Zanotelli Thuram dialogue on the skin as a border

Leather, a thin fabric, a few millimeters that mark a border, a frontier that you carry around and marks lives and destinies. Two very distant people, the missionary, discussed it in an animated debate that inaugurated the 2022 edition of the Torino Spirituality Festival. Alex Zanotelli and the former footballer Lilian Thuram starting with their two books White Thought And Letter to the white tribe.

According to Lilian Thuram there is a right and a wrong skin, there is a normal color and there are all the others. “I discovered I was black at 9 when I arrived in France. White thinking is a concept it is not reality no it is white. My son says I’m not black, I’m brown so I ask your mates what color are they? He replies I’m pink. It is a hierarchy of the skin created by thought. We think in a way that we are not aware of […] For too long – continues Thuram – when we talk about racism, we focus on people who are discriminated against, while I argue that we should turn our interest to the people who, sometimes unwittingly or knowing it, benefit from these discriminations. Questioning a category that is never questioned: the white category. You are not born white, you become it. Isn’t going white like becoming a man, growing up thinking of oneself as dominant? Who built a discourse by putting whites at the top of the “human hierarchy”? Whoever is in a dominant position is so certain that he feels right, always at the center, always in his place, that he ends up perceiving and taking himself as the norm. […]

But beware, white thinking is not exclusively white thinking. Even non-whites have internalized it. The white mask, as Frantz Fanon explained, can be worn by both whites and non-whites. White thinking is not a question of skin pigmentation, it is a way of being in the world […]. White thinking is an economic construction of the world. It is necessary, concludes Thuram, to make a considerable effort to get rid of all the masks that one has been forced to wear, and even when one succeeds, one runs the risk of not being understood, because society does not love free spirits. But it is free spirits that change societies ».

When Alex Zanotelli intervenes there is a great silence because his story speaks before his voice: does not say should be done, you should do, but I did, I said. It is an authentic, credible, decisive word, the result of an authentic, credible and decisive path of those who have placed themselves on the side of the least of history, of those who have walked with the least of history, of those who have lived a profound experience that we can saying has its culmination in the Korogocho experience: 12 years lived in the most degraded and dangerous slum of Nairobi not to help the poor, but to make a journey of liberation.

«I think my generation will be among the most cursed in human history, I ask you young people for forgiveness, we give you a seriously ill world. The future does not exist, you are the only present we have for there to be life on the planet. It is a world in which not only white thought is triumphing, but white supremacism. To understand this we must analyze our history for 500 years we have colonized the world on the basis of three principles: we have civilization, we have culture, we have religion. We carry this sense of superiority within us. The last day I was in Korogocho, after 12 years, the pastors and the leaders of the various communities told me you can’t go out if we don’t pray about you. After a long prayer lasting more than three hours they told me Alex kneel down, they laid hands on me and Reverend Timothy started praying in a charismatic way and then said “give Father Alex your spirit so that he can return to his white tribe. and convert it ”. You may be wondering from what? Precisely from white supremacy, from these 500 years and from the fact that the white tribe has produced this economic and financial system in which we live well. But who lives well? The 10% of the world population that alone consumes 90% of the goods of this world leaving the crumbs to others (830 million hungry people, a child dies of hunger every 12 seconds) and every year we throw away two thousand six hundred billion tons of food good. If everyone lived like the white tribe we would need two or three planets, but we only have one and it can’t stand us anymore. What I’m wondering is how is it possible that billions of people don’t rebel? Weapons, in particular the atomic bomb, the queen of terror, last year we spent two thousand and one hundred billion on weapons (32 billion in Italy) ”.

There are always facts that we want not to see and not to know: the skin that protects us has become a barrier with the world, but also with the place which allows us to meet him.

Zanotelli Thuram dialogue on the skin as a border