What’s Strange on Exchange

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What’s strange on exchange 2

                                       Another point of view

Recently, there has been a lot of discussion about one main topic: the increasingly racist environment. In this article, I would like to present you with my perspective, as a European student navigating these situations for the first time.

At my school in Czech, we only have black student. So as you would expect, words pertaining to racism or slavery barely crossed my mind before I came here. Students at my school last year would call my classmate Alex, who was black, the “N” word constantly. They didn’t do it out of disrespect or with the intention to mock his race. They were simply uneducated about the historical context, and so was I. Since personal testimony is very powerful, I asked Alex, himself, what he thinks about the situation we have recently faced, and how this compares to Czech. This is what he said.

“In Czech Republic dark and sarcastic humor is very popular, so people made jokes about my color all the time and I never took it personally. Some people in Czech thought it was really offensive to me, even white people, but you have to understand that kind of humor and then you’ll be fine. From my experience, in Miami the situation was different than in Baltimore: everyone used the “N” word regardless of color: white, black, hispanic etc. But even here, in Czech, we have rules: you can’t call each other the “N” word,” unless you’re really good friends and if you’re not, you only do it with the intention to start a fight.” Alex also said “The tone of voice in which people use when saying the “N” word affects if I were to view it as a joke or offensive.”

Like I said, people in my country are extremely uneducated when it comes to racism and its historical roots. In 2015 less than 5% of people who lived in Czech were African or of African descent. One thing that I’ve noticed during my seventeen years in Czech is that the type of racism we experience is different than in America, and people are extremely racist towards Muslims, and refugees. From what I’ve seen, people are most afraid of difference and the unknown. I think that a diversity class in Czech would be very eye opening for students in my country.

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