members of Afro Plus in Moscow
When I went home the first Christmas after moving to Slovenia, a family member came up to me at a holiday party and beckoned for me to "say something in Russian", when I told him I didn't live in Russia, he just laughed. Throughout the night, many people came up to me to "ask me about Russia", and I still come across people (old friends who find me on Facebook, long lost family members) who seem to think I live in Russia or thereabouts. In many people's estimations any country ending in "ia"=Slavic=Balkan=Eastern European= somehow Russian. While I won't deny that there certainly must exist some vague Slavic similarities between Russians and Slovenians, this ain't the same place and it's nowhere near it.
And after reading this article, I couldn't be happier.
(BBC) Africans Under Siege in Moscow: Nearly 60% of black and African people living in Russia's capital Moscow have been physically assaulted in racially motivated attacks, says a new study.
While Obama is busy making buddy with Medvyedev, scores of black folks on Moscow streets are looking over their shoulder every two seconds in fear. It's horribly ironic.
All this is not to say that Slovenia is perfect on this front, it certainly isn't but I feel more than safe walking down the streets, and pray that one day soon black people in Russia will be able to say the same.
Friday, September 25, 2009
Yesterday night, I was walking through the center of Ljubljana when I came across UNICEF's latest campaign, "Help Get Rwandan Kids off the street". The first image I saw was a big sticker over a bus shelter which featured the slogan up top and then a "Rwandan person" laying down writhing in pain at the bottom. I thought "Hey, this is dumb" and then walked off.
When I walked a little further I came upon this little fella.
A cardboard cutout of a Rwandan boy supposedly called "Eric".
The street ahead was filled with these young'uns. It was beyond bizarre.
I even saw a stack of back up "kids" laying in a side alley in case the originals got vandalized or someone decided to go Madonna with one.
They weren't joking when they said "get them off the street". The direct implication being, "You, nice white person, give us some money and we'll get these black kids out of your way."
I am annoyed by this on two fronts, first the idea that the black presence on Slovenian streets is posited in this way -- some sad, dirty, unfortunate character who needs handouts from white Europeans. Secondly, considering there are almost no black people in this country and many Slovenians can't help but stare and isolate the black people they do see, I can't imagine this ploy working. As a matter of fact, I think it far more likely that the cardboard kids will get tired of being gawked at and having their hair touched and just up and walk away...
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
There was a nice little interview with Slovenian film director, lecturer (at the very cool new private art academy here called AVA) , and blogger Andrej Košak in D magazine of Sunday's Delo newspaper (their decent attempt at producing a Slovenian version of the NY Times magazine).
Košak was the director of popular Slovenian film Outsider, and he splits his time between Berlin and Ljubljana. He comes off as a really cool guy in this interview (tell him to call me for a coffee some time!), and I think he has some very illuminating thoughts on president-day Slovenia .
Here are some of my favorite excerpts from the interview (wonky translations by yours truly)
a screenshot from Outsider (which I guess I should now watch)
Berlin in three Slovenian words?
Velik, odrpt, multikulturen (Big, open, multicultural)
Ljubljana in three German words?
Klein, aber mein (Small, but mine)
Do we Slovenians know how to enjoy ourselves?
Slovenians are not wild partiers, but then we always go away with the feeling that we haven't gotten our money's worth. I adore the French, whose lives revolve around good food, sex, and art.
How do you enjoy yourself?
In work. When I am working, I feel like I am living one-hundred percent. Otherwise, I consider the French prescription: good food, sex, and art.
What sort of prime time program does Slovenia need?
A program that would cultivate Slovenians, let them know what is happening in art around the world.
interesting to talk about, but best to stay out of. I am a big adherent to the idea that the the amount of politics on television should be reduced to a reasonable limit. In Slovenia from 6pm to 11pm, television is dominated just by politics. This doesn't happen anywhere else in the world, even during socialism it was much less.
Three things that were better during former-Yugoslavia?
Ljubljana, Zagreb, and Belgrade in the eighties. Great people and seriously big artists (goes on to name a massive list of artists and events)
Three things that are not worthy of Yugo-nostalgia?
The Yugoslav army, rizi-bizi, and Zvečevo cognac.
Haiku du jour, s'il vous plait....
Life is a bitch, a way too short.
(note: this part was already in English. I think it should say "but way too short", but I can't be sure)
Sunday, September 6, 2009
75% of the conversations I have these days
Slovenian Person (usually a woman, men don't talk to me as often): How long have you been here?
Me: Almost two years.
SP: You speak the language very well.
SP: Slovenian is a very tough language.
Me. Yes. Yes it is.
I feel like I should just make up some cards with this on it and give them to people. I think the flipside of the card should say,"In the rare event that you'd like to continue this conversation, I'll be just over there, smashing my head against the wall."