Dyslexia is just an excuse for laziness, people tell dyslexic Lenka.

She has trouble with grammar but that doesn’t mean she is not smart. Lenka from Pardubice is studying at a philosophical university. Even there she still gets remarks about her grammar mistakes. The biggest problem is looking for work, according to her.

You are dyslexic. What does that mean for you in daily life?
People keep telling me I’m just lazy and to double check for mistakes, which isn’t true. I just can’t sometimes see them. Me personally, I have a problem with recognizing similarly sounding letters such as s/z, b/p, d/t, i/y so I make mistakes in subject and predicate. I can’t hear if the sounds are hard or soft so I can’t determine what i/y should follow. Of course there are rules to learn but when we, dyslexic people, should justify something, it becomes a problem. Or at least in my case. There are several levels of dyslexia and that’s what it all comes down to. People are different, so is their attitude towards dyslexia. Some try to overcome the obstacle, some are fed up with the constant reminders and some appreciate it. It depends.

How do you feel it?
I am the type of person that can handle criticism well, especially if I can learn something. But it needs to be constructive and to the point. Instead of telling me: look, you got a mistake here, it should be like this because…, they tell me or rather write to me: you have an error, stop doing those, are you dumb? I often hear that dyslexia is just an excuse for laziness.

Does it have an impact on you?
It depends, it does hurt when people say bad things about me but that isn’t a big deal. The worse part is tied to dyslexia itself. There are many job positions that require you to write perfectly. In our society, if something is written it should be grammatically correct. Otherwise the reader stops to think whether the author is uneducated or just ignores the rules of Czech language. Mistakes take away from credibility and lower the quality of the content. If I work at a company and I write e-mails for someone, there can’t be any mistakes. Thanks to that we are automatically disqualified from certain positions.

Is it a solvable problem?
You can hire someone for proofreading but then you bother them several times a day. I remember when I was a kid, I wanted to be a basic school teacher. But thanks to my dyslexia I never even tried it. Just like I’ll probably never try any administrative work where I would need to use written expressions. I study philosophy now, so I am on the academic grounds, even with dyslexia. In my field, we write a lot of essays. To eliminate at least some mistakes I let my friends check my work before submitting, but not all errors can be caught.

Do you feel pressure to write correctly while studying?
Yes, it is expected of me there. I’ll share one tidbit from the opinion of my opponent, who graded my bachelor’s thesis. It said that the student completely ignores the neutral gender. I am not sure what the author meant by this but I found it funny at the time. But as you can see, even people with dyslexia can graduate from university. I even enrolled in Latin for a semester and after I passed the exam our lecturer told me I was her first dyslexic and that i pleasantly surprised her. Apparently I did even better than students who did well in languages. Sometimes it might not be so bad to have dyslexia because you need to prepare more and better than others.

What should people realize when succumbing to prejudices against dyslexia?
They should think about the opinion they accepted, whether it’s actually true. They should educate themselves about the topic. I have a feeling that people know very little about dyslexia. And us, people suffering from it should realize that the world is different for everyone and if others want to bug us about our condition, they will find a way. It is futile to extensively think about those situations. On the other hand if the criticism is constructive we can all take something away from it.

I have bad experiences with inebriated people. My ex-boyfriend hit me while under the influence, says abstinent.

Twenty-two year old Jana hasn’t had a drink in several years and according to her
words, she doesn’t miss it. Despite that, she still meets people that don’t understand
her, people that consider alcohol a completely normal part of their life.

You did drink before. What happened?
Yes, it used to be like that. I come from Moravia so I could almost say I know wine
and Slivovice (Plum brandy) from my childhood. When I was 16 and everyone
around me was drinking I thought I might give it a shot. I didn’t find anything I liked,
which might have been a good thing. Just like with any other food: If you don’t like it,
you don’t eat it. I also have bad experiences with alcohol.

