Note from BW of Brazil: In the past several decades, the voices of demand among black Brazilian women have continued to rise. Black women in Brazil are at the forefront of the struggle for racial equality, continuously speak out against racism, challenging disrespectful big business, are influential in public policies and demanding more dignified media representations of themselves. This rise in racial and political consciousness could be heading for either a peak or a watershed moment that leads to even more widespread activism. Last year during Brazil’s Month of Black Consciousness, this blog brought to you the announcement of the 2015 Black Women’s March that will take place in 2015 in the nation’s capital city. Since that rousing kick-off event, letters pledging support, participation and organizing campaigns have come in from states all over Brazil from the northeast (Maranhão, Pernambuco, Bahia, Alagoas) to the north (Tocantins), from the southeast (São Paulo) to the south (Paraná and Rio Grande do Sul) and from the Federal District of Brasília. As participation continues to grow for this march, we will provide information as it is available. For now, below are some of the demands, reasons and objectives of the march that is shaping up to be a major event in 2015.
Black Women’s March: against racism and for well-being!
by Rosane Borges (1)
Again we, black women, will take to the streets. Again show we our face to reaffirm our humanity, systematically subtracted by the force of racism. It is our nature to go out in defense of our rights, our families and our community. We have sufficient motives to revitalize our proposals around the project of the country that we designed and project new forms of inclusion in a society where we still live on the fringes.
Despite the undeniable achievements in recent decades, socioeconomic indicators leave no room for doubt: racial and gender discrimination are extreme axis of exclusion, trapping black women and men in the lower strata of the social pyramid, sometimes even with insufficient mobility to narrow the gap between negros (blacks) and brancos (whites). Official data is instructive because we reaffirm that, moreover, it constitutes an inescapable reality: even though the black population has greatly benefited from inclusive policies in recent years, it remains the principal victim of inequalities, the result of discrimination and racism. Such a situation calls for the design and implementation of policies that can not only improve the lives of black men and women, but reduce and eliminate the distance, in many cases, that separates them from the white population.
It is therefore necessary that we insist on a tenacious denouncement of racism, an operation by which one is made subaltern and therefore creating second class citizens, if at all, in a racially hierarchical society. The admission of the structural nature of racism in the social fabric leads us to make a thorough review of the development models in vogue and think of new social pacts, of perspectives that may establish other social dynamics. We, mulheres negras (black women), are deeply committed to contributing to this assessment.
Well being as a political category
The Marcha das Mulheres Negras 2015 (Black Women’s March 2015) is decreed around the statement “against racism and for well-being.” The combination of these two terms constitutes itself as not only rhetorical strategy, but seeks to address in the nation project carried out since ancient times until the first decades of the twenty-first century. In this project, as one can see, the black population has always figured as a downgraded extract that sought, without the consortium of other subjects, full participation in Brazilian society in the post-slavery era (and we were and continue to be in many expedients, on our own account). The experiences and examples of our forms of resistance are multiple and unequivocally attest to the marginal place in which we were inserted. From this place, we demand a full life, we demand health, education, art, leisure, housing, in indefatigable struggle. From the gregarious practices of the terreiros (houses of worship), from the community bonds among black families, the cultural and religious events,investments in education – actions redressed in political character – is extracted a significant repertoire of strategies for the government of itself and its peers.
There are various focuses from where the term emerges. Inheriting the principles of life of the indigenous populations, the constitutions of Bolívia and Ecuador are part of Bem Viver (Living Well) as nexus priority for the administration of the social (Bem Viver or sumak kawsay in quéchua, and Viver Bem or suma qamaña, in aimará, and sumak kawsay, in quéchua). The Charter of these two countries, part of the understanding of that people historically discriminated against have wisdom and knowledge that can legitimately be shared to construct a new world, for the establishment of another civilizational matrix.
The philosophy of Bem Viver acquired density, in recent years, as a platform that interrogates the limits of development in the world: “In this context, Bem Viver emerges from historically marginalized societies and projects itself as a platform to discuss alternative conceptual as well as practical responses for urgent problems that the current developmentalism cannot resolve. It is as much a critique of developmentalism as a test of alternatives. It is a question that abandons the conventional idea of development and not seeking to reform it. Instead, it wants to transcend it.”
When we traverse the principles of Bem Viver to Brazilian society, we realize how much these questions concern us. Negros e indígenas (Blacks and Indians) must posit themselves at the center as protagonists in building the country and put into question the principles and policy choices that ultimately exclude us from the project of Nation. One must question the ideology of development that moves us and propose other perspectives and angles. It’s necessary to recover the knowledge and practices of black women and conceive them as transformative action with power to succeed in the conquests still necessary to achieve full human development.
The design and implementation of focalist public policies, recognition of inequalities founded on race show themselves to be insufficient unless we take the prerogative of the recognition of black men and women as subjects of rights and therefore as humans. Such recognition re-sends us to the discussions surrounding the implosion of racist imagery that, beforehand, deprives us; the active role of black women in the dynamism of the Brazilian economy; of creative and alternative pursuits for material and symbolic survival; from the intellectual degradation to which we were submitted; from the responsibility of taking care of our families and the families of others, in the transmutation of slave labor of the casa grande (big house) for domestic work, that only now bear some traces of dignity with the PEC of the Domésticas (domestics law)….
We march in 2015 appropriating Bem Viver as a non-negotiable value. As we said, we recognize the conquests earned yet on the other hand, we acknowledge, with so much more reason, that it is the persistence of racism responsible for maintaining socioeconomic distances that keep half the population vulnerable to life itself. We harp data on the death of black youth that denigrates more and more.
More than a simple reprint of reiterated questions, the March das Mulheres Negras (March of Black Women) will be a milestone for re-inaugurate, at the birth of the repertoire already accumulated by our ancestors, another way of life, where dignity, sovereignty of rights, acceptable material conditions, education, recreation, and well-being configure standards of existence for those that come to experience, even with the advancement of public policy, the right to life in a deficient and incomplete way. We react to racism and demand Bem Viver!
Source: 2015 Marcha Mulheres Negras
1. Rosane Borges is a jornalista, professor doutora na Universidade Estadual de Londrina (UEL), pós-doutoranda em Comunicação, pela ECA-USP, integrante da Cojira-SP (Comissão de Jornalistas pela Igualdade Racial e do grupo Comunicadoras Negras.