19 August 2018
A trip in a boat that can last days, weeks and even months. A trip in which to reach mainland is not always a reality for everyone. Once in a land in which you had been promised that would welcome you with open arms, you are in fact persecuted to end up in a CIE (detention center for inmigrants), “where you are not allowed to express your opinion and with a lot of uncertainty“. Because nobody knows what exactly happens there, only those who experience it. This is the story of how Lamine Sarr arrived in Spain: “What we found here was not what they told us in our country about Europe. Black people are not considered as human beings”. A tough trip to reach a country full of obstacles to get jobs and documentation in which, people like Lamine Sarr and Marie Faye, are forced to become street vendors.
Lamine and Marie shared their stories with us at the Social Forum, in the debate “Dignity for street vendors”. Lamine, with an overwhelming charisma, explains how slavery and colonialism have led to practices that continue plundering their countries. The result of this is having to risk their lifes at sea to reach a Europe that does not remember the damage that has caused and continues to build borders. Bureaucratic obstacles that do not allow people like Lamine to work on building his own future. You end up becoming a street vendor, living with all kinds of unfair prejudices: “In the street we are victims of all types of racism”, Lamine explains.
Lamine denounces the criminalization that persecutes the street vendors, due to the negative image given of their situation through the media, leaving everything behind completely invisible. The death of a Senegalese street vendor in 2015 was the trigger for Lamine to create along with his colleagues the Union of Street Vendors: “They think we only know how to take the blanket and run, but behind street vendors there are doctors, lawyers, teachers and people with stories that nobody tells”, he explains.
But that is over and this is where true dignity will be found, in those who get together, stand in solidarity and intend to tell the world their truth. Focusing on the bureaucratic obstacles, but also on helping street people to find that reality: “You, who are privileged to be here, have to seer how to help us“, he claims.
“Top Manta” is one of the names that street vendors have. An initiative that Lamine is part of, which seeks to fight against stereotypes, to show they can be much more than street vendors, turning the negative focus to make it positive. In this particular case, this is done through the design and creation of a line of T-shirts and sweatshirts made by street vendors, which talk about their daily life under the slogan “Legal clothing made by illegal people“. Those responsible for telling us what is behind this initiative have been Cristian Palazzi and Laia Miret from PlayGround Do, a digital media platform that has become one of the pillars of the “Top Manta”.
The story of Marie Faye is also that of someone who had to fight against the obstacles that were placed in her way due to her skin colour, such as the possibility of accessing the university. She does not deny having been a street vendor, but neither of having a career in law and political science, because this is where the true dignity of street vendors is. Marie talks about a very important aspect that makes the Social Forum think: “The street vendors are the last in the chain of the real problem“.
Texto de Asun Pérez