Basha Changue: “Our presence matters and black children need to see us everywhere doing everything”

AfroFemKoop is a cooperative organisation that was born in Catalonia with the
intention of supporting the social, political, cultural and economic development of the
Afro and black community, especially women and femininities. This founding team
emerged from the split of Afrofeminas Catalunya due to a series of political
disagreements in public positions and internal dynamics

As the driving force behind this organization and an active member of the Black, African and Afro-descendant Community in Catalonia (CNAACAT), Basha Changue spoke to us about AfrooFemKoop’s role in promoting the rights and equality of Afro-descendant women. “It is very invisible because we do a lot of reproductive work which, rather than promoting rights and equality, defends them on a day-to-day basis on the basis of concrete facts: we advise our members in the development of their projects to help combat the difficulties they encounter, which are the result, of course, of racism and misogyny in this territory”. However, some projects are more visible, such as the traveling exhibition “Queens of Africa” that “seeks to make the struggles of African women visible with the intention of changing the excessively western referentiality of Afrofeminisms or the training services that we offer to entities or organizations of all kinds to advance in anti-racist policies in and from their spaces”.

AfroFemkoop and Politics

This experience in AfroFemKoop also influenced Changue when it came to running for mayor of Barcelona. “In AfrofemKoop, political anti-racism is one of the basic pillars. As a militant of a political organisation, the coherent thing to do is precisely to take this discourse to places where we were not expected in order to vindicate ourselves as an autonomous political subject with our own agency. In this way, we break the narrative of subsidiaries in which racialized and migrant people are used to being placed”. Likewise, belonging to AfroFemKoop and CNAACAT helped her to better understand and address the challenges facing the Afro-descendant community in Catalonia. “Through my militancy in these spaces, I am able to articulate discourses that are faithful to the reality we live in and to territorialize here the analyses from other places in the Afro-diaspora”. As for how to solve the problems faced by Afro-descendant women in today’s society, Changue believes that “it is utopian” and, as long as the structural causes are not addressed, “We only gain privileges for a few, but we do not solve any problems”. It is therefore important not to settle for superficial anti-racist policies that “reduce racism to individual social interaction and blur the structural and institutional framework in which they are embedded”. If there is one thing the activist stands out for, it is her commitment and her ability to lead processes of change and social transformation. She stated that “we don’t want inclusion, we want reparation. Inclusion requires mutilation in order to fit in. And from this perspective, I do not advocate inclusion policies but rather the recognition of a diverse and cohesive society, adaptable to the realities of its population and with the guarantee of fundamental rights unconditionally, for the mere fact of existing as people”.

Representation of the Afro-descendat

Another issue to be addressed is the representation of the Afro-descendant community in politics as well as in other areas of society. “We have to be everywhere, the more the better. We exist, we are here, and we occupy the places that belong to us and that have been historically denied to us.”

In politics, this presence is extremely important, “not only in terms of image but also in terms of action.” The system, and therefore the state, is designed to protect itself, and in this framework, any hint of revolution will be understood as an attack on the status quo. Therefore, “they will pursue and want to nullify the potential of political anti-racism, pan-Africanism, black feminisms, and the decoloniality of all the critical theories that nourish our black and Afro struggles and that attack those foundations of the system.” It is important that, when entering institutional politics, “we are clear about our limits in this journey so that we do not become, unintentionally and without guilt, weapons of the system against our community and movement.”

AfroFemKoop also collaborates with other Afro-descendant and feminist organizations in Barcelona to achieve greater equality and social justice. “We do this through specific projects and various forms of support. One example is the theatre project against legislation with tictac and Periferia Cimarronas, or the calls for joint mobilizations with other collectives in the community”

A large part of her life has been dedicated to the fight against racial discrimination and the promotion of equality, and so, to conclude, Changue spoke to us about his long-term vision for the Afro-descendant community in Barcelona. “We are growing, and the presence is increasing in society. The community has been flourishing in recent years, and we are now in an exciting moment of recognition in many spaces.” However, he believes it is important not to get carried away by the aesthetics of representation and to understand the political responsibility that comes with such representation everywhere, even in everyday spaces. “My speeches in Parliament are no more important than the work of a sister at the supermarket. In short, she considers it fundamental that the presence of the Afro-descendant community be visible everywhere, doing everything, so that black children feel represented.”

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