portray yourself as “a sane person (who) would tend to believe honest tourists than a woman who cannot face some of the grim realities” ( obviously you know me well enough to be certain that I cannot not face (your) grim reality).
      I think there is a great difference between a student and a tourist. Living in a country for a few years is not the same as visiting it briefly for a week or a month (I know it from my own experience). Throwing these different groups of people together means diffusing the issue. Tourists are safe in Australia (in general). Students… well, they live in big ethnic communities, stand out and their interests clash with the interest of other social groups… You mention skinheads, but why not to mention that mostly they are lowly educated, poor young people with no perspective to improve their miserable existence? By the way, they are not exclusively Aussies, many of them belong to various ethnic gangs (you may also say “coloured” gangs). As a former school teacher (from a very multinational school) in Australia I dealt with them, and certainly learnt a lot about them.
      I am not throwing mud at the rest of the world… I saw the world. I lived in many countries, and I visited very many countries, and I made friends all over the world. I have observed a lot in the world myself, and I am also blessed with frank and observant friends who talk about problems without a desire to point a finger at somebody (like skinheads, or racists, or Russians/Aussies etc.) but try to analyse problems from their perspective – and we ALWAYS come down to the same conclusion, that racism is always based on financial realities of the country of origin and the recipient country. When I say “friends” I mean people of many nationalities living in many countries. There are many former students of mine from China (now spread all over the world), some Chinese and Indian students in Australia I met in the recent years, my friends of all “colours” and religions, including Indian frinds of many years and my Indian neigbours (who are more like friends by now), immigrant student employees of my friends, etc… Fortunately, they have enough education and common sense to try to analize instead of blaming or generalising… People are made of the same material all over the world (regardless of their “colour”, religion and other superficial differences), the economy produces similar problems everywhere and the solutions are the same everywhere, It is a vicious circle, which can be broken only with drastic improvements in education, only when people will be able to compare their local situations with the rest of the world and to spot the similarities.
      Do you think that my post justifies your generalisations “that all Australians throw mud at the rest of the world”? I would say – it is close to racism (nationalism)… Australians are as different as any other nationality… I am sure you too do not have a right to represent your nation whatever it is…. I won’t believe that all people in your country are just like you.

  • abhinav

    I apologize if you thought my post was in bad taste but I think it is more important for those who are unaware to know the realities of the places they opt to study in.

    [Besides the point but a fact : Australia's 2nd largest industry is education, which was hurt after thousands of students opted to stay away, probably the reason why those attacks on students seem to have abated a little + it helped when other countries like China joined to raise concerns over the security situation in Aus.]

  • Tatiana

    I did not think of a “bad taste” of your post. I think that disacssions like this are always lopesided. Racism and problems with educational industry in Australia – 2 different things. I was involved in this industry (I taught ESL in China and in Australia) and I dare to state that Australia in this respect is no different to other Western Countries, especially USA and Great Britain (but other counries such as South Africa, Holland, Germany etc. have a fair share of the pie). There is a market, the market can be exploited and it can provide a solution for the shortages of cheap labour. The same problem existed in Europe where they found a solution by letting in a big number unskilled “coloured” labourers which in due course resulted in racism, in some instances quite severe. Australia lets in student (who accidently happen to be mostly “coloured” but it is a coinsidence) and this huge number of temporary residents whith no chance to find a well paid job do all kind of low skilled tasks and deprive a reasonably big population on Centrlink clients from getting accidental dollar now and then. The lowest type of Aussies cause some uproar and “racially motivated attacks” but the government and well paid population of Australia are happy with sufficient number of taxi-drivers and kitchen hands… Sad… Racism is based on economy

  • Tatiana

    discussions – I meant

  • abhinav

    This sure is getting way besides the topic but is important. My experience at 17 may be less as compared to yours but in no ways less authentic. When one travels to some of the western countries and then compares those brief experiences with what one reads, hears etc. about an Australia one does see the difference. The “ethnic groups” or “colored gangs” that you speak about, I presume you refer to the Albanian gangs etc. But then they are entirely of the making of Australia (the appalling racism and deprivation they faced in your country led them to these circumstances). You can’t possibly be blaming them on the world. Bracketing these gangs with tourists or foreign students is even more concerning.
    Aus in general is not racist you say? What about the unnecessary and repugnant racism towards the actual Australians (aboriginies). We all know James Anaya, the UN special rapporteur on indigenous human rights, after a tour of Australia in 2009 revealed that the Aboriginal (or as your “experience” would like to call it “ethnic”) minority still suffers from entrenched racism (don’t see any economic reasons in it but simply the work of bigoted stale minds). I’m sure you would say this too is just a result of his “sour” experience. Hoping you don’t throw varied “sane” logic : in the interest of saving children etc.) what would you say on the Stolen Generation (in which I think it was not the “lowly educated, poor” Aussies who were involved but a concerted effort of your nation as a whole. It is Australia’s internal matter but also a matter of basic humanity. I sure don’t need an experience with junkies to know them better. You clearly are very sympathetic towards the shaved heads when you try and give me reasons: “lowly educated, poor young people with no perspective to improve their miserable existence.” I really did not know being poor gave one the passport to go around stabbing people. Maybe Osama too is not evil but insane, eh?

