Note from BW of Brazil: Although many don’t realize it, during the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, Brazil imported more African slaves than any other Western nation. It is estimated that between the 16th and 19th centuries, around 4 million Africans were shipped to Brazil (compared to the 450,000 shipped to the US) which accounts for 38-40% of all Africans shipped to North, South, Central America and the Caribbean. On May 13, 1888, Princess Isabel signed the Lei Áurea (Golden Law) which officially abolished slavery in Brazil. Although the May 13th date had been celebrated for many years, sometime in the early 1970s, a group of Afro-Brazilian activists decided that the complete abolition of the Afro-Brazilian had yet to come so they initiated the celebration of Black Consciousness on November 20th instead. This year, on May 13th, marks 125 years since the official ending of slavery in Brazil, although many will tell you that this date did not end discriminatory practices against the descendants of those Africans. In this piece, a group of school children discuss the effects of racism that continue to linger in Brazilian society.
by Luiz Setti
The Abolition of Slavery, celebrated on the 13th of May, happened 125 years ago and there is still, these days, something of which to is free oneself from! Prejudice is one of them. Kathleen Cristina Alves Antunes, 16, knows this well. “This date was the first step toward racial equality in Brazil, but there is still much to fight for. Prejudice still exists,” says she who is the daughter of a white mother and of Italian descent, and father black, an African descent. So much so that, as a child, she recalls, suffering more prejudice than today. “I’ve been called names in various forms,” she says.
This prejudice little Ariel Camargo Vaz, age 9, has already noticed, despite not being targeted. “I’ve seen some boys insult my black friends. I remain quiet, I think it’s ugly. I only get involved when they fight,” he confesses. Little Isadora, 9 years old, also has a similar view. Of African descent, she says she has been called names. “I didn’t like it,” she says expressing her pain, assuming that, as we now know that today it’s forbidden, on that occasion, she resorted to her teacher in search of justice.
“It caught his attention and he suspended him from school for a few days. Then they stopped doing this to me,” she says satisfied. For children and adolescents like Kathleen, Isadora and Ariel, who participate in the Cultural Center Quilombinho Sorocaba (Quilombinho Cultural Center in Sorocaba, São Paulo), the struggle for rights, for equality and fair mention of the history of black people, it’s still a daily conquest.
“There was the abolition of slavery, but blacks are still not free. There are numerous forms of slavery, imprisonment and prejudices, such as that of sexuality and religion. There’s a lot to fight for,” says Kimberly Caroline Conceicao, 14.
She is a friend of Gabriel Camargo, who is also 14 years. And it was precisely the exclusion that united them even more. “I am repeating my class and the afrodescendentes (African descendants) are who accepted being my friends.
Fortunately, as I frequent the Quilombinho, most of my friends are black and I see no problem with that,” says Gabriel. “People do this out of ignorance,” adds Gabriel de Lima Moraes, 10. Kimberly endorses this, remembering that her ancestors were deceived as such by Brazil, when in fact they were being trafficked.
“Human trafficking has existed for centuries. I think that we have to celebrate the May 13, because it was a first step taken there in the past. Yet we still have a lot to fight for today and the cause is now more ample. Other minorities come together with us, as people who suffer other prejudices, other types of slavery,” she says. And Kathleen concludes: “It’s a shame that 125 years after abolition we still have so many prejudices to be overcome. But I think most people know that prejudiced people are ignorant, because we are all equal,” she explains.
Source: Cruzeiro do Sul