Are You An Expat Or An Immigrant?

We’re throwing you a trick question
BY: RAY GUNN

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

Defined that way, you would 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 color or country. But that is not the case; expat is actually a term reserved exclusively for Western white people going abroad. Africans are immigrants. Arabs are immigrants. Asians are immigrants. Europeans are expats. Why is that?

The Wall Street Journal has a blog dedicated to the life of expats and recently they featured a story titled, ‘Who is an expat, anyway?’ They concluded that it depends on social class, country of origin and economic status. Which means that some people in Hong Kong are described as expats, but not others. Filipino domestic helpers are just guests, even if they’ve been there for decades. Mandarin-speaking mainland Chinese are rarely regarded as expats.

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.

So, now that has been pointed out, what are you, dear whitey reader from a foreign country? Are you still comfortable being called an expat or are you willing to be called an immigrant like everyone else who has changed countries?