Note from BW of Brazil: Today, April 30th, in 1988 the black women’s organization Geledés began its very important work of giving voice to Brazil’s black women and articulating a dialogue on the topic of racism in Brazil society. Today, the organization celebrates 25 years of the struggle. Congratulations to the women of Geledés!
A luta continua (The struggle continues)!!!
Below is a brief description of this organization taken from the Global Giving and Wiser websites as well as a contribution from author and activist Cidinha da Silva.
Geledés is a black women’s organization whose institutional mission is to fight racism and sexism, value and promote African-descendent women in particular, and the African-descendent community in general. Its objective is to increase the visibility of the racial problem in Brazil and to make the government and civil society more sensitive to the discussion of the growing exclusionary process faced by the poor and discriminated populations constituted mainly by African-descendents.
Activities: Geledés acts as an impetus in the development of proposals for public policy which promote the visibility, analysis and public debate of the racial problem in Brazil. It encourages the link between civil rights and human rights, thus arousing the strategic process of increasing the popular consciousness of race issues on the national and international levels. It works in networks of both feminist and black community organizations. It has a four-point basic program: human rights, health, communications and education.
Jurema Werneck, founder and coordinator of another prominent black Brazilian women’s organization, Criola (1), expresses the main difference between black and non-black (or traditional) feminism.
“The original feminism had no palpable differences, of social class and race. There was only the question of gender. They didn’t tackle these conflicts that existed because of these differences, so for the racial discourse, black feminism embodies the racial discourse. It is a feminism that speaks of this thing of being a black woman. I think that this is the main difference, meaning, that it defines all the rest. And the inclusion of the black woman in the world and in Brazilian society will provoke all other subsequent differences.” (2) See also Geledés’s own Sueli Carneiro on the need to “blacken feminism“.
The word Geledé is originally a form of a feminine secret society of a religious character existing in traditional Yoruba societies. It expresses female power over land fertility, procreation and the welfare of the community.
In the words of Cidinha da Silva:
Geledés has been a protagonist in important chapters of modern history of blacks in Brazil and the struggle to overcome racism and racial discrimination. Here it is fitting to recall just six of them.
1 – As one of the older and most consistent black NGOs in the country, Geledés was a pioneer in thinking a communication program to structure it, responsible for promoting the dialogue of the other programs and actions of the institution with the world.
2 – Geledés initiated a political dialogue independently without supervision, with a key sector of Brazilian black youth (today an autonomous and consolidated subject), the Hip Hop Movement in São Paulo. It contributed to the deepening of the racial discussion with the leaders of the Movement for the consolidation of the political concept of black youth in Brazil, speaking of the late 80s and early 90s.
3 – The work done by Geledés with SOS Racismo – Rendering of legal services to victims of racial discrimination, inaugurated a path of works on the topic that came to constitute the area of Law and Racial Relations in Brazil through Law 7.716/89.
4 – It initiated in 1994, the dialogue with various black organizations in South America, the forerunner of the Aliança Estratégica de Organizações Negras da América Latina e Caribe (Strategic Alliance of Black Organizations of Latin America and the Caribbean) who played key roles in the championing of our demands throughout the preparatory process in Durban and realization of the Third World Conference Against Racism.
5 – Geledés was instrumental in the formation of AMNB – Articulação de Mulheres Negras Brasileiras (Articulation of Brazilian Black Women) that, finally, is the legitimate representative of the collective black Brazilian women organized either nationally or overseas.
6 – Finally, the projeto Geração XXI (Generation XXI project), implemented in 1999, and other affirmative action programs that followed, with a view to promoting access, retention and success of young blacks in good universities, two years before the Third World Conference Against Racism and implementation of quotas for blacks in UERJ (State University of Rio de Janeiro), both in 2001. The organization was also in the forefront on the great debate over affirmative action as a possible strategy to fight racism in Brazil.
Congratulations to the women of Geledés on 25-years of struggles and accomplishments! Here’s to wishing you another 25 years!
1. Criola – a non-profit black women’s organization is an institution founded on September 2, 1992, in Rio de Janeiro. This organization was founded and is led by black women of various backgrounds.
2. Taken from Almeida, Lady Christina de . “PROTAGONISMO E AUTONOMIA DE MULHERES NEGRAS, A EXPERIÊNCIA DAS ORGANIZAÇÕES: GELEDÉS E CRIOLA”.