The Unknown Reality of Kosovo

By Tobias Grond

A bridge. It once was white. Today, the rusty spots are visible all over it. A massive amount of sand and dirt was dropped in the middle, making it impossible to drive to the other side of Mitrovica – a town in the north of Kosovo. Passing is only possible by foot. At both sides of the bridge, UN-jeeps with roaring engines keep watch all day long. Usually a bridge is used to connect two sides of a river. This one divides.

In 2008, Kosovo was the last region in the former Yugoslavian Republic that declared itself independent. Today, a bit more than half of the countries worldwide recognizes Kosovo as an independent nation, including most of the EU-countries. On the contrary, countries like Spain Continue reading “The Unknown Reality of Kosovo”

There’s No Need to Hold Back Around Me

Born in the Netherlands, Enrico is both Congolese and Dutch. His parents fled Congo and have lived in the Netherlands and Belgium ever since. We asked him when he feels at home in these countries and he gave us his honest answers.

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”I feel the most at home in the Netherlands when Dutch people give me the love that they also give each other. Sometimes I do notice that people hold back when Continue reading “There’s No Need to Hold Back Around Me”

Home Is Where the Food Is

Hind is a strong young woman who fled Iraq with her family when she was only 8 years old. She grew up in a dominantly white town in which she faced different –Dutch – customs. Hind is used to having an open welcoming Arabic home with food everywhere, which isn’t quite the norm in the Netherlands. So, we asked her how this made her feel and when she feels the most at home.

”I feel the most at home in the Netherlands when I go out to the city on a Saturday morning. Just strolling around the city, shopping Continue reading “Home Is Where the Food Is”

Dear man who made me question myself

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Dear catcaller,

I think you don’t understand the impact of your words and actions, and how they make me feel. I was just cycling through the city, yet you felt that you could sexually harass me. Let me tell you this though, your harassment made me feel dirty. So very disgusting that I wanted to shower as soon as I came home for the sole reason of washing off your degrading words and gestures. Now don’t try and tell me that I asked for it, standing there Continue reading “Dear man who made me question myself”

6 simple tips for straight white men (who want to support minorities)

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Dear white man, you were lucky enough to be born into privilege. More so than white women and even more than people of color. And we get it, you want to be understood as well and not just pointed at as ‘that piece of white privilege’. So, here are six tips for you for dealing with your privilege and simultaneously supporting minorities by doing so.

  1. Acknowledge your privilege

Many men have mixed feelings about the word ‘privilege’. How about you? Do you feel weird about having a privilege or are you struggling with the fact that people say you have it, like you worked for it? Well, it’s a fact that you were born into privilege without you even asking for it. But as we like to say, with great power comes great responsibility. You acknowledging your privilege is simultaneously acknowledging people’s experiences with discrimination, which is very helpful and a good start to actually helping marginalized groups. There’s no going forward without recognizing what you have and the effect it has on your life.

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  1. Don’t interrupt

It’s widely known that interrupting someone can be highly impolite. Yet, when people share their experiences people often tend Continue reading “6 simple tips for straight white men (who want to support minorities)”

Discrimination: Don’t let society decide who you are.

Mazlum is three times a minority, yet he doesn’t feel like he’s a victim of discrimination. He is a young man who lives in the Netherlands but has Kurdish heritage. Being woke as he is, he has already experienced and seen a lot. He, however, doesn’t choose to sit with discrimination and its disadvantages. Mazlum challenges them.

Over the years he has become aware of his status and how people perceive him. In some situations, he is the potential ‘foreigner’ who people don’t want to hire and in others he is WhatsApp Image 2017-11-24 at 23.05.55the loyal family man. But hiring him could be a good move. From what I’ve experienced, he is a guy who takes care of people around him and has his heart in the right place. This is also noticeable if we look at his graduation project. He wanted to do his final research on discrimination in the workplace. Unfortunately, his school didn’t like the idea at first. They were stuck in their white frame of reference and seemed to be slightly offended by it. It was challenging their white norm. Sounds like a case of white fragility to me.

‘’Don’t play the part society wants you to play.”

The research project he has chosen now is rather Continue reading “Discrimination: Don’t let society decide who you are.”

Let us ”help” you – Western arrogance

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We, the West, have a bit of an attitude problem. After years of growing our economy and increasing our living standards we feel this urge to help people who don’t have it as well as we do. This is, however, an interesting thought and something worth discussing. Because how do we believe we can help people the best? And what do we truly know about them?

In order to help people, you must have a plan. And the Dutch documentary series De Westerlingen is one of the sources providing its watchers with a sense of western ideas not being welcome. It raises the question of what our plan is and whether is it actually helping others.
We are very good at helping our own people and this is probably because we know their customs and way of life. This is, however, not the case when we talk about places in The East or South (or wherever that’s not Europe to be honest). The average Joe probably can’t go into detail about the Arab Continue reading “Let us ”help” you – Western arrogance”

Wearing a hijab: ‘’I’m now more concerned about how I act and come across than what I look like.”

‘’I’ve become more feminist through my faith’’ Zaheda said. Something you may not have expected to hear from a woman who’s wearing a hijab. This 23 year-old from Rotterdam, the Netherlands, spent the first 9 years of her life in Afghanistan but had to flee the country because of the ongoing war. Now, she’s a motivated medicine student who at the same time tries to fight the bias against hijabis. Because what do you think when you see a woman covering her hair? Do you see oppression or freedom?

Zaheda’s story of Zaheda benchwhy she chose to wear a hijab might be one of many women. Initially, she was afraid to wear it and of what people would think of her. Even her father discouraged it because he too was afraid of possible discrimination she’d suffer from. And she does face this discrimination. For example, in her field of medicine, the chances of becoming a surgeon are really quite small for her because the specialization trainers choose the people they want in their team and they tend to want people who fit into the group. People who can ‘’let loose and maybe just take off that headscarf’’. Think about it, how often have you been treated by a doctor who’s wearing a hijab? Luckily, Zaheda wants to go into pediatrics or urgent care so she can avoid the bias, but still it’s sad that it’s happening and it shows the presence Continue reading “Wearing a hijab: ‘’I’m now more concerned about how I act and come across than what I look like.””