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Executive-Director of the Fundo Baobá para Equidade Racial (Baobá Fund for Racial Equality) analyzes 10 years of Federal Law 10.639/2003, that mandates the study of African, Afro-Brazilian and indigenous culture and history in primary education.
By Felipe Rousselet
In this month of February, Federal Law 10.639/2003, authored by ex-deputy (ex-congresswoman) Esther Grossi, that determines the obligation of the study of Afro-Brazilian, African and indigenous history and culture in primary school education, passed the 10-year mark. Although its application has been limited, the law has already produced good results, among them the Prêmio Educar Para a Igualdade Racial (Educating for Racial Equality Award), an initiative that awards teachers that encourage the study of African and Afro-Brazilian Culture in Brazil.
The report from Revista Fórum interviewed professor Athayde Motta, executive-director of the Fundo Baobá para Equidade Racial (Baobá Fund for Racial Equality), a donating entity whose causes are the strengthening of Afro-Brazilian civil organizations and the advance of philanthropy for social justice in Brazil, to know his opinion about 10 years of the law, its application and the situation of racism in Brazil today.
Fórum – What is the importance of Federal Law 10.639/2003, that determines the mandatory study of African, Afro-Brazilian and indigenous culture and history in primary education? After ten years of the approval (of the law), has it already generated concrete results in the education of youth?
Athayde Motta – The approval of this law has had various important facets. In the first place, it would not exist without the updating of organizations of Afro-Brazilian civil society, whose updating unknown and devalued. In the second place, these organizations don’t work for causes like this by necessity of simply attention, but because Afro-Brazilian, African and indigenous cultures are a great part of our history and not knowing more about this makes us a country with limited knowledge.
Finally, it helps to transform minds and hearts when one perceives that the Brazilian school system is fundamental in the reproduction of racism.
Fórum – How do you evaluate the application of the law? Is it really being respected by the teaching networks?
Motta – The biggest problem in the application of the law is that everyone thinks that they know everything about this topic, and in reality they don’t know anything or very little. The level of disinformation, research and scientific production is tolerable. The investment that this requires is something that the schools don’t want and many cannot finance.
Fórum – What is the importance of this law for acceptance by society of affirmative policies, like, for example, quotas in universities.
Motta – There is no direct relation between one and the other. Obviously, in 20 or 30 years it’s possible that the academic environment is not the most resistant sector of society to quotas. In 30 years, we can also have a generation of persons who have studied about African, Afro-Brazilians and indigenous cultures that utilize concepts and contemporary theories and not ideas impregnated with a cultural pathology that always makes black and indigenous people inferior.
In this moment, the law is fundamental in order for schools to be spaces of free learning and training of citizens without prejudices. The law is also fundamental so that black children don’t have their opportunities starting from primary school.
Fórum – For you, what is the situation of racism in the country today? In the last decade, has it increased or regressed?
Motta – It has made itself more present in the day to day of society, because Afro-Brazilian organizations have managed to transform it into a relevant subject. Knowing about it doesn’t mean that changes will occur next. Brazilians feel that they are losing an asset by no longer believing in the racial democracy in order to construct a real egalitarian society.
Besides this, the equilibrium of society will be at risk of if there is a very big change. For example, whites are not killed, offended or humiliated. It will only not allow that this happens with blacks. The question is a loss of power, which is always something complex.
Source: Revista Fórum
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