March 17, 2022

Democracy Without Racism

Event Series: Africa Beyond Stereotypes

Showing the Democrazia senza razzismo Video

Using an African perspective, Filomeno Lopes discussed the challenges democracy without racism poses to the Western world and in particular in the Italian and religious context. Never before has democracy been considered the best form of government. Strong ideals echo in it, such as equality, inclusion, and participation. However, they hardly find their full realization in the public sphere. The definition of demos, of citizenship, becomes the subject of tension when one has to pass from the theory of ideals to practical realization—that is, to consider as equals those who until recently were considered different, to include those who were marginalized, and to recognize those we did not initially recognize as part of the demos. The tensions become more visible when the demos must overcome many established prejudices to involve people from the African continent. To understand the ideals on which democracy is nourished, it is necessary to change one's point of view and accept that one's world is transformed by the unprecedented—that is, by the other, by the different—until we dissolve ourselves as the original paradigm to build a new one together. Racism is just one of the many short circuits within democracy that shows the distance between the desire for the ideal and the fear of reality. The dialogue with Filomeno Lopes reflected on the possibility of a democracy without racism.

This event was part of the Africa Beyond Stereotypes series, held as part of the Questioni di Civiltà. Dialoghi di attualità e discerniment series, organized by Georgetown University and La Civiltà Cattolica.


Filomeno Lopes was born in Guinea Bissau and has been involved in social reconciliation at the highest social and political levels in his war-torn country. For several years he has been the official speaker of Vatican Radio in the Portuguese language editorial office for Europe, Asia, and Africa. He holds a doctorate in philosophy and social communication from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and a bachelor's degree in missiology from the Pontifical Urban University. He speaks six languages, has published several books, and has adapted university texts, as well as some CDs. He has participated in several important events and Radiotelevisione Italiana (RAI) television programs such as Terzo Millennio, Tutti dicono poesia, In famiglia, and A Sua Immagine. At the end of 2001, he spoke with Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu regarding the development of musical and communication initiatives aimed at promoting dialogue in Sub-Saharan Africa. As a first step, Mandela and Tutu participated in the filming of the music video that Lopes made. Among his most recent publications are Per una democrazia post-razziale. Lettera aperta ai Vescovi dell’Italia e dell’Africa sul problema dell’immigrazione (2021) and Non amo i razzisti dilettanti (2020).