Findings from a recent Washington Post article on racism

A few months ago the Washington Post published a story about findings from the World Values Survey.  Part of the survey was supposed to gauge levels of racial tolerance across the globe.  Below is an excerpt from the WP article:

Among the dozens of questions that World Values asks, the Swedish economists found one that, they believe, could be a pretty good indicator of tolerance for other races. The survey asked respondents in more than 80 different countries to identify kinds of people they would not want as neighbors. Some respondents, picking from a list, chose “people of a different race.” The more frequently that people in a given country say they don’t want neighbors from other races, the economists reasoned, the less racially tolerant you could call that society. 

This map, see link here, shows the results.  Albania, according to this study, is the least racially tolerant country in Europe.  I recently saw this as the headline for a posting on another site.  As I have been discussing experiences of racism and trying to think about ways to conceptualize it here in Albania, I am not sharing these findings to try and prove whether Albanians are racist or not, but instead, would like to point out some of the things that I think need to be addressed and considered further for analysis:

1. Were the surveys translated into individuals’ native languages?  How was the word ‘race’ translated?

2. How do the majority of Albanians understand ‘race’?  In recent weeks I have talked with many of my friends about their understanding of race and more often than not, many of them equate nationality with race, so for example, Albanian is a race, Greek is a race, Serb is a race, and so on.  This same discussion also emerged with INSTAT’s recent census data collection process.  I am not trying to justify intolerant behavior but rather problematize these findings, as the subject of race and racism is extremely dense and layered.  Furthermore, many Albanians, especially in rural areas, have ways of understanding and organizing villages according to family lineage, religion, and other factors.  As such, asking a question about neighbors may provoke different responses in different places.  Then again, one look at the housing of Albanian, Roma, and Egyptian communities here in Tirana points to widespread segregation and racial disparities.

3. Are Albanians more honest than other people in Europe and throughout the world? I would venture to think that many people, especially in Western Europe and the US, might be hesitant to admit their true feelings on the subject, especially for an official record such as this.  Then again, maybe there are many more Albanians who felt this way and did not say so for the same reason.  I think these kinds of questions are always pertinent when collecting data on these types of subjects.

4. Who conducted this study and where?  How many people were questioned?  These are more basic questions but nevertheless are worth mentioning, especially with such a complicated topic and such varied places across the globe.

Alright, here is the link to the WP article for those that want it.