The odyssey of the Monaco soccer player Keita Balde to try to help the seasonal workers in his home city of Lleida should make us reflect on the systemic racism that happens all around us.
Everything began with an online chat between the actor Paco León and Serigne Mamadou, the spokesperson for the platform #RegularizaciónYa. The situation of 200 workers harvesting fruit in Lleida reached the famous soccer player, who in turn got in contact with the anti-racist activist Nogay Ndiaye so he could help improve the conditions of those people who, working for others, were living on the street. According to her statements to the Diario As, when Balde got in touch with her, she «told him it was going to be difficult; it is very difficult to get an apartment for a someone who is not white,» and so they began a process that was revelatory for the footballer. Even though the money was paid upfront, the majority of the hotels in his city gave him a «no» as their answer.
Balde confessed that he wanted to help anonymously «but I had to come to the forefront to find a place for them to stay (…) I am not looking for a social or moral war, nor a racial one, nor one about origins. I look for solutions to help these people.» And then the City Council intervened and suddenly 110 rooms appeared when Balde and Ndiaye had already rented a building to house 90 workers.
These days, I think about the changes we must initiate around us to achieve social justice. Micro racisms are as–if not more–dangerous than the institutional racism where our lives are embedded. And perhaps we should begin by opening our eyes to see and to listen so we are able to understand it and may act to change it.