by Athos Schneider De Almeida Triana
Being free is everyone’s right. In times of discord and prejudice, people suffer from pain and affliction in various ways. The most visible is prejudice, even if it is disguised. For that matter, I want to talk about freedom and what it means to be free. So I ask: what is it to be free?
Being free is a privilege that, in fact, few people have. We all talk about wanting to be free sometime in our lives, but freedom is very relative. For some people being free can be simply not paying taxes, or being a multimillionaire and being able to buy whatever they want. For me, freedom is something that may seem simple, but it is an object of fight that many people – myself included – have been struggling with. Fighting this battle should be the objective of everyone. But the largest portion of society prefers to omit it because it is racism that I want to talk about. Racism does not match freedom.
Freedom… what an incredible word, isn’t it? While the privileged white man lies on the sofa, complaining about his problems, every 23 minutes, according to the UN, a young black man dies. According to IBGE (the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics), in 75% of homicides in Brazil the victim is black. In proportion, blacks are 2.7% more likely to be victims of murder than whites. I’m black, and luckily, I’m still alive.
Unfortunately, the world has experienced various situations of racism. Thousands of people still remain with racist attitudes and speeches. I make this manifest aimed at hypocritical, closed-minded, racist people, and those who think that a person should be treated differently because of their color, gender, sexual orientation or religion.
I believe that nobody is born racist. This is something you learn. Together we can evolve and grow to change the world. This evolution is a struggle for everyone, but we all have a voice, so don’t be silent, because when you say nothing, besides supporting racism in a subtle way, you become an accessory to violence. Together we can bring hope back, but not the dying people. Black or white, it doesn’t matter, so let’s all come together and, yes, be angry with people who believe that racism makes sense in a country built on slave labor.
Many people do not know exactly what it is to be free. I would like to know what it feels like to leave home without fear of being killed. I wish that the “different” in color could enter a store and not be chased by the establishment’s employees who think they are going to steal something. I wish that no one would be looked at and treated differently because of color, because I know that whites and blacks bleed the same: a thick reddish liquid. So why do I, a black man, have to be treated differently because of my color?
I remember that when I was a child I played with my white friends in kindergarten and we didn’t see the color and I even called them ‘brother’. So we grew up and we were taught that we should hate each other, although we didn’t want to part, because, before our friendship, we were “colorblind”. Color was never a problem in our friendship, so I just have to thank them.
This manifest is beyond respect for blacks, it is for tolerance. A Dream of Freedom is not strictly aimed at Brazilians, but at the whole world for reflection. You may not even see racism, but it does exist.
Athos Schneider de Almeida Triana. Brasília, June of 2020