Central and Northern Europe have a reputation of being very welcoming to visitors, the former overtly so, the latter in a more subtle manner. Which is undeniably true. I can attest to that in both cases. But what people often leave out is that this is mainly the case for those who can seamlessly blend in. Look at travel brochures and the lack of diversity is either blatantly obvious, or handled in such a manner that makes you painfully aware of how the token [insert minority group of choice] was used to attract credibility / commerce / [insert end goal of choice].
And this doesn’t just apply to travel. Micro-aggressions, discrimination, marginalizing anyone we feel does not blend in, are all too present in everyday life. More often than not so well hidden they are hard to prove. And then there’s the “unintentional” racism / anti-Semitism / discrimination, subconscious, learned, internalized. I grew up with relatives and family friends who blatantly engaged in this, and it bugged me every time. On the one hand because I felt it wasn’t right, on the other because these were people close to me, people who had married Jews, had taken food from black people, and worked side-by-side with Asians, and had had some contact with people from the Middle East. On top of that, these were people close to me, people who were meant to guide me, who knew I was “half and half and then some.” If they were like that with others, how could they not see me as being a part of the same group they were attacking? Though to hear them speak, they were neither racist, discriminatory, nor attacking anyone.
While I love Hungary with all my heart and soul and identify as Hungarian, I don’t deny the problems this country has. I came back to be with family and friends, but I also want to document the good, the bad, and the ugly. If I leave out some parts of my or other people’s ethnicity it is not to hide behind a facade but to highlight that this is a universal thing. People (and I’m guilty of this as well) tend to focus only on the issue at hand, if group A is discriminated against, they will acknowledge that fact but will fail to extend it to group B and beyond. I want to make people aware that this goes deeper than just the inner circle. Whatever factors contribute to this racism and Us vs. Them attitude, I’d like to explore it in this section. Not just looking at the discrimination but also at people’s lives, the day-to-day struggles, the hardships and joys. Comments are welcome but keep them respectful.