(Why) Do I Care About Race?

This is something I get asked a lot. For all the crap that’s going on in my part of the world, race issues aren’t one of them since basically only one race lives here. Also, due to the way things are constructed, people are more concerned about someone’s ethnicity than race. Plus, we are white. Racial issues are of no immediate concern to me. So, why do I bother? It has nothing to do with me.

It would be nice to say something like: “I am interested because this issue is something that should concern all people”, which is partly true, but it’s not the complete answer.

The thing is, it does have a lot to do with me, though in an indirect way. But since some things are too close to home to think about them straight, it’s good to think about stuff such as privilege, oppression, collective identities and various mechanisms that guide human actions through a different way they manifest themselves.

I guess this is what makes the race discussion so familiar for me even if it doesn’t have much to do with my own culture. This is what I found interesting: with all the unfamiliar stuff there were always things that I was familiar with.

It also helped me in other ways. It made me understand America (= USA) better, for good or the bad, since my previous experience was either through Hollywood, my culture’s views on it or its views on my culture. None of it speaks much about America the way it is.

Plus – and let’s not forget about it – I’ve met many great people through these websites.

That being said, I am not active on the “race” websites anymore. I guess that I got too involved at one point, and when I get involved in any sort of a political issue, I usually run away. When I start feeling it concerns me, I stop discussing it and writing about it. This is the main reason I don’t write about Balkans or my experience with it. I guess it’s too personal. So maybe that’s the reason I’m not that involved with the race discussion websites anymore? Or maybe it’s because most of my friends left?

In any case, that doesn’t change my motives for dealing with this issue.

9 thoughts on “(Why) Do I Care About Race?

  1. Alee

    It’s totally fine that you’re concerned with race: I think it’s good when people can care about something outside of their own personal issues.

    But discussing race too much can easily make you become too negative and myopic in the way you view things, especially with some of the race blogs.

  2. Mira Post author

    Serpentus,

    Most of the people I befriended on these blogs don’t frequent said blogs anymore.

    Also, many of the people I didn’t befriend but who I liked to discuss/ argue left as well.

  3. Mira Post author

    Alee,

    I guess the point of this post was that my motives aren’t as selfless as they appear to be. I do have an agenda, because discussing race makes me understand my culture (and our local Balkan problems) better.

    I know many people who participate in race discussions (regardless of their own race) believe that racial issues are specific and unique in nature. While I do believe there is something that’s unique to racial issues, I do see many parallels with the problems we have here (that concern ethnicity).

    But discussing race too much can easily make you become too negative and myopic in the way you view things, especially with some of the race blogs.

    Well, like I mentioned to you recently, I do consider myself to be cynical/bitter when it comes to politics. So I do tend to view this stuff in fatalistic terms. I guess this goes well with the vibe of race blogs.

    But at one point it all became repetitive for me. Like all that had to be said was said and people seemed satisfied with simply offering examples of problems and issues. Which is ok, but not much I could add to this discussion. It also seemed to happen at the time when most of the people I befriended left the blogs. So I guess I stopped frequenting these sites without noticing or without a clear decision to do so (unlike some people who did make a conscious decision to leave).

  4. Melina

    I didn’t know you cared about race, thouh it sounds a bit creepy to think these patterns are repeated in other forms all around the world.

  5. RBB85

    Racial issues are ethnic issues, because there can be a racial component in ethnicities. The difference is that race can encompass several ethnicities and ethnicity can encompass several races (probably less frequent).

    I understand why you focus on racial issues, because of the issues in your surrounding concerning ethnicity.

    What I don’t understand is why you want to be up in other people’s business. You say if you get too involved you run away. But you should actually help the society you’re living in instead of fleeing into problems which happen in another society, cause that doesn’t help you’re own environment.

  6. Mira Post author

    Welcome, RBB85.

    Racial issues are ethnic issues, because there can be a racial component in ethnicities.

    … Or not. Definitely not true in my part of the world. We’re all white, but it is a big deal whether you’re Croatian or Serbian, for example. Race has nothing to do with it.

    But I get what you’re saying; in some cases that can be true. It’s just not true here.

    What I don’t understand is why you want to be up in other people’s business. You say if you get too involved you run away. But you should actually help the society you’re living in instead of fleeing into problems which happen in another society, cause that doesn’t help you’re own environment.

    This is what I tried to explain in this post. I see a lot of similarities between racial issues and stuff that happens in my country, even though the stuff that happens here has nothing to do with race.

    So when you (well, me) take a step back and look at things that aren’t so close to home, you are able to understand them better, including the local stuff.

    But then I got so involved in this that it did become a pert of me, and when something becomes “my” issue, I tend to run away.

    Not sure if it makes sense.

  7. Bulanik

    It’s always actually a surprise that people who are ‘white’ are somehow expected not supposed to be interested in race issues. (who asks you this, who is surprised by your interest?)

    Racism is definitely a part of ‘white’ societies. And, when I found out where you were from, Mira, then yes, I can see why there would be specific curiosity about other places and experiences.

    What interests me, is why your friends gradually stopped frequenting the blogs that discussed race?

  8. Mira

    Some people are intrigued abut my interest in the subject, but I think I’ve written this post mostly to myself, because I had no idea why I was interested that much.

    Finally, I figured it must be because it helps me understand other types of divides and privilege better, and to understand US better than I ever could. It also helps me understand the domestic, Balkan situation better, because many things and narratives and the ways people identify and the stuff they say and do are very similar, despite coming from two different issues.

    The friends I was referring to were mostly people I’ve met at Abagond’s. They all had their reasons to leave, I suppose.

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