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Note from BW of Brazil: Continuing with our exposure of Afro-Brazilian women who shine and are making positive contributions to society, today we bring the story of a young woman who didn’t allow stereotypes and negativity about black women impede her from making a name for herself and helping others along the way. Besides being recognized in the two pieces below, one by our friends over at Correio Nagô and Época magazine, she also recently received another honor from a respected women’s magazine. See the story below.
Young ad black, baianas are highlighted as women of success
Courtesy of Correio Nagô
Monique Evelle, 20, is one of the “30 women under 30 with a promising future,” according to M de Mulher magazine. The coordinator of Social Desabafo, told the website Correio Nagô that she was surprised when she saw his name on the list released by the journal Editora Abril. “I was happy, but scared because now it means more responsibility and more work. Some people said Desabafo would not work, but I believed it and we have results,” she says.
In the group of women selected by M de Mulher, the majority are white women; less than 25% can be considered black. Related to the racial issue, Evelle says she received a comment on her personal profile from the Facebook social network, after content about “30 women” was also divulged by Capricho magazine (1). “Black women in Capricho magazine that speak of feminism, racism and human rights? I thought this day would never come, it was overdue,” said internet user Raony Almeida Ribeiro.
Monique says that the number of black women in certain environments is still low. “There are few black women in visible space, but when get a return for what I do, I, as a black woman, think: I can, I do and I will continue doing,” she says.
It’s not the first time Monique Evellesaw says her name being reflected in society. Last year, the baiana (Bahian woman) was cited by Blogueiras Negras as one of the 25 most influential black women on the internet. Beside women fighting in favor of rights and discussing the promotion of racial equality, like Jurema Werneck and Leila Negalaise NZ, the young woman says these repercussions on the internet help people know more about the Social Desabafo project and give more credibility to the institution’s actions. Monique believes Social Desabafo, which began as an initiative within the student body, at Thales de Azevedo High School, receives investments and support. She says that the organization’s meetings are held in her home or on the streets. “Hopefully we can get a room for our training,” she says.
“At school, they said that I must be good in bed because of being black”
The student Monique Evelle suffered prejudice as a woman and black. Now, she helps transgressing girls to recover
By Graziele Oliveira
A black princess, free cabelos crespos (kinky/curly hair) and that always won in the end – which didn’t necessarily mean marrying the prince. That was the main character of the stories Monique Evelle heard from her mother when she was a child. Her mother transformed traditional stories of princesses to comfort her daughter, who came home upset. “I always had a lot of nicknames on the street and at school because of my cabelo crespo. My mother used the princesses to give me power to react to the prejudice I suffered on the street because of my hair,” says the 21 year old founder of the Desabafo Social network that works with social education and training, especially of young blacks, in 22 states.
Monique lives in Nordeste de Amaralina neighborhood on the outskirts of Salvador, Bahia. Daughter of domestic mother and a retired building security father, good grades in school gave her the opportunity to study in the best schools of the city, always on a scholarship. “I studied in several white places, and every time I tried to put out my problems as a black woman from the periphery it was impossible to make them understand,” she says. In the corridors of the music school at age 14, she heard that, because of being black, she must be “good in bed”.(2)
At 12 years old when she was walking along the shore of the Amaralina beach with her mother, a man shouted “gostosa” (hot) at the girl. “I froze and my mother came running up to defend me by saying that I was a child and that it was absurd. After that my mother said I would still receive much praise in my life – some nice, and many like that – and I needed to react, that I could not keep quiet because it was wrong,” she says. Monique remembers seeing her mother being a victim of this type of harassment through the streets of Salvador. “When stalkers saw that my father was with her, they apologized to him. She was angry and would demand that the offender’s apologies were addressed to her,” she says.
The harassment continued into adulthood. In the 2013 Carnival in Salvador, Monique was going down a street when she was grabbed by a man. “He cornered me in a car trying to force a kiss on me. He said that if I was not available I would not be there,” says Monique. Several minutes passed as she tried to free herself from her abuser until a friend, like a miracle, appeared. “The guy even apologized to my friend, believing that he was my boyfriend,” she says.
A year later, in 2014, when she was studying in the first semester of politics and culture management in the Federal University of Bahia, she suffered another assault. “I took a bus and sat next to a tall white man. He put his hand on my thigh and began caressing me. I got up and slapped his face screaming,” said Monique. To screams of “Are you crazy?” And “You should be arrested!” The man got up to leave, but Monique, at the height of her 1.64m (5’4”) blocked the passage of cowering big guy. Everyone on the bus was on him shouting “abuser” and “rapist”. “When they started to move to lynch the man, I got in front for him to get away,” says Monique. The attacker escaped unpunished, and Monique stood there with that aggression to cope alone.
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