    I couldn’t care any less if an average Aussie thinks all the people of my country are “just like me”.

    • Tatiana

      I did not talk about Albanian gangs. We don’t have them, or lets say, they are not prominent, even if there are some. It is a small nation and cannot compete in numbers with immigrants of some other nationalities. At some point Ausralia had great numbers of refugees from certain countries and provided people for the ethnic gangs. The bigger the number of immigrants of one nationality in general, the bigger the criminal element of that nationality. By the way, talking about “poor and uneducated skinheads” all over the world: why do they tend to form ethnic groups? Just because their English skills (or whatever is main language in that country) are not sufficient to communicate outside their ethnic community. The gangs of the major ethnic group are usually limited to their own language only, so they don’t relate to anybody outside their ethnic circle. It is a rule in Australia, Russia and anywhere else.

      Talking about Australia not from a subjective point of view of people who maybe even never saw Australia (or Russia for that matter) why not to employ some objectivity for a change? Any international survey of condtions of life, democracy etc puts Australia right on top of the list. Just a few days ago a new report on international state of democracy was published in London (and democracy includes all ethnic groups and their ability to express themselves and to satisfy their needs through the goverment channels, as you may know). Australia is on the 6th place, after Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, New Zealand. Even Holland which used to be the most democratic country is on the 10th place now. Any international tourism survey places Australia in the top 10 the safest countries to travel to. And those statistics are not based on hearsays and gossips, but on firm figures and business reports. No overseas tour operator will reccomend a country where their clients get abused.

      If you try to belittle me by impying that I sympatise skinheads just because I am not prepared to demand an immediate execution for every idiot on this planet – you have never dealt with young people, whoes lives are distorted by poverty, neglect and circumstances. Nobody chooses to be a skin head. Those young people are too incompetent to make choices. I saw them up close, I worked with some of them – and however guilty they are, the biggest fault is in the system which allows them to slip through. It will keep breeding troublesome people. But it is wrong to imply, that Australian system breeds many rasists. The USA is far below Australia in this respect, but nobody throws stones at them. It is a hard problem to tackle.

      “Lost generation”? You are talking about a policy from the 1930th. Shall we start talking about American Indians and Englishmen, or even Spanish conquistadors? As you mentioned: It is besides the point. Australia moved on. The problems of Indiginous people are difficult ones, Do not presume that you are qualified to be the judge. People who dealt with Aborigines 100 years ago had no idea how to communicate with them, what they needed. It was not done maliciously, but was based on a faulty judgement. God will be the judge of them. Australia moved on. Not everything is easy to fix, but it is happening. And those who live in Australia can watch “Living Black” – the Aboriginal TV programm – and listen to Aborigines themselves about these matters. Their opinion is different to yours (maybe, because they know the problem much better).

      Basically, my point goes down to this: it is OK to look for information and to enquire and to discuss things, but it is not OK to express hush judgements about the topics, known only from a gossip, from a news paper (it also can be a gossip) or from a single accidental experience. It applies equally to both countries I have strong feelngs for: and Russia, and Australia.

    • Tatiana

      Abhinav – you ever confessed what is your country. I cannot think anything about it. Once more: do not presume that you know what I think. I have being to 60-70 countries in my life, I lived in different countries (interacting closely with the natives of those countries mostly) – I have no ethnic prejudices. I have learnt over the years, that people are the same everywhere, regardless of their religion, culture, language etc. What is really matter: poverty, education, health, safety. As soon as poor and uneducated people feel that their income, health and safety are threatened they turn agains other ethnic groups. It is always easy to blame somebody who looks and speaks differently. Would not you agree that only uneducated people (normally uneducated because they are poor) can think and act like this?

      • Tatiana

        I meant: you never confessed. Sorry

      • Kenneth Spaulding

        You still need to learn……………… how to SPELL WORDS CORRECTLY!

