Tuesday, December 21, 2010

More racism in Lebanon in 2010 than in the 1980s?

AlMou'aallima Wal Oustaz (the teacher and the professor) is a famous Lebanese TV series that used to be aired in the 80s. The main actors/ actresses were the beautiful Hind Abi-lama', Ibrahim Mer'aachli and the late Layla Karam. This show was very popular and many of us still remember it quarter of a decade through. We also remember that one of the several students in the class who used to mainly sit in the front seats and not say much, was a fair-skinned migrant person. It is interesting to compare the situation back then and now.

Today, it is almost 99% impossible for us to find any Lebanese production whether film or advertisement which includes a dark-skinned person who is not playing the automatic role of a domestic worker. It is out of question to find a SriLankan playing the role of a business woman or a Filipina playing the role of a husband of a Lebanese woman or an Ethiopian playing the role of a university professor. This is too shocking of a scene for Lebanese people to see in Lebanese productions, let alone to see in reality in Lebanon.

Not to give a very simplistic comparison between reality today and AlMou'aallima Wal Oustaz time, but whatever we say, it remains a fact that what this series did stands as a milestone in comparison with our dark times today.

Ps: Notice how the word dark is used to signify bad times. Or the word nhar aswad/ "black day" also refers to a very irritating day. And many other similairs. Interesting to notice and analyze. Is it time to replace those terms with ones which do not hold such heavy invisible connotations?


  1. I agree that Arabs in general have very little political correctness, but to be honest I think it has more to do with the absence of a multi-cultural environment than any inherent racism on their part.

    The reason why you wont find a Sri Lankan business woman, or an Ethiopian university professor, etc, is because they simply do not exist in Lebanon or most Arab countries. And if they do, their numbers are probably very negligible. Not because they are uncampable, but because they're unavailable in the Arab world. Most Arabs are trying to leave their countries and find work abroad, it's not very often that you'll find people from abroad trying to work in the Arab world. Unless ofcourse, they're maids, cooks, servants, etc. Especially in non-oil rich countries like Lebanon.

  2. Bassem there are many reasons for and names we can call the situation of a big cloud of people in Lebanon today. But no matter how we explain it or look at it, racism remains at the heart of most things. It might come through different forms but it is still racism. Whether it is behavior, sentences, jokes, songs, looks, pre-judgements, laws, etc...

    Very true concerning Lebanon in any case being a place where unemployment is ample and thereby less internationals work here. But what we are trying to say is if I tell you I have a Spanish boss for instance in a certain company. It goes withouth saying that you would find this a standard piece of info and continue through the conversation normally. If I replace that with a different nationality like Ethiopian, Nepali, Indian or the like, chances are you will definitely stop me, consciously or unconsciously and ask more about this or be surprised or question it.