Publication Date

Spring 2017

Program Name

Morocco: Migration and Transnational Identity


This paper aims to examine the overarching rhetoric surrounding racism against the Black

community in Morocco, specifically targeted toward refugees and migrants, and how the presence of racism—and the absence of a public conversation about its manifestation in Morocco—impacts the extent to which Sub-Saharan African[1] refugees feel they have been able to integrate. This is an attempt to find how the blindness of the majority of Moroccans to racism promotes its perpetuation and hinders refugees’ integration, and to understand how, by acknowledging and speaking out against racism, the human rights of refugees can be better advocated for by NGOs and the Moroccan government at large.

The research in this paper is primarily based on interviews conducted with the Ministry in Charge of Moroccans Living Abroad and Migration Affairs, the UNHCR[2], the UMT[3], AMAPPE[4], refugees living in Rabat, as well as extensive background research on Morocco’s historical relationship with racism, slavery, and nationalism. This work is supplemented by a survey distributed to Moroccans living in Rabat in which I ask about the presence of racism and whether or not the participants see it as an ongoing problem in Morocco and how this diverges from the perspectives of those subject to racism’s effects. Further, as part of my research, I present a rhetorical analysis of King Mohammed VI’s speech on King and People’s Revolution Day last year. In this analysis, I examine how the king’s rhetoric consistently promotes a problematic and inherently racist perspective of “enlightenment,” and recurrently situates Morocco outside Africa, perpetuating a principle of hierarchical racial classification delineating Moroccans and sub-Saharan Africans. The conclusions of this research suggest that, while there is certainly a legacy of anti-Blackness alive and well in Morocco, Moroccan nationalism has dangerously shrouded it—most Moroccans deny the existence of racism, and thus a very essential public dialogue about racism is being neglected both by the Moroccan people and the Moroccan government. Though the interviews were limited in scope, they provide an important narrative that appears common amongst sub-Saharan African refugees: racism in Morocco is present, growing, and inhibiting their integration into the Moroccan workforce and society. In order to improve refugees’ quality of lives in Morocco, this research indicates that the Moroccan government must fight racism; however, it must first start listening to the narratives of sub-Saharan African refugees when they assert that Moroccan racism is, indeed, unquestionable.

[1] The term Sub-Saharan is contested, and that the experiences of Africans from the multitude of countries South of the Sahara cannot be generalized; however, for the purposes of my study which focused on Africans of a similar age and “race,” but no common nationality, the term is useful and more accurate than other possible descriptors.

[2] The United Nations’ Refugee Agency representation in Morocco, located in Rabat.

[3] Acronym for the Union Marocaine Du Travail (Moroccan worker’s union).

[4] Acronym for L’Association Maroncaine d’Appui à la Promotion de la Petite Entreprise. (Moroccan Assocation for the Promotion and Support of Small Business).


African Languages and Societies | Other Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social and Behavioral Sciences


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