Racism, in any shape or form, is never okay but seeing it rear its ugly head in a travel blog written by a well travelled writer, it somehow feels a lot worse.
A friend of mine forwarded a blog post to me earlier today. When a friend had originally sent it to him, he presumed it was a parody. Then he started reading the post and couldn’t believe what he was reading. When I opened the post, I really didn’t know what to expect.
The last thing I thought I was about to read, however, was a disgustingly racist blog post hating on a city for sheltering Syrian refugees. A blog post telling people not to travel to Norway’s beautiful capital city due to the large refugee population. A blog post that, just when I thought it couldn’t get much worse, describes “dozens of Arabic refugees, dressed in their traditional clothing” walking around causing the writer high levels of anxiety and fear. I have never read such a scare mongering post in all my years of blogging and just reading it made my blood boil.
I then went back to check what sort of comments have been left of the article so far, who’s with me in feeling angry at such open racism. What are other bloggers saying about the situation? Can you guess how many critical comments I found?
Zero. Nil. None.
What makes it okay for a travel writer to write such a post and not be confronted? Is casual racism in travel so common now, that people have stopped caring? All I can hope is that my fellow travel bloggers open their eyes and stand up for what is right.
The writer says she feels fearful and anxious at being in a part of a city where she is the only “white, blond female”. That she will not be returning to Oslo as it a city overrun with refugees. She even felt the need to share her experiences with the world, using the highly inappropriate hashtags: #refugees #islam.
I have to wonder if she ever took a step back to think about why those refugees are there. How terrifying their lives must have been, having to leave their homeland, their family, their possessions. They are most certainly not there by choice. Did she think of them as people just like her and her friends and family, and wonder what their lives are like. That they did not choose to be there.
She wrote about her love for helping people and the less fortunate. How she thinks the situation in Syria is terrible. However, she believes that the entire country has been “taken over by refugees” and that this is a serious problem.
As travel bloggers, we spend a lot of time sharing our own personal experiences. We write about a city as we experienced it, talking about what we saw and how it made us feel. While I appreciate the author was trying to do this when writing about Oslo, I can’t help but feel racism comes across so strongly throughout her post. If only she has said people in a certain area of the city made her feel uneasy, instead of writing that Arabs in their “traditional clothing” were everywhere and made her fear for her life. She does not give examples of why this made her anxious, just that she thought they might kidnap, rape or murder her at any moment.
People should be praising Oslo for showing such compassion, for welcoming people who have nowhere else to go. The city, and its people, should be thanked for doing what many other countries in Europe have failed to do. I, along with many others, often say that its is the people who make a place, not the destination itself. Regardless of who they are, where they’re from, the colour of their skin or the design of their clothes, there is good to be found in everyone.
When a travel blogger writes that she “hates a city”, I am usually skeptical. Most of the time, I expect either a click-bait article or pure satire, where the post really contains stunning images that will make the reader feel anything but hatred towards the destination. The last thing readers expect is to be confronted by a full on racist article, blaming the demise of a beautiful city on a small population of its inhabitants. A small population that have arrived there, having left their entire lives behind them, and are no doubt still fearful for their future.
In a time when fear is at an all time high around the world, when racism is rearing its ugly head across Great Britain post-Brexit and events across the United States such as the Black Lives Matter protests are gaining momentum, the last thing we need is to add casual racism to the mix. Especially when written by an online influencer.
I hope the author can right her wrong and remove her post. I also hope she can try to educate herself on why her post was so wrong, and can in turn educate those that ‘liked it’ and managed to read it in its entirety without letting their blood boil. Because at the end of the day, aren’t those that do not stand up to racism just as bad?
Speak up, people.
It’s time we all stood up for each other.