Black in Cairo: US Blogger Talks Egypt, Mubarak and Gender Relations

While watching TV I noticed that Egyptians come in all colors, do Egyptians have any issues with light versus dark?

There is a select percent of people who strategically breed with whites. They are half Egyptian, and French, English or whatever, basically white is right. Then the majority of people who are brown and tan and then there is the Nubian population. You don’t see Nubians as much in Cairo because they are primarily located in the South of the country.

The men tend to be darker than the women because they have done physical labor. The men don’t really care about getting darker. The women will try to stay out of the sun and remain as light as possible because that is a sign of beauty and privilege to be white. You will see the average person represented in the military so they will tend to be darker.

You won’t see the average person represented in the media. The presenters and representations of the everyday person are all very, very light and that can skew your perception of what a person looks like. For example, I always thought that the former president Anwar Sadat was Egyptian and looked like what many would envision an Arab to look like. But I stumbled across a picture of him that hadn’t been lightened and this dude could have been Bill Cosby! He was as dark as any other black person.

Why did you blog in Egypt under a pseudonym?

When I first started blogging, I learned that Egypt has a habit of disappearing bloggers. I’m coming from the mentality where if you show yourself you can be interrogated or no one will ever see you again. It initially started as safety issue. My first blog post was about this secret police guy who lived above us. When my roommate saw it, she said ‘You take that down right now!’ so I scrubbed that it. In the rest of my blogging, I was always mindful of what she said and kept my identity under cover. Now it’s just become my online identity.

Did you meet any other protest bloggers?

I met one girl @MAYkosba, who was a social activist, through CouchSurfing. She posted a question asking how foreigners view Egypt and we ended up going out a couple of times to discuss issues. She was one of the first people to start tweeting about the January 25 protest on January 23 and then she disappeared on twitter when they had the media blackout. So I started tweeting emphatically, I thought, ‘Let me get as much info out in her absence.’ She came back a couple of days later.

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