Racism in Croatia before and during the Corona era
May 26, 2021 – Untold stories of how fear and panic related to the COVID-19 pandemic has influenced even the usually peaceful and welcoming Croatian people. A first-hand account of racism in Croatia before and after the pandemic.
Racism is not very widespread in Croatia, but it still exists. It is not talked about much because racism in Croatia is subtle and largely committed unknowingly and without bad intentions. Even before the pandemic, non-Caucasian foreigners in Croatia would at some point encounter racism – usually in the form of racial microagression. Although this term has been around for a while, I only learned about it a few months after moving to Croatia in 2016, when I Google searched for the phrase: When racism is so subtle, you aren’t even sure it is. What prompted me to lean on this was when I got fed up with meeting people shouting “Kina” or “Japanka” at me, and getting some weird questions from people I had just met, like I was eating dogs.
So what is microaggression and why is it not talked about in Croatia? Derald W. Sue, professor of psychology at Columbia University, defined him as the the daily slights, indignities, reprimands and insults that members of marginalized groups experience in their daily interactions with individuals who are often unaware that they have engaged in an offensive or degrading manner. While this term is most often used in a racial context, it also applies to all marginalized groups, including gender, sexual orientation, religion and disability. Since most racism encounters in Croatia never escalate into physical hate violence, people have always been reluctant to talk about it – me included. After all, the Philippines has a higher crime rate than Croatia, so who am I to complain? Who am I to be dissatisfied with this country? Here I can walk safely in a way that I couldn’t in Manila. Here, the risks of theft and sexual harassment are much lower than in the country where I come from. But the point is, how should I respond when people ask me if I eat dogs or if they easily assume that I have met my Croatian husband through dating sites on the internet? How should I react when I’m walking down the street, minding my own business, and suddenly getting noticed by people shouting “Kina”, or when I hear people calling two of my Filipino friends ” majmun ”?
For fear of being labeled as overly responsive and overly sensitive – given that blatant and obvious discrimination is more of a concern – most people never tackle microaggressions head-on, as it can cause more problems than it is worth. worth it. Unfortunately, when the pandemic arrived in Croatia, these “seemingly harmless and unintentional comments” became more intense, dangerous and impossible to ignore.
The gradual rise of racism in Croatia after the entry of Covid-19 into the country
As the news of the novel coronavirus in China grows increasingly gruesome, so does the fear and hostility of people in most parts of the world towards Asians. In Croatia, this fear began to manifest itself in early January 2020, even before the virus entered the country. During this time, most Croats deliberately avoided being in a close radius with an Asian person, fearing that they would be infected just by being near a person. Then there was the fear that all Asians, even Asian food, were carriers of the virus. I personally experienced this when I went with a friend to Terme Tuhelj to enjoy the saunas in early February 2020. It was more crowded than usual at that time and my friend was not so happy, so she m said to cough when I walk into the sauna room for people to leave. I told her it was her idea, so she should do it. She answered me so casually that she’s not Asian, so that wouldn’t work. A newly opened Asian restaurant in Croatia also received many hateful comments at the time.
The highest peak of racism in Croatia, however, was felt between March and June 2020, just before Croatia took its first lockdown measures. At that time, even my husband stopped me from going out after hearing two Croatian men talking about dragging an Indian couple who were getting their supplies at the supermarket. I also started receiving messages from my Croatian friends asking if I was safe. For fear of xenophobic attacks, I never left home without a mask and sunglasses to make my ethnicity less noticeable. In addition, during this period, many Asian foreigners experienced denial of service. For example, a bus driver refused to let a Filipino worker into Šibenik. The driver told him he couldn’t let him get on the bus because he could infect them with the coronavirus. There were also three Filipino workers who entered a market in Trogir and all the staff, including the cashier, rushed to the reserve and hid there until they left. In Zagreb, a few Filipino workers were victims of repeated xenophobic verbal attacks on the streetcar, usually from high school to students and older women and men. The worst xenophobic encounter they’ve ever had was with an old man who called them garbage, spat on them and told them to go back to China.
The appeasement of racism in Croatia
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused enormous damage to the economy of this country by severely affecting the livelihoods of many Croats, especially those of travel and tourism. The loss of jobs and loved ones has caused a lot of hatred and fear not only in Croatia but all over the world as people search for someone to blame for the global disability caused by the virus. But as the saying goes “time heals all wounds”, Croatia is gradually emerging and recovering from the severe and abrupt damage and changes caused by COVID-19. People are now less afraid as they become more informed and prejudices against Asians are improving. As summer hailed the end of the lockdown in Croatia in 2020 and tourists slowly filled its beaches and boardwalks again, the lighter, more friendly Croatia we’ve always known began to reveal itself to us once again. more. While there are still a few racist remarks here and there, I think it’s safe to say that Croatia’s darkest period of racism has passed and with some relief it has never been so violent. than anti-Asian hate crimes. that are rampant in other countries.
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