  • Q.Long

    The only reason that Aus is safer (not much but a bit) than Russ is because a skinhead in Russ has, as abhinav rightly pointed out, political backing or political indifference so they are mafia in general while in Aus they dare not mess with the mafia is they come acros them, running afraid like headless chicken, for their beliefs would cost them a bullet. But in Russia you have good people in hordes who would oppose such elements unlike in Australia where you have an evil public in general supporting these crimes (be it young or old, man or woman).
    So what they do in Aus is target unsuspecting foreign students. But given how many people across the world have come to know of the happenings in Aus I think they are cautious now.
    My big brother was called a yellow *** by 2 of his Aus female classmates! He came back with some good and some very bad experences

    • Tatiana

      Q.Long – Australia is much safer than Russia, I assure you. I have mentioned the democracy report earlier. Australia is in it on the 6-th place. Russia is on 110-th, I believe.
      Don’t you think, there is a “slight difference”?
      Some countries, like China, for example, are right on the bottom, just above North Korea, which is the very bottom of democracy. I lived in China, and still did not feel that it is a terrible country to live in. As a foreigner I was in a better position than the locals, I believe, even if the intrusions of the government into my movements within the country were a bit obsessive. They worried about my safety.
      In Australia I encountered only support from the government, and well – yes, I had good and bad experiences with individuals (Australian and immigrants) – it does not make Australia a bad place.

  • chris

    Well as a black american married to a viking. In her country from her family I have
    been totally accepted. We get along well. The world is a racist place , but usually
    commonsense rules. As for skinheads. The original skinheads were BLACK AND
    WHITE WORKING CLASS WHO LISTENED TO SKA AND REGGAE , then the white power movement came and adopted the look ok the bomber jackets and the boots. Skinheads are all colors the right wing neo-nazis makes it hard for the good skinheads.

    • StarStruckHaven

      Silly comment about skinheads. Noone here is talking about the history of black reggae styles, we are talking about racists in Russia.
      And no, unfortunately “common sense” does not rule all.

      If it did we would not be having this discussion or having black people stabbed and attacked in broad daylight.

      SKINHEADS are a problem in russia and the attack blacks, stay on topic.

  • http://MaxTheITpro.com Max – The IT Pro

    WHAT is the world coming to? It, truly, has gotten smaller — thanks to the Internet and 24-hour “idiot box” PROGRAMMING (er dumbing down of the ignorant masses).
    I hope Medvedev & Putin will try VERY HARD to put an end to these unfortunate acts of hatred.
    If any1 of colour does need to go abroad to study or explore, PLEASE also consider Canada. It’s very multicultural, and peeps from all corners of the planet reside their — in PEACE. Just taking the subway in Toronto is evidence of this fact. :-)

    I dunno…but I sense a change in the world from growing up in the 1980s. The masses (educated or not) are actually getting more & more STUPID (er ignorant) — no shit. Of course, poor economics & FAILED governments have a huge part to play in this thingy.

    Diligent, transparent law & order is mandatory in order to ELIMINATE this ugly scourge so that people of colour can go the places like Russia. Who knows? I may never get the inkling to visit Moscow after hearing similar stories over the past few years.

  • bsj2312

    This article is ridiculous. There is very little hatred in Russia for someone just because they are black. In some cases it is just the opposite. Most hatred is for people of other nationalities or ethnicities. It has nothing to do with color, like in the U.S. In fact, most Russians educated under the Soviet Union respect African-Americans almost as allies. Soviet schools emphasized the role of slaves in the U.S., the bad treatment they received, and the continuing prejudice that exists even today. Because of this education, many Russians respect black Americans because their history is proof that white Americans are evil and the Soviets were always right for fighting them.

    Granted, attitudes among some niche groups in the younger generation think differently, but this can be encountered in every country for some group or other. In my opinion, the racial prejudice is no more than what continues to exist in the United States and it is no reason to keep a student from studying in Russia.

    • Article presents a valid point

      “THis article is ridiculous….” but OF COURSE it is…

      As a traveler who IS very dark skinned and after experiencing treatment that differed from the reception afforded my white / lightskinned colleagues – I stand by Buster.

      If to some, there is “no more racism in Russia than anyplace else” – that’s an interesting opinion.

      I’ll take my advice from Buster and travelers like him.

    • Tony-1229

      Really!!! First of all you can”t be A black American making A dumb statement like that. Ive been to Russia and it is THE MOST racists place A black American can ever go.

      • Terri

        That is what I have heard too, Tony! Russians can not stand Blacks–definitely Italy doesn’t!!! I think I’ll move to one of these countries. The Blacks are trying to take over the U.S. At least in those countries, they can’t scream, “Discrimination” or “Racist!” They’ll show them how Racist they can be!

