Being black in Moscow

Now, don't get me wrong, i'm as white as a fine line of Siberian cocaine, but I do have a swole black friend who is living the 'Moscow dream' too. I decided to ask him to do a guest post on what it's like for him in Moscow and here is it. So a big thanks to R and enjoy the post.


Well obviously I can’t speak for everyone who is dark skinned (and by dark skinned I don’t mean people from the Caucasus who are commonly referred as “dark” , I mean people of African descent ) in Russia, anyway here is some feedback from my point of view and what it has been like so far.

Over all Russia has been good to me, Moscow more specifically. I’ve been here for over two years and have had my share of odd situations. To be black in Russia I guess is no different then being a midget in the sense that you stand out somewhat.

When I walk down the street or am out and about, I get looks but not all bad. As a matter of fact most of them are not. Riding the metro for example, I can generally tell what type of looks I am getting from people. The occasional person who projects hatred is easily stared down or ignored, the standard questions asked by the elderly or youth are answered with courtesy and sometimes humor, and the pretty girl smiling gets one right back if she is not with a big Russian guy.

I’ve had people that openly refused to rent me a flat because I was black but have also had jobs offered to me specifically for the same reason, so… it balances out.

My experience with the ladies has been the same - 50-50. I understand it is really all about likes and dislikes, opinions and the stereotypes that help form, shape or influence them.
I meet girls that make the association between their favorite music television, hip-hop, R&B songs or artists and the American black guy they just met. Sometimes it’s funny because they think that I will talk, walk, or act a certain way based on the music videos they’ve seen. They sometimes refer to blacks as “exotic.”

I have gotten the notorious “face control” at clubs and restaurants and on the other hand I have been pulled on to the stage, given recognition from Russian Disc Jockeys and given VIP passes all for the same reason.

Speaking the language helps as most people that approach me, be it at the gym or in the street, are generally just curious and tend to ask similar questions. How long I’ve lived in Russia. If I am an African student here (I am American, but that is almost never any ones guess unless I’m talking English) going to University. If I like Russian women or if I have a Russian girlfriend.

After learning that I am American, I get the other standard questions.
You know them, if all Americans like Mc Donalds and other along those lines.

I can get into more details about a range of things, but I just wanted to give a little feedback about what it’s been like for me.

Personally, I love it.

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Anonymous said...

Soooo I randomly ran across this blog and have not stopped laughing yet. This post has special interest being that Im a Black, American girl from California with a slight unhealthy obsession with Russia. After watching all these horror documentaries on the rise of Nazism in Russia which I believe, although are not be ignored its finally nice to read something well... normal. I have a pen pal from Volgograd that treats me an an crazy smiling American first before any negative stereotypes. I've got a lot of Russian stereotypes squashed as he American ones. The mixed bag is secretly nice and being as unique as an midget in regards to traveling far off places is a given if not being regarded as entertaining. Visting St. Petersburg and Moscow was always a must do and now Im even more excited knowing that Im not going to be exterminated after getting off the plane... Im kidding. If anything impersonally I've just felt a culture difference.... Thanks bro!! :)

Lt. Columbo on February 16, 2012 at 3:32 PM said...

very nice to hear and glad you enjoy the blog!
hope your trip over here isn't a disappointment!

Unknown on December 7, 2012 at 4:28 AM said...

I can tell you that I had an amazing time visiting Russia in 2012. Not in in St. P and Moscow, but even in some of the smaller villages that I cannot pronounce. I received my fair share of awkward looks, especially from my fiancĂ©’s family and friends LOL! Joking joking… But honestly people on the streets will look at you funny. BUT… if you have ever left the United States, or even left a major city in the US you should be used to that. Some good experiences I had were at St. Basil’s when some local girls stole me from my girl to take photos with me. Other girls stole me again and started kissing on me and taking pics. Not making this up. Bad experiences…? I tried helping a European backpacker make sense of the signage at the train station. We were immediately rushed by the police as if we were doing something wrong. I just walked away quietly. So… I would say stay away from the police, avoid going out alone at nights, don’t cause a big commotion, and don’t go bragging about being an American when you get to Russia. Same stuff as you would want to do anytime you leave the US. Most of all… I would just say represent black people with dignity. We have to be tired of the rest of the world thinking we are all pimps, drug dealers, and rappers! Aren’t we??? -

Anonymous said...

I'm very interested to hear about black folk in Russia, my girlfriend is Russian so at some point I would have to go there. She doesn't say much and I understand why. My life is more important than a visit to Russia. I'm african

Lt. Columbo on July 8, 2013 at 12:58 PM said...

You should be fine for a short visit i'd imagine, although sure, you'll stand out a bit. Sometimes Russians are more curious than aggressive tho

Anna on October 14, 2013 at 11:11 PM said...

What an interesting piece. I am a Russian-born American (New Yorker) who recently moved back, and what I have learned since is that Russian women (and some Russian men) have almost a fetish for black Africans.

Again, I see it more with women, but I've had several [white Russian] guys tell me that a black girl would be the ultimate exotic fantasy come true - while Asian would be 'ugh hell no' (sorry for the highly offensive nature of this, I am retelling). Anyway, this was rather weird to hear, coming from the land of 'yellow fever'/Asian fetish and having several white male-Asian female couples among friends.

I think Russia in particular is a good illustration of the economic and political nature of racism - people are much friendlier to and more accepting of Africans than of 'Caucasians', who, while closer in actual skin tone, are almost unanimously reviled and are considered the 'real blacks.'

Lt. Columbo on October 15, 2013 at 10:33 AM said...

It's probably because Asian has the association of caucus for a lot of Russians and migrant workers kind of status. Like Mexicans in the US.
I never knew there was that much yellow fever in America :p

Anonymous said...

It's kind of a cliche in the more educated/affluent circles, too!

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