Alline Parreira, 27-year old Brazilian immigrant in NY, gives lecture to professors at CUNY university on her life as a survivor; Brazilians in US Facebook page greet her with racist comments
Note from BW of Brazil: Yet another fascinating story of a young, black Brazilian woman’s survival techniques and success story in the United States. After only reading this report on her experiences in the Brazil and the US and I am already interested in reading the book she plans to author. Reading her life story thus far is the stuff that becomes the story lines of movies. Well, maybe not yet. After all, people are accustomed to reading rags to riches stories and Alline’s story is still in progress. But even as her story still doesn’t have the sort of Pursuit of Happiness ending that people come to expect from Hollywood productions, her survival and living to tell her story at an American university is still quite inspiring.
What’s truly a shame is how Brazilians chose to react to her, coming at her with the typical sort of racist venom that I’ve documented here for the past six plus years. Just another example for you to remember the next you meet a Brazilian who tells, “we Brazilians aren’t racists/don’t have racial problems.” Congrats Alline! Your story once again shows us the disservice Brazil does when it doesn’t invest more in the development of the black population.
Mineira with history of overcoming will give lecture in New York
With an internet broadcast, the young woman from the north of Minas Gerais will speak at the City University of New York to tell her life story and how she became a specialist in overcoming difficulties
By Luiz Ribeiro
“I was fighting for my survival. I had to choose between studying or surviving. I preferred surviving.”
On Friday, professors at the City University of New York (Cuny), in the United States, instead of watching the games of the World Cup from Russia – a competition in which the US National Team is not participating, will turn their attention to a Brazilian who left the north of Minas Gerais to become an international example of overcoming. The speaker does not have an academic degree, but she is a doctor in the art of “going to battle” and breaking barriers. Born in Manga, on the margins of the São Francisco River, in the north of Minas, Alline Parreira, 27, will tell her story of struggle to the teachers of the American institution.
Black and poor, Mineira (native of Minas Gerais) passed through two adoptive families. Early on, she learned to fight against racism and prejudice, as well as overcoming obstacles in life. She says that in order to survive, she has already collected tin cans, sold cigarettes and candles at a cemetery door, and finally went on a gari (street sweeper) test, which ended up being canceled. At the age of 18, she left hot Manga and lived in Brasília (DF) and in other Brazilian cities. She has also had an experience in Africa.
Two years ago, she decided to move to New York, where she works as a janitor. This Friday, she will talk about her trajectory for the members of the academy, in a lecture/documentary that will be broadcast on the internet at 7:00 p.m. (Brasília time). The event is an initiative of Coletivo Brado NYC, a group that defines itself as a “committee of resistance against democratic overthrow.”
The difficulties, Alline affirmed she faced her as a child. “From very early on I was exchanging food with the people of Manga. At the age of 8, I sold candles at the door of the city’s cemetery,” recalled the emigrant, in an interview with Estado de Minas. Still in her hometown, she reveals that she came to collect cans to survive.
When she reached the age of adulthood, she says, he entered a public test for garis (street sweepers) at the City Hall of Juvenília (80 kilometers from her hometown, also in the north of Minas). She was approved in first place, but on the day of being placed she learned that the contest had been challenged in court.
At that moment, she decided to leave the region to try her luck in Brasilia, where she worked as a faxineira (cleaning lady), nanny and also as general services assistant in a Military Police (PM) barracks, after approval in a selective process. Later, she moved to Paraty, on the southern coast of Rio de Janeiro state, where she worked as a waitress, and continued to face harshness. “During the day, I sold candy. After work, when the bar closed, I would sell cigarettes,” she says.
EXPANDING THE HORIZON In 2014, she won a scholarship in a Brazilian government exchange program and spent a period in Mozambique, Africa, where she collaborated with a literacy project of 100 children. “(The experience) changed my course and broadened my horizons, with the practical knowledge of a black woman traveling alone,” he describes.
Although he does not have a college degree, this does not mean that he has never had contact with universities. Alline says that she passed the vestibulares (college entrance exams) at two renowned Brazilian universities. The first was Brasília (Unb), where she was approved by the quota system for the agribusiness management course but ended up not being interested and did not enroll.
