so. “conceptions of race are different in Europe than in the US” is a thing that goes around a lot and “no you’re talking about xenophobia not racism” is a thing that goes around a lot in response and… I think that both of these sides actually have half of the truth?
like, Polish people are often used as an example - they are frequently targets of European xenophobia, but it would be incorrect to say that they are not conceptualised as “white,” and the fact that they’re discriminated against doesn’t mean that nonwhite people are discriminated against any less. just that xenophobia may be a more prevalent axis of discrimination in most of Europe than racism is. where I come from in Norway, lots of kids are adopted from Asia, Africa, and South America, and from what I’ve seen those kids tend not to face discrimination or othering once it becomes clear that they’re “culturally Norwegian” and not from a “scary foreign culture.” The problem back home is usually having a foreign-sounding name, coupled with looking different - if you have a Norwegian name and dark skin, you’re usually fine.
BUT, the division of “white” v “PoC” also doesn’t work the same way in Europe as I think it does in the US. to give a personal example, I’m mixed Scandinavian and Latina. The Latina part, ¼, is negligible enough that I’m pretty sure that if I lived in the US, I would pass as white at least most of the time and no-one would look at me and think I looked “different” in any way. Having stayed in both Africa and Asia, I’ve also experienced that when I’m in these regions I get seen as unequivocally “a white person.”
However, back in Norway, I constantly get comments like this: “but you’re not completely Norwegian, are you?” And they’re reacting to the fact that my colouring is darker than what you’d see in a “normal” Norwegian, but what they’re really asking me is “but are you culturally Norwegian?” They see my name, and that tells them I’m Norwegian, but my appearance - again, probably 100% white by non-European (or even non-Norwegian) standards - makes them wonder whether I might not be fully “one of them.” My dad has experienced this too (being half Latino, he’s darker than me) and has even had people imagine that they can hear “an accent” in the way he speaks, even though that would be literally impossible. Then, once I can reassure the asker that I grew up in Norway and the only Argentinean person I know is my grandmother, the questioning stops and they’re happy to accept me as “a real Norwegian.”
As another example, there was one other mixed girl in my primary school, who was half Norwegian and half Indian. Because she looked “more foreign” than I did, she was also subject to more questioning and tried harder to reaffirm her Norwegianness in response. Over time, she distanced herself more and more from her Indian side, and by high school she had stopped using her first name, Sangita, and started calling herself Marie. From what I can see on Facebook, she still calls herself Marie. Also, she uses (and, as far as I know, has always used) only her mother’s Norwegian surname, probably out of a decision by her parents that taking her Indian father’s name would affect her employability much more than looking the way she does with a Norwegian name would. For all I know, he may also have taken his wife’s name to lessen the discrimination he experiences (applications with a foreign-sounding name tend to be thrown straight out by employers, whether that name is Greek or Indian or whatever else).
So basically, what people are saying when they say that racism works differently in Europe than it does in the US, is that racism is more tangled up in xenophobia in Europe than it is in the US. A nonwhite European who has been raised entirely in a European culture, through adoption or otherwise, is less likely to be othered than a nonwhite person who has arrived in Europe as an immigrant, or as the child of immigrants, though that nonwhite immigrant may well face more discrimination than, say, a Polish immigrant, who is still discriminated against due to xenophobia despite being “white.” And then there are people from the Mediterranean, who are often thought of as “not white” and face similar xenophobic/racist discrimination even though an American would think of them as “white.”
TL;DR: In the US, racism seems to be a more prevalent axis of discrimination than xenophobia, though that doesn’t mean xenophobia doesn’t exist in the US. In Europe, xenophobia seems to be a more prevalent axis of discrimination than racism, though that doesn’t mean racism doesn’t exist in Europe. Talking about one region’s axes of oppression through the lens of another’s is still not going to get you very far.
black people are excited about black panther not because its lead is a “person of color”. it’s because its lead is black and there’s a healthy amount of black women in it that have prominent roles.
i know there was that huge thing about whether or not wonder woman’s actress is a woman of color–and how that should be progressive for all women–but at the end of the day, even if you call her a woc, that’s still not representation for black people, specifically black women. so yeah, clearly we’re going to celebrate the movie that actually has us in prominent roles and make jokes about how black panther is a better movie for us.