IDENTITIES My identities are not just required percentages
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by: Dijana TahiriMost of all, it bothers me when my gender, ethnic and intellectual identity is used for some percentage representation in given occasions. Since the human being should be a composition of many identities, which in their interlinking within human, as a physicus, as an intellectual being, create a whole. When that whole is divided, that is, when one part is taken from that whole, for utilitarian needs, neglecting the other parts of that whole, then we attain only a partial image, response, movement, quality without the required excellence that the complete human being carries.
I often find myself thinking in the direction of the identities I possess. As a person, woman, mother, friend, colleague, worker, housewife, and about the several ethnic identities that intertwine in my being in this country.
My name is Diana, my last name is Tahiri. My maiden name is Jumerovic, derived from the last name Imeri, during World War I, for it to continue even after World War II, and later in the communist system. Somewhere towards the end of the communist system of then Yugoslavia, people began returning their authentic last names, from “ski” to “vic”, or “ov”, depending on the geographical location of where the ancestors whose last names had been changed, with assimilation intentions, had stayed. I did not get to changing my last name, since I got married, and without too much thought I accepted the last name of my husband. I did not change my last name even after his death, because I did not want to create additional confusion to my daughter, who was very young when she was left without one parent.
My last name with a Serbian “determinant” – “vic”, personally, did not represent any confusion or insecurity in the identity sense. My ethnic identity is Albanian from my mother’s and father’s side, spiced with several others from my father’s side. Every other ethnic identity in addition to this one, the official one, with which I present myself when it is required from me, and when I present myself in written word and in the language I communicate at home with my closest family, has never posed a threat to the second one, third one…
However, in the society in which I live in, it is not so simple. Throughout my life, my identity – Albanian, was often not accepted, because I had not looked like an Albanian. I also had non-acceptance of my identity from the Albanians, with whom I share my identity, for whom often I also did not look like an Albanian, and this being due to the stereotypes developed in all the communities in Macedonia. For example, when I enrolled in secondary school, I decided to study in Macedonian. On the first day of school, when I met my classmates, and after they found out that I was an Albanian, several classmates gathered around me and started asking me interesting and silly questions. Had I always been so dark-skinned, or had I been to the sea… “you don’t go to the sea, right?”. Or, did my mother work, and when I confirmed that she does work, they asked me how she dresses when she goes to work, to which I could not resist but joke with the following response: “She has special harem pants, a pair for each day”. Later I realized that most of the classmates had had no contact with Albanians during their life, and that is why they had a wrong conception of what an Albanian looks like, that is, they had no conception, rather their conception had been brought on by others. During the four-year study, we became very good friends, without exceptions. They were even guests of mine, out of pure curiosity, for later to see and realize that we live, behave, eat and do things similarly, except for the fact that we speak different languages. These things did not prevent me from developing into a mature and confident person, on the contrary, they even helped me.
Though, it does bother me when someone, in my country, calls me minority. Because in my opinion, there are no minorities anywhere in the world, when it comes to the human identity. I consider that the administrative number should not determine the status of people in a given state. Imagine Europe as one state, and for someone in it to be constantly calling you a minority, to be rubbing in your face certain rights it constantly gives you, because as a smaller community, by default you should deserve it, and to be at someone’s mercy. I chose Europe as an example for a country, because today’s trend is entry in that big community, with many concessions from our country, fulfillments and deliverances of given tasks towards that determinant, with a final goal, equality on all grounds. Imagine how we feel, the others, in our mutual country…
When it comes to whether with the EU accession my fellow Macedonians would lose their identity, I will say for certain that they will not lose it. No matter how someone calls you, you will always be what you are. I always fought when someone attacked one of my identities, there is always someone who is bothered by that other identity, when it comes to the ethnic one, since at the moment it concerns precisely the ethnic one.
Most of all, it bothers me when my gender, ethnic and intellectual identity is used for some percentage representation in given occasions. Since the human being should be a composition of many identities, which in their interlinking within human, as a physicus, as an intellectual being, create a whole. When that whole is being divided, that is, when one part is taken from that whole, for utilitarian needs, neglecting the other parts of that whole, then we acquire only a partial image, response, movement, quality without the required excellence that the complete human being carries.
The article is part of the project “Identity Loss or …?” implemented by CIVIL in cooperation with the Heirich Böll Foundation.