- An Interview with Young People in El Carmen*
How long have you been organized in the activities of LUNDU?
I have been with the group for two years.
I have been with it for about four years.
I have been with the group for six years.
I have been with the group for five years.
About a year.
I have been with the group approximately four or five years.
I have been with it for approximately a year.
What are the goals of your group?
Generally speaking, what the group wants is for all the young people here in the district of El Carmen to have an idea or learn about their sexual and reproductive rights, that they learn about their African identity, that they not be ashamed of it. Here in the region, there's a type of internal racism, and we want to rid ourselves of these ridiculous ideas. We want to show that we are all free, have normal thoughts, and there's no need to discriminate against anyone.
Can you talk a bit more about racism?
What happens is that here in El Carmen there is racism among ourselves, among Afro-descendants, even if Afro-descendants are not as they were in the past. People's [End Page 419] color, as they say, has been changing, but the racism exists just the same. People here try to whiten the race. In whitening the race, they say we have to improve it. That's what we want to change. We want to change those absurd ideas about how improving the race means mixing with people who aren't the same color as us. That's what I'm referring to.
And you as a group are working against that sort of self-dehumanization?
We want to eradicate that type of discrimination.
What are some of the steps you plan to organize in order to fight against racism?
One of the things that we do most is hold workshops on self-esteem, because we believe that by building a person's self-esteem, he will know what he is, what he's worth, and how much he can offer. And he won't feel like any less than others. I think that's the biggest area in which we have to work, and that is what we are doing now.
I think what she was saying is true because we have dozens of people who believe that one color is better than the other. Some tell me about how they date whites or Indians or others. So then they say that if they are with a white person, their child will have a different color and wherever the child goes he will have better opportunities. But that's not the case. You will see their black features. You will notice them in their faces, their physique, their hair, in everything. So we have to change their way of thinking so they know to say we are all equal and we all have rights.
About what percentage of young Afro-Peruvian people go to other places where there are few Afro-descendants, like Lima for instance?
Maybe one or two people out of ten leave. Economic resources are very scarce. Young people sometimes opt for saving money, but they can't because sometimes what they earn is barely enough to cover housing, food, and that kind of thing.
When people go to other places where there aren't many Afro-Peruvians, do they encounter problems?
Yes, because where they go there are few Afro-descendants, and in Lima racism is tremendous. If you are black, when you go through Lima people think you are a thief or a criminal.
I think there are black people in every part of Peru. And I think that, unfortunately, there are many people who have this absurd idea in their heads that black people can't make it to college or be part of a government cabinet. So they think that...