Note from BW of Brazil: The struggle of black Brazilian women to be simply recognized as black women, change the public perception as well as the social position of black women is one that affects this parcel of the population throughout the country. But while the struggle is the same, the principal voices and oragnizations of this struggle tend to be dominated by cities such as Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Belo Horizonte and Salvador. But with the power of internet, black women of other, lesser known regions of the country are making their voices heard as well. In past articles, we´ve presented the struggle of mulheres afro-brasileiras (Afro-Brazilian women) in states such as Ceará, Maranhão, Paraná, Rio Grande do Sul, Piauí, Santa Catarina as well as the Federal District. Today, we bring you a report about black women sharing their struggle from the southeastern state of Espírito Santo.
The black woman’s struggle
By Viviane Machado
Besides prejudice against women, black women confront existent sexism and racism in the state of Espírito Santo. According to the militant of the Movimento de Mulheres Negras (Black Women’s Movement) and the Coletivo Negrada (Negrada Collective), Mirt’s Sants, the majority of the cases of violence against women are against black women.
“In our state the majority who die are black women. Being by racism or sexism. We understand that it is the two. The black woman already lives in a periphery situation, possesses an education still with a discrepancy. Besides this, if white women received less than men, black women receive still less than white women,” she said
“We want black woman to be the protagonist in her life. We don’t stop speaking of the hardships, but it’s the empowerment that motivates us.” – Mirt’s Sant’s
The Movimento das Mulheres Negras do Espírito Santo (Black Women’s Movement of Espírito Santo) works for the goal of empowering. “We work with self-affirmation, identification and in fact even a support group, because, often times, there is no space of discussion focused on black women. We worked last year in roundtables and conversations,” she pointed out.
In spite of all the negative points that involve the treatment of women in the state, Mirt’s explains that the group prefers organize around positive and strong points. “We want the black woman to be the protagonist of her life. We don’t stop speaking of the hardships, but it’s empowerment that motivates us to continue the struggle,” she said.
On the group’s actions, the militant revealed that projects are developed periodically. “We developed a project last year on São Benedito hill. We did a roundtable with the women of the community in which we spoke on the question of the woman and her relation with her children,” she said.
Griots of Dance: strengthening of capixabas black women
Griots dance. With the initial idea of practicing Afro-Brazilian dance in the halls of the Museu Capixaba do Negro, veteran black women in the movement of black men and women of Vitória, Espírito Santo started a weekly meeting that quickly became one of the most active movements in the state capital.
by Ariane Celestino Meireles via Portal Geledés
The circle of Griôs begins with a nominal presentation, where each speaks of herself and “invites” to the circle absent women that were meaningful to their lives. This invitation is sometimes verbal, sometimes just mentalized. And there begins the power of women to reverberate across the dance room. Mothers, grandmothers, healers, artists, children, teachers and other women are invited. Those who did cafuné (ran their fingers) in their cabelos crespos (curly/kinky hair) when children. Those who offered a piece of bolo de fubá (cornmeal cake) when the smell pervaded the street. All entered the circle and begin the dance of Orixás, always initiated by a female voice, ranging from Clementina de Jesus to Clara Nunes, passing through other artists who lend their songs to the Griôs da Dança group, including local black artists. After an hour of dancing, the circle continues with the stories of inspiring black women for the life of all.
Dança afro (African dance) for women, which has transformed itself into the open group Griôs da Dança, had its beginning with women over 40 who wished to get together to have each other’s company, fortify themselves and work out through dance. The storytelling was the principle mark of the small dance group, which quickly grew when several young women and even children started to attend the meetings. And they only enriched what was already good.
In these meetings, many black women have revealed having recognized themselves as black (1) from the stories they heard, and came to respect the religious and cultural traditions of black populations from the dances of the Orixás. These women, with firm and rather strengthened voices, brought to the circles submitting their own stories of submission only revealed there. And they spoke of the coping strategies of experienced submissions. They also brought stories from other women who went on to do research from the stimuli received at the meetings. In this way, in the circle, the life stories of Nina Simone, Benedita da Silva, Carolina Maria de Jesus, Lélia Gonzáles and many other black women of the city, the country and the world were known.
The collective of Griôs da Dança, born in May 2014, continues to reveal inspiring stories of women who came to compose a part of the life of each. Thus, facing racism and other oppressions became their commitment and also with respect to other women who compose them. And they continue dancing, storytelling and changing lives. For the better.
Blessings to all Griôs with the desire for long life!
Ariane is a professor of Afro-Brazilian dance; has a Master’s degree in Social Policy; she is an activist of social movements of black men and women in the state of Espírito Santo.