Racism in the Czech Republic

Discussion in 'Culture' started by Cloudy, Nov 20, 2006.

  1. Cloudy

    Cloudy Member

    I know there have probably been posts on this before, but...

    I'm planning on moving to the Czech Republic after college, but, being part Mexican, I have slightly darker skin than most Czechs, (not to mention a slightly Gypsy-ish face) and I've read that the Roma are prone to being teased at casually. Nothing too malicious, but even so, I'm wondering how well I would be accepted into a community. More specifically, my two choices for settling at this point are Terezín or Hodonín.

    I doubt there's anything to worry about, but I just wanted to be sure.
  2. Sova

    Sova Well-Known Member

    :?: :?: It's somewhat harsher than that, I'd say. Generally speaking, gypsies haven't integrated themselves into the rest of European society, and hence are not well-accepted by other Europeans. Many (most?) Czechs consider them all as thieves and uncivilized. Note, that these are not my opinions, but rather observations of mine, having lived in the Czech Republic two years. I often heard the phrase, "I'm not racist, but I don't like gypsies." In practice, this amounts to being ignored/shunned largely by the Czechs, and being the butt of many a joke. There are some more malicious acts against gypsies, but as I understand, these are generally rare and usually the work of skinheads (perhaps someone in the Czech Republic can comment more on this). So, if by malicious, you mean physical violence, that probably you are correct, but the discrimination of gypsies does exist and is noticeable.

    Now, having said that, as you part Mexican, I'm not sure if the Czechs will mistake you for a gypsy, although it's possible (hard to comment more, since I've never seen you). Probably, once you find a circle of friends, who know that you're not gypsy, you won't have much trouble in that respect, particularly if you're in a small town (like the ones you've mentioned) where I expect that word would probably get around quickly. I'd imagine that being female will help you in this respect as well, as the "stereotypical gypsy hooligan" is a young teen/tween male. Again, perhaps a native Czech might comment on that to check me.
  3. Cloudy

    Cloudy Member

    Ngh, the guide I read must have soft-boiled it, then. It reassured me that the racism was only, and I quote, "casual prejudice". Bah.

    Of course, it did mention the horrible case of Anastázia Balážová, which I just got to. The book seems to lean toward the fact that Slovakia is more racist than the Czech Republic.

    I wasn't sure if being in a small town would help or hurt, but those reasons sound good enough to me. I guess I'll just have to take some friends with me should I ever visit Prague. :)

    I don't see how light jeering for the first month or so on my end of things will be a deterant. The Czech Republic is just so appealing.
  4. wer

    wer Well-Known Member

    In general, Czechs are very tolerant of other nations. The racism is rare in the Czech Republic. But there is one exception - the Gypsies.

    In fact, the behavior towards Gypsies isn't racism in the pure sense, it isn't based on their ethnicity but on their way of living. The Gypsies who are integrated into Czech society are much better accepted.

    Yes, Czechs tend to be vigilant and to look askance at persones of Gypsy appearance but that's only a a priori attitude which could be chased away in individual cases.

    To the phrase Sova wrote about I can add another typical one - "He is Gypsy, but a good/polite one" (this works also with Germans and Russians, but that's a different story :wink:).

    To Cloudy's problems: I think Czechs are mostly able to distinguish Gypsies and Spanish-Americans. In addition, one single Spanish, English or German (I see your signature :wink:) word shows that you are not (unadaptable) Gypsy.

    I never heard about it, but I googled it. Yes, the racism in Slovakia is more serious, especially in Žilina (this case).
  5. Cloudy

    Cloudy Member

    Somehow, I don't think my knowledge of German or Russian will make me more likable. :D

    How are the general attitudes in Prague, or other large cities? Would there be any problems in bars or clubs? The guide I read said that if you had darker skin you might be 'mildly surprised at the level of coldness you receive'. Which, come to think, was why I even asked in the first place.
  6. Duludka

    Duludka Member

    Well, IF you were gypsy, they (czechs) would be slightly distrustful of you at first, but if they see that you are polit, you won't have any problems...maybe people in towns, where they have some problems with gypsies (because many of them often don't pay a lease for their flats) - as Frýdek- Místek or Přerov - could be quite more distrustful of gypsies...
  7. dzurisova

    dzurisova Well-Known Member

    It appears that as long as you often speak, since you speak English with accent (accent to the Czech people), they will know when they hear you that you are not a gypsy. So talk a lot and you should be fine. :wink:
  8. Cloudy