  • http://Wtf.com Buda stacks

    First and foremost, i understand where tatiana’s argument is coming from. The premise being lack of education to make informed decision through analysis, are the major contributing factors to the reality of what is referred to as “skinheads”. She also mentioned australia’s democracy as ranked 6th on the international state of democracy report. I’m afraid i’ll have to go ahead and declare the report superficial in the sense that the people of the various “ethnic groups” who participated in the survey, specifically the ones “of color” might be the ones who belong to the “fortunate class” of australia. Yep, in simple, the rich. I would like to know in terms of the socio economic demographic regarding the “people of color” who participated in that report. It is my personal opinion that any nation, no matter how bad their state of affairs may be, in terms of racial equality and basic humanity, they will always present or try hard enough to present themselves as a “good to all” nation. A friend of mine (yes, he is black) recently visited australia. The entire trip was one filled with the typical aussie treatment, from the plane (can you believe that), the hotel he was staying in, and by just walking on the streets of sydney, he would be greeted by grim and sinister looks. He cites being referred to as an african monkey, a porch monkey etc.

    So to get back to topic. any country will definitely market itself in a good, positive way, because that is what the whole concept of democracy entails and of course, what the gospel of money entails. But, what looks good on paper isn’t necessarily the truth. The mass mind of australia is more polarized to the negative side of the racial spectrum. The mass mind still teaches and favours exclusionism. The popullation of a country, all those different individuals with their opinions make up the country. The goverment is just a group of people who govern the country and cater for the interests of its people. This doesn’t mean that the goverment stands for and understands the mass mind of its people, no. The mass mind of australia is racist in nature (white). Look at the aborigines. If you do your research on aboriginal oppression in australia, and then look at their current state in the country, and also look at the current state of the australian mass mind in terms of acknowledging other “ethic groups”, i’m afraid the inevitable is the conclusion that yes indeed australians are an exclusionist bunch.

    Let us not blame it on a lack of education entirely but on the continuing “mind of the past” that still previals and remains firmly instilled in the minds of many australians.

    • Tatiana

      Buda stacks, I am flubbergastered about your friend’s experience in Australia. As Russian living in Russia I never had a close encounter with people of African descent – there are so few of them, of course when I had a glimpse of them now and than I could not help by stare, for which I apologise to anybody who could feel offended by my stares. As an Australian who lives in Australia and had friends from various ethnic backgrounds (including very dark African and Pacific Islanders) – I cannot recall a single complaint about direct rudeness of Aussies. It is not an Aussie style. Asians have more problems (it is related to peculiarities of our history and geography, but has nothing to do with this topic).
      I assure you – no minorities or majorities (rich or poor) played a role in the democrasy report – it is done in England by a professional team which studies democratic mechanisms in every country… We don’t have to be cynical and to disregard any effort or statment only on the basis of our strong dislikes for certain things or countries. I wrote before and will repeat again: as an immigrant I have my own positive experiences here, and from people of all colours and religions who migrated to Australia I know that this country provides much more welcoming atmosphere than most other countries on this planet. My experience has nothing to do with marketing Australia or whatever other nasty reasons you may have in mind.
      What about your strong opinion:
      The mass mind of australia is more polarized to the negative side of the racial spectrum. The mass mind still teaches and favours exclusionism. The popullation of a country, all those different individuals with their opinions make up the country

      How do you know so much about “mass mind of Australia”? What if I start making general statements from my personal and limited observations? On my way to the USA we had and American plane and American crew. Some of the toilets were out of order, so there was quite a queue to the ones which operated. At some point one of the hostesses told the queue to get back to their sits, because “there were more than 3 people in the line, and it is illigal in the USA to have groups of people bigger than 3″. Should I think that it is normal in the USA to pee in the pants during the flight? That there is no democracy in the country where a group of 4 is a threat to the community? No, I prefer to think, that I have met a sour idiot who happened to be an American and happened to be on duty…
      Only after living in a country for a while one can understand something about this country. Why don’t I hear from anybody who lived in Australia (except myself)? This country is full of backpackers who travel here for 6 months or a year, Sometimes I think that the whole world had been to Australia and loved it. Pity, that none of them shows up here…

  • eclipse

    Fascinating topic. Did a search for search for black people in Russia and came acroos this site. I will continue to read as more post are made. I am in the states and I have always wondered if black people were ever slaves in Russia. I am Black also of mixed race but of distant mix. I think it was Native American that is in my family tree? I am 47 and I drive a Truck all across America and here I experience low key racism. Little things that some whites do like coughing as they pass by or acting as thoug they do not wish to hold the door open for me as I walk behind them.
    Here in the states we are taught by many narrow mined white people that Russians are out to destroy America and they always spy on us and I am very glad to know the truth and so thank you to you Russians who have posted I would like to shake your hands one day for letting me know that you are thinking about us Americans as friends.
    Russia sounds like a nice place to visit compared to Australia. One day I may go to Russia if I can stomach the long flight I am kinda scared of high places and planes fly very high! :) Last time I flew I almost ran to the door to open it and jump out!
    I will find a email pal and send pictures of what I see here in the states and hopefully I will make the trip to Russia before I get too old. :)

