Saturday 20 November 2021

Black Awareness Day

On 20th of November, Black Awareness Day is celebrated in Brazil in order to make sure the journey and cirumstances of the black community's ancestors are not forgotten and their contribution to both the country and society are recognised. 20th of November was chosen because it marks the death of Zumbi dos Palmares (born 1655), a Brazilian of Kongo origin and one of the pioneers fighting slavery (via).

After more than 300 years of slavery, Brazil abolished slavery only in 1888, it was the last country in the Western Hemisphere to do so despite its mostly black and mixed population which again was and is a result of Portuguese settlers having been primarily male and often seeking out African or indigenous femals as mates. Brazil was also the largest importer of African slaves "bringing in seven times as many African slaves to the country, compared to the United States" (via).

"Miscegenation and intermarriage suggest fluid race relations and, unlike the United States or South Africa, there were no racially-specific laws or policies, such as on segregation or apartheid, throughout the twentieth century. For these reasons, Brazilians thought of their country as a "racial democracy" from as early as the 1930s until recent years. They believed that racism and racial discrimination were minimal or non-existent in Brazilian society in contrast to the other multiracial societies in the world. A relatively narrow view of discrimination previously recognized only explicit manifestations of racism or race-based laws as discriminatory, thus only countries like South Africa and the United States were seen as truly racist. Moreover, there was little formal discussion of race in Brazilian society, while other societies were thought to be obsessed with race and racial difference." (via)

"At the time of the abolition, Brazil's population was mostly black or mixed race until the 1930s, when Brazil encouraged and received a large number of European immigrants as it sought to find new sources of labour. In the context of the scientific racism of the time, which deemed a non-white population as problematic to its future development, Brazilian officials explicitly encouraged European immigration while blocking Chinese and African immigrants. The growing population of European origin was also expected to mix with the non-white, further "whitening" the Brazilian population." (via)

"More than just a celebration, it is a day to think about the position that Black people have in society then and now. The past generations who have suffered (and still suffer) through racist acts, despite the abolition of slavery in 1888, discrimination still continues. It’s a day dedicated to fight racism and defend Black people’s rights and respect in society." (via).

photographs by Pierre Verger via and via and via and via and via