Black Women of Brazil

The site dedicated to Brazilian women of African descent

The women of the NGO Estimativa: Overcoming invisibility


Afro Brazilian women
by Fabiana Oliveira
Re.Fem: rapper and videographer

A group of women from the periphery of Rio de Janeiro came together using art to inform and protest against all forms of violence and gender discrimination. They managed to circumvent the difficulties and today are competent and accomplished professionals. From this union came videos, music, an NGO, and even an event in celebration of the International Afro-Latin American and Afro-Caribbean Women’s Day.


In this group we have a rapper Re.Fem (Revolta Feminina or Feminine Revolt). The name is no accident. According to the young woman, it’s a way of expressing her anger with society, where women’s rights are not respected, particularly those of African descent. A resident of Parada Angélica, in Duque de Caxias, a city in the Baixada Fluminense region of Rio de Janeiro state, she has recorded several CDs, participated in an array of radio programs, and still manages to devote time to study advertising:

“I’ve always been troubled by a number of things: the participation of women in society, the extermination of our young people, our people, our critical thinking … So, what was my role in all this? How to change this situation? Who wants to hear a young black woman, a resident of Baixada or any other periphery, if she has not been featured in the media?”, asks the videographer.

 

Through music, Re.Fem found a way to express what she thinks. Her compositions speak of the fight against smoking, the elimination of violence and the need to appreciate the feminine. The concern with issues of gender and race is so strong that she produced a video trying to retrieve the memory and history of women in hip-hop. The documentary Rap Veste Saia (Rap Wears a Skirt) is an 18 minute video and through diverse trajectories it approaches various social segments for a deeper discussion about equal rights. The film integrates both sexes in favor of a society, as she says, healthier:

 
Scenes from the movie Rap Veste Saia

“My greatest challenge was finding women who started this story here in Rio. Nobody could tell me who they were, where they were, and where to look for old guys who worked with them at the time. Herein you can already get a sense of their invisibility here in the state (of Rio). Our luck was when we got in touch with DJ TR, who is a great researcher of the history of hip-hop and a writer too. It was he who gave us a hint on where we could find them,” she says.

 

When asked where she gets so much energy to devote to so many projects at once, Re.Fem just remembers her childhood. She and her three siblings were raised alone by her mother: “I’m from a humble family but very hardworking. I’m the daughter of a warrior who raised four children alone, but in the best way possible. The strength I have comes from my mother. I am the mirror of her. Hail D. Silvia!” exclaims excitedly.

 
Nina Silva

According to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), 50.79% of the population are females. Of this percentage, half are black women. In this environment we find a girl, born in Jardim Catarina, a locale considered the largest favela in Latin America, in São Gonçalo, in the Metropolitan area of Rio. An example of persistence Nina Silva had a trajectory that distinguished her from most of the young people in her neighborhood. A graduate in the field of administration, the information technology analyst, she is fluent in English and Spanish, and exercises her profession in a large national company.

 

She attributes to her parents much of her professional success. Nina says her family always prioritized the education of their two daughters, working so that they could study in the best schools and take courses. It was there, as a child, that she began to recognize the first traces of inequality. A model student, she always received the best grades and with it, earned various awards from her teachers. But this, instead of bringing a cause for rejoice, brought many concerns:

 

“My mother worked in a factory and my father earned tips from everything from parking cars to working in a fish market. We didn’t have the best clothes, but we always studied in good schools. So we lived with this disparity. I studied in a place with only white children and teachers. I grew up with my colleagues saying that I was ugly. It didn’t matter, I get the best grades, I push myself; people always reinforced that. I didn’t have a reference in the media nor in my environment. Later in college I realized that it was not just me going through this. I noticed that others also questioned why these types of discriminations happened,” she says reflectively.

 
Jana Guinond

One of those people was actress Jana Guinond. She was born in Padre Miguel, in the West Zone of Rio, and is the daughter of a white woman and a black man. The artist said that she  recognized her identity as black very late. Raised with great care, she only complains about the fact that prejudice was a forbidden subject at home. Nowadays her life is very different. Topics such as racial and gender discrimination are constant in her speech. Inclusive of the novela Páginas da Vida (on Globo TV), the girl had made her contribution to this debate by extending it to the homes of Brazilians. The desire to contribute to the residents of poor communities, meant that, along with Nina, they initiate the first activities of NGO Estimativa:

 

“This group came from my theater background. I called my friends to watch some piece and they said that they hated it. Many of them had never been. We did a survey and the main reason for them not accepting the invitation was because of the audience or themes that they were not familiar with in addition to a number of factors that made the crowd uncomfortable. We started requesting tickets to institutions that had social responsibility. They gave them away and we mobilized various community groups to see the shows. We realized that people appreciated our efforts. This project brings the magic of cinema and theater pieces to the residents of poor communities,” says the host of the show “Olho Vivo”, which is broadcast to employees of the Petrobrás energy company.

 
The Estimativa team with actress Iléa Ferraz

Reflect, unite and celebrate

 

From the union of these three worlds, and so many more, there was a proposal to be held at the SESC cultural organization in the Madureira neighborhood of North Rio, an event to commemorate the International Afro-Latin American and Afro-Caribbean Women’s Day. At the meeting, there were to be showings of a film and documentary, lectures, and presentations from various female rappers.

 

“Speaking about women is dealing with the history of all of us, crossed by emotions, memories and desires. But it’s also talk about what is not said, what is silenced, the contradictions of our society, which has numerous inequalities and contradictions. A black woman, in particular, still suffers prejudice because of the color ofher skin and her culture, which often times translates into their activities and unrestrained joy in an open smile”, explains the group Estimativa.

Source: Beleza Pura

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