    • Tatiana

      Yes, Eclipse, there were some black slaves in Russia… We had slavery till 1861, but the slaves were Russians, of course. However, the fact that we had slavery resulted in some purchases of ecsotic people and keeping tham as slaves. There were just a few black people living in households of aristocracy (pretty much in the role of fulls and dwarfts in Middle Ages). I imagine that their lives were terribly sad, because they had nobody to talk to, nobody to rely on… In America slaves at least had communities of people with similar experiences, black people in Russian rich households were very lonely, I assume.
      There was one exemption. Katherine the Great at some point decided that her empire was not colourful enough… (as you may imagine, we don’t have any connection with Africa and we don’t have native Africans, and we never imported slaves) so she purchaced a big number or slaves from Africa (a couple of hundred, maybe) and settled them as state slaves in some remote place close to Caucasian mountains, or in Crimea (some warm place, the warmest in Russia) . After than she could tell that she rules all the races known to man.
      I don’t know what happened to that group of people. It was also quite lonely and sad, I guess.
      There was another case – more positive. Peter the Great received a gift from the Turkish sultan once. It was a boy from Abissinia (a black boy), who was captured by the pirates and sold into slavery. The tsar liked the boy (he was smart and brave), and sent him to study overseas, made him an officer, and eventually the boy became a general. Peter the Great called him Gannibal. This boy married a noble Russian woman (at Peter’s request) and his family made a mark in Russian history. One of his greatchildren – Alexander Pushkin – is the most famous Russian poet of all times, and the most beloved. And he has a bit of African visual appearance.

      I don’t know if you ever make it to Russia, but you may have a glance on some of the places if you want.
      I have a gallery in Picasa, and I have a few photoalbums about Russia (and about Australia as well!)
      Here are some of them, you are welcome to brouse from these albums to all others… I have no secrets…
      http://picasaweb.google.com/Tatiana.I.Efremova/SanktPeterburg2#
      http://picasaweb.google.com/Tatiana.I.Efremova/SanktPeterburg#
      http://picasaweb.google.com/Tatiana.I.Efremova/Kizhi#
      http://picasaweb.google.com/Tatiana.I.Efremova/RussianVillage#

      • Auvire

        I am from Papua New  Guinea in the  pacific islands.I like russia very much that I commit most of my free times reading anything that had something to do with russia (even I use some of my time to study).

        Despite all the negativities I read about russia, I love Russia enough to risk my life to study in Russia.Even if it costs my life, it does not concerns me. All that I ever want is to set my foot on Russia and atlleast learn to speak a sentence in Russian- the language of the people I love.

  • MFlood

    I can definitely connect with your article. I think we share a common trait that I have always attributed to me never having a problem in my 6 years of living in Russia and that is as you said a bad disposition. I was one of the fortunate.

    Great read!

    • http://peru ihgnacio

      acaban de asesinar un peruano en rusia ya es el 4 caso en 6 meses y lo mismo parece ser el acoso a otros extranjeros no solo es solo por el color hispanos americanos incluso asiaticos debemos evitar ir a estos paises y poner en riesgo nuestra seguridad hay muchos paises donde pueden ir a estudiar o hacer turismo eviten paises como rusia y australia que mantinen que conservan fuertemente el racismo hipocrita en australia alos nativos se les trata muy mal

  • Rasputa Gushki

    things are, to some extent, the same all over- just read all the accounts of denial of racism here or there if you don’t believe me.

    if a person of color in a predominately “white” country tells you that he/she has experienced racism, how can you counter that claim if you’re not a person of color yourself?

    the amount of denial never ceases to amaze me.

    • Tatiana

      You don’t have to have cancer yourself to get a clear picture what is cancer what does it do to its victims, if you ever met one. You don’t have to be “coloured” to know something about being “coloured” if your experience gives you an opportunity to look at it closely… I am “white” after my mother, and mother is “white” after her father, but her mother and my grandmother was not white. My father is not white… Yes, in Russia we also have “people of colour” – you don’t have to have African ancestry to become different to others (oh, how much I hate this definition “colour” – people are people, and judging them by the visual appearance is stupid beyond belief, but I think I am the only one in this conversation who is stressed about it).
      What does it make me: a white daughter of a dark father and 2 dark grandmothers and a “yellow” grandfather?
      As a white person I lived in a “coloured” country. Do I have to classify every stupidity or crime commited against me as “racism”?

      • Appearance matters because people decide the do.

        You may classify what is done to you in any way that you choose.

        I will keep the right to do the same – no matter how uncomfortable with or “tired of” anyone is regarding the word ‘racism’.

        It’s an interesting opinion that many who are ‘not in my boat’ feel that they know what the experience is – if they’ve “looked at it closely” enough. …that someone who is not colored knows the colored experience.

        Once a person makes that decision there’s no way to argue it. You’re not alone in feeling that way – several pale skinned people have expressed a very similar opinion.

