Saturday, 23 March 2019

The great privilege of public life

Poster image of "The Coat", presented in 2017 by the Grupo de Teatro da Nova in Lisbon.

The recent blackface episode at a school in northern Portugal and the kind of comments it attracted was another indicator of the worrying lack of (non-virtual) meeting spaces for dialogue. Many did not understand the racism criticism of an initiative aimed at celebrating cultural diversity (from "countries" such as Africa, China and Brazil) and ended up accusing the critics of racism and hate speech. The exchange of comments on the Facebook page Blackface Portugal is revealing of the incomprehension, and even of the ignorance, around this matter. But can we say that we were shocked or surprised? Is this not a reality known to us on which, no matter how much we feel like saying "they should have known better", we cannot turn our backs? We cannot, because it continues to influence the education, thinking and notions which big part of our society holds on this matter and several others. It is these notions that end up conditioning the freedom of many citizens and perpetuating all kinds of racism and, in some cases, violence.