14 September 2015

Barbara von Enger in the issue on Race, Immigrants and Expats

In conversation with the Jamaican/German painter, Barbara Matthews von Enger.

Dialogue on race, immigrants and expats. Today's question is: In conversation with Worship Blues, we were wondering: why, non whites are termed 'immigrants' and white people 'expats'?

To expatriate from your country is to immigrate to another, and to immigrate to a country is to expatriate from your homeland, and this has nothing to do with skin, colour, religion, race and so forth.

In Germany and England, all non whites are viewed as 'immigrants', whilst in Jamaica the European set are viewed as 'expats', even those who have been living there for over two decades. Here's Barbara von Enger's thoughts on the matter in hand. "I find it very hard to use the word “Expat”.

I feel it comes from a place of privilege, segregation and class separation, just as an example, a British person is an expat if living abroad when an Indian/West Indian/African moving to the UK does not have that choice.

For Europeans, the word 'immigrant' means someone who immigrates to another country for better living conditions. In fact Europeans tend to frown upon the word 'immigrants' whilst celebrating the 'expats' living abroad. To put it simply and politically. The 'immigrant' is always in need, thereby rendering him as 'third-class' citizen, which is a delicate form of discrimination. "

Editor's notes: We always admire the painter Barbara von Enger. She is brave, courageous and revolutionary.


  1. Everything you wrote here is absolutely true. It's definitely a class separation, which usually includes a racial divide as well. We should start calling non-whites who move to other countries expats until it sticks.

  2. I am muttering "Babylon", under my breath and in my mind I am recalling the evocative and eloquent speech that Selassie put to the then League of Nations.

  3. I was having this same discussion with my husband, telling him that we are imigrants as we live in a country not our own.

    Crazy world we live in - but great that there are some sane thinkers around.

    Good idea, 'Oh to be a Muse'.