Yesterday I participated in one of the many demonstrations held against Bolsonaro all over Brazil. I learned how to say: ”contra fascismo”, ”contra homofobia”, ”contra racismo” and, of course, the most important words here right now: #EleNao or #NotHim.
And the important conversations continued at the Tarrafa Literaria. I listened to this amazing woman, Djamila Ribeiro, who’s written a book called Who’s Afraid of Black Feminism? She was the main event at the book festival, and by far both the most popular and the most important. The line continued for two blocks. When they couldn’t let everyone in, they put up speakers out towards the street so that everyone could at least listen to her. She talked, amongst many other things about how she refused to be reduced to either a victim or a warrior. That when white people told the story of black people they inevitable focused on the suffering, until all they became were passive victims. For white people, the history of black people began with slavery. For her, telling the story of centuries of resistance was equally important. But she also criticized the romantization of the strong black woman. Romantizing the strenght and sacrifices of black women also means romanticisisng society’s violence against them. She wanted to be “human and happy and honouring the sacrifices of my parents.”
Perhaps the most important part of her talk for me was how white people have to learn that empathy is an intellectual, emotional and moral process that demands real action. It’s not lika a flu virus you can catch and then recover from a few days later. As an example, she mentioned how her own view and knowledge about trans people had changed: “We must kill the oppressor inside of us. It’s a painful process, but it is neccessary.”