        It’s certainly worth it to listen to and read all points of view – they’re all part of the story. But where I’m taking a bet on what MY personal experience will be like – OF course, i’ll give a hundred times more value to the stories coming from people who look like me.

        • Tony-1229

          Amen!!

        • Don

           ”i’ll give a hundred times more value to the stories coming from people who look like me.”

          Hmmm… I wonder if you realize just how very racist this comment is. Normal, yes, but racist just the same. It’s a survival instinct probably and completely visceral. I think perhaps one of the most wonderful things about this medium “the internet” is that we can post our thoughts and opinions without others knowing our appearance. Race is never a factor. Neither are physical infirmities or deformaties. We are judged simply by how we represent our intellect in electronic form.

          Now I shall completely destroy any credibility I have by admitting I am a person of pallor.

          • Hydrabadchik

            I have said this staetment many times:  I will listen to / read ALL reponses.  They’re all part of the big picture.

            At the same time…

            I will give more credibility to someone with Afro textured hair – when I’m asking questions about afro textured hair.

            i pay more attention to reports from women who have personally experienced the situation – when I seek info re: women’s health or say, pregnancy.

            And absolutely – YES – I will give a black traveller’s report more credibility when I want to know how black people are received in various countries. APPEArance is a major factor in that treatment.  I was taught that as a child and I’ve relearned it repeatedly as an adult.

          • ChangeNow4aa

            The problem with white folk is that you cannot handle the freaking Truth! Open your eyes! No one is going to “sugar coat” facts just to make you comfortable.

      • Tony-1229

        Yes, people are people but you need to wake up and stop living in the make-believe world.

      • Dan

        Only if is was done because you didn’t fit a racial profile the offender finds acceptable. Then it is racist. If they were just stupid or criminal to you because you appeared to be any type of foreigner then they are zenophobic. If the were unjust just because you were not them then they are merely stupid and/or criminal. Way too much of all those in the world sad to say.

        • Kenneth Spaulding

          Only if it was done and a comma should be after foreigner. Xenophobic is the correct spelling. If they were and a comma should be after the word “them”.

      • http://twitter.com/C_J_Alexander Cameron Alexander

        No it thoroughly depends on whether the crime is raciallly aggrevated and the motivation for the criminal ideas. For many people including myself my colour heritage and ethnicity is something I will forever be proud of, we are not all the same we must embrace our differences and individuality whilst not allowing them to cause divisions, easier said than donee when as Tatiana stated people do have a tendancy to judge others by visual appearance.  It is a great shame to hear of whats happening in moscow , however I liive in Luton outside london and there are problems here with radical islam and the englishh defence league, in order to solve this we cannot pretend that we are all the same and religious divisions etc are ignorance, often it is simply tradition and pride and a lack of information  and fear of other cultures, in order to combat this we need to embrace divisions celebrate culture and move forward 

        • Terri

          Cameron, if you have a college education, your Composition Professors really missed your grammar papers! Geez!! No punctuation and, if any, running-on sentences. I can’t tell where you stop and start. Good grief!!! You sound like a smart young man, but get some help with your grammar. Yes–that is coming from an English Minor (4.0 GPA) in college.

          • Kenneth Spaulding

            It’s actually run-on sentences.

          • ChangeNow4aa

            I personally thought Cameron got his message across pretty darn clear. Some people think they are in charge of grammar on the internet and try to make others appear less intelligent. But the person who is doing the critiquing is usually the one who didn’t get through university.and has to attack the educated man with nonsense, since he can’t compete intellectually. Why do white people always feel the need to do that?

    • Guest

      I am white, and live in the hell on heart that is Detroit. I know racism. I see it, I feel it, Ive bled from it. Black savages. 

      • Bcoopbars

        Not saying its rite but michigan at one point in time was one of the most racist places in america. Sometimes s we pay for the mistakes ourforefathers made. So how does it feel to be attacked by someone because of the color of your skin ?…..

      • Audrey Horne

        Well then you deserve everything that happens to you, savage indeed.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_B6SGTCMXDKCBV2JTKBPHOVZA3E Anoushka Orlova

    Being black is not a reason to not come to Russia.
    To portray my whole country to be full of racists is so offensive.
    When I visited Mali in Africa, some people weren’t too pleased to see my white face entering their restaurants. Japan is where I experience the worst racial conflict in my life. In Japan we were shouted at to go home while we waited for our train, and some Jap men kept insulting my skin color, saying that my friends and I were “pink”. I could have thrown a stronger insult right back, but I chose not to because it is not my nature. Racism can be found absolutely everywhere! Please don’t assume someone is racist because they’re white. That is very small-minded. And, I know plenty of black born here who feel free to call themselves Russians. remember everyone will have different experiences. In general, if you present yourself humbly, you will be respected humbly. Good day!

