Behind Bars, from Pilgrims, chapter one: Walking to Fatima
On the 13th of May 2015, 210000 pilgrims completed their epic journey and flooded Fatima’s Sanctuary willing to pay Nossa Senhora de Fatima a tribute, acknowledging the fact that, one way or the other, she took good care of them, protected them, saved them or saved their loved ones from becoming sick, from poverty or from something else – a miracle, so to speak. This family was expecting the procession to start; given the rise of racism against black people in the United States in recent years, I was struck by the fact that if you’re born black the likelihood of getting behind bars is much higher than if you’re white, unless you’re black and rich; if you are, you may be able to stick your hands out of misery, staying on the “white” side of life. When you are black I wonder what comes first, the colour of your skin or the size of your pocket – which type of racism really takes place… This family personifies the relationship black people has been enforced to have have with prison: their hands gently touch the bars, there seems to be a close relationship with the object, some sort of intimacy; the vagueness in the eyes of the patriarch glazing away like if there was nothing to say about their condition, confirming he is well away from where he is sitting and his wrists, where a pair of handcuffs could be preventing movement from his hands, are instead richly adorned by a pair of gold bracelets, the only part of his body actually out of “prison”.
I hope Nossa Senhora may give a helping hand to all the penniless or middle-class black citizens that end up in the line of fire of the american police – and help them to get rich and away from discrimination.