©2017 by STAR project

Make it visible!

Invisible Racism

MANIFIESTO SOBRE EL RACISMO INVISIBLE

 

The following manifesto has been developed by youth workers within Lorca Libre project since they wanted to summarize the essence of it, its topics and the realities of young people with whom they have worked. This manifesto is an introduction to the topic and the feelings experienced by young people during the project and how they changed through the process.

 

Dozens of people with more or less experience in the subject fill up hundreds of shelves of libraries, educational centres, offices, councils, links and texts posted on the web with their texts. Inside, the authors expose their theories, thoughts, studies, results of their researches, etc., focused on different perspectives on a subject as sad and controversial as it is "Racism".

 

The Spanish Royal Academy of Language defines it as "Exacerbation of the racial sense of an ethnic group, especially when it coexists with another or others/Anthropological or political doctrine based on this feeling, which sometimes motivates the persecution of an ethnic group, considered as lower".

 

For us it is not necessary to be a famous person or to have written books to be able to speak about this. Perhaps, it is enough to live the experience or just be aware of its meaning and raise your voice to say "ENOUGH!"

 

For this reason, we prefer that this time people who we know, who we love, people who have worked closely with us on the front line, expose and share those thoughts, experiences and sensations that this word produces in them, that with its three syllables has so much to talk about and that has undoubtedly given us the necessary strength to fight against it? How? By the most powerful weapon we know, which is education.

Racism, unfortunately, has existed since immemorial times and continues to exist, but now the problem of racism is based on rapid social change, the process of socialization, naturally occurring relations of power and finally, in the economic hierarchy of resources.

 

Today, the term racism that we all know has lost part of its essence and a new concept appears that aspires not so much to the superiority of one group-race over another because of its different genetic heritage, but because of its different cultural heritage. We are talking about "racism without races" and we have moved on to a "cultural fundamentalism".

 

There is a strong belief that difference is a value and homogenization is a loss, and therefore, each group must maintain those differences that make a group different from another. Even there is a premise, which is considered as valid and says, that the cultural differences between human beings are "insurmountable".

The current crisis situation has supported a context particularly favourable for conflict and intolerance, due to the migratory flows from the most disadvantaged to the most "prosperous" countries. Therefore racism is based on the figure of the IMMIGRANTS, who are not like "us", speak a "strange" language and try to introduce "their" customs.

 

The immigrants or foreigners are seen as a threat, their mere presence is noted in our subconscious as an imminent danger. They will never be seen as who they are, but as what we imagine they are.

 

The "We-You" dichotomy emerges continuously. The immigrant is here, but he/she does not belong here, and the worst thing is that although he/she is an immigrant of 2nd or 3rd generation, born here, with the local language and customs, he/she has inherited “an original sin”, the condition of his/her parents, mothers or elders.

 

Racism is, from our point of view, any action or inaction of exclusion and therefore discriminatory. It arises from the existence of a hierarchy of differences, deriving to a relationship of power in which someone feels above another person or with the right to abuse someone in some way. Thus, we would be including within the racism that we know, a new aspect, consisting of any form of bad treatment, which for any reason, whether real or imagined, seems to be justified.

 

Within this broad concept, we can differentiate mainly two types of racism, one that is not socially tolerated, is what we call "visible" and encompasses acts and attitudes that we punish and condemn. The other one that is accepted, normalized or naturalized in the society is what we call INVISIBLE RACISM (onward IR). The term that gave name to our project.

In order to understand the meaning of the expression Invisible Racism, we should logically start with the principle: The reasons for such an extravagant phrase.

 

The current society, the same that shelters us and surrounds us, the one that moves us and shapes us, is today in a state of inertia, in a race against time, irrational, exhausted, dehumanized.

 

If we ask a group of young people for the races they know, their tender rational freedom will surely lead them to an association with colours and men. They will start with the first one – of course - the white one. Later, they will travel in their memories to the opposite extreme, following the mental protocol provided by their environment, and they will say, perhaps with fear: The black. From there, and after a more or less long silence, they will think and say the yellow, the red one ... If there is someone, and for sure there is, who is still assumed to be a child, could even end up joking, arguing that the sick people are blue, drunkards are green and liars who knows. Without a doubt, if we continue to investigate the palette of the children's artist, we will find out that boys are blue and girls, consequently, of course, pink.

 

That´s when coherence can take advantage of the occasion to ask these children, for an unknown race to their very young discourse. Such a race is nothing less than the human race. The answer will be unanimous: That is the race that encompasses all the others. Then, we can speak of races, ethnic groups, sub-races, super-races, micro-races ... An endless terminology that has only one purpose: to locate, categorize and separate. Differentiate.

 

So far, everything is going well, the differences exist, of course, and they are very beautiful precisely because of their way of enriching the landscape. The world landscape, the international, the neighborhood landscape, the urban, and even the family landscape ... The bad thing is not the difference, what is really terrible is the inequality. The cultural, social, labour, political, spiritual, racial inequality.... Inequality separates, divides, envies, the inequality hates, hurts, wounds, and when nobody is looking, it is capable of killing.

 

It would be impossible to write down what transforms the differences in inequality in such a short essay, however, what fits here is its remedy. And that remedy is Education.

 

The society we talk about is built on structured education, but unidirectional; unisex, but macho; cosmopolitan, but racist; globalized, but filthy; with a total lack of values, without a single principle beyond the doctrinal one. Why do we educate the youth? To be free? No, absolutely not. We educate to compete, to survive with hard work the unbearable boredom that our comfortable capitalist culture has become. We educate to survive in a nest of rotten apples. We have neglected the essential, all that, which is the most important. We have forgotten solidarity, need and hunger, poverty, friendship and love. Who is in charge of teaching those things today? The institutions do not incorporate it among their subjects, and at home there is no time.