Later, she was approved for the degree course in geography of the University of the State of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ). “I just attended one day of school,” she recalls. But in that case, Alline was fully interested in taking the course. The reason for the quitting was his own condition of life. “I was fighting for my survival. I had to choose between studying or surviving. I preferred to survive,” she emphasized.
The mineira emigrant Alline Pereira explains that she works as a cleaning lady in New York, in the United States, by choice: “It was a choice I made for this moment. The cleaning service here is much more valued. Cleaner earns as much as a doctor,” she said. “I wake up at 7am, get on the train, come home at 5pm. I am willing to read, write and live a social life. In Brazil, the cleaners wake up at 5 am to go to work, take buses and arrive home at 7 pm. They arrive tired and their salary is very far from the salary of a doctor”, she compares. “Doing cleaning is an intellectuality. When I enter a house, there is a whole order and sequence to perform the service. Here it is not equal to the regime of Brazil, which is still a slave-o-crat. Here, a cleaning lady earns the same salary as the middle class,” she reiterates.
The difficulties throughout her life have not prevented her from being a cultured woman and adept at reading. “Life was my university: I, without a university degree, with anything, got all this information. I learn and research a lot. My identity building is based on what I learned from the academic writers Angela Davis and Frantz Fanon,” she recalls. “With Angela Davis in Women, Race, and Class (released as Mulheres, raça e classe in Brazil), I identified that throughout this process of constructing my identity, gender, race, and class, they have always walked together. I’m a poor black woman. With Frantz Fanon, in the book Black Skins, White Masks (released as Peles negras, máscaras brancas in Brazil), in a very radical way, I decolonized myself, totally modified my being, I freed myself,” reports Alline, who also plans to release a book about her life experience.
She says she intends, during the Cuny talk, to focus her struggle as an activist against prejudice in defense of women’s rights. “I will emphasize my activism, in the broad sense, how I dealt with interconnected systems of oppression, what instruments I used (including ideas, concepts, and theories), with whom I articulated and struggled with myself. What people, communities, institutions have given me – or denied – opportunities and how my struggle integrated or integrate with other struggles for social transformation. And, perhaps more important, to show how I learned to “ler o mundo” (read the world), as Paulo Freire (Brazilian educator) said.
Note from BW of Brazil: One would think that a fellow Brazilian giving a lecture at a prestigious university in New York in the United States would be greeted with pride, applause and support by her countrymen. But that’s not the welcome that Alline received from a social network page of Brazilians living in New York. Alline has done pretty well for herself, leaving Brazil, surviving in one of the world’s most important cities and her story leading to an invitation to speak at a well-known college. What could be a possible explanation for the hate she received from her countrymen? Hmm…I wonder.
Alline Parreira, the young black Brazilian activist who gave a lecture to doctors of CUNY University in New York last Friday, has been the target of racism in comments on social networks.
The space that Alline Parreira has been occupying (…) seems to be bothering some Brazilians living in the United States, who distilled racist comments in the posting of the divulging of her lecture on the Facebook group “Brasileiros em New York (NY)” (Brazilians in New York (NY))”.
“Go sweep the floor and raise the lice in that basket that she has on the head,” wrote an internet user, who was accompanied by other comments as offensive or racist. “Donkey-faced,” another one posted. Most of the racist comments were linked to the appearance or style of the cabelo black power (afro) that the young woman uses.
On the Revista Fórum website, Alline countered the insults and reaffirmed her identity as a black woman: “I am clear that the main tool for overcoming racism is empowerment, which comes from resistência negra (black resistance), recognition of its histories, memories, roots and identity. My hair is not a basket, it is my identity, my ancestry, it grows upward because it has roots and it will grow wherever it wants,” she said.
“One of the reasons that makes racism possible is the ignorance of the other’s history. It is the lack of knowledge of African history that helps prejudice to spread hate,” Alline added.
She also revealed that the attacks were not limited to her, but also to the social programs of the Lula and Dilma governments. Alline considered, however, that the racist comments generated a backlash, with countless people sending messages of support. On her Facebook page, she issued a repudiation note.
“Racism is a cause of violence, exclusion, discrimination, and the extermínio da juventude negra (extermination of black youth). Black women suffer doubly the prejudice that causes hatred of the bourgeoisie against those who occupy positions of activist, as is my case,” she wrote.