    Cloudy Member

    Talk a lot, eh? No problem. God, they'll wish they'd never met me.
  9. xris

    xris Member

    We dont like to admit it but generaly speaking there is prejudice towards darder skinned people. it may not be so blunt in praha but it sure is obvious in smaller towns.
    In 2001 my friend who is Egyptian visited me and despite her exotic beauty, fluent knowledge of many languages, (she is a journalist). She couldn't wait to leave due to the racist behaviour and comments made to her.... She was verbaly abused in the street by strangers and cars sverved, treatening to hit her at pedestrian crossings. it was a real shame and I was ashamed & imbarased.
    My advice - from this experience, would be if you want to live in the Czech Republic, then live in Praha, unless you have someone who is Czech that can introduce you & represent you to the local community in a smaller town...until you find your feet and people get to know and trust you.
    My friend really felt threatened and sadly did not stay as long as we had originaly planned.
  10. anu

    anu Well-Known Member

    the first part of my reply is off-topic and i apologzie for it in advance!
    but i've read your signature, cloudy, and i'm wondering what it means?! (not the words, the meaning)

    as far as gypsies are concerned: i always feel ashamed when talking about them. in switzerland there aren't many of them anymore. we chased them away, put them in jail, we took their childern and put them into "good" swiss families to reeducate them. it's a horrible peace of swiss history...
  11. Cloudy

    Cloudy Member

    :D Hee, it's actually a line from a Czech song from 'Les Miserables' that I turned into German. My German is better than my Czech. It's from the song 'Fantinina Smýrt'. The woman is dying, and that's one of her ending lines. Nice song. Really lovely in Czech.

    Wow, clearly rascism is a bigger problem than I thought! I've got a picture of myself somewhere, and I'll put it up today, and you guys can tell me if I have the word 'TARGET' written on my forehead in big, neon letters.

    Actually, my idea that I have Gypsy features came from a Gypsy friend of mine who had the same facial features as me. We were talking about heritage, and I said, "Wow, Gypsy? You look Mexican!" and she said, "I don't look Mexican! You could pass as a Gypsy!"

    Knowing my luck, she was the one who actually looked Mexican. She's the only Gypsy I know, and we did look quite a bit alike...
  12. Averell

    Averell Active Member

    i have to say that as a german i had so far no (at least no obvious) problems here. and i discover from day to day more people who actually speak german too. but usually i approach everyone in english first since my czech knowledge is more or less non-existant (been only visiting so far - moving next month).
  13. Cloudy

    Cloudy Member

    My German isn't so horrible--I guess I could use that in an emergency. According to my travel guide, only 16% of Czechs speak English, most older folks speak German, because of the war, and a ton of them speak Russian, but prefer not to. Can't say I blame them.

    Whew! Here's that picture I promised. Please ignore the wanky expression on my face--I have a morbid fear of cameras, and some asshole caught me off guard. I HATE that. And please excuse the fuzziness :


    So, I look Mexican.

    Am I going to get swerved at???

    BUT HAH! People do not yet know my secret defense; for you see, I can take an insult any day about me personally, but it's when people bring race into the matter that I get sensitive. And I am pathologically non-confrontational. Let me give you an example! The very first time someone called me a 'wetback' I burst into tears right in front of him and ran into the girl's bathroom. He was so shocked that he ran after me to apologize.

    So hopefully, if anyone in the Czech Republic picks at me, I will undoubtedly start bawling and sobbing pathetically, and they will think, "My God, this is incredibly pitiful--let's go pick on someone who will do something."

    Of course, I don't how well that method would work on a skin-head..... :?
  14. Fuzija

    Fuzija Active Member

    After seeing the picture, I am sure you have nothing to fear ;)
  15. Cloudy

    Cloudy Member

    YAY!!! :D
  16. Fuzija

    Fuzija Active Member

    Where to in CZ will you be moving and when?
  17. Cloudy

    Cloudy Member

    Well, I haven't really made a decision in stone yet. But I'm studying to be a lawyer, so I want to spend four years of college here, then finish up in the Czech Republic, or possibly even Hungary, which I have a great interest in. I start college next fall. :D I can't wait. So, four or five years from now, at the most.
  18. Averell

    Averell Active Member

    lol - how about moving to brno and i help you improving your german??? :wink:

    i'm pretty sure the "danger" you're in is completely different than you think :D
  19. Cloudy

    Cloudy Member


    I am terribly flattered. My interest in languages changes so fast that I might end up in Germany yet. Or India.

    Four weeks ago : Ahh, Arabic!!
    Three weeks ago : Ahhh, Hindi!
    Two weeks ago : Ahhh, German!
    Last week : Ahhh, Swedish!
    Now : Ahhh, Czech! And also 'ahhh, Hungarian', with a mix of 'hmm, Polish?'

    I have the attention span of a fly. I could end up anywhere. :D
  20. Fuzija

    Fuzija Active Member

    Reading the above message, i would say that was an understatement ;)

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