Note from BW of Brazil: Over the years we have noted a rising consciousness, organization, sisterhood and determination among black women of Brazil. Black women’s organizations, events dedicated to the acceptance of natural black hair and culture and increasing number of blogs have allowed these women to share their experiences, focus their concerns, express their frustrations and find solidarity with other black women throughout the country who identify with these sentiments. While attention given to these black women’s movements are often focused on Brazil’s largest, most famous cities such as Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Belo Horizonte and states such as Bahia, which boasts one of the largest Afro-Brazilian population in the country, we must also shine the light on states such as Santa Catarina, a southern state that doesn’t gain much attention in regards to black issues mainly because it is one of three states in Brazil’s south that have the largest percentages of Brazilians who consider themselves to be white. But even so, black women in this state are voicing their solidarity with their sisters in other states and in demand of equality and power for the black woman. Below, we present activists from this state who are also gearing up for the November Black Women’s March in the nation’s capital.
Santa Catarina is preparing for the March of Negro Women
Text and photos by Paula Guimarães
Axé. Neither morenas, nor mulatas, nor mulheres de cor (women of color), they are negras (black women) and like their cabelos crespos (kinky/curly hair), braids, turbans and scarves. Women of the Movimento Negro (black movement) of Santa Catarina in Florianópolis gathered to reaffirm the richness of their art and culture and mobilize for the marcha das Mulheres Negras (Black Women’s March) to Brasília on November 20th (1), the day of the greatest icon of blackness, Zumbi dos Palmares.
Visibility was the watchword at the “Catarina Marcha” which honored those dedicated to the fight against discrimination that has gender, race and social class, in allusion to the International Day of Afro-Latin American and Caribbean Women, celebrated on July 25th . “It would be better that we didn’t need ‘days’ for minorities and that all were treated equally,” said Vera Lúcia Fermiano, of the Articulação das Mulheres Negras Brasileiras (AMNB or Articulation of Black Brazilian Women).
“We seek to overcome stereotypes, stop the violence in the streets, on the Internet and socialize our culture. We need to give visibility to the black woman in this white state, which emphasizes the role of the white,” said Estela Cardoso of the União de Negros Pela Igualdade (Union of Blacks For Equality of Santa Catarina).
The mãe de santo (priestess) Adriana Leke was invited to join the table of authorities and spoke of the importance of Candomblé (Afro-Brazilian religion) houses as signs of resistance of cultura afro (African culture). She explained that the terreiro (house of worship) carries all the re-definition of Africa, there are the habits and customs of the continent, such as food, clothing, language, dance and belief. “Axé is all coming from the legacy of Africa. All women have to participate in this march. We give birth, we have sensitivity, we have a responsibility because of our ancestry,” she affirms.
Teary eyes of the youngest indicated respect and admiration for the anonymous warriors honored, that they that raised their children, and between one work and another, still they studied. With a call for the march, the letter of the mãe de santo Beatriz Moreira da Costa, read during the meeting, silenced the public with criticism, especially at the reduction of legal age of criminal responsibility. “The color of our skin (and) our religion, are reasons for them to satiate their vile and perverse conduct. At this moment I say: we will not be silent, nor be afraid. The black women’s march is all for our delivery of power, and wanting to have free will,” said the letter.
The moment is of agglutination in order that the march will demand governments and lawmakers to ensure effective public policies to combat racism. “Rather than fill a bus for the march, we need to fill the house of these women and the future prospects for young people and work for men and women. Behind this, it all has the black family. In addition to being almost the majority of the population, we are the mother of another majority. You cannot separate them. The protagonism of this struggle has a face and that face is preta (black),” shouted Vera, who is also president of the Casa da Mulher Catarina (House of the Catarina).
Gender and color perspectives
The machismo upon these women has a greater impact than in the rest, especially in the commercialization of their lives and bodies. According to the 2014 Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), white women receive 74% of the average income of men – even when they have a higher level of education – but black women reach only 41%. “Women, don’t be ashamed of being cotistas (affirmative action students). We didn’t want quotas, but they are necessary in the absence of policies to remedy this social gap. However, we don’t want quotas for the rest of our lives, “said Vera.
Santa Catarina and racism
Antonieta de Barros and Cruz e Sousa, respectively political and poetic icons, stood out in a state of “brancos” (whites). With the lowest black population rate in the country, around 15%, Santa Catarina entitles itself Europa brasileira (Brazilian Europe). Still, it is among the three states with the largest black inmate rates of the population, according to the Mapa do Encarceramento: os Jovens do Brasil (Map of Incarceration: Brazil’s Youth), released in June by the General Secretariat of the Presidency. Blacks are also the majority of the victims of killings, of the favela (slum) inhabitants and have no representation in state and federal parliaments: Santa Catarina was the only state that didn’t elect blacks. “Strength and wealth only goes through blue eyes. Selling a vision of Europe, of the first world: an imaginary world,” criticizes the representative of AMNB.
Holocaust of young blacks
In the country with the largest black population outside of Africa, the myth of racial democracy fades when looking to the side: they continue to occupy subordinate spaces in the labor market, are not represented in the media, are decimated by the police and form the largest population of the country’s prisons, around 80%. “Racism continues to permit that this continues in the same line for years. Until when? It hasn’t changed its name, it’s racism. And they insist on saying it’s not. We are very short on what should be something balanced within a society. We are living the holocaust of black youth. We will march to draw the attention of governments for the deaths of these young people who are being caught like mullet in a net. We are against racism and for life,” says Vera.
Source: Enredo Conteúdo Criativo
1. In fact, in order not to interfere with November 20th celebrations, the Black Women’s March has been to moved to November 18th.