Racism in Portugal: A country in a state of denial
Structural racism in Portugal, added to its colonialist past, translates into all sorts of inequalities. Racist police violence is one of the most atrocious manifestations of this scourge. To fight it, we need to get out of the state of denial in which we find ourselves. Dossier organized by Mariana Carneiro.
In 1999, I was 19 years old, I worked for a city council, as part of a youth employment program. At the time, introduced in the Free Time Activities (ATL) of a primary school. Coming from a neighborhood of tents, the children who stayed there for a few hours were recently relocated to a social neighborhood right next door. One of these children was Nuno, a seven-year-old black kid, with bright eyes, a wide smile and extremely intelligent.
I’m telling you this story because, having lived for several years in Viseu, a city that, at the time, unfortunately, was not marked by ethnic-racial diversity, this was one of the first moments that most affected and angered me with regard to the consequences of racism. musty that is still impregnated in our society.
As is this costume, Nuno developed a crush on me. Not feeling reciprocated, and after learning that I had a boyfriend, he asked to see my partner’s photo. When he looked at her, he automatically burst into tears and sobbed, “I knew it! It’s white! You would never date a boy like me”. Nuno rebelled, sometimes violently, with all the children who affronted him, calling him “O black, o black!”. Nuno wasn’t black, he was brown. That’s what he explained insistently. He couldn’t be black. One of Nuno’s dreams was to move to the white houses. I ended up figuring out why. The social district where his family was relocated, like so many other ghettoized districts, was divided into different areas, with white, green and pink houses, for whites, gypsies and afro-descendants, respectively.
O desenho que o Nuno me ofereceu. Retratou-nos (eu estou loura e ambos temos um cão - na altura eu tinha uma cadela, a Xira)
What society can be called democratic when it crushes the dignity, rights and dreams of children like Nuno?
Twenty-two years later, I would like to tell you that we have become capable of assuming our colonial past, of confronting and combating the structural racism that prevails here. But this is not the case.
Racialized people continue to be the target of all kinds of discrimination, whether in education, employment, health, justice, among other sectors. Racist violence, and especially that perpetuated by security regulations, is one of the most atrocious manifestations of this scourge. And it continues to kill in Portugal.
It is necessary to decolonize as minds, decolonize school manuals, decolonize an entire society that cannot get out of the state of denial in which it finds itself and that resists giving up its place of privilege.
We cannot accept that, in the 21st century, we continue to hear it said in the academic world that we must listen to Portuguese colonization in the light of its time and recognize its civilizing vocation. Will I also have to make an effort to understand the goodwill of Adolf Hitler, who presided over the construction of the concentration camps and the famous gas town halls? Will I fail to classify their actions as genocide as they intend it to do with the genocide carried out by German settlers in Namibia, which “only” killed eight to ten million Africans?
This dossier seeks to be a contribution to opening a breach in the state of denial in which we find ourselves. It will always be limited, as racism in Portugal has such profound ramifications that it cannot be fully addressed. And because so basic ethno-racial data are lacking to do so.
Furthermore, I start from my place of privilege. Even so, on a personal level, it is still another exercise in my ongoing process of trying to decolonize myself. After all, as Frantz Fanon would say, killing the white, colonial, racist man who exists in us remains urgent.
In this dossier you will find two identified. SOS Racismo leader Mamadou Ba explains to us how “There is no fight against racism without a fight against capitalism” and Guinean musician Guto Pires talks about the atrocious police violence he was subjected to: “Physical and psychological blows”. The leader of SOS Racism José Falcão knows about the “Discoveries” and the invention of low cost travel in the 15th / 16th centuries and Beatriz Gomes Dias, founder and leader of Djass – Associação de Afrodescendentes and member of the Bloco, about The decolonization that still needs to be done .
We also included an article with statements by activists Maria Gil and Piménio Ferreira on the multiple discriminations faced by Roma communities in our country. In the article Racist police violence continues to kill in Portugal we compile some of the most glaring cases of racist police violence. We also give an account of the numbers of the reports of national and international bodies that urge Portugal to fight racism and we compile a compilation of the numbers of the shame of racial discrimination in Portugal. We also publish some myths and factors about Portuguese colonialism and recall some of the most flagrant cases of racist discrimination and violence in Portugal.