Afro-Columbian March thegrio.com
Afro-Columbian March (Photo: Kumi Rauf)

Today, there is a an Afro-­Colombian march for rights and visibility happening across these seven key cities in Colombia.

Some say that marching isn’t the best approach when you aim to find justice and create visibility for marginalized people in the “hashtag-era.”

Many people don’t realize that Afro­-Colombians comprise 30 percent of Colombia’s 50 million people, and 95 percent of those live in the lower classes — and we need more than hashtags. We need our people to show up.

In Colombia, there has been a kind of forced amnesia — an assisted assimilation that requires Afro­-Colombians to not only forget the atrocities of the past but to turn a blind eye to their current situation. 15 percent of Afro-­Colombians live in absolute poverty and are at risk of going hungry. Also, up until six months ago, there were Colombian TV shows openly using “blackface” (a racist depiction of Afro-descendant people). When asked about this topic, they said blackface is a way to lovingly portray black people: “it’s not racist because there is no more racism here.”

Never mind that the police treat black people like criminals — similar to New York’s infamous stop-and-frisk program, but on a national scale. Never mind that they have redefined the word racism so that if you even discuss racism, you will be seen as racist. This kind of racial-­escapism stops conversations even before they’re started.

So how do we fix this? We spoke to Carlos Hinestroza, who is one of the leaders of this struggle. Hinestroza and other Afro-­Colombian leaders created this list of demands after being inspired by the Black Panthers of Oakland. In addition to welcoming local support they have opened the door for international support as well. To show support, anyone can upload a video here.

Okay fine… we’ll use a hashtag, #PorEsoMarchamos (this is why we march).

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