What experiences?
Inebriated people act differently than usual, everyone knows that. Unfortunately, I
have many bad experiences with drunk people, who don’t exactly act nicely.
Suddenly they blame you for things, are aggressive and attack you, just to not
remember any of it tomorrow. Just to leave the emotional scars to the sober one.
Unfortunately, I came very close to this sort of thing when my ex-boyfriend hit me.
Naturally, the closer someone is to you, the more he knows you, the more he can
abuse you when drinking. Compared to someone random somewhere at a bus stop.

Have you encountered any negative responses are people okay with you not

Being an abstinent is not completely usual. If one is not excused by medical reasons
or something such as pregnancy, society tells us, there are no reasons not to drink.
When I say that I don’t want beer, that I won’t have any of the wine and that they can
keep the Vodka for themselves, people usually wonder. I hear: ,,You’re an
abstinent? Like seriously? Why?” very often. I encounter these typical question quite
commonly. After I tell them I don’t like alcohol, many people try to list things I haven’t
just tried yet and things that I would absolutely love. I answer that I know most of
those drinks and that they won’t convince me, I get labeled boring and weird. I don’t
like when people force others into things.

How do you solve social events such as toats at celebrations?
I just don’t drink. I will have water, juice or some other non-alcoholic drink. It strikes
me when it’s someone’s birthday and they have the need to get me to drink. ,,Come
on, it’s my birthday, have a drink.” I wouldn’t dare to say: ,,Hey, it’s my birthday, so
eat this steak.” to a vegetarian. I find it rude and intolerant. I don’t tell others not to
drink, they shouldn’t force their view upon me either.

Valery Senichev

Foreigners need to work much harder to get respect, says a man from Belarus.

Valery Senichev came from Belarus to the Czech Republic in 2004. During his studies of psychology, he faced labels such as ,, Russian”. Prejudices regarding himself inspired him to study them and later write his thesis on the topic.

You come from Belarus. Which prejudices have you faced regarding your origin?
They are mainly prejudices against foreigners. But I saw those back in Belarus, usually from the side of Russians or Lithuanians. For example, when I went to visit my father in Russia where he’s from and I mentioned that I come from Belarus, the attitude towards me changed drastically. People didn’t notice at first since I know russian language fairly well. But when they found out I am from Belarus, something changed.

Have you felt this way in Czech as well?
I did encounter some prejudices. When I started studying at Masaryk University in Brno, I couldn’t speak Czech very well but I tried. And suddenly I found out from others that I am Russian when I come from Belarus. I had no idea why others might think that. You can then add me studying very hard, thus being considered a nerd – another label. You don’t then merrily go out, around your classmates.

Did you see any prejudices later, during working?
Yes, I have a feeling that foreigners need to work twice as hard and more carefully to get any recognition from their surrounding. I, for example, worked as a manager of a company in Mlada Boleslav. We had a meeting once and I said something to a leader of the next department.  Later he came to me and said: ,, Look man, I am a Czech guy working in a Czech company. What are you doing here?” I told him I work here. Everyone around us went silent because they realized that was discrimination in the workplace and if I reported him to the higher-ups, he would get in trouble. So he started apologizing, even though it seemed more sarcastic than serious.

How do you deal with situations like that?
When I was younger, these situations were troublesome for me, because I wanted people to accept me the way I am. Later I started wondering why is it like that, why do prejudices work so well. Since I studied psychology, I tackled this exact topic: Prejudices and stereotypes regarding psychology and sociology. In my master’s thesis, I tackled prejudices in the work environment. That is, I think, a positive way how to deal with it. I also dealt with the topic of expats, who are highly qualified foreigners living in the Czech Republic.

What did you find out?
I found out that integration works for them if they can embrace the Czech culture. You will think in the Czech language, be interested in Czech things and have Czech friends. Some people who studied with me in the preparatory courses are still Kazakhs to this day. They still only mingle within their own community and you can hear that in his voice. That accent is instantly recognizable. Some may say they are from Uzbekistan and even though they’ve lived here for over twenty years, they still feel they are Uzbeks. That means that they did not accept a part of Czech culture. They don’t have to identify with it, that’s not the point, but they need to somehow understand it. I can fortunately speak with several accents so a lot of people think I am from Czech. Until I tell them my name.

