Conversations about life with people on different journeys who happen to currently live in Berlin. Editor Kadeem Greaves talked to Dreea Pavel, read their full conversation below:
Dreea, you mentioned on the phone, one of the reasons you wanted to do this interview is, because you wanted to have ideas heard. So, what is one thing you want people to hear?
Something I would like the world to know? Hmm, it’s pretty complicated; I don’t know where to start. What is important to me is solidarity between women of color especially, but also people of color in general. I’m half Sinti/Romani and you’re black, but to me that’s just different shades of brown, to be honest it’s not like you’re a different ethnicity to me. I think that’s something I want people to understand. I think solidarity is key to unity.
Who are you?
And who does Dreea consider Dreea to be?
I am the daughter of two very amazing parents. I grew up very untypical, very different to a lot of other people.
I never went to kindergarten my dad taught me everything at home. What he thought was worth teaching was poetry, remembering song lyrics and telephone numbers, just training our memory. He would pretend to hit us to train our reflexes, especially when he was driving. We would just be in the passenger seat and I think he just couldn’t stand that we were just being passengers so he had to somehow engage us.
They both make music, so I always grew up around a lot of music, especially jazz. I always wanted to be a jazz singer, but they told me that I couldn’t sing, so I did everything else possible in music. I wrote about music, I wrote music. I did a lot of things around music and now, I DJ.
We have this amazing thing here STA ticket. If you’re under 27, you can buy this one ticket, you can pick 7 of 21 airports around the world and then you go travel and that’s what I did after school. It’s great to be able to see things from a different perspective and I think without traveling that’s not possible.
How do you think you are perceived in Germany? As far as race, what tribe you belong to etc.
I think people are very confused here. Maybe if people wouldn’t wonder that much, they’d probably put me in this Turkish/Arabic category, which is also not the same. I think for a lot of Germans that’s pretty much the same. They don’t care. People ask me sometimes if I’m Indian or Latin American, but I think Americans get it more.
Do you think you’ve ever been stereotyped here? Or discriminated against?
Okay, I will try to explain, but I don’t think it’s necessarily easy and I get into a lot of discussions with my friends. The largest (“minority”) groups in Germany are Turkish and Arabic people. Germans distinguish them as one culture. They could not tell a Moroccan from a Turkish person. If you grabbed two people off the street, a Turkish person and a Moroccan person, they look completely different, but if you asked a German person they would not know who is who. So, if you are not visibly Asian, black or an ethnicity you can easily see, you experience discrimination on a very vague level. I could be discriminated against, because you think I am Turkish or Muslim or because you simply just don’t know what to do with me, or if you knew that I was Romani, I would face even more discrimination, you know what I mean? Because people cannot see it, so I experience racism and discrimination on such weird levels. They sit next to me and talk about gypsies in a nasty way and I sit there. I feel like that’s why I feel a great sense of solidarity towards anyone else. I have experienced everyone’s discrimination, maybe not to an extreme extent. I try my best to understand people as best as I can.
I think any minority group’s (racial, religious, sexual, etc) reality is closer to how things ought to be. You understand what discrimination feels like and that allows you to be more empathic and compassionate to others. I believe that empathy makes us human.
I feel like there is a commonality between all people, I mean I have very radical views about this, to me the only minority on this planet are white people, they are the smallest race and we all know that. I consider them a different race. I’m not just saying they are a different race ethnicity wise, but they are actually a different race. They are such a small group and their sense of survival is probably bigger than anyone else’s. I can look at half of the world and it will resemble me. I’m not worried about me not existing in 100 years. I think that white people maybe have a greater sense of survival, with that premise it makes sense for them to kind of wipe out, hide and distort the history of brown people. Due to this destruction of their own reality and identity are completely distorted. They live in a completely distorted reality. And they cannot empathize with us ever because they were the makers of our oppression.
People often tell me I’m naive. But shit ain’t supposed to be like this. The reason I want to have kids is that I can impart a little into them and they can impart a little into their kids and eventually we get kum-yah ya.
