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Noora

Being Black In Turkey

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Noora Im so glad to hear your feeling alot better about being in Turkey and you are not so worried about what people think about you anymore. :D I may have to go shopping with you one day thought if you get taken to the front of the queue hehe xxx

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Hi Noora! True staring is kind of a turkish thing, and sometime it does feel much uncomfortable.. but i did realize that attitude of people changes on behalf how you treat them (as actually anywhere else in the world). Sometime I found staring annoying and I didnt look nice into peoples eyes, I was obviously in bad mood couse of it and annoyed. But then I changed an attitude.I know I point out cuz I am white, and turkish people are curious, nothing to do about it, but stil they are mostly harmless. Now I just ignore staring, i do my thing, go where I want to go, do what I want to do and dont bother with other things. I actually started to feel I am one of them, they dont stare as much anymore. And when I speak to people I dont have negative approach to them but I smile to them, I treat them nice, I share pozitive energy towards them and they are treating me back same. In generally they are good people, with so much nice habits so dont mind some bad ones - well more funny than bad, they cant help themselves:) Hope you are having good life, well we only live once so take the best of Turkey;)

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I get stared at in Turkey, too, but I'm not black. I have blonde hair, green eyes, and a very rosy complexion. Even in Istanbul, I get stared at by EVERYONE, so you can imagine the response in Ankara. Anyone who looks out-of-the-ordinary will not only get stared at, but also targeted, either for good or bad. For example, usually shouts of "come into our restaurant" out in the street are aimed at me. And another example, one time I was on a bus, alone, and 4-5 men came and stood round me in a circle, very close, very intimidating.Often I wish I had the dark Turkish hair that my family has just to blend in more.

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You'll have to have your hair tinted for when you come to Turkey Amy. :D

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Noora, I'm so glad that there have been some positive moments, too, and that you are surrounded by support from your friend and his family. Posted Image

Philip, you rock! Posted Image What a great attitude you have. I was reading this thread because my niece is mixed and I was worried about the treatment she might face when she visits me, but your post/experience is re-assuring. I'm planning on sharing this thread with her. Also wanted to comment on the great pix--you have a lovely family. I second the poster who opined your little guy is slated to be a heart-breaker. Posted Image

This is also a good thread for others to read because as others have mentioned, as foreigners we are all bound to be stared at and it can be tiresome. Last year when I visited, I brought what I thought was completely "normal" and age-appropriate attire. Boy, was I wrong. The fashion here (in the States--although I imagine it's the same in the UK?) is to wear a pretty, sheer printed outer tops/tee shirts/tunics, etc. and a color-coordinated cami underneath, which gives the overall appearance of a lined shirt. This is something you can wear anywhere here--i.e. it can be considered professional atire. But the range of reactions I got in Turkey varied from the nice Istanbul desk clerk looking very surprised and averting his eyes, to throngs of men following me after a short distance from the hotel (I went back and changed) to being followed and tsked by a woman in Konya (wearing something else--this one long-sleeved and not sheer, but perhaps not thick enough for Konya). Seriously, there were perhaps two things that I brought that did not generate a reaction and I after a while I just kept wearing those two things. Posted Image

I'm also aware that Turks don't seem to participate in sports or physical activity (besides walking) after their 20's. I've asked elsewhere on the board about if it would be dangerous/hopelessly eccentric to ride a bike to work (apparently it would be--one or the other) and I've heard that one doesn't really jog in Turkey, either. I told my Turkish friends that I planned on bringing my rollerblades, which elicted startled laughter; apparently this, too, would be scene-making. I'm afraid that since I'm "older" (almost 50) it would be all the more scene-making/inapropriate-seeming, but I need to find a way to stay fit, and I can't/don't want to just go to the gym all the time, when Izmir has such great weather for most of the year! So I've decided, to heck with it. It's more important to stay fit and have fun. My plan is to meet stares with a smile and keep biking/rollerblading/jogging away. I figure eventually they'll get used to the crazy yabanci. Posted Image

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Quinn, you're better off jogging. I don't remember where you're going to be living (i think you mentioned it in another post somewhere, but..) but I've seen plenty of people jogging here in Istanbul (at least in the residential areas, not so much in the tourist areas -- too crowded for one thing -- but i've seen them running even along the shore of the bosphorus between the bridges; nice wide walkways there for the most part, and not too hilly. Rollerblading, however, might be difficult, because the sidewalks are mostly made of cobblestone or brick and you'd either be moving very slowly or picking yourself up off the ground every 10ft or so, and you DON'T want to be blading in the occasionally paved streets unless you have a death wish!

