Black in Vienna


According to an anti-discrimination organisation called ZARA, in Austria 2015 racism was at an all-time high (see here). Two-thirds of the racist remarks and acts were directed towards either asylum seekers or people supporting them. Kim Kardashian was on a paid trip to Vienna when a few guests came out in black face impersonating Kanye West (see here). On the flip side, there are stories of people faking their hate crimes in Austria (see here). So you can understand why I was apprehensive to visit this country. Also, this should never have even crossed my mind but this was the country where Hitler was born. Is there something about this society which predisposes people to racism? Of course not. I had to stop my excitable imagination at times to remember major tragic events and periods such as the genocide and apartheid, are a product of several actions which took place before them. Even after the world wars, and the cold war, nationalism is still on the rise in Europe today. Other than Hitler, Vienna was home to some of the most amazing people the world has ever seen Sigmund Freud, Mozart, Beethoven, Freidrich von Hayek, Karl Popper, etc.

If it wasn’t racism it would have been something else, I honestly don’t think I will ever travel scare-free. I always assume I’ve left something at home, the plane will crash, I’ll get ripped off etc. But with Vienna (just like Armenia and Ukraine) I was worried that my skin colour would be the main issue. I flew from Birmingham to Munich on a transfer flight, as expected this was smooth. I’ve never felt any racial adversity in Germany. Then was my flight to Vienna, which was comfortable, again no adversity. Once in Vienna I blended in quite easily, I saw a few black people one riding a bike. More than in Armenia or Ukraine. At no point in Vienna did I feel threatened, my trip was wayyy tooo short. I must go back. I found the people friendly, the food delicious, the architecture phenomenal. If you are worried about going to Vienna, don’t be. You will not feel hateful glares or have someone say a racist slur to your face. If you look at ZARAs stats on race crime in Austria 2015, 927 attacks were recorded compared to UK stats this isn’t many so maybe I was lucky. I honestly don’t know why I was scared, I wasn’t scared going to Turkey! The information I read before increased my fears, but I guess it’s a reminder not to believe everything you read. Obviously, I cannot speak for all of Austria but I went to Vienna, and I was safe, and nothing happened.

Shaneka Knight


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