In addition to it, our youth go to bed every day under the incessant shock of stupid and innumerable stimuli, leaded by advertisement and capital. That education is truly omnipresent, omniscient and doctrinal and has inoculated each one of us, we are able to recognize it, or not.

 

These reasons, which secretly darken hidden corners of our own home, may seem to substitute the defeatism, but in reality they seek to inflame our conscience, to take urgent action and act on it, with the maximum clarity possible.

 

After passing through broad characteristics of the seed of the current discrimination, some of its colours and forms, it would be propitious to once again conduct this exposure to that race that encompasses all the others, to try to understand through it the meaning of invisible racism.

 

From the perspective of invisible racism, there is no other race than the human race. Therefore, if there is no racial variety, the term racism loses its current meaning. Now and from here we understand racism as discrimination. All kinds of discrimination, whether cultural, sexual, political, religious, personal ... now happens to be racism, because we conceive only one race: The human race. So the injustices that the members of this race commit against each other will be understood as racism. Ethnic differences can be measured or named from now on by colours or cultural groups. That is not important.

 

This has simply been the most immediate way that has occurred to us to return to the integrity of our human community, already so distant from us.

 

At the moment we learn to distinguish the discrimination that we exert on our peers - and nobody, or almost nobody, is exempt from wielding such a sword - we will notice that it is something totally inherent in our routine. Through this scenario in which our culture has developed, we have naturalized terrible acts of discrimination, to which we have become accustomed. We live in a world where the entrepreneur exploits, the political class steals, workers curse and immigrants suffer; There is no one who does not feel superior or inferior to someone: men feel superior to women, whites to blacks, adults to children, those from the city to those from the countryside; even animals and plants are reduced to the fatal caprice of modern machinery.

 

Isn´t it amazing that there are still those who wonder how is it possible that sometimes the new generations seem to be worse than the previous ones?

 

In fact, it would not be surprising that it is so.

 

All this network of roles, this competitive mass, hierarchical, extravagant, anonymous, full of traps and riddles, go unnoticed by our frantic gaze. As we pointed out at the beginning, we live submerged in an unstoppable inertia. Our race against time does not give us even a moment to reflect. Work exhausts us while the media dull our sense with needs and causes that have nothing to do with the beautiful human nature. Without a doubt, the worst thing is that we are not even able to see it.

 

This contemporary blindness, to the very exercise of human discrimination, is the one that ends the expression whose essence we have just tried to decode. Almost all the time, we are unconscious of our faults, of our most dishonest acts and of our own mistakes as a community. Those, that we commit against others, and those, that others commit against us. We have learned to tolerate the intolerable. We just follow the inertia imposed by Invisible Racism.

 

This is precisely what this manifesto wants to fight against.

 

Where can we find the Invisible Racism? In our surroundings, we could differentiate at least three clear areas, such as: the verbal and gestural language, the action and the in-action or non-action.

In the first area, we find samples of IR especially in shouts, insults, arrogant and/or depreciative tone towards others; nowadays the use of those and raising voice are very widespread to demonstrate this relation of power, which we have mentioned in the previous paragraphs. On the other hand, we realize that when young people and not so young need to express themselves, they hardly use words of gratitude or affection towards others. This is not happening only among students, but it is happening even when they talk to teachers. They so evidently denote the absence of respect through the way they speak.

 

In the second area we could find many jokes, laughter and looks with the only objective, to harm another person, perhaps consciously. But in this case, treating invisibility and lack of awareness about these examples, those are mostly unconscious acts, because the persons using those were not able to empathize with the object of contempt.

 

Third area, the clearest example would be the rejection/exclusion of the "other" from "my" group or circle.

 

Therefore, it is not that the IR is not seen, thus simplifying the meaning, but that we "allow" it with our unconcern and our lack of interest. We find an excessive compromise, an exaggerated conformity in each of us for the injustices that are committed around us, even when the subjects of those injustices are we, ourselves. Incredibly, we are able to endure it, tolerate it and settle for what it seems we have accepted that "we have to live with and there is no way to avoid it".

 

To understand this better, we would use the image of the “Iceberg theory”.

 

This theory, introduced by Galtung, Johan (2003), states that violence is like an iceberg, in which the visible violence is only a small part of the conflict. In order to solve it, we would need to act in all types of violence, which would be these three:

 

• Direct violence, which is visible and materialized through behaviour and responds to the acts of violence.

• Structural violence, (the worst one), which focuses on the set of structures that do not allow the satisfaction of needs and is materialized, precisely, through the denial of needs.

• Cultural violence, which creates a legitimate framework for violence and is embodied in attitudes.

 

Often, the causes of direct violence are related to situations of structural violence or justified by cultural violence: many situations are the result of an abuse of power that falls on an oppressed group, or a situation of social inequality (economic, health, racial, etc,) and receives the speeches that justify this violence.

 

For all these reasons and since we do not believe in the justification of any type of violence, this manifesto tries through its words, and with the manual that is provided here, to combat this Invisible Racism, which is very real and causes so much pain.

 

We intend to actively motivate young people to observe their cultural environment with different eyes, so that the freshness of their moment will give us all a new encouraging air, capable of ventilating the vitiated customs inherited centuries ago.

 

Our children are the cultural seed, they are not "only" boys and girls, they are the future. Forgetting this is the most terrible mistake. In their hands is forged the world of tomorrow, which will inevitably be built on what we are able to offer them. There is a single question overheard in our conscience: What world do we want them to see?

 

Maybe the world in which racism is really invisible because it does not exist. The world in which the term Racism does not even need to find a way to make itself to be understood, simply because it has disappeared.

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Written by Petu, facilitator from Lorca Libre project