by Milena Rampoldi, translated by John Catalinotto, Tlaxcala
To make friends from the start of this interview, I’ll say they don’t go together. I’d rather keep these terms separate.
Accordingly, the perception of distinctive human characteristics by racists always has a goal. Often they describe noticing these differences as natural, something a child might do out of pure curiosity when seeing differences such as skin color or hair texture. They therefore deny that children only notice these differences without placing values on them — if they are not affected by ideology. Racists, on the other hand, use them to depreciate others.
I certainly should not have to explain here what is good about exchanges and getting to know each other. But perhaps I can make a new breakthrough by discussing a type of learning that goes beyond the multicultural festivals of the nineties, which still exist today. On such occasions people of different ethnicities and cultures are sometimes put on exhibit. It’s emphasized that you can meet the foreigner, the exotic person. You can hear Native drumming or sit in a real teepee. In short, you can satisfy your curiosity. I am for the next step – for an exchange between equals. The first step should be to recognize the equality of the other, and then to look at the differences. Why? Because curiosity wants only satisfaction. Interest arises when there is an exchange among equals, and this requires recognition of equivalent worth.
By awakening this interest, we are encouraged to think. Don’t offer fast food. Instead, give cooking lessons.
Please forgive me, but I don’t feel like going there! This is not a posture — I really don’t want to. Sometimes even talking about discrimination wears me out. Be assured: I run into it more often than I want to see it for myself. I try to speak honestly with myself in my texts so that these violations, the exclusion and hatred, become visible. It’s not my goal merely to expose them, but you cannot describe a life without wounds, and the life I tell about in my stories, the scars on the characters are, in a way, also my own.
I am convinced that nationality and ethnicity are fictitious categories. Borders are drawn by humans and humans are researched by humans. The resulting categories and parameters give rise to the possibility of assigning a value, which serves to legitimize exploitation, and this in turn serves to create value (… therefore it has to be preserved). For examples you do not have to look among the stupid. Racism is not a problem caused by inferior intellect. [The philosopher] Immanuel Kant is quoted as saying:
“Humanity exists in its greatest perfection in the white race. The yellow Indians have a smaller amount of talent. The Negroes are lower and the lowest are a part of the [Indigenous] American peoples.”
As far as islamophobia is concerned, it is basically similar. In the discussion about religions, ethnicity and nationality should play no role — unless someone finds it useful!