Note from BW of Brazil: Yesterday, protesters all over Brazil stopped traffic, marched with banners, screamed and sang in unison against a perceived policy of genocide against the black population. The chilling statistics of murder coming out of Brazil don’t lie and for many, it’s time that Brazilian authorities took the question of black murder more seriously. With the United States in conflict due to a number of police murders of unarmed black men in the past month, and the media consistently reporting (in a very one-sided manner) on the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestinians, it’s time the world also learned of Brazil’s atrocious record against its black population. Slavery ended in Brazil 126 years ago, but it’s time the country stopped criminalizing the ancestors of those Africans. Let the struggle continue!
March alerts of the genocide of black people
Recent data show that, in Brazil, the number of murders of young whites fell 32.3%, while that of young blacks increased 32.4%
By Maíra Streit
About 300 people gathered on Friday afternoon (22) at Zumbi dos Palmares square in Brasilia for the 2ª Marcha Internacional Contra o Genocídio do Povo Negro (2nd International March Against the Genocide of Black People). The event emerged in Bahia through the campaign initiative “Reaja ou será morto (a)” (React or be killed) and spread over 18 Brazilian states and 15 countries in all. Among the issues adopted during the protest, are the struggle against police violence, religious tolerance and appreciation of black women in the society.
To the sound of drummers and slogans, the protesters marched with banners and crosses in their hands, symbolizing a request for the end of violence. The student Mariana Barreto, who is a part of the Fórum de Juventude Negra do DF (Black Youth Forum of the Federal District) and led the march, says the idea is to draw attention to some issues discussed by the population. “The black mortality rate is very high and a good part of it comes from the Military Police. When a young man dies, a whole family dies behind him,” she says.
Besides the capital, cities like São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Curitiba, Porto Alegre, Manaus and Vitória were also locations for the March in an attempt to alert the authorities for the need for specific policies to combat racial inequality.
The Mapa da Violência (Map of Violence) study, conducted by the Brazilian Center for Latin American Studies, shows that proportionately 146.5% more blacks died than whites in Brazil, in 2012 and between 2002 and 2012, the number of youth homicides fell 32% for young white while that of young blacks increased 32.4%.
The voices of the March
Alex Ulhoa, 24, Physical Education teacher: “The oppression of blacks begins at childhood. In stores, for example, we do only see blonde dolls. I defend racial quotas, which many don’t understand because of a lack of clarification. Brazil has an eternal debt to blacks. We are still the majority in mortality statistics in the country.”
Marisandra Layla, 31, Social educator and member of the Fórum Nacional da Juventude Negra: “We are here to say that, in spite of everything, we, black women, are still alive! We are made invisible from a job interview to our relationships. The darker, the more crespo (kinky/curly) your hair is, the more society makes you invisible.”
José Antonio Ventura, 62, Coordinator of the Frente Nacional Quilombola (Quilombo National Front): “I was born and raised in a quilombo in the Alto Paraíba region, in Minas Gerais. I came because we need to awaken in the authorities new policies to protect black people. We need to fight together for the right to education, quality healthcare, in addition to the appreciation and preservation of our culture.”
Mãe Baiana, 53, President of the Ile Axé Oyá Bagan terreiro: “Our fight is the fight against intolerance and prejudice. Do they think that we’re still slaves? Because we take lashes every day. And when we come together, we say: ‘Here is our strength’. We want to have the right to raise our healthy young people without seeing them killed or arrested in the police paddy wagon.”
Genocide: In Brazil, 153.9% more young blacks die than whites
The debate on the issue of the high number of homicides, especially among young blacks in Brazil can no longer be postponed. It is unacceptable that torture and summary executions continue being part of security policies legitimized by most state governments, often with the leniency of the federal government, whether in the executive, legislative or judicial.
The idea that we are a peaceful and calm people has hidden data that contradict that kind of statement in a decisive way. According to the “Mapa da Violência 2013: Homicídio e Juventude no Brasil (Map of Violence 2013: Murder and Youth in Brazil), recently published by the Centro de Estudos Latino-Americanos (Cebela or Center for Latin American Studies), with data from Subsistema de Informação sobre Mortalidade (SIM or Sub-system of Information on Mortality, the Ministério da Saúde (Ministry of Health) show that between 1980 and 2011, unnatural and violent deaths of young people – such as accidents, homicide or suicide – grew 207.9%.
If only homicides were considered, the increase reaches 326.1%. Of the total of 46,920 deaths in the age group 14-25 in 2011, 63.4% were of violent causes (traffic accidents, homicides or suicides). In the 1980s, the percentage was 30.2%. From 1979-2009, the SIM estimates that there have been about a million murders in Brazil. Another alarming data: For every three homicides that occur in the country, two are negros (pretos/ blacks + pardos/browns) (youth and adults). If we take into account only the youth, the likelihood of a young black man being a victim of homicide is 3.7 times higher compared to whites.
Since 2002, with differences between the Federal Units of Brazil, the trend shown is that there is a drop in the absolute number of homicides in the white population and an increase in the black population, according to the Map of Violence. In 2002, the victimization of young blacks was 71.7%. In 2010 the index reached 153.9% (i.e., proportionately 153.9% more young blacks die that young whites).
The black population remains the preferred target of state violence
The data presented above suggest a serious situation. If we take into account in absolute numbers, homicides against young blacks in Brazil could be considered a humanitarian issue. We are living in a silent genocide, a racist war against the poor in a country that insists in saying that racism doesn’t exist. Clearly this does not match the numbers and research, generally, in the sociological field of violence. We need to ask ourselves if we are not, in practice, experiencing an undeclared civil war, a veiled racial genocide. Besides the murders, this perverse and selective system of social control has also expressed itself in very high rates of incarceration of black people in the country, which continues to grow, even when crimes committed suggest that a significant number of them should not be in a closed prison regime.
The fight against crime cannot be conducted successfully without going through major changes in the socioeconomic structure of society. It is urgently necessary that we leave the repressive and punitive models and move on to the construction of more humane and inclusive policies. The demilitarization of the police makes itself in this context, one of the main agendas of the public debate and the upcoming elections. The genocide of the poor, blacks and Indians in Brazil has to stop.
(Inter) National March Against the Genocide of Black People
With the slogan “Reaja ou será morto (a)”, the march took place simultaneously in 19 Brazilian states and in 15 countries, the whole day of August 22 was assumed the task of fighting, resisting and constructing a political project from the point of view of black people, under the theme “transnational struggle against racism, the black diaspora against genocide.”
“Without the end of racism Brazilian society will not be emancipated,” says Katiara, of the Quilombagem collective, who also addressed the implementation of public health policy of the black population, another public safety that doesn’t put into practice the right to exist with dignity: “we want to work on the myth of racial democracy that was the main reason for the emergence of the Movimento Negro (black movement) in Brazil, to denounce that in this country there is no racial democracy.”