I don’t believe in this ‘love each other’ that’s not me, I look at the world as this pool of brown people of different shades. And white people, I don’t want to live with them. My experience with them in jobs, with teachers, every time I’ve had to be close to white people, even when I was a kid and didn’t know the difference, I still felt something, that I couldn’t articulate. The more you grow up the more you just realize, they just make you feel like shit most of the time. I just don’t want to be around them and it’s evil that they have racism in their heart and they’re trying to purposely make you feel shit. Look at something as simple as facial cream, in some parts of the world it’s impossible to find one without carolight in it.
I think it’s more of a power struggle more than a sectarian struggle. For white people to continue to exist they must create a mountain and they must be at the top and the people at the bottom of the mountain must be exploited. I think there is a direct relationship between the economy and race.
Of course, because that’s the system they have built over the past 600 years. I think they don’t know that. That is the privilege that they have. They look at it as so normal they don’t even doubt where its coming from.
Let’s talk about the Oscars now, what do you want to get off your chest?
I read someone interviewed Ice Cube and Kevin Hart and he was like “fuck the Oscars who cares about the Oscars?” Why is there such a big controversy, because on a deeper level we set things that white people built, we set them as standards too because, we’re in their society. I cannot speak for black people in America, because that’s not me or my history, but I sense they’ve been together for so long, black people and white people in America are so close for so long, it’s an abusive relationship. I cannot say that I’ve been very close, my family grew up traveling all the time, until my mother was like 10 or 11 years old. They were never in touch with whatever the majority of the society was in what country they’d just travelled through. They picked up the language and whatever, but they stayed amongst themselves, they married amongst themselves. It’s very homogenous in a way and it’s not at the same time. It’s very mixed. The culture is very protected. I understand there is an academy behind these Oscars and academy within America usually here discriminating within there foundation. I mean how fast can a society change? When slavery was not that long ago.
I was recently told by my grandmother that my great grandmother was born into slavery in Trinidad. I was like shit!
The thing is, you have to understand (about) American psyche, which I think, is becoming the world’s psyche, one we don’t remember our history and on top of that, the little history we do know, we shun.
Part of seeing 12 years a slave is that it acts as a history lesson. That history effects us to this day, I’m not only talking about the psyche, but the cities we live in and the red lining of these cities.
Think for the most part, if you systematically segregate people from their identity, which I think was the western European way to success. People don’t understand how many steps it took. People don’t know, they’re not aware. You know how many Germans aren’t aware that they had colonies in Africa? They’re not aware, they don’t think they were part of it, but you don’t understand that there was a use of religion, a distortion of the bible. There was a period in time where they tried to find scientific explanations as to why brown are inferior, where there was eugenics. People don’t know about that. I think if you went this far and you have separated people, a black person that is maybe 12 or 13 years old, might watch 12 years a slave and completely 0% associate with what happens in 12 years a slave.
It was genius, one thing you have to do to really oppress people is one take away their language, without their language they’re nothing. I see the world through English eyes, that’s not my language. It’s so crazy to me.
Yeah, it’s fucked up. I still have a language, but my own father probably with the same verbal violence that he experienced before, taught me not to speak that language. It’s so deeply rooted in us, the shame.
You know what’s crazy? The current bigotry towards Arabs, people don’t realize it starts with language, it starts with semantics. The sentiment you put in the air leads to the demonization of people throughout a period of time. Eventually, this leads to the justification to do whatever the fuck you want with them. I feel that we are witnessing history. I heard since 1990 western countries have killed 4 million Arabs, that’s a genocide and no one talks about that.
We don’t speak about any genocide, if you think about it. There is no such thing. It took Germany what 30 years or more?
I see Hitler and slavery the same way because it was overt. I think what’s happening now is as bad.
Of course it is, it’s based on the same shit.
But we just gaze it. We sanitize it.
