By beatriz losa
It would seem that this year’s International Day against Racial Discrimination has lost its force due to the invasion of the coronavirus in our daily lives.
But this daily life is very different for each of us. Today, spending confinement to your home, with food supplies, as much water and soap as necessary, and the coveted access to the internet, is a privilege.
And so, these days I cannot stop thinking about my dear teachers, who do not have these privileges: women who are racialized from different cultures and countries, gender identities, diverse sexual orientations, who live all their diversities with proudness in this territory, so often hostile. They teach me, every day, about resilience, the capacity to resist, about courage, about the need for solidarity and sisterhood, about the need to share a laugh and a meaningful embrace
I am thinking of the two mothers and their two children, who arrived in our territory a year ago yesterday, and who today are confined in a small room in a Humanitarian Emergency Centre where protection measures are practically non-existent. I am thinking of my colleague, who is confined in a rented room alone, with the only company of her mobile phone. I am thinking of the women in prison who live in this kind of confinement while serving a sentence of imprisonment. How crazy it is! In a couple who have been fired these days and who don’t know how to pay their room at the end of the month. In the women who are forced to continue sex work because they have to pay their room day by day…
And they all live here because they had to flee their countries to save their lives, because they are diverse, because they are lesbian women, trans women*.
Some of them risked their lives during the trip, because it is very expensive to get to the white “wonderland”. Others left all their love people and summed up their lives in cabin bags to avoid attracting attention when they arrived in Spanish territory.
But the “wonderland” they arrived at is not multicolored. The professionals who attend them are white: the police, the social worker, the lawyer, the civil servant, the doctor, the teacher…
And that white is not a neutral color, it is a color full of prejudices that nullifies the richness and light of each of the colors: their experiences, their needs, their expectations, their desires. It is attempted to make their diversities and intersectionalities uniform, giving remote controlled answers from the institutions and the laws. A target full of privileges, almost never conscious.
The health authorities say that no one is safe from this pandemic.
The virus may not detect our race when it invades our bodies. But what about the decreed alarm system? This system, once again, reproduces our discriminatory and racist society by stopping racialized people with non-binary gender identities on the street many more times than white people with heteronormative gender expressions.
It is difficult to know how this global crisis will develop. Some people are already saying that it is going to shake up our value system, that perhaps it is an opportunity to rebuild a more supportive system. But when you look at the few data coming in from the countries of Africa and Latin America, your heart cannot help but shrink.
What real possibilities do they have to contain this pandemic with the situations of poverty, war, famine and lack of health care that most of the people living in these countries are already experiencing? I wonder if this pandemic will not be the perfect excuse for the countries of white and privileged leaders, who today live their confinement with privileges, to close the borders definitively to the people who, once again, will have to flee their countries to save their lives.
Racial discrimination will then have a virus name.