Portugal // Anti-racist gathering “Voice of the black mother”

An anti-racist gathering happened next to the Municipal Assembly of Seixal on January 25 that gathered a variety of collectives and individuals interested in denouncing the structural racism of Portuguese society. It followed the events at Bairro da Jamaica and the black youth protest at Avenida da Liberdade.

The event concluded without incident. A lot of police and journalists were present; both must have been somewhat disappointed by the afternoon’s tranquility. Not a single rock was thrown.

Many of the speeches centered around the role of the police as an institution within the State. The speakers focused on the fact that it’s not individual policemen who are the problem, but that they serve an inherently racist and brutalizing institution and that the State must take responsibility and reform such institutions. Others made the point that these institutions are actually functioning as designed and that only greater organization and politicization of the black population can act as a counter-force.

Other speeches talked about the multi-generational difficulties that black people face in being accepted as Portuguese, even when they were born in the country. Not only culturally, but also legally – for example, the children of immigrants that were born in the country must present papers from their “origin country” in order to receive citizenship. But many times, they have never even visited their “origin country” and it has no record of them.

Many were also critical of the role of the media, that jumps on any opportunity to disseminate exaggerations, half-truths and outright lies to paint black communities in the worst possible light and instigate racist tendencies.

Several speakers also mentioned the role of racism in dividing the working class and extolled all those present and listening to build solidarity among all workers and to advance an anti-racist agenda in organizations they belong to, such as unions.

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