On June 24, 2020, the Campaign for Universal Human Responsibilities held a discussion with its members, inviting some of us to discuss and share our experiences on structural racism. Due to the magnitude and global relevance that this topic reached from May. The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, USA, sparked a wave of protests on a global scale for days and months, later calling for changes and demanding systemic reparations to minimize the social corrosion caused by racism.
This discussion was carefully planned by the organizers in order to protect our identities, with the intention of providing a safe space for a truly open and honest exchange . With the intonation of the so-called Black Lives Matter, we saw, on many occasions, people acting against the movement on the internet and on the streets, and for fear of retaliation for the expression of our ideas, opinions and personal experiences, reducing our exposure was the decision right to be taken by the group organizers.
I would like to share my perceptions and experience of this enriching meeting. I believe each one of us who opened up and contributed to this broad conversation, felt themselves in a warm and empathic environment, and every word said, every expression of disbelief, every experience lived, however painful and difficult to be exposed, connected us in a unique way.
Before taking the floor, I was not sure what to say to the group, and it was a huge surprise when I realized that an old memory, which I had pushed into oblivion in the back of my mind, was being told there. Recalling a fact that happened about 14 years ago, at that moment, aroused a series of anxieties that I felt the effects, literally, on my skin; a shiver in the body that I could not get rid of, not even now, as I write this text (without narrate the facts in question). However, my momentary indisposition in narrating this experience was corresponded with looks, gestures and words that exuded love, understanding, and kindness, and I am sure that my colleagues also felt the same welcome when narrating their experiences with racism.
Once again, among these several opportunities to be part of this group, I feel honored to see the word “responsibility” being practiced in its many facets. Responsibility to combat racism; emotional responsibility to listen carefully to others; social responsibility in understanding that the world is not perfect, and each of us needs to impose ourselves against violence. Responsibility is the way to build a more humane, less unequal, and more peaceful society, and this group is the amalgamate of brilliant minds who want to build a better and responsible world.
The conclusion is obvious. I can only be honored to be part of this initiative, and I thank everyone who opened during this meeting and who allowed me to know a part of their stories. How fantastic is to be able to count on people with other stories, other realities, other pains, so different and yet so equal to mine. I leave here my great thanks.
Henrique Leandro Fernandes | September 25th, 2020
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