    • Phil

      While I believe Japanese people are quite xenophobic, I’m shocked by your experience. I’m Chinese and my country (China) has centuries of cultural exchange with Japan. I live in Hong Kong where we are surrounded by Japanese culture, so I think I know quite a bit about the Japanese people. To me they are extremely courteous, and even if they don’t like you, they very rarely show it, so I can’t imagine them insulting you so blatantly, especially since you’re “white” and the Japanese people admire western culture a lot. I’ve been to Japan 4 times and not once have I experienced any kind of insult, even though the Chinese and the Japanese have not been on good terms in the last century or so

      And no one’s assuming someone is racist because they’re white. This is simply an article showing the possible dangers one might face as a person of colour in Russia.

  • Jeannie

    I want to move to Russia the less “darkies” the better

    • powerup92164

      jeannie, please move to Russia right away. If you promise that you will live there for the rest of your life I for one will buy you ticket. :)

  • Samue l welsh

    russians are mostly beaut people avoid idot skinheads though.

  • mutyang

    Wow. I read this just now. I am dreaming of travelling to Russia.  Thanks. Very insightful. I am still in love with the country though.

  • Brittanysimmons

       I Am African American Myself. When I Grow Up I Want To Go To Russia Intsead Of The U.S. But From My Prospective I Think You Shouldn’t Go Because My Friend Said Her Mom Went There (Her Mom Is Chinese) And They Were SAying Something Negative About African American People Coming To Russia. 

  • Tony831

    google novgorod and you will see that some of the founders of Russia was Black.  However I have no idea how many are left.

    http://www.novgorod.ru/english/

    These Black people were so tough that they defeated the Greek army and demanded that they pay tribune.

  • Bettyboobettyboo

    Thanks for writing this soo much, I was considering going on holiday to Russia. I am quarter Scandivian, quarter South American, quarter Spanish, quarter Moroccan, and I have simular colouring  to Vanessa Hudgens/Cheryl Cole. I look kind of latina, or southern european like Italian/Greek, though some people tell me I look middle eastern, which made me worry about going to russia, as I am scared about being targeted because I have olive skin.  I know  now, if I do decide to go to Russia, the precautions I will have to take, so thanks :)

  • Nick

    population of moscow is like 45 % or even more  asian , also we have many caucasus people and  a few of africans  , plus   mixed … i’m half african half russian btw….  though  , russians is  still racist , especially in small cities

  • ALAN DAY

    I AM WHITE AND FROM THE UK. THIS HAS OPENED MY EYES UP. I NEVER KNEW THAT BLACK PEOPLE HAD IT SO BAD IN RUSSIA. MY HEART GOES OUT TO YOU. I ONLY JUDGE A MANS CHARACTER NEVER HIS COLOUR

  • Pro Black

    Racism is everywhere. Black people have begn through alot and still r. I admit there are black people who have hate for whites, but the comparison of the intensity of racism favOrs whites. We r just tired so when we retaliate its wrong?…. I’m not a turn the other cheek type guy and I don’t tolerate any form of disrespect especially if it is regarding my race. I would never put myself in jeopardy n reside in germany, russia, or any where else where the level of racism is so high because that would be stupid………….

  • George Williams

    Then just say it bluntly, Do not go to Russia if you are not white. I am not going. Never wanted to.

    • Barbara L. Middlekauff

      ahhhh…. an actual place on earth to escape the black elite thugs!!! bravo Russia

    • Tamara Dolor

      You are a crazy racist Barbara. I hope you die from skin cancer you stupid bitch.

  • Kimari Carter

    Daaaamn.. I was trying to see what the Beaches were like in Northern Russia, but… -____________- NEVERMIND

    • Kyon Williams

      damn shame

    • Danielle Brown

      >_<

  • Tamara Dolor

    I once went to the small town in Zihle in the Czech Republic. I was there for three weeks. The town of one thousand had never had a black person there before. I traveled there traveling to see a friend who had taught English for a year in Spain. She acquired a Czech boyfriend from that town, a street performer, while teaching in Spain. Surprisingly, I had great time. Did not speak a word of the language. The only incident I recall is being wasted with my friends at the town dance and everyone (my friends that spoke english, like all three of them) came up to me, and were like “there are two Skinheads here” or something, and I think I was whisked off of whatever I was dancing on, to outside or something. And apparently the Skinheads got the crap beaten out of them by the town. It could have gone horribly wrong considering I would have been the only target, but I felt like the town protected me. Again, I could just be lucky because I am a relatively attractive woman. I remember going to some other other event, and just having a great time. I did notice that on a few occasions the older dudes got a bit friendly, but I was able to back them off obviously because I am no stranger to traveling. I have traveled all over. I was also warned about Skinheads being on the trains by some of the locals that did speak English. I went into Prague, and Prague was awesome. My overall impression of the Czech Republic from my three weeks there, most of that time spent in a small village, I had an awesome time. The country is beautiful, and the people are awesome. Some of the most beautiful nature scenes you will ever see. You can see the communist influences on the architecture in the villages. Great food. Good exchange rate.

