In 1790, just a few months before the first black uprising in Santo Domingo, La Barre, a French colonist, reassured his wife who lived in Paris: “There is no movement among our blacks” — he said in the letter he sent to his wife, “they are very calm and obedient. Between them a revolt is impossible. We have nothing to fear from the Negroes; They are very obedient and always will be. We always sleep with the doors and windows wide open. For blacks, freedom is a chimera. These arguments served as a starting point for Michel-Rolph Trouillot to write Silencing the past: the power and production of history, one of the most thoughtful analyzes of the hegemonic uses of history, which also showed us how the Haitian Revolution entered the category of historical unthinkables because the world —as can be seen from the letter from the unsuspecting husband— did not care it fit in the head that some blacks could make a modern revolution. That was not his place in history.
Explaining this context, Trouillot wrote something that helps to understand the racist steamroller that has been unleashed these days in the country with the appointment of Francia Márquez as the vice-presidential quota of Gustavo Petro’s presidential aspirations: “When reality does not coincide with beliefs more entrenched, human beings tend to formulate interpretations that force reality into the realm of these beliefs. They devise formulas to repress the unthinkable and to incorporate it into the realm of accepted discourse. France, for many Colombians, is a historical unthinkable, someone who can work in some contexts, but not in others, being the vice president of this nation, for example. They applauded when he won the Goldman Prize and repeated ad nauseam that it was the equivalent of the Nobel Prize in environmental defense, they accepted that he spoke about the contamination of rivers due to the indiscriminate practice of mining, since it was within the quota of ecological sentimentality of rigor in these times, but when she was chosen as Petro’s political key they lost their place and then they went out into the ring with the entire racist tribe armed with prejudices that inhabits them to delegitimize it. There has been everything, from the crudest and coarsest criticism, to the most subtle and refined.
It’s curious. I am certain that several of those who came out to express their admiration and respect for the important vote he took in the referendum as a way of detracting from Petro’s victory, and who later insisted that he should choose it as the formula because otherwise he was nothing more than a traitor who did not keep his word, they are the same ones who now, once chosen, join the chorus of those who see their aspirations as historically unthinkable, willing to do even the unspeakable —we have experience in this— so that it doesn’t happen or if it does happen resist accepting it.
I have no doubt that we are in a historic moment for the nation and, better, for the health of the country, that some begin to accept as the most natural thing —just as they have naturalized hatred, classism and racism— that a black woman, from rural origins, with limited economic resources, a fighter and from the left, can be the vice president of Colombia. The opposite is to continue moving in the centennial spiral that resorts to any type of argument, from the crudest to the most refined —I repeat—, to deny any possibility of change, no matter how minimal.
We would love to say thanks to the writer of this article for this remarkable material
Francia Márquez and the historical unthinkables