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I’ve lived in Poland for over 9 years and have mainly had positive experiences but one time I had a bad experience in my 20s.
It shocked me because it was a public place in Warsaw.
Soon, I am invited to join the “Polish Mulattos” group on a Facebook – the self-titled online space for black and mixed race poles to connect with each other and shares resources.
The main networker here is Vin Milton, a 20-something model and rising You Tube star, originally from Angola.
But for others like 19-year-old Ukrainian student Julia, these spaces provide a sanctuary from anti-black and islamophobic attitudes at school.
“They laugh at me because I’m Ukrainian and I like African music”, she says.
When they built a new mosque in Warsaw, this lady threw a pig’s head in there, it was terrible”.
Stories like Julia’s remind me that Poland’s internal wrestle with multiculturalism isn’t far off what’s been happening in many countries across Europe.
“One time we were celebrating Ramadan and this guy almost beat up my mum.Realising that myself and my Somali-Danish flatmate are the only two black girls in the club, we watch on, cringing as the parties line up, seeking “exotic” encounters with each other.Later, I get a chance to speak to Dorotka, a Polish dancer who recently went viral with her Azonto routines, and ask her how she feels taking on African culture.His prank You Tube channel “Czarny (Black)-Humour” has gained over a million views since it started.We catch up by the Palace of Culture where he casually explains to me how he uses his channel to inform Polish people about racial issues: “It’s humour aimed at bringing joy and interaction.
You just have to accept it and keep moving, I know that I just have to smile and they open up” For others, however, the deep and dark undercurrents of hostility and xenophobia are hard to ignore.