Writes: Tjaša Kosar
On my internship more than a year ago at the same magazine Guardian recently titled as the most respected political magazine in Slovenia, I wrote an article about who is producing the knowledge on Wikipedia – again mostly white males are writing and spreading knowledge about marginal groups, minorities and other ethnicities. As one of the many results, many women are not mentioned or they are mentioned as wife’s of someone. On Twitter the article was commented by a member of the right wing party, something like “just as in your news room” – which was true. There were around 15 men and 3 women there at that moment. One of the editors became upset because of this comment and told me I should stop picking those topics for Slovenia…
Imagine a girl who wanted to talk about global interconnectedness and global exploitation already in primary school. And imagine further on that grown up fresh student being in the class called ‘Civilisations’ while studying journalism, trying to open a debate about white dominance and her anthropology professor stopped the debate getting hot with saying “nowadays we try to avoid those connotations”. Now imagine this same now young woman, coming to the first Global Education of Young Europeans (GLEN) seminar, where topics and workshops about power structures and white privilege and so on were opened. I finally felt I was at the right place for myself.
It was the fifth day of the same seminar, when lectures and workshops about racism and critical whiteness happened. The atmosphere after you could cut with the knife. You could see in young people’s eyes something deeply moved them and they will never be the same. It was the day when I strongly felt I want to be a part of this, studying those topics deeply and spreading them as activist and journalist.
On this same seminar I’ve met Marc, with whom i was put together as tandem partners in a 1-year project by strangers, sharing most of the cycle together not only in workshops but also in 3-months internship in New Delhi, India. Marc never thought of racism in that way before, he was growing up with his neighbor whose parents immigrated from Turkey. For him people from different parts of the world seemed something completely natural. I remember his real confronting happened when the only participant of (mixed) colour, born and raised in Germany, shared with us how she avoids groups of white people, so she was in a dilemma, if she should apply for this project in the first place, since she knew what to expect. She was the only person of colour out of 70 participants.
Even though we were prepared for white privilege experiences in India, we weren’t prepared for the emotions when realising all the theory or even more has confirmed. There almost wasn’t a situation where we wouldn’t be accepted as super stars. Slovenia was for most unknown, but when Marc mentioned Germany people lighted up. As Europeans we were visibly accepted as important guests, even when we visited wealthy people, a social class we are normally never in contact with in our countries. But speaking for myself it was no turning back for me, when I saw Nestle products all over the market’s shelves and cosmetics, or adds for it, to make one’s skin more fair wherever I looked. Realising all those beautiful girls, boys, women and men were raised into thinking European features are the epitome of beauty, raised and pressured into that belief. Or when Rita, a housekeeper of one of the NGO’S centers where we were taking our internship, arranged married with 14, having a teenage children at the same age as me, said to me she would like to be like me in the next life, because I know how to speak English and how to use a computer. There are unmistakenly visible consequences of the past’s and current’s imperialism of the Global North. It significally matters where or to whom you were born.
We both knew we want to make a documentary opening those global topics while having an internship together. But we didn’t expect we will soon meet Rahul from one of the colonies in New Delhi who left his country and family for the first time in an NGO exchange to the capitol of Slovenia. Seeing and sharing a glimpse of western society, which is idealised in his environment and having the time for reflecting about life for the first time, he shared with us his new understanding of the world before he returned to India. It became a documentary-portrait which finished postproduction in summer 2017, already applying for festivals. All possible earned money goes to protagonist and the community. Enjoy the teaser!
Follow the journey of Rahul further on: