“Racism comes hand-in-hand with gender issues and class issues”.

Featuring Erica Sarmiento Da Silva.

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.

“People have been made to believe that they are predestined for the situation into which they were born”.

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.

And that’s where we find social inequality, injustice, and a section of the population that doesn’t have the basic necessities and will never have them unless something is done, unless we mobilise.

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.

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.

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.
Now there are professors, black doctors who can speak for themselves, who have achieved this path and who are able to overcome all these prejudices and continue on this path to the end of the race.

And we as a society have to accompany and collaborate with this fight against any form of discrimination and racism.

Erica Sarmiento da Silva, PhD in History and professor at the UERJ, Rio de Janeiro Brazil.

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