Repression in the Land of the Free

Indira Kajosevic 

Co-director and Project Coordinator of the Reconciliation and Culture Cooperative Network, Inc., New York

Interviewed by Julian Portilla, 2003

This rough transcript provides a text alternative to audio. We apologize for occasional errors and unintelligible sections (which are marked with ???).

A: If you went to a high school in the Bronx and there were problems of Albanian kids in the tight group and they had an arranged fight with the best or biggest local gang, someone might say well this is what is traditionally happening in this area in the Bronx - Italians fought Irish and Irish fought Latinos. What they fought about was not some disagreements, but whether Albanian kids would be allowed to wear black and red because these were the colors of the Bloods, a Latino gang in that area. They have this fight on the premises of an educational institution in NYC and they have an excellent conflict resolution program, but it's not working because those kids are not coming to the CR programs so you do have to take a culturally sensitive approach and understand why these kids wear black and red. If you know this is a gang, why the hell do you want to wear these colors? Those are the colors of their national flag and the Albanian kids would never give it up, because it was so hard for them to maintain it under the repressive Kosovo, and they come all the way to America to have a gang do it as well; of course they're going to fight.

Q: Land of freedom, and they still can't have their flag...

A: Right, because of all the social environments and the circumstances they live in. Having an active presence is the most important part for our work, that's my advice.