the enslaved language

Image: Cyrus Saurius


The anti-racist struggle in Porto Alegre City Council

Is the Rio-Grandense anthem racist? Or rather, are the stanzas you propose “People who have no virtue/ End up being slaves” racist? In a first degree, no. And a second, we can say that they are classist, and, only in a third, racist. But not anti-black racists, as suggested by the newly elected black councilor-historian from Porto Alegre. At least in the sense of the original publication of the text, different from the possible current reception by the community of Rio Grande do Sul, mainly black.

The “slaves” in the stanza do not refer to enslaved African or Creole workers. The lyrics were developed in the space of the XNUMXth century symbology, a tribute to the representations of the Greco-Roman world at the time. As evidenced by the stanzas taken from the verse: “Among us / revive Athens / to the astonishment of tyrants / Let us be Greeks in glory / and in virtue, Romans.”

In classical Greco-Roman slavery, most of the captives were “Germans”, with blond braids, distant cousins ​​of Merkel, at the time despised for their “racial inferiority” by the Romans, Neapolitans and Sicilians of the time, half-Africans. There is a classic description of a slave owner from southern Italy, possibly with dark skin, about the Germanic phenotype which, according to him, denoted racial inferiority!

However, the view of “slave” as someone who does not have virtue, that is, the sufficient quality – courage, conscience, etc. – to fight for his freedom, from a Platonic perspective, he proposes the inferiority of every subject, “slave”, “servant”, “proletarian”, for the alleged act of submitting, and not of being submitted. In the narrative elaboration, therefore, the action of the one who submits, the enslaver, the feudal lord, the bourgeois, etc., disappears. In any case, the Platonic view was already an evolution and advance in relation to the Aristotelian sense of “slave”, a being inferior by nature, who was born inferior, the dominant view in much of American colonial slavery.

The enormous media coverage of the act by councilor Matheus Gomes, from the black PSOL group in Porto Alegre, is possibly due in large part to the precision of the denunciation. The fact that he remained seated when they played the Anthem of Rio Grande do Sul must be applauded and supported, above all as a denunciation of the regionalism that runs rampant in the South and, even more, for irritating that commander Nádia. It's not a Brastemp, but...

Certainly, the PSOL group will behave in the same way when the National Anthem is played, during the Semana da Pátria and, above all, during the Farroupilha celebrations, commemorating the uprising of slave owners in Rio Grande do Sul. And, instead of praising the “black spearmen”, who agreed to fight for their masters, they will finally pay homage to the thousands of quilombolas and black fugitives of the Farroupilha Era.

We took the opportunity to order, from the black bench of Porto Alegre City Council, a movement to change the name of the Municipal Archive “Moisés Velhinho”, racist among racists!

*Florence Carboni, linguist & Mario Maestri, historian, are authors of The enslaved language: language, history, power and class struggle (popular expression).

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