Friday, October 23, 2009

Race (and I don't mean like the kind you run)

I must say one thing about being here is that I can count the number of times on two fingers that I have had "race conversations" with co-workers. Since it seems to me that whenever I walk past a group of testerone filled, young smoking boys/men, say ages 14-17, one of them seems to always mutter something under their breath.

So my assistant Gunay, I decided to ask her with all candor and not to be sensitive..."are there words, derogatory words, that can be uttered at me because of my skin-color"? I don't know why I was surprised to hear this...but there are no words in Azeri...yes, there is the word for the color black, but it's not used for people. Okay...that's great...but here's the rub..

Russians are by nature very xenophobic and in fact, Russians call Azerbaijanis a very degrading fashion. Actually, I'm told that Russia is not a place I should visit....the skin-heads and racially motivated violence is a common practice there.

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