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Black

‘Portugal is one of the most racist countries in the EU’ – European Social Survey

– ‘No one has ever said to me that I could not rent the house because I’m black

Mamadou Ba is born in Senegal and has the Portuguese nationality. He is graduated, has a steady job at the Parliament, and speaks with a slight African accent. When he is calling for an apartment in Lisbon’s Parque das Nações neighborhood, he gets an appointment 2 days later. Although the tenant promises him to send an SMS with additional information, he never does. If shortly thereafter a journalist of the newspaper Público– with a Portuguese name and a Lisbon accent – calls the same tenant, he immediately gets the necessary information by phone and an appointment for the next day. In only two out of five phone calls, Mamadou and the journalist were treated the same way.

– ‘It’s hard for blacks to find a job. There’s always a preference for whites.’

Amélia Costa is born in Guinee-Bissau and in possession of a Portuguese passport. When submitting her application for a management position, she doesn’t include a photo in her CV. After a call from the director of Human Resources, she is invited to an interview.
On entry, the director stares at her in amazement. ‘Apparently, he was expecting someone else’, she says.
The interview is going well and Amélia gets the job. When she asks the director at a later stage, why he looked so surprised when they first met, he says ‘the person I called and the person I met, didn’t seem to be the same’. ‘Since you speak without an accent, I didn’t expect you to be a black person. If you had submitted a photo with your CV, I probably would never have called you for an interview’, he confessed.
‘In Portugal, you hardly come across black people in leading positions or in the media. You’ll find them back office, in factories, kitchens, and supermarkets. We are not even given a chance to get to know us’, she explains.

– ‘The presence of black lecturers in the academic community is nil

‘It isn’t true that social class eliminates racism.
‘If I come somewhere, where I’ am the only black person, I will be discriminated.
It’s no question of social discrimination, it’s the color of the skin’.
‘I’ll give you some examples’, she explains in Público.

‘When I return at the airport from a trip abroad, they often direct me to the line for Non-European passports and my luggage is nearly always checked by customs’. ‘Once I entered a meeting and heard a colleague – a bit too loud – say: ‘I don’t understand what that black one is doing here.’
And something that happened to me recently in the Santa Marta hospital, when I asked for a particular department and someone showed me the way. ‘When you see an indication that says Outpatients, you turn right – can you read?’
Inocência Mata is the only black professor in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Lisbon, where she is teaching since 1990.

BOM  FIM  DE  SEMANA

Bias

When I was stopped by the police and asked them ‘why’, the officer said ‘a black man is always suspicious’ – José Fernandes, legal advisor.

In Portugal, prisons are painted black! Of every 10 prisoners, 9 (90%) are Africans. If you are from Cape Verde, the situation becomes even worse, as 15 times more Cape Verdeans than Portuguese stay in jail. Compared with these figures Afro-Americans are relatively better off. In the US black people are ‘only’ 5 times more likely to be imprisoned than their fellow Americans.

‘These numbers are shocking’, says Alípio Ribeiro, an attorney from the Criminal Investigation Department and confirm what he already thought: ‘there is a legal system for whites and a legal system for blacks’.
‘You can’t just derive from these data, that black people are more criminal. It is much more likely that black people are locked up easier. Apparently little is needed to put them in prison.’

Approximately 1% of the population – 100.000 people – originates from the former Portuguese colonies in Africa, most of them from Cape Verde. The majority lives around the capital, in deprived neighborhoods, like Amadora and Sintra. Their exact number is unknown as collecting ethnic data is prohibited by Portuguese law.

Already in 2014, the Immigration Observatory indicated that sentences are tougher when committed by black Africans. Information from the General Directorate of the Department of Justice (DGPJ) and recently disclosed by the Portuguese newspaper Público, shows that black Africans indeed get the maximum sentence twice as often for offenses like robbery and domestic assault.

Celso Manata, head of DGPJ, however, rejects the idea that the legal system is discriminatory. He admits that there is an over-representation of blacks in Portuguese prisons, but believes that ‘this is caused by the poor socio-economic circumstances of black people, who therefore are more likely to commit a crime’.

‘In a society aimed at keeping an eye on certain communities, it is not surprising that the number of prisoners from these communities will be greater’, declares José Semedo, a lawyer at the National Immigrant Support Centre.
’Both our legal and prison system are much more aggressive to black people’.This is also reflected in the fact, that black people often have to serve their time and hardly get remission. ‘These findings clearly demonstrate that black prisoners are not getting the best defense and therefore stay unnecessary long behind bars.’

BOM FIM DE SEMANA