Monica Carrillo Zegarra is an Afro-Peruvian artist, scholar, and activist. She finished university in Peru, and then went on to Oxford to complete a degree in human rights. In Peru, she founded an organization – LUNDU - that organizes and empowers Afro-Peruvian youth.
|Monica Carrillo Zegarra|
In a recent essay, Monica described what happened to her on one, not untypical, evening in Lima, Peru. On New Year’s Eve of 2006, Monica left her home in a middle-class neighborhood in Lima to go shopping, and had the following interactions:
- 5pm: A man walking down the street holding his five-year-old son’s hand points at Monica, and says “Monster, monster. Do you see the monster?” The boy laughs and responds “Daddy, she is burned.”
- 6:05pm: Monica walks towards an outdoor market where women are selling earrings. The women begin to laugh. One of them says: “There goes your sister.” The other responds: “Are you crazy; she’s your sister.” And, they all laugh.
- 6:10pm: Monica is walking down the street and a taxi driver begins to follow her. He opens the door and says “Negra: get in.” When she responds defensively, he says: “You should be happy I am looking at a woman like you.”
In her essay, Monica continues to describe the microagressions she consistently experiences. Men and women, girls and boys, shout “Negra” at her when she leaves the house. Men presume she is sexually open and offer unsolicited invitations for sexual intimacy. On one occasion, within just 30 minutes, Monica counts 11 people who verbally assault her as she walks down the street. Monica explains that, in Peru, racial aggressions are commonplace because Peruvians feel as if they can hurl insults at Afro-Peruvians with impunity. As an artist and activist, she struggles with the best ways to confront this reality and to maintain a sense of humanity in the face of constant dehumanization.
Source: Carrillo Zegarra, Monica. 2010. “Una Cronica Real de Arte, Resistencia, Feminismo y Poder” Pp. 117-124 in Insumisas: Racismo, Sexismo, Organizacion, Politica, y Desarrollo de la Mujer Afrodescendiente. CEDET: Lima, Peru.