Note from BW of Brazil: The election of far right extremist President Jair Bolsonaro has ushered in a new era of challenges for black Brazilians. In some ways, considering the inflammatory rhetoric that this man became famous for in the years before the announcement of his candidacy, it was difficult to believe that Brazilians would actually support some a man. But then, on the other hand, when we consider the views of a large parcel of Brazil’s middle and upper classes towards the black and poor, it makes total sense that such a figure could be elected.
Sociologist Jesse Souza has written extensively about Brazil’s middle classes and elites and his writings and views help us to understand the Brazil from which Bolsonaro emerged. Explaining the Bolsonaro phenomenon and Brazil’s class structure in Paris, Souza explained it this way:
“Bolsonaro is the representative of what we might call white trash. It is an expression of the United States to designate the white that had less money, less education, socially inferior to the white American of the North and that only has the color of the skin as an advantage. Because of this, he is the biggest racist in the US. He hates the black man. In white families in the countryside of São Paulo, the biggest crime you can commit in the eyes of your family is marrying a black man. Bolsonaro comes from this environment. Bolsonaro’s policy is to give weapons to the militia to kill poor and black people. He has no public policy except the holocaust of the poor and black. He speaks to the little white man who earns between two and six minimum wages. It is the poor remedied. Bolsonaro is the revenge of this poor white trash on the black and the poor who improved in life. This low fascist middle class has existed in Brazil for one hundred years. The Brazilian fascist movement, integralism, had 500 thousand registered, is the same scoundrel that supports Bolsonaro.”
Integralism was a fascist and nationalist movement that arose in Brazil in 1932 bearing some similiarities of some European mass movements of the time, especially Italian fascism. It is against this backdrop that a galvanizing figure such as Bolsonaro, representing this segment of Brazil that despises seeing black and poor people occupying areas of society in which they “don’t belong”. In numerous previous articles, I’ve discussed this idea and presented examples of this idea of “race and place” that perfectly captures the views of this middle class. But in typical Brazilian fashion that denies the existence and belief in racist ideologies, people like Bolsonaro cannot openly express allegiance to such ideals, even though his rhetoric represents a sort of ‘dog whistle’ that his followers clearly pick up on. Which perfectly explains the Bolsonaro Administration’s choice of an anti-black black man to head up one of the black population’s most important entities, the Fundação Cultural Palmares or Palmares Cultural Foundation.
The recent nomination of Sérgio Nascimento de Camargo to head up the foundation has led to an enormous uproar in Brazil’s black community. Due to a series of controversial posts in which Camargo insulted a number of important Afro-Brazilian public figures, called for the end of black social movements and proclaimed slavery a good thing, black Brazilians created an online petition calling for the ouster of Camargo that, as of this morning, had garnered over 66,000 signatures. The reaction clearly shows that a a segment of black Brazil understands this move as yet another blatant attack on black Brazilian interests.
The attack on the Palmares Cultural Foundation hurts all black Brazilians
Courtesy of Alma Preta
Zumbi, along with Dandara and other names, was central to the continuity of the Quilombo dos Palmares and black resistance during the slavery regime. The attack on Zumbi is a blow to the history of struggle of the black Brazilian movement.
The policy adopted by the government of Jair Bolsonaro aims to end any possibility of social rights acquired in the country. Cuts in social security, in the provision of a minimum wage for Brazilian workers, reduction in the weight of the Ministry of Culture, among other measures.
Now the target appears to be the Fundação Cultural Palmares (Palmares Cultural Foundation), which was given a new direction, and should regress in policies aimed at the black community.
Created in 1988, the Foundation was born under the Ministry of Culture. Extinguished in the Bolsonaro government, the entity became part of the Ministry of Citizenship. In general, the organization’s purpose is to promote and preserve Afro-Brazilian culture. Concerned with racial equality and the appreciation of the manifestations of African matrix, it is the Foundation’s role to formulate and implement public policies that enhance the participation of the black Brazilian population in development processes.
The Foundation is also the first mechanism for the recognition of any quilombola territory in the country. In order to be titled and recognized, it is necessary that the agency first certify the existence of a quilombola community. Under the new management, the expectation for this social segment is not the best.
In 2011, the agency signed an important partnership with the Ministry of Education for the creation of actions and public policies in favor of Afro-Brazilian culture and the promotion of religious diversity. One of the objectives was to overcome educational inequality between blacks and non-blacks, in addition to the implementation of Law 10.639/2003, which provides for the mandatory study of black history and culture in educational networks.
The new direction also perpetuates a historical attack on the figure of Zumbi dos Palmares, the most popular black national hero.
It is raining on what’s already wet, but the moment in which we live many times demands affirming the obvious. Zumbi, along with Dandara and other names, was a central element for the continuity of the Quilombo dos Palmares and the black resistance during the slavery regime. The attack on Zumbi is a blow to the history of struggle of the black Brazilian movement.
The anti-racist struggle in the country played a central role in the end of slavery, the inclusion of blacks in the labor market, the possibility of voting for this group and so many other achievements. The most recent is the quota policy, which aims at the end of a white supremacy in Brazilian universities, whiter than higher education institutions in Europe.
It is obvious that blacks, like whites, have every right to position itself to the right, left or center. Blacks, also in the political sphere, must have the right to mediocrity. What is not up to the black subject is the non-recognition of the importance of Zumbi, Dandara and other central figures of the anti-racist struggle in the country. The reason is simple. Without them, we would either be in the condition of slaves, without the right to vote, or even dead.
In view of the statements made by the current representative of the Palmares Cultural Foundation, the use of the right wing in the politics of identities is also noteworthy. There are people who deny discourses in which they are completely tied up in. Let me explain. Hélio “Bolsonaro”, Fernando Holiday, Sérgio de Camargo are central figures in the fight against the black movement, who refute the political construction of this sector, but who have no other possibility of formulation than that in the racial field.
It is impossible to imagine any of these figures occupying a central place in the moment of discussion of macro politics. In this field, a black person will never have the space to define the directions of the economy, tourism, health, education. Blacks have to talk about racial issues, even if it is to deny that which is increasingly obvious, the centrality of racism in the country.
The black social movement continues to guide the centrality of racism in our society and the importance of this populational segment to participate in the political life of the country, in all daily spheres.
Representatives of the black movement occupy headquarters of the Palmares Cultural Foundation
Group of demonstrators is against the inauguration of the new president of the Afro-Brazilian culture promotion agency; the new manager made a series of publications on social networks relativizing themes such as slavery and racism in the country.
Representatives of the Movimento Negro (black movement) occupied the headquarters of the Palmares Cultural Foundation, in Brasília, on Friday (29). The group of approximately 30 people protested against the inauguration of the new president of the agency for the promotion of Afro-Brazilian culture, Sérgio Nascimento de Camargo.
Security guards tried to prevent access to the demonstrators, but peacefully they went to the seventh floor of the building, where the office of the new president of the Foundation is located.
The protest refers to a series of publications made by Camargo on social networks, in which the new president reduces the actions of the black movement, slavery and the consequences of racism in the country.
In one of the publications, before being appointed to office on Wednesday (27), Camargo said he “is ashamed and disgusted by the black militant. Sometimes pity. They think they are revolutionaries, but they are nothing more than slaves of the left”.
The new president of the organ is also against the Day of Black Consciousness, a date that refers to the death of leader Zumbi dos Palmares. According to him, “the holiday must be abolished nationally by presidential decree.
Also on Friday (29), the black movement filed with the Federal Public Ministry (MPF) a request for annulment of the appointment of Camargo. The document received 62 signatures from various entities and congressmen from opposition parties to the government.