Spanish Blogger Goes After Anti-Catalan Prejudice in Viral Video

A YouTube video featuring an Andalusian Spanish blogger criticizing xenophobic attitudes in Spain toward the region of Catalonia has gone viral.

Blogger Mel Domínguez (@focusings) uploaded the video [es] to her Youtube channel [es] on April 8th, 2013 as a response to anti-Catalanism she has encountered in Spain. It has so far garnered more than two million views and more than 35,000 comments.

The video comes at a time when tensions are high between Spain and the autonomous community of Catalonia. With economic crisis ravaging the Iberian peninsula, the movement for independence in Catalonia has gained popular support, straining relations between the region and the rest of the country.

Domínguez, a 23-year-old Huelva native, has been living in Barcelona for two years. In her video, titled “¡A mí me hablas en español!” or “Speak to me in Spanish!”, she deconstructed what she called “false myths” about the Catalan people:

She began by asserting:

Estoy en contra de los españoles que odian a los catalanes por inercia, pero también estoy en contra de los catalanes que odian a los españoles con la misma intensidad.

I am against Spaniards who possess irrational disdain for the Catalan people, just as I am against Catalans who hate Spaniards with the same intensity.

She asserted that, in her native Andalusia, she was “raised to hate” the Catalan people and Catalonia as symbols of all Spain's ills. Domínguez explained that after moving to Barcelona, she came to believe that another people's desire for political independence is perfectly valid:

¿Es que están ofendiendo a alguien por pensar que su tierra merece un estado propio? Mientras no sean radicales que van insultando a España, su pensamiento independiente me parece totalmente respetable. […] Cuando crecí y empecé a conocer esta tierra, me di cuenta de que es una tontería odiar por odiar.

Are they offending anyone for desiring a state for their homeland? As long as someone isn't a radical who spews hate for Spain, their belief in their own sovereignty seems perfectly respectable to me… When I grew and began to understand this place, I came to realize how absurd it is to hate for the sake of hate.

Domínguez also sought to set the record straight about “false myths,” such as a commonly held belief that Spanish speakers in Catalonia are marginalized and face discrimination, or that the Catalan-language is a dialect of Spanish:

Un dialecto es el andaluz, el canario, el murciano. El catalán se rige por sus propias reglas ortográficas, sus propias conjugaciones verbales, su propia escritura.

A dialect is Andalusian, Canarian, Murcian. Catalan is made of and governed by its own orthography, its own verbal conjugations, its own body of literature.

Domínguez also explained that when she was young, her desire to watch the Catalan-language television program “Crackòvia” [ca] led to often heated arguments with her father, who would say, “I'd watch English television before anything in Catalan” — an attitude Domínguez qualified as radical: to hate “just because”, in her own words. She concluded:

Sé que no voy a cambiar el mundo grabando este vídeo, pero me he desahogado.

I know I won't change the world recording this video, but I just needed to vent.
Immediate reaction
Ms Domínguez expected to generate both negative and positive reactions, but she didn't expect large-scale amplification. Since she uploaded the video, she has been receiving a steady stream of support. For instance, Catalan illustrator Joan Pasqual [ca] (joanpasqualart) wrote to her on YouTube:

Chica, et felicito per la teva inteligència, simpatía i sentit de l'humor. M'has fet pasar una bona estona. Si hi haguès a Espanya molta gent que pensès com tu tot aniría millor. Moltes gràcies guapetona!!!!

Lady, cheers for your intelligence, sympathy and sense of humor. Thanks to you I had a great time today. If there were more people in Spain who think like you, things would be going so much better. Thank you!!!!

Lawyer Sergi Atienza [ca] (@SergiAtienza_) tweeted:

@SergiAtienza_: Una mica d'aire demòcrata i respecte des d'Espanya. Viva la madre que te parió, y gracias! @focusings @catalanofobia

@SergiAtienza_: A little democratic and respectful air blowing in from Spain. Bless you, and your parents! @focusings @catalanofobia

Nevertheless, despite clarifying her position against all forms of radicalism, Domínguez wasn't able to evade criticism — and in some cases, personal insults — from those who don't share her vision. It should be noted, however, that her detractors continue to fall in the minority of those who reacted to her video.

Víctor García Glez (@uvejeje) wrote on Twitter:

@uvejeje: Su vídeo sobre la “catalanofobia” me parece una de las chorradas más imbéciles y victimistas que vi en años. Enhorabuena.

@uvejeje: I found your video about “Catalanophobia” to be one of the most stupid and self-victimizing frivolities that I've seen in years. Congratulations.

Some netizens, such as Twitter user Santiago Sánchez (@murcianista77) went as far to question her own national authenticity:

@murcianista77: si eres andaluza no eres neutral, gilipollas.una buena andaluza es antiindependentista.

@murcianista77: If you're Andalusian you aren't neutral, idiot. Real Andalusians are anti-separatists.

Beyond the blogosphere, various media outlets, such as El País [es] and television channel 8 TV [ca], have reported on Domínguez's video. La Vanguardia [es] has even hired her to offer her videos as scoops to its readers.

Fighting anti-Catalanism

This video coincides with a broader initiative in Catalonia to fight perceived anti-Catalanism. Beyond displays of national and cultural pride, such as the region's traditional Diada holiday and last summer's controversial grassroots translation of Twitter's interface, activists have been deliberately pushing back against a rising tide of anti-Catalan sentiment in Spain's public and private spheres.

Aside from the Domínguez video, a notable case has been the website [ca], which has had far-reaching success in denouncing anti-Catalan activity online by collecting and sharing racist tweets and blog posts.


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