Erica Sarmiento: People have been made to believe that they are predestined.
People have been made to believe that they are predestined...
Erica Sarmiento: Race, Racism. If racism is not innate but learned and if xenophobic and racist attitudes and ideologies come from society…
Erica Sarmiento da Silva, PhD in History and professor at the UERJ, Rio de Janeiro Brazil. Erica, if racism is not innate but learned and if xenophobic and racist attitudes and ideologies come from society. Would you say that responsibility lies chiefly with political systems?.
I would say that racism is something structural, it’s not something new, and it can’t be said that it’s something circumstantial. Racism arises as part of a structure, and if we take Latin America as an example, which is where I’m talking from in Brazil, there is a big racism problem here.
We’re talking about slave societies, societies that were colonised and societies that in spite of being colonised have a mentality that is based on this hierarchical, patriarchal and colonial slave structure, and those mentalities don’t go away fron one day to the next.
And to combat it we have to take one baby step at a time, starting with affirmative stances on public policy, and starting with education and raising awareness.
For all this to change, civil society must mobilise: Women’s movements, minority movements, LGTB movements: all these issues are very tightly connected, they go together and the prevailing discourse is that of the Western, misogynistic white man. And so anyone who doesn’t fit into this narrative or into this image of superiority – well, they’re going to have a bad time.
Racism comes hand-in-hand with gender issues and class issues. It’s an indivisible triad: race, gender and social class.”
We live in a society that still has a slave mentality, and black people are a part of our history. And not just as slaves but in all areas of our history. There are black people who were writers, who led movements that revolutionised the system, or who were important politicians at the start of the 20th century. There is a resistance, and we must raise our voices.
Now, there are black professors and black doctors who can speak for themselves, who overcame prejudice to come out on top and who have the power to continue along the journey towards ending racism. And we as a society must walk with them every step of the way, and do our bit in the fight against all kinds of discrimination and racism.
People have been made to believe that they are predestined for the situation into which they were born.
How does this work in a country with a mixed-race population?
Well, over decades, over a century, creating phrases, defects, speeches, silences, not having memory politics, making people believe that they are predestined to this condition since they were born as a caste society, believing themselves to be black people who are inferior that they will not find a space, making black women believe that their beauty is worth less than a white woman and that they will never be able to compete in the labor market with a white woman who will not be able to have the same opportunities and that he must always be connected to subordination to this white supremacy, to this racial discourse.
These are the power relations that are engendered in a society and create these distinctions, they make us move from day to day, work, study, as if this were very natural, to think that because of skin color you are incapacitated for certain professions, you are unable to frequent certain social environments. It is some thing real and statistically proven.
“Believing that their beauty is worth less than that of a white woman”.
Like, for example, the amount of young black men who are murdered every day. Are all these young people guilty? Of course not, most are children who go to school, to the bakery with their mother, but who are exposed to violence where they live, sometimes by walking in the wrong place and due to their skin color they are automatically considered suspects, it is a very serious problem that only education and that the request for forgiveness, we are a society still with a slave mentality and the black is in our history, not only as an exclave, it is in all spaces of our stories.
We are a society still with a slave mentality and the black is in our history, not only as an exclave, it is in all spaces of our stories.
There are blacks who were writers who led movements that broke the system, who were important politicians at the beginning of the twentieth century, there is resistance and this voice must be raised.
And we as a society have to accompany and collaborate with this fight against any form of discrimination and racism.
Here’s an example of how actress Viola Davis talks about being called “a Black Meryl Streep” .
The actress recounts the struggle of working in a business that knows her value but still doesn’t pay her what she’s worth.