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The leftovers of the indigenist anthropology – Leão Alves

Leftovers of the indigenist anthropology
Marike de Klerk, former wife of the last white president of South Africa, Frederik de Klerk said in an interview in 1983 that the Coloureds, as the mestizos of the country are called,
“are a negative group. The definition of a coloured in the population register is someone that is not black, and is not white and is also not an Indian, in other words a no-person. They are the leftovers. They are the people that were left after the nations were sorted out. They are the rest.”
This depreciation of mestization did not occur only among South African white authorities. Almost never reported in the media in Brazil, and I suspect also in many other countries, it is that the apartheid regime have had the support and collaboration of many blacks also hostile to mestization.

sobra3Marike de Klerk, former wife of the last white president of South Africa, Frederik de Klerk, said in an interview on 1983 that the Coloureds, as the mestizos of the country are called,

“are a negative group. The definition of a coloured in the population register is someone that is not black, and is not white and is also not an Indian, in other words a no-person. They are the leftovers. They are the people that were left after the nations were sorted out. They are the rest.”

This depreciation of mestization did not occur only among South African white authorities. A fact almost never reported in the media in Brazil, and I suspect also in many other countries, it is that the apartheid regime have had the support and collaboration of many blacks also hostile to mestization.

Charles Sebe, a military and security director of Ciskei Bantustan, one of the indigenous territories created by the apartheid regime, in a speech said:

“What will you get from intermarriage? You get a Coloured. You don’t get a white person, you don’t get a black person, but a frustrated child wich does not belong anywhere.”

Miscegenation is that racists fear most, so they use negative terms to refer to mestizos and mestization.

The Verwoerdism, the ideology of apartheid, is a type of indigenism, a racism developed by Afrikaner intellectuals and politicians seeking to legitimize the preservation of the white race by promoting the isolation of indigenous peoples adorning with candid praise of diversity and promotion of differences.

The former first lady of South Africa was right to say that a mestizo “is not black, is not white, and is not an Indian,” but was wrong in stating that a mestizo is a “no-person”. The green color is generated by mixing the blue and yellow colors. Green is not blue or yellow, but it is also a color, an independent color.

A similar segregationism and mestizophobia settled in Brazil and other Latin American countries in recent decades by actions of governmental agencies and millionaires NGOs from Europe and USA, with support from leftist groups, including Catholic missionaries, mostly white.

The project found support and many Negro and Amerindians collaborators, with laudable exceptions and resistances. A project boosted by a speech against mestization, notably in the middle of militant indigenist anthropology, which often emerges with explicit manifestations of hatred against those who identify themselves as Mestizo.

In Sociedades Caboclas Amazônicas: Modernidade e Invisibilidade (caboclo is a word used in Brazil for a person mixed Amerindian and white ancestry), by Cristina Adams and others, is registered this ‘anthropological discourse’:

“(…) The picture of caboclo societies still remains negative. In anthropological discourse concerning indigenous peoples, caboclos represent both the ‘remains’ of degraded indigenous societies, as immediate threats (land invasions) to the few Indian societies that transpassed the colonial catastrophe.”

With great influence in bodies such as the United Nations (UN) and the Organization of American States (OAS), that mestizophobia was establishing itself in anthropology and various academic institutions were occupied, excluding opposing manifestations and summarizing the debate: one says “Yes”; the other “Exactly” and the mediator appeases “It’s true.”

There is no disagreement of principles, only of measures and angles: of the Bantustan boundaries and how much and if will be paid for it.

It’s a challenging framework for the mestizos from different parts of the world. If a Mestizo people don’t act independently and defend their interests as an ethnic group, a unquestionable Mestizo will be assimilated by force within other groups. However he will not be assimilated as an equal, but as a “dubious Indian” or a “dubious Black” – something that repeated exclusions of pardos who identify themselves as Negro to compete for racial quotas in Brazil exemplify perfectly.

Mestizo assimilation policies within the Black population has not eliminated tensions, as shown by Haiti and South Africa.

At the beginning of the 19th century, in Haiti, the first ruler of the independent country, the Emperor Dessalines, tried to make the assimilation of Mulattos into the Black population, both by official measures, as set in the Constitution that all Haitians were Black, as per unofficial discriminatory measures.

At the end of the 20th century, in South Africa, the white minority rule ended and the country passed be ruled by the African National Congress (ANC). The Black party established an assimilationist policy against Coloureds, the majority population in the Western Cape,one of the country’s largest provinces. The ANC managed to establish by law racial quotas for vacancies in employment program, but realizes the local distribution vacancies with national percentages. This stimulates the Coloureds to migrate to areas of most Black and Blacks to migrate to areas of most Coloured, leading to build a Black majority across the country and end the trend resistance to ANC in Western Cape.

In Brazil, Desmestization was designed before the 1988 Constitution, but in that gained constitutional force. Its ideologues were mostly anthropologists, sociologists and other intellectuals and left-wing white politicians.

In this and in any other situation, the first question a multiracial ancestry people must deal with is the decision whether it will have their own identity and independence, that is, whether it will be a Mestizo ethnicity; whether it will be assimilated into another or others, that is, whether it will be just a group of people who identify themselves as belonging to different ethnic groups and only have in common the biological miscigenation; or whether it will still be only a gathering of individuals without any ethnic group, as integrated with each other as a group of people at a bus stop. This is a matter that can be made in relation to the reality of Bolivia, China, the United States, and in relation any country where there is a multiracial ancestry people.

It is not a simply genealogical matter. Ethnicity is distinct from ‘race’. An ethnic group, despite being mostly made up of people from a ‘race’, can accommodate people who are of another ‘race’. A Mestizo ethnicity has two or more ethnic groups as the permanent basis of his identity, without prejudice to integrate other people’s by own mestization process.

For example, the Camba people, of Bolivia, has the mestization between Guarani and Spaniard; the Portuguese Burgers from Sri Lanka, the mestization between Portuguese and Sinhalese; the Métis of Canada, the mixing between Indians of Canada, French, English and Scot; the Rehoboth Basters, of Namibia, the mestization between the African people Nama and Dutch; the Brazilian Mestizo, the mestization between Indians of Brazil, Portuguese colonists and African blacks brought by slavery inside the formation of the Brazilian Nation process.

The miscegenation is just mix of origins. It is only when the ‘miscigenated’ people going to see themselves as an ethnic group that it becomes a Mestizo people and can work to defend their interests as a group, otherwise it will be governed by other people who may not have the same interests as their – and can discard it when no longer of interest.

In countries where Mestizos have created their own associations and promoted their respective Mestizo identities they strengthened against assimilation and propitiated advances.

In Brazil, the Nação Mestiça annually celebrates the “Mestizo Day” (June 27), obtained recognition of mestiço as an ethnic group by three States, and despite the hostility of the Federal Government, the apparatus of indigenist NGOs and Blackists, its anthropology academies, occupied universities, anti-Mestizo parties as Workers’ Party and other segregationist groups, it resist and marks the Mestizo identity – to the irrational wrath of racists and the victory of cabocos.

Leão Alves is former president of the Movimento Pardo-Mestiço Brasileiro – Nação Mestiça.

Posted in Artigos, Leão Alves, Português.


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