Note from BW of Brazil: Racism in Brazil is cruel and perhaps the group most affected by this treatment are children of visible of African ancestry. I say this after years of covering some of the heartless things children say to black children and the manners in which black children are shown they are “different” and don’t deserve a social spot among the “good people”. Sometimes it’s rather shocking to read about incidents that show that children at such young ages already know who Brazil’s “outcasts” are and treat them as such. As we know that children aren’t born racist, I surmise that for children as young as 4, 5 and 6 to say and do such vicious things, they must spend time in their intimate circles where older people express or demonstrate the way black people are to be treated by society. And this sort of treatment can be traced back all to Brazil’s near five century experiment with human bondage in which descendants of Africans were treated as simple property in which the owners and their families treated them in any manner that they saw fit. Psychologically, what sort of damage does this do to a group that has experienced this from generation to generation and continuously passed on this pain to their offspring? For this reason, Brazil’s school system must address the existence of racism in the country as a whole and particularly among students. If not, the vicious cycle of low self-esteem and sense of inferiority will forever haunt the black Brazilian population as children take these unresolved feelings into adulthood. But you know, after seeing this for so long, I truly believe that that is exactly how Brazil’s elites want to keep it.
“At school, black boys are the ones that people most want to beat up”
When it comes to racism, omission, neglect and silence can no longer be part of the day to day of our schools
By Luana Tolentino
For ten years I have been dedicating part of my life to elementary and middle school students. From the outset, the implementation of an anti-racist education, which respects and values the ethnic-racial diversity that exists in the country, permeates my pedagogical practices.
In this course, the pedagogies elaborated by the Black Social Movement, as well as the thought of Afro-descendant intellectuals, such as Bell Hooks, Sueli Carneiro, Nilma Lino Gomes, Petronilha Beatriz Gonçalves e Silva, Kabengele Munanga and many others have been fundamental for proposing methodologies that contribute to the construction of a democratic, inclusive and citizen school.
In accordance with Law 10.639/03, which made the teaching of African and Afro-Brazilian History and Culture in the classroom compulsory, I understand that knowing the trajectories of black subjects and their contributions to the formation of Brazil is a right which must be guaranteed, above all, to girls, boys, young people and adults of African descent whose history has been systematically omitted, silenced and stereotyped.
Starting from this premise, in 2016, I elaborated a series of activities that had as purpose to present to 6th grade students a new perspectives on the comunidade negra (black community), as well as to discuss the persistence of racism and its reflexes, including in the classroom. To better understand this question, I asked the students to answer a questionnaire. I inquired whether in our school it was possible to observe a differentiated treatment between white and black students.
Two years later, I still remember the words of Leonardo*, who at the time was 11 years old: “At school, black boys are the ones that people most want to beat up. Black students are the most humiliated. Racism is a very bad thing. I think the person sometimes doesn’t show it, but she feels really bad when someone treats her differently just because she’s black.” Leonardo*, 11 years old.
The attentive look of my student reveals that, despite the advances, it is undeniable, the efforts and the commitment of educators, managers and public policies of racial equity implemented in the field of education, mainly in the years of 2003 to 2016, have not yet been sufficient to remove racism and discrimination present in the school context.
The observation made by Leonardo* corroborates with the data presented in the research undertaken recently by Rodrigo Ednilson de Jesus. When listening to more than 200 young people between the ages of 15 and 17, the Department of Education of the Federal University of Minas Gerais (FaE/UFMG) student concluded that the violence to which black bodies are subjected every day acts as “efficient mechanisms of promotion of the school failure of young blacks, directly interfering in school longevity and, indirectly, in the occupational reach of these individuals.”
According to the researcher, discriminatory practices have been one of the main barriers faced by young Afro-Brazilians in the fight for the right to education. According to Rodrigo Ednilson, the various forms of prejudice motivated by skin color directly affect the success and permanence of black students in school. The highest rates of repeating and avoidance are precisely in this group.
In this way, it is up to us educators, in partnership with the school community, with the public power and other members of society, to undertake actions imbued in the combat of the discriminatory attitudes that inferiorize and disqualify the sons and daughters of the African diaspora. Day and night, we need to investigate the discourses and pedagogical practices adopted by us.
After the frustration, there is resistance and resilience, says teacher victim of racism
What theoretical bases do we favor in the curriculums? Do we practice an extremely Eurocentric education, or do we consider equitably the knowledge produced by Africans and their descendants? Do we question the narratives in the textbooks? How do we relate to non-white students? What is the position adopted by our school in cases of racial discrimination? Are we aware of educational legislation regarding antiracist education?
Answering these questions is essential if we are to understand how our teaching has contributed to children, young people and preto (black) and pardo (brown) adults having a school trajectory marked by violence, pain and failure. When it comes to racism, omission, neglect and silence can no longer be part of the day to day of our schools. According to a very old saying: whoever is silent, consents.
Luana Tolentino is a teacher in Education at UFOP. For 10 years she has been a history teacher in public schools in the outskirts of Belo Horizonte and in the metropolitan area of the city. Her pedagogical practices assume that it is necessary to build an anti-racist, feminist and inclusive education committed to respect, justice and equality.
* Name changed to protect the boy’s identity
Source: Carta Educação