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
"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