In a ceremony in New York, 11 Brazilians are honored among 224 of the Most Influential People of African Descent in the World; award given to high achievers under 40, of African descent in public and private sectors in five categories
By Marques Travae
In this, the decade of African descendants (2015-2014), a number of African descendants have been making headlines for their representation, work and contributions to their communities in support of positive change in the struggle for the upliftment of black people on a global level. And Brazil has been consistently represented since MIPAD, the Most Influential People of African Descent awards, has been honoring the best under the age of 40.
MIPAD has compiled a list of about 200 people under the age of 40 in the categories of Politics and Governance, Business and Entrepreneurship, Media and Culture, Humanitarianism and Religion. A total of 200 people in all, half of which come from the African continent and the others coming from countries where African descendants call home.
The initiative came about as a means of constructing a worldwide network of talented individuals who will work together in reaching a number of objectives in striving to improve the global position of African descendants on a global level in the UN sponsored International Decade for the People of African Descent.
Last year, Brazil wasrepresented by the actor/actress couple Lázaro Ramos and Taís Araújo and entrepreneur, Adriana Barbosa. In the 2018, 11 Brazilians will be among those recognized. They include:
Nina Silva, a founder of D’Black Bank, a digital bank that connects black consumers with black entrepreneurs as well as a the Movimento Black Money, which encourages the opening of black businesses, appreciating one’s African roots and cultura negra (black culture) as a way to invest in the economy to encourage income within the community.
Lisiane Lemos, the founder of the NGO Rede de Profissionais Negros that bridges the gap between black professionals and businesses to promote diversity in the workplace, was chosen by Forbes Brasil magazine as one of the 91 most promising Brazilians under the age of 30.
Paulo Rogério Nunes, publicist and entrepreneur, co-founder of Instituto Mídia Étnica, and Portal Correio Nagô as well as the business startup accelerator for aspiring black entrepreneurs, Vale do Dendê. Nunes was also the only Brazilian to speak at the opening of the launch of Obama Foundation seminar, in Chicago in October of 2017.
Danilo Rosa de Lima holds a master’s degree in Public Policies of Education, is an activist with the well-known NGO Educafro that has helped thousands of black and poor Brazilians have access to a college education. Danilo is also part of the general coordination of the National Collective of Youth for Racial Equality (CONAJIR).
Djamila Ribeiro is a philosopher, feminist and academic. She is a researcher with a Master’s in Political Philosophy from the Federal University of São Paulo (Unifesp).
Rene Silva, founder and editor-in-chief of the communitarian newspaper Voz das Comunidades, of the Complexo do Alemão, in the northern region of Rio de Janeiro. Silva made a name for himself reporting on the Military Police occupation of the favelas in 2010.
Stephanie Ribeiro, architecture student and militant for black rights, she is one of the most active militants of black feminism on the internet and is a columnist for a number of Brazilian magazines.
Couple Érico Brás and Kenia Maria – Brás is an actor, an advisor to the UN Population Fund Brazil. His wife, Kenia, is also an actress, writer and defender of UN Women Brazil. The two are also known for their YouTube channel Tá bom pra você? (Is it good to you?) that debuted in 2013. The video skits are mock TV ads of fictional consumer products featuring the duo and their two children with the proposal of questioning the lack of black representation in TV commercials;
Leandro Roque de Oliveira, better known as Emicida – singer, composer, music producer and designer. His highly politicized rhymes have revolutionized Brazilian rap and he turned heads during São Paulo Fashion Week when he featured all black men and women modeling his fashion line;
Marcus Vinícius Moreira Marinho (Politics and Governance) – with training in journalism, he is a diplomat of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Speaking on his nomination, Marinho sees his achievement as being bigger than an individual accomplishment.
“I think the important statement is not for me, but to bring visibility to blacks who are doing important work in various areas such as business, the media and, in my case, public service and diplomacy. Black men and women, as far as I know, are less than 5% of Brazil’s diplomats. But we exist and do a good job. We want to be more numerous,” he said.
For the diplomat, the MIPAD honor is important as it shows that such accomplishments are achievable for others and can be that inspirational moment for other black people to battle and achieve their place in the sun.
“We are proof of this. MIPAD is helping to bring this visibility to the forefront not only in Brazil, but in other places where the African diaspora is and in Africa itself. That’s why I think it’s a project of great relevance. This is not to mention the networks of contacts that will be established between the honorees of several years and the places from where they come and where they act.”
The 2018 MIPAD event was held in New York between September 28 and October 3. The 2017 MIPAD honored three Brazilians, actor husband and wife duo Lázaro Ramos and Taís Araújo and founder of Feira Preta (Black Expo), Adriana Barbosa. A few of the other honorees at the 2018 edition include Senegal’s Eloine Barry, CEO of African Media Agency, Nigerian actress Omotola Ekeinde, supermodel Mariah Idrissi of Morocco, American rapper Kendrick Lamar and the cast and directors of the film Black Panther.