Meanwhile, Boukarim discussed the work done by the Anti-Racism Movement, especially with migrant domestic workers, while Houry focused his feedback on the increasing “ghettoization” of Lebanese society and its impact, whether with regard to racial discrimination or sectarianism. He also noted the state’s unwillingness to address the predicament.
The ensuing discussion engaged attendees who touched on the blurred lines between racism and classism. However, others brought up the ever recurring question: While the exhibit had a great turnout, those present are, at the end of the day, the more progressive in the country. How does one reach out to the very people who discriminate against others?
To this end, one attendee suggested training authority personnel, such as police and General Security staff. Indeed, one testimony addressed the paradox of trying to live in a society “where even National Security [staff members] don’t respect you.”
With the intention of raising the issues of race, identity and racism from the general pragmatic sense to a deeper, socio-anthropological context, Kaj, who is currently pursuing an MA in Racism and Ethnicity Studies from UK’s University of Leeds, said the exhibit’s three themes revolve around: racism by youth against youth; boundary building and identity fetishism; and stereotyping, racialization and racism.
After the opening, Lebanese-Togolese graphic designer Fady el-Khoury talked to NOW Extra about his experience with racism in Lebanon, noting that it was a challenge when he was looking for a job.
When asked whether racism was more prevalent in Lebanon as compared to other Arab nations, Khoury said it was “particularly [widespread] here, but this is exhibit is a start.”
“They see my car keys and can’t believe I own a car… so [people at the supermarket] follow me to see whether or not it’s actually possible,” said Khoury’s mother laughingly, recounting the incident with equal humor and frustration.
When asked about the turnout, Kaj said she was very pleased as she had expected less people to attend. But she admitted her frustration with a friend who did not show up because, according to him, he wasn’t racist. “But then I asked him if he’d marry an Ethiopian, for example, and he [flat out] said no.”
Sadly, this only seems to reaffirm a statement by one of the attendees who said that racism in Lebanon seems to be so engrained that it’s almost subconscious.
Mixed Feelings is running until July 18 at Dar al-Musawwir in Hamra. For more information, please click here.