Race and racism in Kosovo: An Afro-Latina American woman’s perspective

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Race and racism in Kosovo: An Afro-Latina American woman’s perspective

The easiest way to cope with racism in Kosovo would be to focus the discussion on Kosovo’s own racialized minorities. Remedy for foreigners of color may be area of the discussion without dominating it.

Summer time of 2015 ended up being the time that is first stumbled on Kosovo. I became 18 and it also had been my time that is first leaving united states of america.

Upon showing up in Kosovo we instantly became keenly alert to my hyper-visibility. My hair, nose, lips and the body framework had been completely different through the Kosovar females we encountered. For several, I happened to be the very first woman that is black had ever met in actual life. We constantly received compliments back at my black colored features. This is particularly strange in my situation because I originate from a culture where my features are believed unsightly.

Street harassment to my experience in Kosovo also offers extremely gendered and racial aspects. The road harassment in Kosovo is brutal for some ladies, no matter cultural back ground, but my blackness adds another layer compared to that. Guys would usually follow me personally and scream the names of random female that is black. I obtained familiar with hearing, “Beyonce! Rihanna!” when I wandered by sets of males. As soon as a car or truck high in guys began yelling, “baby mama drama!” at me personally, talking about a stereotype that is american black colored feminine promiscuity. This label, which Kosovars into the vehicle may have not really known, performs regarding the trope for the black colored woman who has got numerous children from a variety of dads and spends her time constantly running after the various dads and causing “drama.”

After my very first day at Kosovo in 2015 we made the decision that is personal adhere to Islamic gown code recommendations, which includes the headscarf. For me personally, it absolutely was ways to reclaim my human body through the male look. In January for this 12 months, We came back to Kosovo. We hoped that my brand new method of dressing would be a deterrent from road harassment. This turned into totally untrue. Admittedly, the harassment is significantly lower than it absolutely was in 2015. Nonetheless, males from the road remain in the same way bold. Now I have catcalled with Islamic phrases like “Selam alejkum” and “Mashallah.” We have had men ask me personally for coffee and will not just just just take “no” for a solution. We have additionally had individuals follow me personally home on one or more occasion.

I blame most of the intimate harassment We face in Kosovo on US news usage. Awhile ago I became in the cinema viewing the brand new Fast & Furious film. All of the women of color were oversexualized throughout the film. Us news seldom illustrates ladies of color as any thing more than items or props. Whenever you’re working with a culture that includes small experience of ladies of color, it has a major effect on their perceptions and presumptions. International women of color in Kosovo end up being the exotic, intimate things for most males in Kosovo. Kosovar males must be held accountable also, but. The origins of intimate harassment originate from profoundly embedded, sexist views about ladies. Although intimate harassment in Kosovo could be racialized, the nagging issue it self is pervasive across cultural lines.

The desire for black colored womanhood is mirrored in a complete great deal of popular Kosovar music. In her own videos, age Istrefi usually wears hairstyles that are black as dreads and package braids. Her music and dance-style emulates black colored performers and many even call her the Albanian Rihanna. In the us, the sight of the white girl imitating black colored womanhood would bring accusations of social appropriation. But, social appropriation is a concern of privilege. Privilege is because social inequality and it is according to historic and oppressions that are systematic prefer particular teams over others. Whenever a group that is privileged the tradition of a underprivileged team, it reduces the underprivileged team to harmful stereotypes and additional reinforces their marginalized status.

In the usa, discussions about privilege and social appropriation frequently get into a white/person-of-color (POC) binary. The colonialist and imperialist tendencies of white European countries have actually mainly targeted non-white populations. Hence, in the usa and Western Europe we speak about white people being more privileged than people-of-color (non-white people). Albanians complicate this binary to a substantial level because they do not have an extensive history of dominating other cultures although they are white Europeans. In reality, they’ve been victims of imperialist and colonial forces that we frequently ascribe to Europeans.

Furthermore, Albanians have actually experienced comparable discrimination that is systematic a great many other non-white populations faced. In Yugoslavia, they truly became a racialized other simply because they lacked Slavic origins. Into the ‘90s Albanians faced systematic discrimination that excluded them from jobs, schools and federal federal government. They certainly were victims of authorities brutality and mass cleansing that is ethnic. With this specific reputation for victimization, we believe it is wholly unproductive to utilize the white/POC binary to ascribe privilege onto Albanians in Kosovo it exists because I do not actually believe. In reality, being A us makes me more privileged than Kosovars in lot of means. Within Kosovo, we have actually usage of jobs that are many organizations by virtue of my nationality. In addition are able to travel easily compliment of my US passport.

This brings me back once again to my question that is original do I critique Kosovar Albanian music artists and artists whom absorb areas of black colored tradition within their work?

Nevertheless, i believe the simplest way to manage problematic racial notions in Kosovo is always to begin with a population that Kosovar Albanians are much more acquainted with, the Roma. Roma are discriminated against in most element of Kosovar culture and racism against them is available and normalized. Centering dialogues about battle and racism in Kosovo on international folks of color is totally unproductive and profoundly problematic. The treating foreigners of color could be the main discussion without dominating it. Contextualizing racism in this means will lay the building blocks for wider conversations about competition and foreigners. I do believe first off a interior discussion requires become started between civil culture companies, activists, and also the Kosovo federal federal government. Also, the worldwide community in Kosovo has to get this discussion a concern. Any talks on competition in Kosovo which do not concentrate on racialized minorities who really reside in Kosovo will never arrived at fruition.