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    Vidas Negras Importam – Exploring Racism in Portugal

    One of the reasons I love living in Portugal, is because it’s an ostensibly peaceful and tolerant country.

    But when something like the death of George Floyd sparks a worldwide conversation about racism, we are all forced to take a closer look at what we assume to be true. How much do we, as expats, really know about racism in Portugal?

    I personally don’t know enough. So this week, instead of posting my weekly video, I took some time to research the issue, and package up some content in English and Portuguese, so you can also take a deeper dive.

    If you are looking to get a better understanding of racism in Portugal, I hope this helps. Some organisations you can support are listed at the end.

    Also remember…. over five thousand people in Lisbon alone took to the streets to protest racism this weekend. In that, there is great hope.

    A Portrait of Racial Inequality in Portugal

    In this article for Publico, Joana Gorjão Henriques summarizes a letter submitted to the United Nations that portrays racial inequalities in numbers in Portugal. The data covers several areas, including education, housing, justice and police violence. Did you know, for example, that the rate of incarceration for nationals of African Portuguese Speaking Countries is 15 times higher than for the Portuguese? Or that they are seven times more likely to live in inadequate housing? Or five times less able to access higher education? Read the English translation here for the full story.

    Voices from the Black Lives Matter Protest

    See English translation
    “I came here today to stand up for the rights of black lives and everyone else’s, and I think people need to educate first and foremost children, to listen and read books, watch films, get to know first the stories instead of sharing prejudices. That’s why I came. I’ve had many experiences (of racism), my friends too. Look, it happens a lot, when I go to shops, even when I’m on the metro reading a book, people look at me with a certain prejudice. Not everyone of course, but generally, and yes there is institutional racism. We have to speak, protest, not only on social media but show our faces too, I think it’s important to say “that’s enough, we are in the 21st century.”. I hope my children don’t have to go through this.”
    See English translation
    “I came here because I’m a person that experiences racism. I’ve experienced racism at work, I’m here to fight for me, my brothers & sisters, for all the lives lost to racism and I believe that together we are stronger and we can change things. Yes, racism does exist in Portugal, it exists everywhere, there is no way of hiding it. The only people that don’t see it are the ones that don’t want to.”
    See English translation
    “I came because I think it is more and more important to spread awareness in relation to racism, because we as black citizens of Portugal, right from when we are born, we are exposed to situations that no child should have to go through and it’s like we have been born with a label and we have to fight against this from a very young age, in my opinion. I do think (racism in Portugal) exists, it might be hidden but it exists, you can see it in schools. For example, the way that slavery is taught, it’s in a very superficial way. Portugal is a country that was built on slave labour, so racism is also structural.”
    See English translation
    “I think it is important to show our support, I think it’s important to say clearly that we are anti-racists, we should all be obviously. I think we think in Portugal that we are very gentle, that there’s not a big problem, but it’s a daily problem. I wasn’t born in Portugal, I came here when I was eight, but I’m white, so I’ve never in my life heard “go back to your country” which is an expression that certainly if you asked a black person they hear it a lot. Brazilians too. I think it’s a problem not just about racism and xenophobia, we don’t have many minorities represented, maybe that’s why the racism isn’t so visible. We are starting to change our language. There was in March for example a Ukranian person killed at the airport by a SEF inspector, and we need to speak openly about these things and clear things up, language is not a joke, there is right and wrong. We have to start to put our foot down as you say in English, and say clearly what is right and what is wrong. With that, violence against women, violence against anyone, it’s a question of human rights, respect and good and bad. We are here today for the good.”

    English Language Articles on Racism in Portugal

    10 People Speak about Racial Discrimination in Portugal (PT subtitles)

    Portuguese Language Articles on Racism in Portugal

    Voices of Black Women

    Anti-Racist Organizations in Portugal

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    6 Comments

  • Reply Anna June 9, 2020 at 11:23 am

    Thank you Liz for this important contribution.

    • Reply Liz Sharma August 20, 2020 at 3:59 pm

      Thanks Anna x

  • Reply Tim Hart July 5, 2020 at 3:31 pm

    Thanks very much for taking the time to compile this information!

    • Reply Liz Sharma August 20, 2020 at 3:58 pm

      You are welcome, Tim. Glad it was useful.

  • Reply Steve August 19, 2020 at 4:15 pm

    Thank you very much for this. My wife and I (who is Nigerian) are giving much thought about moving to Portugal in the future so this collection of interviews and videos you have pulled together as been superbly useful. Thank you.

    I’ve also just signed up for the beginners pro course. I only just found your YouTube content the other day and I’ve already found it amazingly helpful.

    • Reply Liz Sharma August 20, 2020 at 3:58 pm

      Thank you Steve, that means a lot. I look forward to teaching you!!

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