  • Leah Marie

    I’ve never been to Russia but a couple of my black colleagues have. They said it was the worst trip they’ve ever taken (and they are VERY seasoned travelers). They are much smaller than the author is, and they got harassed by police regularly, and even got accosted by skinheads. It was so bad, they didn’t leave their apartment except to go to work and grocery shopping.

    It’s a shame too. Russia seems like such a beautiful place. I wish I could go without all the harassment.

    On the other hand, I’ve been to Georgia and Armenia and the reception is MUCH less hostile, but everywhere I went I got stares. People chased us down the street with cameras. I almost felt like a broke beyonce for a minute.

    Based on my experiences and those of my colleagues, I have no interest in going to that part of the world ever again. Hopefully they’ll open their minds eventually, but until then, I’ll stay away.

  • Jacques Lott

    Personally I think if Russian’s hate black people then they should stay in the

  • Jacques Lott

    Russians shuold stay in there own country with that attitude. I’ve meat nice Russians but most are very racist even right here in the united states.I would never go russia and the racist ones should stay in there ocountry. Butler did not like Russians or Ukraine.

  • Jacques Lott

    Barbra I bet your fat and ugly

    • George Williams

      That’s not nice. She did not make herself!

    • George Williams

      That’s not nice. She did not make herself!

  • Ruslan Bakhtigareev

    I’m from Russia and I think that everything what he wrote is true.

  • Ronald Madziro

    I am a person of African background who visited Russia in May 2009 during the GFC.I can tell you it was a heart stopping experience for me.The women liked me while the Males wanted to Kill me.They felt threatened by me since I was getting so much attention from their ladies as I looked exotic.I got verbally threatened by Russian Males while crossing the Road with my then Russian Girlfriend and I never went out at night for my own safety.The Number one safety precaution is to never walk alone, unless accompanied by a Local.If you walk alone, they will assume you are a Migrant and they will definitely attack you.If you are with Company they will think you might just be visiting, so they might leave you alone, but its not a guarantee.Until the Russian Governemnt takes a strong stance against Xenophobia, I would advise against visiting that Hostile part of the World.I have been to every continent and many places and Russia ranks Number 1 as the most Hostile place to visit if you are of African or Asian appearance.Its not good walking around fearing for your own safety.

  • Jerry

    I am black and a proud to be. I like black, white yellow and all between.Lets cut our skins and see whats come out same colour blood right? Russian,chinese etc are not Racist against Black may seemly perceived that way its based on ignorance and brain washing.
    The above two countries were under tyrant leaders and bloodsuckers.The Denial of God is a doorway to enumerable evil.
    I received condescendending looks by Chinese.When someone don’t value themselves they in turns undervalue people.
    Its not our problem its their problem that’s a dysfunctional and abnormal behaviour and subhuman animal does behave in such manner.
    Stereotypical mentality.

    • Kenneth Spaulding

      Wow, talk about ignorant! Your spelling and use of words are very poor. Better yourself by obtaining an education the proper way by learning, not by trying to memorize!

  • Jerry

    When people don’t understand an ethnic mannerism and behavior it may be perceived as racism.
    Ignorance on both sides. Assumption is the lowest forms of communication.

  • oksana

    I live in Russia. and every day I dream to go from here. everything here is terrible. the government, the prices, the people, the weather, at home. And racists here and really a lot, they are almost at every turn, but most of them just call themselves as such, not being a racist. this is a terrible country, would rather leave it. but the city I love her anyway.

  • Kenneth Spaulding

    Xenophobic is the correct spelling.

  • Kenneth Spaulding

    Other typos and punctuation mistakes you made were “If they” and a comma should be between the words “them” and “then”.

    • ChangeNow4aa

      Get a life Kenneth. Are you grading these conversations? Or just being a J.A.?

  • ChangeNow4aa

    SHOULD WHITE PEOPLE GO TO THE CARIBBEAN?

  • LR

    Being half Asian/White, I know it would be worse to spend a summer vacation in Russia because me and/or my family can easily pass off as people from former Soviet countries, except Ukraine, because we’re all half Asian/White.

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Twenty-five neighborhoods in the U.S. have been judged the country's "most dangerous."...
It is not flattery or romance, but rather a male power trip with serious consequences.
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Everywhere I went, I saw uniformed, stone faced men holding large guns, and during the...
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Aracely finds herself somewhere unexpected - checked into a hospital in Guatemala.