Mixed feelings

Mixed feelings


NOW is the online source for news, features, analysis and much more, covering Lebanon, the Lebanese diaspora and the Middle East.

“The people photographed are so beautiful they make you feel like having mixed race babies,” said Kevork Baboyan, one of many attendees at Wednesday’s opening of the photography exhibition, Mixed Feelings.

Over the years, racism has slowly but steadily started to raise eyebrows in Lebanon, a country that is infamous for abusing migrant domestic workers and discriminating against refugees and other groups of society. Rarely, however, has anyone addressed racism between Lebanese until Lebanese-Nigerian activist Nisreen Kaj sought – in collaboration with Beirut-based Polish photographer Marta Bogdanska — to explore the concepts of race and identity.

“Living in Beirut as a black Lebanese has [clearly highlighted] the hierarchy of skin color and ethnicity in the country,” Kaj told NOW Extra. “This reality has gotten under my skin, which is only a figure of speech, for it is in fact about the surface, about the skin, about the way we perceive identity, race, and ethnicity.”

Opening at Hamra’s Dar al-Musawwir, the launch combined images and interviews of some 30 Lebanese from African and Asian descent and was produced in cooperation with the Heinrich Böll Foundation, Middle East Office…

…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…

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