AFRICANGLOBE – It seems that the rhetoric is the same wherever one looks. Whether it’s the 211 years since the Haitian Revolution to Haiti’s status as the poorest country in the West, to police brutality in Baltimore, Maryland or Salvador, Bahia, certain mouth pieces, intellectuals and journalists want to drown the flames of anger with ridiculous proclamations that “this has nothing to do with race”. Or worse, they want to point the finger at the Black population itself as being completely responsible for social conditions that just happen to face Black communities all over the Americas as well as in Africa itself.
Such naive or purposeful misleading statements show that there’s a lot of people out there who have either forgotten or never knew the behind-the-scenes actions taken by the powers-that-be that lead to such conditions. These absurd types of statements are obviously used (often effectively) to deceive the masses who don’t in fact know the whole story. But guess what: We ain’t buyin’ it!! The truth is out there if people indeed want to know and this truth will not be found in the mainstream media or leftists organizations that don’t know how to deal with the issue of race.
The United States is once again ablaze with Black protests. In Brazil the poor and Black people continue to pay the highest score of violence, especially from the systematic attack of repressive forces on the periphery (of the cities): Cláudias, Amarildos, DGs, Eduardos. A long list.
Haiti, the first nation that was hit hard in its anti-slavery and anti-colonial revolution, still in 1804, followed up occupied by world powers and its branches (such as Brazil). Africa follows in a neo-colonial condition, subservient to the interests of the central nations.
And, despite this situation, the Brazilian Eurocentric left insists that the issue in Brazil “is class” as if race and class were antagonistic issues.
I present in 5 minutes, from 5 arguments, some contributions to this debate.
Structural racism – Racism is reaffirmed in the social imagination as something restricted to its interpersonal dimension. Ie, racism “only” exists if a Black is insulted, to be an example. To the “unsuspected”, the UN acknowledged that the problem of racism in Brazil is structural, ie organizes the inequalities of the social order in which Blacks, as a rule, are the ones who have the worst jobs, live in worse conditions, suffer state violence in a more systematic way, etc.
The identitary issue – A common argument on the left is accusing the Black issue of (being) “merely” an identitary one. However, the call for a specifically Black identitary awareness and the consequent structuring of Black social organizations is the necessary counterpoint to the resistance struggle, to the extent that racism exists and structures the current social order. But it’s worth saying that the Black struggle adds a wide range of material issues, such as the campaign against the genocide of Black people that fights the structural nature of racism in all its aspects.
Race vs. Class – Perhaps the greatest expression of Euro-centrism that organizes the thinking of much of the left in Brazil is to create antagonism between race and class. Racism is foundational of the social classes that structure capitalism since the colonial plunder founded on slavery was largely responsible for the primitive accumulation of capital.
Colonial past – Another expression of Euro-centrism is the little attention to the Brazilian colonial and slave-holding past. Common narratives of the left suggest that the political struggle against the order of exploration began with the European workers of the nineteenth century, without giving due political dimension to the struggle against slavery and that of the Quilombo of Palmares.
The ethnic component of progressive governments in Latin America – It’s very much discussed in Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador. However, few analysis give count of the centrality of the ethnic component. For these countries, the mobilization by indigenous and Black majorities sustained projects of power and raised their respective countries to a condition of minor external dependency. In Brazil the majority is Black, so therein lies the central issue that should structure a necessary sovereign project.
If the left wants to be part of a real project of changes in Brazil it must review its Eurocentric beliefs. And I have no doubt that the Movimento Negro (Black Movement), from the top of its richness and diversity, will give the necessary leadership.
By: Sammer Siman
Racism A History: The War Against The Black Race