Posted Image I've also seen more people on bikes lately (not just kids, either) but again, it's not the safest way to get around in traffic.

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Thanks for the words of wisdom, IWB. I didn't think of the cobblestone aspect. Drat.I'm going to be moving to Izmir. Just found out one can't swim in Izmir because it's too polluted. Maybe this is why Turks don't do sports after a certain age--it's just not a very sport-friendly place!

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If you want to go jogging, biking or roller blading you can use the sea front where, almost right round the bay, there is a wide paved area with, as far as I'm aware, no cobbles.In Izmir you will be able to wear what you wear in the states with no problems as in any of the coastal resorts.

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Oh, Sunny, that's good to know! Both about having a wider range of "acceptable" clothing and also that one can go jogging/biking/rollerblading on the sea front, of which I'm hoping to be close.

Clothing standards did appear to be different in Bodrum, for instance, but as soon as we got off the beaten path and went to Görmüşlük, where the attraction is to walk across the water to a little island, it was absolutely not okay to where a bathing suit and cover-up in the tea gardens there. Many hostile stares and the garson seemed reluctant to serve us. So it wasn't just known conservative places like Konya where I experienced hostility in the face of wearing what I thought was situation-appropriate atire. Istanbul! A resort area on the coast! I just wanted to tell Noora, "I get it. Sometimes the stares are clearly not nice, and it is sort of infuriating."

Samantha, thanks for the info about Bfit. I think I would rather go to an all-women's gym in Turkey. I am used to co-ed gyms here, but I'm afraid the men who go to them in Turkey may not be. Posted Image

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i don't think that turkish people care about skin color of people. the reason is that we do not have a lot of foreign people in turkey. and we can tolerate them that small numbers do not have influence on demographics

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Hello Noora,My case is even worse than yours, i am completely black so to say from Nigeria in Africa and I am here in Izmir, Turkey for the 9th INSME Annual Meeting from May 21-24, 2013.I have never seen or experienced anything like what I have been through for the past two days here in Izmir. I did my MSc in the UK and have been to other countries but I have never been stared upon like the way the Turkish people (children and adult) here in Izmir have been casting their gaze upon me. I tried to look back at them and also observe them although am a little bit confused but I have a strong feeling that their gaze might not be racism. Considering that surprisingly a beautiful lady was bold enough to chat me up and you can't believe she does not speak English, I was using a Turkish-English dictionary on my IPad to communicate with her. It was interesting we chatted but of course passers-by kept looking. LOLPerhaps as other people have spoken, the Turkish people are not very used to seen black people and they don't hide their inquisitiveness and feelings (may be).I really love Izmir. Although the gaze from people's eyes is very very discomfortingJonathan Yusuf

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I'm so tired of turkish people starring at me. Seriously, they will stop what they are doing, some even point. I am not one to look at people, but even when I dont want to see anything, all it takes is one glimpse and I catch someone all acting weird, like they cant believe what they are seeing. I'm part black so I have dark skin, so are these people racist? Have they never seen black people before? Why cant they just mind their own business?I've been turkey before last year and this year nothing is different. These people really make me feel like I dont want to be seen. My fiance keeps telling me its because im so beautiful. I have never felt this akward anywhere else in the world. I have been fortunate to travel and see the world at a young age but turkey is a beautiful country sadly some people ruin it for me.

 

Hi Noora, can you say which part of Turkey you're experiencing this in? Seems a little strange to me that it would be in the extreme of "pointing," but I did grow up in the US where there all sorts of people here. There are definitely a lot of racist people here though (especially after 911) which is one reason I am looking forward to going to live in a region where others look like me -- sounds whiny maybe because I'm not getting pointed at or starred at as you are but I still get it.

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I am ethnic Indian and hence more brown than the local Turks. People, in particular young children tend to stare at me not because of my colour but because I smoke a pipe !!!

 

The same thing happened when I was in Indonesia and India - pipe smokers are uncommon.

