I already told you here. In almost three decades of participating in literary events, I was rarely asked, “What do you think of the political correctness patrol?”. Until a few years ago, not once had I been asked “how do you feel about racist/sexist/homophobic jokes?”.
What does this reveal about Brazil? That, even in the supposedly more progressive bubble – or, at least, more literate –, it is considered that making amends for minority repudiation of discrimination is more important than repudiating discrimination. Would it be me, a white writer, born into an upper-middle-class family, educated in private schools, who would be in trouble? Those who read the texts by Antonio Risério, by Hélio Schwartsman in the last week and read the recurring columns by Demétrio Magnoli on racial issues, here at leaf, it seems that yes.
The epicenter of the Brazilian tragedy, anyone in good faith has to admit, is slavery. No other country has kidnapped, enslaved, sold and bought human beings on the same scale. Over nearly four centuries, around five million people arrived here in chains and died here: 46% of all enslaved people brought to the Americas. To make matters worse: while in 1865 the United States added agrarian reform to abolition, Brazil turned its back on the former captives. Or the slopes: the difference in melanin between the hill and the asphalt, to this day, is proof that racism remains firm and strong among us.
“A bipartite nation between ‘whites’ and ‘blacks'” is not, as Magnoli stated in his column, an invention imported from US identity movements. The racial division arrived here through Cais do Valongo and is still alive in the eyes of the mall security. It is true that there was much more mixing among us than in the US, but it did not mitigate racism. When Bope climbs the hill, he knows very well who the targets are (with a double meaning).
In the last decades the Brazilian anti-racist struggle was influenced, yes, by the American model. Not out of fad, but because the paralyzing fallacies of redemptive miscegenation and racial democracy made advances against prejudice and inequality extremely difficult. If I were black and had a son, a brother, a mother killed by the state, as happens every day with more than ten Afro-descendant families, I would also turn to Malcom X and not the Afro-sambas of Baden Powell with Vinícius de Moraes.
In this country forged in slavery, a wound that remains open, claiming that we “turn a blind eye to black racism, while scrutinizing white racism with relentless microscopes”, as Risério did last weekend, is more than intellectual dishonesty: it’s vandalism.
A symptom of the primary stage of the Brazilian racial debate is that so many columnists use the space to defend the vandal’s freedom of expression (which was never threatened) and not to reflect on the consequences of dishonest texts like Risério’s on the lives of half the population that it is still closer to the slave quarters than to the big house. Instead of debating how to combat this scourge, many of us find it more pertinent to behave like social movement sommeliers.
From last Sunday to this Saturday, if the numbers of the 2020 Brazilian Public Security Forum were maintained in 2022, while paper, saliva and time were spent discussing this imbecility of “reverse racism”, 84 blacks were murdered by the state. Need a microscope?
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