After students lament the absence of Afro-Brazilians in school curriculum, cultural center initiates "Ethnic-Racial Relations" course

Mariana Martha de Cequeira Silva, educational coordinator of the Quilombinho Cultural Center
Mariana Martha de Cequeira Silva, educational coordinator of the Quilombinho Cultural Center

Whenever teachers mention the participation of blacks in Brazilian history and culture, Luana Manoel Borges Garcia, 11, a 5th grade student, feels uncomfortable. “My professors mention me when discussing slavery or the few successful blacks in history. I don’t feel good about the rarity or in relation to the grief and sadness suffered by black people”, she says. It was in thinking of changing this reality that transcends time that led to the creation of Federal Law 11.645 – which since 2003 implemented the inclusion of African and indigenous history and culture in the educational curriculum – that the Quilombinho Cultural Center conceived and initiated the 1st “Ethnic-Racial Relations” course.

Luana Manoel Borges Garcia, 11

The free course, consisting of 60 hours divided into seven Saturday classes, started a few weeks ago and has a partnership with the Department of Education of Sorocaba (state of São Paulo), through the participation of 60 teachers from the municipal school network. “We have a law that requires public schools to insert Afro-Brazilian and African history in school curricula. Subjects should be approached in disciplines such as Artistic Education, Literature and History of Brazil. However, the law is not enforced. There are no guidelines or penalties. But given the explicit need, we chose to do our part”, explains Mariana Martha de Cequeira Silva, educational coordinator of the Quilombinho Cultural Center and responsible for organizing the course.

She assumes that there is no specific research on the amount of black and brown people enrolled in Sorocaba schools. But she highlights the sensory perception developed in the entity. “We know that in Brazil the majority is black and brown, but they are a minority in Sorocaba. We also know that there are few black students in private schools and that number grows in public (schools), although whites prevail here. Yet, when we look at the crime data and/or derogatory, like minors apprehended, murdered people, blacks and browns are the majority”, she observes. The educational coordinator is right. According to the 2010 Census, for the first time the Brazilian population is no longer predominantly white.

In the data of that year, the latest research released by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatísticas or IBGE), people who declared themselves white amounted to 47%, while the rest of the population was above 50%. According to the data, the black population is 7%, but the brown totals 43%, while the indigenous adds 1% and 2% yellow. Sorocaba, which totals 586,000 inhabitants, does not have detailed data from the 2010 census, but the graphics accompany the evolution of the state, which is also similar to the national. But besides the data, it was comments like those of 10-year old Rafael de Araújo Costa, a 4th grade student, which justifies the idealization of the course, said Mariana.

Rafael de Araújo Costa, 10

Rafael, who declares himself white, also feels embarrassed when it comes to Afro-Brazilian history. It bothers him up due to empathy for his black friends. “I do not see any difference between blacks and whites. But when the teacher starts talking about slavery, I don’t like it much”, he says. According to Mariana, these feelings described by the students have been shared by many others for some time. “When I studied in the 1980s and 1990s, it was already like that. It’s necessary to change the way the Brazilian relates to the vast influence of African and black history and culture”, said Mariana, who graduated in the area Pedagogy from the University of São Paulo (USP).

For her, the goal is not to forget slavery, but learn to speak of many things blacks constructed and the importance of manual labor in colonial Brazil. “We need to highlight the importance of this influence in cooking. We must mention the dancing and drumming of profane origins and exalt its root there in Africa, their meanings. The important thing is to stop the black or brown student from feeling like they are at the margins of history and feel themselves integrated with it. Valued”, argues the coordinator. She continues, “And sometimes teachers don’t do this because they don’t know how”. Because of this, the course organized by Quilombinho intends to teach African history and how to insert it in the classroom.

Besides the change in the form of discussing history, elevating Afro-Brazilian culture through recreational events, how to use hip hop, should also help. “This is the path of equality”, argues Mariana. For this reason, teachers, doctors and researchers of African culture and members of Quilombinho will develop in the coming Saturdays the themes: Federal Law 11.645; racism, African history, the black presence in Brazil and in Sorocaba, school, curriculum and Africanities, and the everyday Afro-Brazilian. The first course, programmed by the entity, had only 60 spaces available.

Maiara Fernanda de Souza Cruz, 18

But the monitor of Quilombinho, Maiara Fernanda de Souza Cruz, 18, is one of the people taking the course. Besides having experienced a pejorative approach to African history in the classroom, she wants to learn to appreciate the Afro-Brazilian memory. “We’re so used to white predominance that we don’t even realize that there is another way to see our origins and importance”, she argues. According to coordination, there is an opening project of the 2nd course of “Racial-Ethnic Relations”, but there is no partner in place to fund it. Information is available in the organization’s offices, at Caramuru, 203, Vila Leão. Phone (15) 3018.8090 or e-mail at

Source: Cruzeiro do Sul

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About Marques Travae 2895 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

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