Unwelcome at Home
Dave was the first black man I met in Prague. He works at an underground reggae bar with cheap, sweet beer and walls covered in graffiti about Jah and Emperor Selassie. During his shifts there, Dave sells plastic cupfuls of weed to grungy locals and giggling international students. He gently sways to the island music while he talks, explaining that he came to Prague to find better job opportunities. He didn’t want to say what he did for work at home in Nigeria, although he ensured me he was better off here.
“Prague is a great place, it’s my home,” Dave said. He paused and his big, gap-toothed smile disappeared. “But I can still feel the racism. Every day.”
While Prague is home to immigrant communities from countries like Nigeria and Vietnam, the mostly homogenous city remains stubbornly unwelcoming. A Somalian-American NYU Prague student receives points and stares when she walks around with her curly afro large and loose. A group of local teenagers spat out the word “niggers” at a group of students of color on a crowded
tram. Anti-immigration protesters shouted “gas them!” at tw o women in hijabs who happened to walk past their rally in Malostranské námêstí last month.
“I love Prague and I think it’s a beautiful place,” said another black NYU Prague student. “But sometimes, after being stared at all day, I don’t love it anymore. I just want to go home.”