…so what’s in it for Joana Gorjão Henriques that she welcomes a change to all that?
For years, modern Portugal has been struggling to find a way of talking about national identity and race.
Has it? Or is that what you think, and so assume everyone else does?
Even though Portugal has racial profiling, race crime and the daily subordination of black people by whites…
WTF? There are cotton plantations in Portugal? Who knew?
…most Portuguese would deny that their country has significant “racial problems” – that’s what they have in America, France or the UK.
Nice of you to admit it, Joana. I wonder why? What do we do, that Portugal doesn’t do? Could the answer be ‘Pander to the racemongers’..?
Unlike America, Portugal has never got its head around hyphenated identities. There are luso-africanos, but you’d be pushed to hear anyone use that compound on the street, and it’s even controversial in an institutional context. The term “black-Portuguese” is unheard of; the word “race” itself so rarely mentioned that it sounds strange and foreign.
I’m liking Portugal more and more! You should work for their Tourist Board, Joana….
The terms you do hear people use are “second-generation immigrants“, “immigrants’ offspring” or, with cosmopolitan pretension, “new Portuguese“. It sends out a clear message to non-white Portuguese: however hard you try, you’ll always be newbies in this country (conveniently ignoring the fact that a black presence in Portugal dates back to the 15th century).
A ‘black presence’? What does that mean, I wonder? You use the term ‘presence’ but that tells us nothing about size of population, distribution, employment….
There are ideological reasons behind this attitude too. Some argue that identifying people by their race is discriminatory.
Those are the smart ones.
There seems to be a similar logic behind the fact that Portuguese authorities keep no data on ethnicity or race.
You might argue that none of this should matter, of course.
The subtext being that you’d be wrong. And Joana is right. Always.
And yet, without appropriate data, can you honestly argue that the lack of social mobility in poorer communities has more to do with class than race, as some argue?
Or, more to the point, without that data to manipulate, how can Portugal sustain a population of race-worriers and diversity groups and activists? ¡qué terrible!, ¡qué horror!
Ignoring race completely means burying your head in the sand, and accepting Portugal as a country that is uniformly white. We are race blind, but not for the right reasons.
Is there EVER a right reason to be race-blind in your book, Joana?
The recently appointed prime minister, the conservative Pedro Passos Coelho, is married to a black woman. In contemporary Portuguese politics, this is still a novelty. Will that make him more sensitive to questions around race? Will it make us talk more openly about race? Until now, nothing on his agenda makes us think so.
Perhaps his marriage is just that: a marriage. And not a political manouvere. It’s possible, isn’t it?