After the umpteenth time that people have thrown bananas at black football players in Europe, Daniel Alvez decided to eat the banana and Neymar declared: “We are all monkeys” (Somos todos macacos). This is the beginning of the reaction, that Europeans appear to be incapable of making, against discrimination in football stadiums, a mere continuation of what goes on in daily life in countries that think of themselves as “white and civilized”.
“Civilized” Europe enriched itself on slavery, and its corollary: discrimination and the reduction of black people to “barbarians.” They came to America with the cross and the sword, to “civilize” us, that is, to destroy native populations and subject them to colonial domination. They uprooted millions of Africans from their world to bring them as animals to work as slaves to exploit the riches of America and send them to “civilized” Europe.
The whole historic movement of “liberty, equality, fraternity” was developed in order to free the serfs from the land in Europe, ignoring the slavery that Europe itself practiced. No one – with the sole exception of Hegel – took notice of the Haitian Revolution against domination by France: a country “emancipated” through its revolution, yet the oppressor of the first Black Revolution for independence in the Americas.
Centuries later, when “civilized” Europe is doing away with its welfare state, leaving millions abandoned – above all immigrants, who went to work under degrading conditions, when these economies needed them – racism is coming back in full force. The parties of the extreme right are gaining strength, while racism appears on football fields, without this producing much indignation in “civilized” Europe.
At the same time, discriminatory campaigns against Brazil are taking place, depicting a country of “snakes, tigers and monkeys” that will harass the World Cup; meanwhile, an absurd and stupid report from the German Ministry of Foreign Relations characterized Brazil as a “high risk country”, as if to suggest that people should not come to Brazil. If this were the case, why is Germany installing new factories in Brazil, for BMW, Mercedes, Volkswagen and others?
This campaign, orchestrated by the conservative elements of international media, is due to the fact that Brazil represents an uncomfortable reality for these forces. Today’s Brazil is no longer a military dictatorship, nor is it part of the neoliberal world. While Europe, still immersed in this neoliberal model, is producing a social disaster of continental proportions, Brazil, and other countries of Latin America, are growing and reducing inequality and poverty, which are rising in Europe. We make them uncomfortable because we are opposed to the Washington Consensus that they attempted to impose on us, causing great damage, which we were then able to overcome, and because we have become the region of the world that is running counter to the misguided path that Europe is following.
We will welcome them in Brazil with the greatest cordiality in the World Cup; eating and offering bananas and assuming that “we are all monkeys”.
(Translated from the Spanish for ALAI by Jordan Bishop)
– Emir Sader, Brazilian sociologist and political scientist, is the coordinator of the Laboratory of Public Policy of the State University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ).