Thursday, March 3, 2011

Racism recounted by the people who live it..

A friend writes a short piece to narrate what it exactly entails to be different and live in Lebanon...
They say a picture speaks louder than a thousand words. I say sometimes words are loud enough.

I thought I would have a thousand things to talk about. After all, I talk about it all the time and every time I feel that I shouldn’t be complaining. Because people keep apologizing and I never wanted to make people feel that they should feel responsible for one another only because they belong to one nation.

I’m German, I’ve had my share. Thank you very much. At the beginning I didn’t understand. Of course I know what Racism is, I knows what it looks like, how it smells and talks and tastes. I can probably analyze it perfectly well from an intellectual point of view; that’s what I attempted to do when I first arrived. Except that that does not work.

What hurt me most were not even the inappropriate offers (khamsin dollar, really?!), the hands grabbing me under my skirt, the “Chocolata”-shouting men on motorbikes and too old neighbors waiting for me to come home, the General Security interrogating me for hours, the soldiers sniffing me when I walked by them on the street, but the fact that many people and among these a lot of my friends did not believe me. And that is what affected me more than a whole nation of Lebanese could have done.

My friends did not all believe me and put my words into question. My parents asked whether I dressed appropriately (“You used to wear short skirts you know!”) and the sum of all that pushed me into questioning my own experiences. I started to wonder whether or not it may be my fault. Maybe I was not nice enough, maybe I was not beautiful enough, and maybe whatever.

My daily-life remains mostly the same, but I changed, Lebanon didn’t. I hated when, being little my stepmother used to tell me “People won’t change, Lioba, you’ll have to if you want to live with them.” I made myself more valuable to me. I had to. I might come back after my Master. There’s a lot left to do and I like working here; because it has to be done and because people always have the capacity to change, eventually. It does not have to be in my lifetime.

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