Because we change legislation and now fascism and racism, etc is like a microcosm you have to decode it, because you’re never sure. At least in the 1950s people actually came together and if you had a group of Romani people chilling somewhere, “they would tell you fuck off.” That’s very right in your face, but today someone at home and I will call the police and let the police come a say it’s illegal to be in this place, period. But if it was 10 white people hanging out, would it be a problem? Now on top of being discriminated against you have to challenge your own sense of reality. I think it’s sick, what the world continuously does to brown people is just sick. People don’t realize how sick it is. White people wish we would just forget everything that happened “and let’s have some cake”, but it’s like you don’t even want to understand what happened to us, so how the hell shall I get over it. Think about a one on one discussion, you and your boyfriend girlfriend whatever. Your girlfriend does something that hurts you and you say that hurt me and she says forget about it okay? You wouldn’t forgive that person, it’s such a simple 2abc psychology” it’s not hard to understand, but you would rather be in denial and make me feel crazy. I think most people have guilt trips and don’t want to hear it and it’s really sad. Most people are oblivious to others struggles. Another thing, it’s so painful for me to hear a derogatory term from a person of color (the term gypsy, when speaking about Romani people). It’s not only a “huh” moment, but also why would you say that to me? You are also getting discriminated. Why are you excluding me from the struggle? Like you have this struggle, but I don’t? It makes me feel really lost.
What are your thoughts about the INDIE event where they had a white woman, named hood-rat, braiding hair?
I have no clue what happened, but I’ve heard a little bit about it. The little I heard was problematic for myself, I went to the event, I was there when the girl was braiding hair and she was really young and maybe she doesn’t understand the volume of how she presents herself and what that means. Maybe you don’t have to feel responsible for it, that’s very okay, but please use a different name for yourself. I think hood-rat is problematic. I don’t know where you’re from, but that was my thing. Why is it hood-rat to braid your hair? Do you call yourself that, because you braid hair? Or are you actually a hood-rat that just happens to braid hair?
Additionally, I’m very confused by the purpose of Indie magazine. It’s really problematic, because don’t go look for black people to validate you and be your coon. That’s what I hate the most and that’s why I feel that Indie magazine is so questionable. I don’t understand the purpose of this magazine, even now. I read the message (that you sent me to do this story) and this topic is something I talk about a lot and that’s fine, but why are you (Indie) doing this? Is everyone that works for Indie white? Do you want black people to validate your magazine? Do you want us to be in there to make you look better in public? I am very concerned about how I’m being portrayed in public. I don’t have a positive image out there, not me personally, but my people, the way we look. I think with black women it is the same thing, they are over sexualized, we only get shown in very specific looks and situations. It’s either the blackest, “desert beauties,” or the how “Germany loves their black girls”, these freckles light skinned girls with big afros, that represent the future of Germany, or you find a girl with german features, because she’s black but doesn’t look black, whatever that means. Her afro is fun, because it’s bouncy and curly, that is why Germany is fucked up, there is no space for brown skinned women.
Why do you think that is?
Because they can’t fetishize it, being white is too “normal” and if you are not, you have to be abnormal, so they could have a freak show. They used to have black people in zoos here and not that long ago, 1940’s, 1950’s. They had Romani people in circuses, my grandmother worked in a circus. You know, you do what you can, if you are only allowed to have four jobs, you choose the lesser evil.
What jobs are Romani people and brown people, in general, allowed to have in Germany now?
Romani people in Germany were smiths: gold and silversmiths. They bred horses and they were allowed to make music and be buffoons in some kings or emperors’ courtyard. That’s it. Then they are like “oh, why can’t they get it together?” Well, because you put us in a ghetto, years ago. Just like the jewish people, but you made neighborhoods where we confined and if we had property you confiscated it and placed us in a ghetto. Tell me how can you get over this, but no one wants to understand it, so it’s irrelevant to everyone.
It is multilayered, even if you move to Mitte, you are still not over it. I have travelled some beautiful places, but I don’t know. I feel like I see the world through a filter. It’s not just our history, there are actual experiences, things that actually happened to our great grandparents, grandparents, parents that you inherit, just as much as you inherit your traits like your hair and skintone. You also inherit pains and fears.
featured image outfit
two colored velvet bra &OTHER STORIES X RODARTE, blazer TIGER OF SWEDEN, pants PALLAS PARIS, jewellery MODEL’S OWN
By Kadeem Greaves