One Racism; One World

2 Aug 2021

Source: Al Mayadeen

Bouthaina Shaaban

Any wrong or racist attitude may eclipse the truth for some time, but it cannot do so forever.

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Syrian sculptor, Rami Wakkaf

When the black movement in the US raised the motto “Black Lives Matter”, after the killing of George Floyd, the rest of the world should have joined by raising the motto “human lives matter”. So many people in different countries in the world have forgotten that they belong to one human race and one human family, either due to the colors of their skins and eyes, or due to the advanced positions their countries have reached in different domains. Amidst the hard competition we witness among people in different areas, it may well suit some to discriminate against others and belittle their achievements in order to get them out of their way. Athletes competing for medals are perhaps the most exposed to this kind of racism, which lately started to infect unusual territories, such as education and art, which until recently were thought to be totally safe from such practices. 

As London Art Biennale is a huge landmark for artists from all over the world, it is important to relate here to our dear readers an important incident that has taken place in 2021 London Art Biennale. The Syrian sculptor, Rami Wakkaf, responded to the invitation to participate in this Biennale by sending two of his works, which were very well received and bought almost immediately by the Biennale. Accordingly, he applied for a visa to attend the event, but of course he was not granted a visa because he is Syrian. 

After waiting patiently for the art judges, Rami was told that one of his works has got the prize for the best sculpture in the Biennale. Of course, he was very happy and excited and put the happy item on his Facebook and received congratulations and requests for media interviews. 

The next day, and perhaps after the Committee was reminded that he is Syrian, and no need to say that Syria is subjected to coercive US measures, he received a second email, which read that “the vote was very close, and during the jury recount, the artwork by Jason Briggs won that particular prize by one vote,” expressing sincere apologies for the mistake. 

Is it possible that the first email, which was sent to inform Rami Wakkaf that his work won the first prize, was sent before the final counting of the votes and before a final decision was made by the committee to choose this work? There is no doubt that the works of Rami Wakkaf would outlive the Committee’s decision and would receive the attention and celebration they are worthy of. 

Any wrong or racist attitude may eclipse the truth for some time, but it cannot do so forever. Racism is the antithesis of everything human, creative, and exceptional. 

It is the tool of those who fail to achieve and to appreciate the excellence of the achievements of others, and always for the wrong reasons. 

People in our region never used to believe that such things may happen in a Western country as they have an exaggerated idea of the absolute moral behavior of the West. But as means of communication are bridging distances, the truth is closer at hand. 

The West cannot indulge in racist practices, whilst keeping its moral superiority or its claims that it provides criteria for human behavior and ethics. It has to choose one or the other, or the choice will be made anyway. 

The opinions mentioned in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Al mayadeen, but rather express the opinion of its writer exclusively.

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