October 20, 2020 – The legacy of colonialism remains present in the Americas despite the struggles and efforts to hide a system of stratification with profound social, economic, and political consequences. Equality and dignity for all, and the inherent worth of each person continue to be objectives we pursue as we confront institutions that deny and exclude some to benefit others. Denial has a limit, and in many societies we are witnessing a moment that demands the acknowledgement of the perverse prevalence of white supremacy, as the cornerstone of structural racism that continues to permeate everything. The frontal combat against white supreamcist racism must be an essential component from which to stake out the urgency of new economic, social, and political agreements for the United States of America, as well as for societies in Latin America and the Caribbean.
An additional degree of complexity is added when comparing the impact of various European crowns on colonization. This is a necessary discussion to recognize discrimination and racism present in our societies, including the societites where we were born, those where our parents were born, where we migrate and those where we work and live. Denying racism and efforts to maintain white supremacy keep us chained to the past, a past that we need to understand critically by recognizing the damage caused, offering reparations, and reconstructing our social, political, and economic relationships. It is necessary to undo the structures of injustice that persist in our countries. Our societies have been avoiding reality for over 500 years, which is why narrative projects like 1619 represent a critical contribution to being this endeavour.
In the United States, the system of racial segregation that was supposed to be dismantled as a result of legislative reforms, such as the Civil Rights Act adopted in the sixties, maintains its influence and impact to this day. The systematic persistence of white supremacy continues to have adverse economic, social, and political consequences for persons belonging to ethnic or racial minorities. Undoubtedly, Black and Native communities in North America continue to be the groups with the longest history of abuses perpetrated against them. Latin Americans, including those with multiple ethno-racial identities, who are now the largest ethnic group after white persons, have been added to the list of victims of white supremacy.
Multi-generational poverty and precariousness impacting ethnic and racial minorities, especially indigenous and Black communities, as well as the long history of police abuse against ethnic and racial minorities are evident symptoms of an old unresolved conflict. In the last few decades, yet more overtly in the last four years, white supremacy expressions have increased. Regardless of language, which sometimes generates confusion, facts and data demonstrate the persistence of discrimination, exclusion, and the overrepresentation of white people in economic, social, political, and cultural spaces.
Racial conflict often presented as a black and white issue in the U.S. raises many challenges for Latin American and Caribbean communities, who since the end of the nineties have been the largest ethno-racial minority in the United States. In contrast to the homogenizing notion behind labels such as Latino, Hispanic or even Latinx, the Latin American and Caribbean populations include a wide array of identities, including Black, indigenous, mestizo, and others, many of which have often been denied. The preference for persons of lighter skin, the rejection of indigenous and afro descendant cultures continues to be present until this day, and manifests itself in the violence against indigenous and afro descendant leaders who fight to defend their territories and for the subsistence of their cultures. Territorial autonomy is a current struggle. In addition, this population is permeated by class identities that influence the way in which each group defines its own identity.
Beyond defining the best possible role for Latin American and Caribbean communities in regards to the historical oppression of Black people in the United States, the current moment is a timely opportunity to advance a critical introspection of the racist prejudices and multiple expressions of internalized oppression that characterize these communities, in order to seek strategies to overcome these flaws.The ultimate manifestation of discrimination is violence. Verbal and physical aggression continues to be a constant feature that sadly reaffirms white supremacy as it is entrenched in our communities. Acknowledging it, making it known to others, and fighting against it is a collective and necessary effort, a long-term task that is essential for us to build societies in which all people are treated with dignity, and where equality is present as a necessary condition for a full life.