Geography is HARD.

You know how hard relationships can be, right? Relationships are hard. Well, take a massive relationship, ie a whole country. And work on that one. Countries are constantly changing.

I’ve seen a lot of ppl on fb & twitter, really mad about folks mixing up Chechnya and the Czech Republic. Which I can get. Let’s be honest, those Eastern European countries keep changing around. It was Czechoslovakia, then split to the Czech Republic and Slovakia (1 January 1993). There used to be Yugoslavia – now it’s Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina. And when I say that, it seems like I’m saying Yugoslavia split in 3. But no, that’s TWO different countries; Montenegro is one, and Bosnia and Herzegovina is the other. BUT, and correct me if I’m wrong, Montenegro used to be called something else. I don’t remember what, but it had an “and” and was attached to another country circa 2003-2005, and then they also split. It was “something and Montenegro”….. I think maybe “Serbia and Montenegro” was the name of the country? I very specifically remember them constantly changing was a pain for me at work, b/c I kept having to update how countries names were listed, and have them exactly as they appeared for the Federal INS.

Eastern Europe 1956
Eastern Europe 1956

Eastern Europe 2013
Eastern Europe 2013

Anyway, I’m just saying, I can understand the confusion.

Also, I can relate to being of an ethnicity, and having everyone confuse that ethnicity with another. If you recall, I’m Indian. When asked my race, and I say “I’m Indian”, I have heard before “red dot or feather?” as a legitimate question.

In fact, here is a REAL CONVERSATION I once had at work. I was working late, and there used to be this maintenance man there that gave me the creeps. I was the only one in the office. He came in (did I mention that he was also smelly?), and here is out conversation:

Guy: Working late, huh?
Me: Yeah.
Guy: You know, I’ve been meaning to ask you, what are you?
Me: ..uh… huh? .. ??? [I really don’t know how to respond to the question, “what are you”]
Guy: You know, what are you? Like are you Hispanic?
Me: Oh. I’m Indian.
Guy: OH! Yeah, I think I have some Indian in my family. Like Cherokee?
Me: No, I’m Indian-Indian.
Guy: … what?
Me: You know, like from the country, India.
Guy: Buuuutttt…. you don’t have a red dot on your head.
Me: [now I’m just staring at him in disbelief] What?
Guy: I thought those kinds of Indians had a red dot on their head.
Me: You know that’s just decoration, right? Like a sticker, or w/ a makeup pencil/marker drawn on….
Guy: Reeeaally!?!? OH!
[Turns out, he thought all Indian ppl were BORN with a dot on their forehead!]

Anyway, so I can empathize with someone for whom their ethnicity is a strong part of their identity, and it feels insulting when others don’t really recognize it, or lump a bunch of others into your culture; when, to you, they are SO DIFFERENT.

So, yes, this is the perfect time to educate others on the fact that Chechnya and the Czech Republic are 2 separate countries. It relates to current events, and if ppl can understand it now, they will remember it, as it’s something important that relates to their world today.

However, some ppl are getting very irritated. Re-emphasizing over & over again that they are Czech, and not Chechen. I get it, I really do. This was my ENTIRE childhood. I lived this for decades, here in the US. But you have to be careful how you do this. If you keep saying you’re Czech, not Chechen, after every statement you make on fb or twitter, it comes across as your separating yourself from Chechens because they are…. I don’t know the proper way to put it. Not ‘inferior’, per se. But you’re obviously separating b/c you are offended someone would think you are Chechen. I get that it’s a statement of national/cultural pride. But b/c it’s never been brought up before, and is now mentioned daily in posts, it comes across as derogatory to Chechens.

But 2 bad seeds don’t make all Chechens bad ppl. I know we all know that. And we all have heard enough to know that there’s a lot of violence in Chechnya. But that doesn’t make all Chechens bad or violent people.


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