When did you first realize that your race mattered? 
Kat: I really haven’t.

Growing up, to what extent did your family educate you about your race and/or other races?
Kat: Not much, honestly. It was never considered something worth discussing. It’s always been sort of a given that I am supposed to treat everyone with respect, regardless of where they come from.

“It’s always been sort of a given that I am supposed to treat everyone with respect, regardless of where they come from.”

How would you define racism?
Kat: Treating someone as less worthy because they are not of the same skin color as you are.

How regularly/often do you engage in conversations about race with friends, family, or peers?
Kat:
Not much to be honest. I simply don’t see what is there to discuss so much. Maybe a few times a year.

Would you prefer to engage in these conversations more often or less often?
Kat: It depends what kind of conversation it would be. If it’s to learn something new about a certain race, then yes. If it’s to debate on white privilege or dominance of one race over another, then no.

Name: Kat
Race: White
Ethnicity: Serbian
Birth Decade: 1990s
Hometown: Belgrade, Serbia
Current City: Pearland, Texas

How would you describe yourself?
Kat: Honestly, when I describe myself, I only mention where I’m from, as I know that people will be interested in it once they hear my accent. I believe that other things mentioned, such as race/ethnicity or religion are completely irrelevant. Or at least they are irrelevant to me, as I am not religious. I typically describe myself as a self-driven person who comes from Serbia, loves good food and wine, enjoys dancing and strives to be socially active.

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To what extent have you considered how you will discuss issues of race once you have children?
Kat: I am not sure if I am specifically going to address this with my children, as that would mean putting a focus on something that should not be an issue in the first place. Rather, I think I’ll just teach them to love diversity.

“I am not sure if I am specifically going to address this with my children, as that would mean putting a focus on something that should not be an issue in the first place. Rather, I think I’ll just teach them to love diversity.”

[If you believe that race-based discrimination is real] What frustrates you the most about racism and/or racists?
Kat: I believe it is real in certain individual cases, but I do not believe it’s omnipresent.

If you’ve ever been treated differently because of your race/culture, can you describe any/all relevant situations?
Kat: When I lived in Belgium, I was considered a second class citizen because I was there on a visa that was specifically issued for people coming from outside the EU. This was a paper visa, in RED color, and it had my picture in it. Wherever I moved, I had to take it with me, along with my passport. This visa did not give me the right to work, or receive any social benefits. When I went to sign up for French classes (that I was ready to pay for), they asked me for my documents, and when they saw my red visa, they didn’t let me sign up. This was the worst moment in my life. There were more similar situations, but this one really left the strongest impression on me.

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Does everyone in your immediate family feel the same way about race? If not, why don’t you think so? 
Kat: Me and my husband see eye to eye on race.

In your educational experiences, did you learn anything about race? If so, what did you learn? What resonated with you?
Kat: Of course, I learned about all races in school, and the typical features and stereotypes. I must say that historically, all those stories about the abolition of slavery have resonated most with me. The fight for equality, Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. and all those historically important personalities impacted my perception of the world, and filled me with hope and fear at the same time. Hope, because their sacrifice was worth it, and that mankind had taken a step forward. Fear, because it had to take so long, and so many people were opposed to it.

“I must say that historically, all those stories about the abolition of slavery have resonated most with me. The fight for equality… impacted my perception of the world, and filled me with hope and fear at the same time. Hope, because their sacrifice was worth it, and that mankind had taken a step forward. Fear, because it had to take so long, and so many people were opposed to it.”

What are the most apparent differences (if any) between your home country’s issues and the issues of race/racism here in the states?
Kat: My country is not as diverse, so we never had any issues on racism. I guess that is why we never talked about it much, other than in school from an educational standpoint.

Does race matter? Please explain what you believe and why.
Kat: No. At least, I haven’t been in a situation where it mattered. Coming from Europe, where most people are mostly divided into those who belong to the EU and those who don’t, I have never even wondered about race issues, or given it too much thought. Even if it does (and I trust people when they tell me it DOES matter in some places), I have never believed it should actually matter, as I’ve seen enough of the world to learn that it plays absolutely no role in whether a person is smart or kind or important, for that matter. I have drunk wine with a Middle Eastern person, danced and laughed with African American people, learned French from Congolese neighbors, gone bungee jumping with Asian people, shared most intimate secrets with a Mexican, and shared recipes with Latin Americans. I have shared the good and the bad with all races, and it is all these experiences that have made me realize how irrelevant skin color is.

“Coming from Europe, where most people are mostly divided into those who belong to the EU and those who don’t, I have never even wondered about race issues, or given it too much thought. Even if it does (and I trust people when they tell me it DOES matter in some places), I have never believed it should actually matter, as I’ve seen enough of the world to learn that it plays absolutely no role in whether a person is smart or kind or important, for that matter.”

adventure-blur-cartography-408503

Thanks for sharing, Kat!

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3 thoughts on “Perspectives on Race #8: Kat, From Serbia

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