Do you think any prejudices against foreigners are based on truth?
That’s a very tough question to nswer. I found out that our society suffers from misconceptions, which are usually just passed along, rather than based on any factual evidence. But some of the prejudices might be based on experience. That can grow over time, good example of this are Russians, Arabs and Vietnamese in Prague. It is always possible that some of them stem from reality, but we can’t extend that to all members of that community – not all Arabs are terrorists.

Where do you see the biggest danger of prejudices?
The danger is very great, because prejudices offer us a sort of a shortcut. It is a mechanism which we can use in situations where we might not be so sure of something. We can say that the person is this and that. We don’t have to further get to know the person, because a system tells us how to treat him. Then we have the individual labeled. On one hand, this sort of behavior saves energy for the individual, on the other hand it is very dangerous, because it can lead to verbal attacks, physical violence, in some cases to racism and stalking. From the immigrant’s crisis, we can see that there isn’t many immigrants here yet it caused wave of fear against them. I think it is mainly ignorance that leads to prejudices. The worst part is when one doesn’t realize that his actions are being controlled by prejudices, because then they don’t care about who people actually are.

Have you ever gave way to prejudices?
When I came to Czech I learned that Gypsies live here and that some may have problems with them. I actually lived close to the gypsy part of town in Brno and i didn’t know why everyone was so rude towards them. But as time went on I started to curse at them as well. Later I changed my attitude towards them and came to a conclusion that I can’t possibly think like this. If I don’t want others to judge me according to a label, I won’t judge others for the same thing.

rasistické brýle

VIDEO: What can you see through ,,racist” glasses?

Actor and musician Rudy Manusco, known for his youtube production, made a video on the topic of ,,racist” glasses. His glasses enhance the seen reality with prejudices regarding the pictured ethnicity.

Take a look at what ,,racist” glasses can do:

His video has amassed over 3 and half million views in almost 2 years of its existence.

What do you think?

Let us know your opinion in the comments.

Source: Rudy Manusco, YouTube

Half of my family are Muslim. I face prejudices, even though it is not my religion.

Sarah (18), student, Prague:

,,I am indirectly affected by prejudices against Muslims. Half of my family are Muslim
and even though I am not Muslim myself, I’ve heard my fair share of insults. Mainly
after the events in Germany and France. It bothered when my friend, who I
considered a sane person, told me to not join them on their trip because they
wouldn’t let us cross the border with me there,” shared an eighteen year old student

Everyone knows Barbies. If we try to look good, we look dumb, says blonde Lucie.

„Sometimes I do encounter prejudices. But I don’t know if its due to me being blonde or if just being a woman is enough. Nothing serious ever happened to me but I had a classmate in high school, who faced a lot of things. My friend was also blonde and our teacher hated her. You could tell she preferred male students. She didn’t like girls, but especially my friend, even though she did well in school. I think prejudices stem from the society we live in. It gives us the Barbie doll for example. Everyone knows her. We then look dumb when we want to take care of us and look good.” says blonde Lucie (22).

People used to make fun of me when there was a “Bobika” TV ad, says Vietnamese girl.

She was born in the Czech Republic and she speaks the native language perfectly. But thanks to her Vietnamese heritage, Marianna (24) encountered prejudices during the height of popularity of the “Bobika” TV ad when people were discussing whether Asian people eat dogs. Marianna has one as a pet, so she won’t be eating any soon.

Do you feel there is prejudice that people from Vietnam eat dogs?
People used to make fun of me when there was a TV ad for “Bobika” by centrum.cz. In the ad, a lady came to a restaurant with a dog. She asked the waitress if they could take care of the dog. Next shot shows the cook, bringing it out on a plate. Back then, a lot of people were talking whether Asians eat cats and dogs so people used to make fun of me. Some were having so much of it, it was uncomfortable. I have never eaten a dog before. The only thing I tried, that people find weird, was a duck egg with a duck in it. I wouldn’t be able to eat it today, back then I didn’t mind. But today, I don’t feel any prejudice towards me from others.

