Racism is everywhere around us in Egypt. It is quiet, subtle and lurking in the deep pits of our minds. More frequently than we’d like to admit, we come across comments or ads by huge brands that scream intolerance and cruelty and it just goes right over our heads. It’s an enigma that Egyptians feel superior to people of color, when we have all shades of skin tones in our homeland. From bright white to dark black, it is basically geography when it comes to your color in Egypt.
Yesterday, Facebook user, Ruqiya Warsame, took to social media to re-live her horrific racism encounter in The Greek Campus. While applying for a job, Warsame overheard the cleaning staff criticizing her color, wondering about the explosion of blacks that happened in Egypt and how she could afford being in the old American University in Cairo’s campus when all blacks are poor and dirty. To add salt to the wound, the young lady heard them taking a photo of her. After confronting them, they told her no one would believe her as she is black.
The Greek Campus’ chairman immediately responded to her post and took matters seriously. Something that unfortunately we hardly ever see in Egypt with such incidents. A day later, Warsame confirmed that the Greek Campus reached out to her and confirmed that the staff members involved in the incident were let go, in addition to planning a deep training of ethics code for all janitors and security team in the campus.
While this incident was swiftly solved, it does not change the fact that we have zero education when it comes to tolerance and racism. Just earlier this year, The Supreme Council for Media Regulation banned the broadcast of WE Telecom Egypt’s viral TV advertisement starring Karim Abdelaziz. The ad was deemed disrespectful to Africans as it implied only Egyptians were Ged3an. This only happened after a severe social media backlash.
In late 2017, Yousra El-Lozy was modelling for Hany El-Behiry’s Spring/Summer 2018 collection fashion show and her dress was carried on stage by two shirtless black men. The actress quickly apologized, explaining that the dress was too heavy and to be honest, she is not to blame. We don’t know the first thing about racism and the person responsible for the show is clearly ignorant.
Other viral posts that took over our social media in 2017 targeted Michelle Obama, (calling her a maid as compared to the white Melania Trump) and football fans insulting Cameroonians when Egypt did not win the Africa Cup of Nations final. In 2016, another post went viral on Nubian Knights Facebook page that called for an initiative calling for a societal reform of Egypt’s language of grotesque racism, yet the list of ignorance is endless.
It seems we have a long way to go. Let’s start by educating our children and taking serious actions against anyone who crosses a line and insult another. Today we are grateful to see someone taking action publicly against the vile ignorant behavior.