 

Nothing to do with colour just curiosity about something different.

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Ah I see, interesting -- could be a "curiosity" kind of thing in the culture. I lived in Iran until I was about 12 and I remember being taught rigorously that it was impolite to stare and definitely never point to people so at least I can say with some level of confidence that it's not a culture thing in Iran and it would be surprising if it's a Turkish thing since they're both close countries. Anyway, I didn't read through the entire thread so hopefully it wasn't as bad as I first thought.

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I'm so tired of turkish people starring at me. Seriously, they will stop what they are doing, some even point. I am not one to look at people, but even when I dont want to see anything, all it takes is one glimpse and I catch someone all acting weird, like they cant believe what they are seeing. I'm part black so I have dark skin, so are these people racist? Have they never seen black people before? Why cant they just mind their own business?I've been turkey before last year and this year nothing is different. These people really make me feel like I dont want to be seen. My fiance keeps telling me its because im so beautiful. I have never felt this akward anywhere else in the world. I have been fortunate to travel and see the world at a young age but turkey is a beautiful country sadly some people ruin it for me.

 

Well they probably aren't use to foreign people. I have a friend that went to Africa as a volunteer for the red cross and he said everyone stared at him in bewilderment when he was in a rural town. Its not appropriate but people do it out of out of bewilderment. I do not think they necessarily are trying to be mean. I went to Native American pow wows and felt strange being there because they all thought I was a strange white person but after you talk to people from these cultures they are usually friendly and are welcoming.

I totally sympathise, Noora, it must make you feel terrible. I have often wondered what it is that makes some people behave like that. Lack of manners, lack of awareness or consideration for other people's feeling, ignorance, rudeness, downright stupidity. It is hard to understand from people who are usually reasonably polite in their day to day behaviour. There are a number of students from Africa at the university, and I have even seen some (but not many) university students do what you describe, which is inexcusable.But I'm not sure I would use the term racist to describe the behaviour. Those of us brought up and educated in UK or US have been part of a massive effort to stop people from being racist (and to be honest the effort has not been very successful in some respects), and we have a strong awareness of what it is and what the consequences of racism are, with reference to things like Hitler, World War 2, slavery, Martin Luther King, Apartheid etc. These things barely feature in education in Turkey, so I do not think we can expect people who have not had the same experiences to see racism in the way we do.That apart, though, I wish I could help you with some advice to keep your cool and enjoy yourself in spite of those negative experiences. I am sure I would get terribly upset if someone I was with experienced what you are experiencing, because it is so visible. I would say that the people who are making you uncomfortable are not doing it on purpose to annoy you, and it is thoughtlessness rather than malice at work. And I am sure that they are in a small minority, and you are not the only one who feels uncomfortable at the rudeness.I really hope you enjoy your time in Turkey, please don't let these people put you off.

I was bombarded with this information in history class and once even asked the instructor at my school is there any positive history or material we can learn about. Mankind is an interesting specimen ; ]

Ah I see, interesting -- could be a "curiosity" kind of thing in the culture. I lived in Iran until I was about 12 and I remember being taught rigorously that it was impolite to stare and definitely never point to people so at least I can say with some level of confidence that it's not a culture thing in Iran and it would be surprising if it's a Turkish thing since they're both close countries. Anyway, I didn't read through the entire thread so hopefully it wasn't as bad as I first thought.

Same here. When I was young me and my cousin would always point and I can remember being slapped by my mother for doing it or for staring at foreign people hahaha. I can see children doing it but grown adults is alittle strange and can make you feel awkward.  I never notice it or don't really care when I go to foreign places. I do not try to make myself look like a tourist though, I wouldn't wear a shirt saying 'Merica hell yeah' on it I would look like an idiot and I would deserve to be stared upon hahahah.

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On 18.05.2011 at 21:06, Mimar yazdı:

You know you really shouldn't say "zenci"(negro) it's not polite.Friend two: Really ? "Zenci" is rude ? I had no idea.Friend one: Yes, it's rude.Friend two: Uh-oh ! What should I say then ?Friend one: "Siyah"(black)

it's not true. "zenci"(comes from arabic language to turkish) already means "siyahi"(black people) in turkish and it's not an insulting word.  there is no word in turkish  which insults black people. 

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