Race, class and gender

Image: ColeraAlegria


Racism, which is structural, has deep historical roots linked to slavery, as well as colonialism and imperialism, pillars of construction, expansion and strengthening of the capitalist system

The murder of João Alberto Silveira Freitas, a 40-year-old black man, in Porto Alegre, on the night of November 19 — the eve of Black Awareness Day in Brazil — was one more among countless unacceptable cases of violence committed by outsourced police and security guards. of private companies against black and brown people, almost always poor or lower middle class.

Social pressure for profound changes in the training of police officers and security guards at private companies, in the sense of valuing human rights and against the murderous mentality that permeates expressions such as “knife in the skull”, is fundamental and urgent.

When I heard for the first time, many years ago, in the city of São Paulo, the expression “human rights for human rights”, I was shocked. It clearly means that human rights should only apply to “human rights”, that is, to self-appointed “good citizens” or “good men”. The result of this worldview — elitist and fascist bias —, in everyday practice, is that human rights should not be valid for those always discriminated against and “suspected”: blacks and the poor, among so many excluded from society. a society that is historically and terribly unequal.

Racism, which is structural, has deep historical roots, as is known, linked to slavery, as well as to colonialism and imperialism, pillars of the construction, expansion and strengthening of the capitalist system.

The decision of media corporations — such as the Folha and Globo groups — and other business groups to adhere to anti-racist discourse and practices is the result of social and international pressure, but these same corporations and companies continue to defend an economic policy that privileges agents and beneficiaries of finance capitalism; a regressive tax policy, in which the richest pay much less taxes, proportionally to income and wealth, than the poorest (not to mention the scandalous tax evasion and the facilities for diverting resources to the so-called “tax havens”); an ultraliberal economic policy that advocates a drastic downsizing of the State and the privatization of state-owned companies and public services; in addition to (counter) reforms that make work even more precarious and eliminate social rights, that is, everything that causes an even greater concentration of income and wealth, and the increase of poverty and misery, in a country that is already so unequal. It is the same corporations that call as “populist” any State policies that have as their objective the distribution of income and the reduction of inequalities.

The whole debate around intersectionality — that is, the inseparable and structural links between the mechanisms of race, class and gender domination — is fundamental, but neglected by capitalist corporations, which, by incorporating the discourse in defense of racial equality and gender, do not establish the necessary links with class domination, for obvious reasons. The forms of racial, class and gender domination feed each other, currently and historically.

The awareness of intersectionality is very strong today among the main leaders of the black movement, and it is for no other reason that the majority of anti-racist, feminist and LGBTQI+ rights leaders militate in left and center-left organizations and parties.

* Katia Gerab Baggio is a professor of History of the Americas at the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG).


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