Afroféminas, Zaragoza, Spain
Translated by: Aminata Gumaneh
We have been two days trying to grab attention about a tradition that has surprised us in a negative way. The Alcoy Christmas, which has among one of its representative acts, the so-called "pajes", or "patges" in Valencian (language of Valencia, Spain). It is about a massive blackface event that insults our entire community.
These disrespectful individuals, surely anonymous, are dedicated to giving gifts away to the public. They go up and down ladders, hitting every floor, and enter houses to deliver their gifts. The gesture is all right, but why the blackface?
The issues of traditions are somewhat tricky, but we can’t hide behind these anachronistic acts that displease and mock a portion of the population.
We are surprised that nobody from the progressive, local government sees the untimeliness of the pictures . We are surprised by such short-sightedness and we understand the silence, there is not much to say about the topic.
This offends, it offends a lot. It offends because it stereotypes, falsifies and makes fun of our image. We are real people, we are not fantasy characters that can’t be found in the streets of Alcoy and the rest of Spain. We can’t allude the past to avoid changes. We are here and it hurts to see ourselves being represented as fools without personality, without depth, without humanity.
These traditions are volatile and they have to adapt to the times. This is vital for our coexistence, where the insults towards pockets of the population are driven out. Alcoy can’t be an exception.
Alcoy wants UNESCO to classify their Christmas tradition with the title of "Intangible Heritage of Humanity". We don’t think this massive blackface event they practice helps the culture (in countries of our region, this is simply seen as barbaric). On our behalf, through friendly institutions of character that hold international positions, we will send a letter to UNESCO so that they don’t finalize the title and ensure that this blackface tradition lasts. This tradition could continue without participants painting themselves in black so nobody gets offended.
We do not have much faith in anyone retracting the title idea. Rather, we are aware of the tough attacks we will receive for this, so we roll up our sleeves and prepare ourselves for the battle. We would like Spanish representatives for the UN's International Decade for People of African Descent to pronounce themselves.
We will say it out loud to make it clear: We black people are not fantasy characters. We black people have dignity and we are here to make you hear us!
Original spanish version and many more articles pertaining to this topic, and more can me found here.