How the past of slavery brings us to modern racism

I wish I was not the person writing this article. 


I am a minority group in Europe, I am Latina and woman, but still, I am white. 


I wish I was not the person who will write this article because I think it is better to discuss racism towards blacks with black people themselves, as well as reading about it directly from black people who have experienced it. 


However, once a Brazilian philosopher, Djamila Ribeiro, said “every person in society has its place to speak,” and mine here is to show that I will never fully understand what is being black. Yet, I can be a temporary voice for those who do not have full power in society.


I am sure that, at this point, you know who is George Floyd, the black North American who was assassinated by a white policeman because of the color of his skin. I love how all of us around the world are talking about how we can improve racial equality and other related subjects. Still, in the middle of this, I cannot say that I am not seeing a tremendous amount of hypocrisy. 


It is sad that something has to happen in the United States for making us address a daily injustice in many parts of the globe. For example, in Brazil, my home country, the Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry (PCI), created by the Federal Senate to investigate the murder of young people, released a report stating that, annually, 23,100 young blacks, aged between 15 and 29 years, are murdered. This amounts to 63 homicides a day. A black man is killed every 23 minutes.


In the meanwhile in the United States, since 2015, 1252 black people have been killed. Can you see the vast disparity? My goal is not to say that one black life matters more than another, but to alert us that the “black genocide” is happening in many parts of the globe. When talking about #BlackLivesMatter, are you including all black people? Do not answer those questions to me, but to you. 


This structural racism is the consequence of centuries of slavery perpetrated by European metropoles in colonies, spreading worldwide the supremacy of one social race. It is essential to know the history behind these events and know our responsibilities as white people.


To be didactic and considering that I am South American, I will give a panoramic vision with some data about the 400 years of colonization in South, Central, and North America. First, the highest rates of slaves are to be found in the regions of the Caribbean, Central America, northern South America, northeastern coast, southeast coast, and interior of the state of Minas Gerais. The passivity of the enslaved, given its condition, remains a myth. Various forms of resistance to slavery were fleeing to quilombos (Quilombo, also called Mocambo, in colonial Brazil, is a community organized by fugitive slaves), the murder of their masters, and the abortion of the unborn. Below, you can see the dimension of the trade process.

This Atlantic journey was done most of the time by Portuguese, Spanish, French, and English people. That’s why I cited before that racism has a deep connection with the European way of colonizing and exploring, considering that those countries among others have done this process for four centuries.

(Source Slavery Site)

Again, you can see that Brazil, among many other countries, has the most difficult past, even more than the U.S, when we face the statistics. A country that had almost 5 millions of black slaves and abolished slavery only in 1889 has a tremendous harsh future for a peaceful society.


Another fact about me is that I live in Rome. According to Nicole Philip, an African-American who passed a year abroad in Italy, that was the worst time of her life. She witnessed racism regularly. In Rome, sometimes in the metro, people switched seats not to be side by side with black people. Does it mean that Italians are bad? Of course no. I have found outgoing and hardworking Italians, but this testimony, shared by many, shows us that instead of looking into other countries, we also should look into ours. 


On top of that, remember that we are unconsciously racist. Racist biases are proved and inside of us, even if we do not want to be so. The first step to fight against it is to understand that racism exists even nowadays. Knowing this, we can learn better how to get over this issue. For sure, it is an everyday war. Black people have suffered for so many centuries and constituted a diaspora that will and should never be wiped out from our minds. Societies that enslaved other humans must know the unpaid social debt they have. 

As a white, you can support racial equality in many ways, much more than by only overposting hashtags and black screens. Buy books from black people, donate to black charity organizations (below I will leave the link of some U.S. and Brazilian NGOs, feel free to support other countries). And, of course, remember that black people do not only talk about racism or social causes, but many of them are bloggers and share their vegan lifestyle, fashion or academic interests.


Here are some black authors that you can read:

Angela Davis – North American

Roxane Gay – North American

Djamila Ribeiro – Brazilian (books in Portuguese and French).

Machado de Assis – Brazilian

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – Nigerian

Hauwa Ibrahim – Nigerian (of course, I would include this brilliant GG professor).

Paul Rusesabagina – Rwandan


At this link here you can find more information about books and NGOs


That’s all people, I let you with a really good meme quote, “Why to be racist, sexist, fascist if you can be only quiet?”.

Marina Rosignoli



McCarthy, N., 2020. Infographic: U.S. Police Shootings: Blacks Disproportionately Affected. [online] Statista Infographics. Available at: <; [Accessed 3 June 2020].

Phillip, N., 2020. My Very Personal Taste Of Racism Abroad. [online] Available at: <; [Accessed 3 June 2020].

Phillips, T., 2020. Black Lives Shattered: Outrage As Boy, 14, Is Brazil Police’s Latest Victim. [online] the Guardian. Available at: <; [Accessed 10 June 2020].

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