Why are white people expats when the rest of us are immigrants?

Surely any person going to work outside their country is an expatriate? But no, the word exclusively applies to white people

In the lexicon of human migration there are still hierarchical words, created with the purpose of putting white people above everyone else. One of those remnants is the word “expat”.

Expats or immigrants? Photograph: Matt Brandon

Expats or immigrants? Photograph: Matt Brandon

What is an expat? And who is an expat? According to Wikipedia, “an expatriate (often shortened to expat) is a person temporarily or permanently residing in a country other than that of the person’s upbringing. The word comes from the Latin terms ex (‘out of’) and patria (‘country, fatherland’)”.

Defined that way, you should expect that any person going to work outside of his or her country for a period of time would be an expat, regardless of his skin colour or country. But that is not the case in reality; expat is a term reserved exclusively for western white people going to work abroad.

Africans are immigrants. Arabs are immigrants. Asians are immigrants. However, Europeans are expats because they can’t be at the same level as other ethnicities. They are superior. Immigrants is a term set aside for ‘inferior races’.

Don’t take my word for it. The Wall Street Journal, the leading financial information magazine in the world, has a blog dedicated to the life of expats and recently they featured a story ‘Who is an expat, anyway?’. Here are the main conclusions: “Some arrivals are described as expats; others as immigrants; and some simply as migrants. It depends on social class, country of origin and economic status. It’s strange to hear some people in Hong Kong described as expats, but not others. Anyone with roots in a western country is considered an expat … Filipino domestic helpers are just guests, even if they’ve been here for decades. Mandarin-speaking mainland Chinese are rarely regarded as expats … It’s a double standard woven into official policy.”

The reality is the same in Africa and Europe. Top African professionals going to work in Europe are not considered expats. They are immigrants. Period. “I work for multinational organisations both in the private and public sectors. And being black or coloured doesn’t gain me the term “expat”. I’m a highly qualified immigrant, as they call me, to be politically correct,” says an African migrant worker.

Most white people deny that they enjoy the privileges of a racist system. And why not? But our responsibility is to point out and to deny them these privileges, directly related to an outdated supremacist ideology. If you see those “expats” in Africa, call them immigrants like everyone else. If that hurts their white superiority, they can jump in the air and stay there. The political deconstruction of this outdated worldview must continue.

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Twebakiki nongwayachi
Guest
Twebakiki nongwayachi
We have devised some of these terms on ourselves to be second class citizen and have passed this inferiority complex to our children.Everything that looks super and nice is related to the mzungu.A very big tasty guava,A very big beautiful looking dog,A big chicken and any good looking thing is termed chachizungu even some nice foods bought locally and cooked well are termed chachizungu.Its a mindset we have grown with.Even kids are taught to abandon their mother tongue for a white man language.You find some families struggling communicating with their kids in a queen’s language and even some adults in… Read more »
Ma
Guest

iam black and working abroad and am called an expatriate, so dont use your experience to stereotype all of us blacks.

Mtupatupa
Guest
We can only be called expatriate if Malawians open companies outside Malawi and get people to work there or if Malawi become rich and donate to other countries like grants and take Malawians/ Africa fill most of the top jobs on those projects, but as it is, the poorest country, and continent who would want to learn frm a third world man? Take for example, Malawi, MTL used to host people frm Botswana, RSA, ZIM etc in a telecommunication sch called Mult-Country behind Mesium at Chichiri, but due to the poorer Malawi used to be since multiparty politics, these other… Read more »
Chamwaka
Guest
They get more respect and paid more that us blacks, even if they have less academic qualification, simply because we Africans are like children; we can not do things well on our own. Take primary education or agriculture for example. We have the man power and other resources to make them function well. But we can not build the schools, or maintain them, or supply them with textbooks and chalk, let alone pay the teachers in time. The lake is all before use, but we can not put the land under irrigation and produce enough to feed ourselves and sell… Read more »
brutsha
Guest
Much as this article is coming from a well meaning and an ambitious mind, it is very difficult to defend the mediocre way on how citizen from low socioeconomic countries conduct themselves. Africans and/or citizens from low socioeconomic status countries don’t need to verbally demand their rightful place in the global set up. We, as citizens from low socioeconomic status countries, need to change the mediocre way we conduct ourselves if we really want the respect citizens from high income countries enjoy. Our actions and not words will speak louder. Just imagine the high levels of corruption, poor service delivery.… Read more »
Robbbins mkonda
Guest

In my opinion an expatriate is a professional sent by an organisation from one country to another usually but not always with skils not readily avalaibl. I haver seen several Black expats in our country. However highly Educated one may be if you enter another country on your own looking for a job and find one do not expect expatriate status.

Frank abudu hajee
Guest

That’s a very good subject .the only person who’s good to dealing with this problem is best man him self .Robert Mugabe.forward and long live mr president

ayaya
Guest

The white people are principled and respect their office. Imagine ur giving statement at a Police station n the officers office rings she answers the phone starts chatting in front of all the people jokes giggles hung up and tells you to start from where you stopped. Punctuality does not count they will attend all the funerals down business during working hours. Professionalism none coupled with laz fare attitude disqualifies us from being expats. U can spend hours at a govt office bfo being attended to by either a rude nurse or an angry officer so what is yr story?

ELIDA
Guest

I have been working with a consultant from abroad. All he does is coming in office at 9.30 have his 2 packets of cigarettes and at 3.00 goes drinking with prostitutes. He does nothing and he is so lazy. Thanks to the Malawians in his capacity who do all the work for him.

The Shunamite Ministry
Guest
The Shunamite Ministry

A rare case

john mzunguwalira
Guest

The problem here is that our trained engineers are lazy. They are just maintenance engineers. They like contracting each project so that they get something after. Povertly indeed. Everyday you see them in suit and always In office looking at ponngraphic photo on the computer instead of being out the field.

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