Lula shows a misunderstanding about racial discourse in an interview with Mano Brown – 09/11/2021

The meeting of ex-president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) with rapper Mano Brown, in the Mano a Mano podcast, gave the politician the opportunity to self-critique several aspects of his trajectory and that of his party.

The interview lasting more than two hours showed that, in order to face the main debates that will be posed in the 2022 elections, Lula will need to listen more carefully to the provocations questioned by Brown. And update positions to the new demands of society, better understood by the leader of Racionais MC’s.

In the podcast (available on streaming platforms), the rapper insisted on questioning the dialogue with the new generations who did not know the PT in opposition, but in power, ceasing to be a hope against the old practices of politics to become a window. , with hits and misses widely exposed.

For these new voters, old answers are not enough. The left and right dichotomy, for example, is not so obvious when it comes to aspects such as representation.

This should not be a new subject for the leader of the country’s biggest party.

‘Ours weren’t there’

Mano Brown resumed the criticisms made to the PT in the 2018 electoral campaign, when the musician participated in an activity in support of the then presidential candidate Fernando Haddad (PT), in downtown Rio.

“Ours weren’t there,” Brown said, referring to the working and popular classes from which the PT’s dialogue has been drifting away over the years of government.

Lula even tried, admitting that the focus on executive and legislative terms led PT cadres to change their relationship with the community, but he could not justify the absence of black people in the party’s leadership.

“The left is white, how do you handle it?” asked Mano Brown, quoting a recent photo from the party’s top.

Politics was white, culture was white, the most eloquent professions in society, the most profitable professions were white. The PT leadership had a white majority and a majority of men. There is a political evolution of blacks, both men and women, a great number of people are becoming aware that it is not enough to keep thinking that they are victims. They decided to fight, they decided to fight.”
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, former president

Lula responds as if racism were resolved only in the awareness of the black population and in leaving the place of “victimism”.

This, in fact, is the accusation made against black movements by right-wing reactionaries, such as the current president of the Palmares Cultural Foundation, Sérgio Camargo.

Lula’s answer also follows the logic of pushing responsibility for structural racism in Brazil, leaving aside the role of each institution, especially the more progressive ones, in maintaining racial inequalities.

After all, it is not new that the PT knows the reality of racism in Brazil and has already been confronted with contributing to its confrontation, which involves ensuring the presence of blacks in decision-making positions, in addition to enabling black candidacies.

Lélia Gonzalez pointed out racism in the PT’s early years

In 1985, sociologist Lélia Gonzalez (1935 – 1994), one of the main references in the country’s anti-racist struggle, requested the resignation of the PT, the party for which she had run for the position of federal deputy in 1982.

In the letter addressed to Lula, then president of the party, the activist pointed out her dissatisfaction with what she called “the narrowing of spaces for a policy aimed at the so-called minorities”.

In an article published in Folha de S.Paulo, in August 1983, the excerpt of which is available on the Memória Lélia Gonzalez website, the black women’s movement activist already pointed out “racism by omission” in party propaganda.

In order not to evade the rule, PT on TV did not leave it for nothing: it dealt with the most serious problems in the country, except for one that was ‘forgotten’, ‘taken out of the scene’, ‘invisible’, repressed. This is precisely what is called racism by omission. And this is nothing more than one of the aspects of the whitening ideology that, colonically, wants to make us believe that we are a racially white country and culturally Western, Euro-centric.”
Lélia Gonzalez, sociologist

With PT, the fight against racism has advanced, but there is still a long way to go

The country’s black movements recognize the difference in the treatment of racism by the PT governments, which allowed important advances such as affirmative action policies, the mandatory teaching of African history and Afro-Brazilian culture, and land titling. of the remaining quilombo communities, to name a few.

However, it is necessary to advance in the fight against institutional racism that still puts black people at a disadvantage in their jobs, in accessing basic rights such as education and health and making them the main targets of the ongoing violence in the country.

Lula's meeting with the Black Movement of Bahia, on August 26, 2021 - Jonaire Mendonça - Jonaire Mendonça

Lula’s meeting with the Black Movement of Bahia, on August 26, 2021

Image: Jonaire Mendonça

For Brown, Lula said he believes that the black movement has to participate on equal terms in the country’s politics.

The former president mentioned the event held in August, in Salvador, when he was received by black activists, artists and intellectuals in Senzala do Barro Preto, headquarters of the afro block Ilê Aiyê.

“Those people are much better educated than me, they have more culture than me, they can be PT leaders, PT presidents, they can do anything,” Lula said about the participants.

And why aren’t they, Lula?

On the occasion, Lula heard testimonies about the permanence of racism in society and a series of proposals prepared by organizations of the black movement to overcome the problem.

In Bahia, Lula receives a request for a black or indigenous woman as vice.  - Ricardo Stuckert - Ricardo Stuckert

On his way to Salvador, Lula received a request from journalist Daiane Oliveira by a black or indigenous woman as vice president in the 2022 elections

Image: Ricardo Stuckert

Among the participants were people who have historically been building and strengthening left-wing parties in Brazil, including the PT. Militants who were responsible for the advances, albeit controlled, in policies to combat racial inequalities and in the broader debate on racism in society. But who know the difficulties they still face to make this discussion within the subtitles.

In 2020, for the first time, the PT launched a black woman as a candidate for mayor of Salvador, a city with a majority black population and capital of the state governed by the party for four consecutive terms.

The candidacy tried to meet the pressure of social movements in the city, which placed the issue of representation as central in the elections. After fierce internal disputes, the PT chose a candidate outside the party’s militancy bases, revealing the lack of priority given to black men and women of the party itself.

These are black candidacies that do not receive the same institutional support, even leading the TSE (Superior Electoral Court) to demand, by law, the distribution of party fund resources and time in free electoral propaganda in proportion to the number of black and white candidates —theme of the column in September 2020.

In this passage through Salvador, Lula heard more than once a request that expresses this demand for representation: the choice of a black or indigenous woman as vice-president on his ticket for the 2022 elections.

In meeting this demand, the PT, in addition to showing respect and valuing the political achievements of women, would make a historic repair with a huge contingent of supporters who, like Lélia Gonzalez and Mano Brown, staked their hopes on the party.

The “political evolution of blacks” requires an advance by the parties and their leaders in understanding the urgency of the racial agenda for national politics.