Not even when looking for a job?
It’s true that due to my heritage, it may be harder to get a job. But it used to be much worse. Today’s society is more multicultural. I wasn’t able to get a job anywhere, except for Starbucks. Employers claimed that me being Vietnamese could cause problems in the environment.
But you were already born in Czech. Do you consider yourself Czech or Vietnamese?
That’s very hard to say. I tell everyone I’m Vietnamese who was born here. I belong in he Vietnamese community but I wouldn’t be able to live in Vietnam. It is completely different there. I’m more accustomed to the European culture.
What should people, who do hold prejudices, realize?
They should definitely try to put themselves into other’s shoes. If they were in Asia and people would be laughing at them, how would they feel? They should first think deeply about themselves before judging others. And since everyone is different, don’t judge anyone based on how they look, but who they are.
Do you think there may be some truth to any prejudices against the Vietnamese community?
I think there are some people who eat dogs. I believe so. It has always been and always will be like that. It just wasn’t as widely known. I think Asians can globally easily enter different communities, where they live and try to adapt. But the food that you eat, you get used go it. It’s hard to let that go. On the other hand, if Europeans came to Asia, we won’t stop them from eating pasta, even though that’s not what we eat here, we eat rice.

Pride parades don’t really help our sommunity, says lesbian Anna.

Even though according to twenty-seven year old Anna our society is much
more informed about homosexuality, she still met with negative comments.
What baffles her is that even atheists claim that homosexuality is against God,
but Anna is a Christian herself. Even the famed pride parades aren’t of much
help to the LGBT community, according to her.

Do you think that people in Czech Republic are open to the question of

With growing public awareness, our community gets more recognition. Although it is
true that pride parades, marches and other activities don’t exactly help us. In the
USA it is more like a big carnival. In czech it’s frowned upon as a march of mentally
unstable, who are unable of normal life and run around streets in latex clothing. I
think we have many years to go before our society can change their view towards
the LGBT community.

Do you yourself feel prejudices towards you?
I did encounter some discrimination, not very often though. When talking about
prejudices in general, it is obvious that our Lesbian community is full of them. It’s
things like if one woman needs to be the man in the relationship or whether one has
to substitute the role of a dad in parenthood. Many cizitens of Czech Republic claim
to be atheists but even they sometimes say that it’s against God’s will to be gay. I
believe in God myself and I don’t have a problem with this question.

You said that, even though not much, you did encounter some discrimination.
In what sense?

There are two problems I am dealing with lately, which is registered partnership
(marriage between two people of the same sex) and conception, eventually adoption
of a baby. Regarding registered partnership I have an experience myself since I
have already been registered before. This kind of partnership is not very legally
sound, there are many missing aspects that we would like in it. We are labeled and
stamped in our Identification documents and when you come to a hospital or town
office and have to show the ID, everyone can see you are registered. There is no
personal privacy in that moment and I think just changing it to married would be
more practical.

You mentioned children. What rights do you have in this aspect?
Regarding adoption or conception of a baby, we as lesbians have no legal way to
conceive a baby, unless we have sex with a man. There is only one way today and
that’s assisted reproduction. Unfortunately I feel discriminated against, because the
laws are not developed enough to allow single woman or woman in registered
partnerships to conceive a baby this way.

Have you ever encountered strictly negative reactions woards your

It did happen once, I was in the subway with my girlfriend, holding hands. An old
woman was walking towards us, spit under our feet and called us ,,disgusting
lesbians”. I don’t think there are many more negative situations, apart from someone
just not taking it too well. One of those was my coworker and she couldn’t stand the
thought of working together. At the end we had a talk where I explained that I don’t
hit on every woman on the street and that she doesn’t have to worry, she’s not my
type anyway. That seemed to calm the situation down.

What about your opinion towards the LGBT community?
I don’t like extremes. I don’t like the demonstration of ,,I am a lesbian, so what?”. I
also don’t like it when a straight couple make out at a tram stop. So what’s my
opinion towards the community? It’s mainly positive, we have good relations, we try
to help each other and encourage fresh members of our community. On the other
hand, we still currently have a long way to go.