“Being the only blacks in our areas can’t be normal”: Co-founder of the Black Professionals Network, Lisiane Lemos speaks on importance of private sector facing up to racism

sermos os c3banicos negros de nossas c3a1reas nc3a3o pode ser normal
sermos os c3banicos negros de nossas c3a1reas nc3a3o pode ser normal


Note from BW of Brazil: Brazilian? Professional? Black? Yes, black Brazilian professionals exist and they want the labor market to know it! For decades, two more of Brazil’s famous myths have been that 1) there aren’t any people working at …(fill in the blank) because they are no black professionals and 2) with an education, racism (they so many claim doesn’t even exist) will cease to hinder opportunities. Well, not only are these ideas myths, but the situation is often worse than one can imagine. As we’ve previously seen (here and here), the more Afro-Brazilians attempt and succeed in moving up the social/career ladder, the more they are likely to experience discrimination connected to skin colorThe examples of this are endless.

Remember the  story of the real estate specialist who was accustomed to dealing with expensive apartment buildings that came up with an excellent idea to help people live closer to work? When she tried to pitch the idea the owner of a certain company walked in, looked at the black woman he would be dealing with and immediately changed his mind. It’s because of incidents such as that one and numerous others that black professionals need to hook up. Which is exactly the idea of the woman we present to you today. 

“Being the only blacks in our areas can’t be normal”

Co-founder of the Black Professionals Network, Lisiane Lemos talks about how important it is for the private sector to face up to racism.

By Giovana Feix

The gaúcha (native of the state of Rio Grande do Sul) Lisiane Lemos grew up in a family of civil servants. While interning in the public sector, she discovered that that life was not for her. She aimed high, and today, at age 27, she works at a large multinational. Now her goal is to help other black professionals, like her, to achieve more jobs and leadership.


To get where she is, Lisiane didn’t face such obstacles. She studied in good schools, did great on the pré-vestibular (pre-college entrance exam), graduated from a federal university. “I’ve always been aware of my privileged position,” she says. Therefore, it carries with it a responsibility. “I have to open doors and encourage others who have never been there,” she explains.

Lisiane is a co-founder of the Rede de Profissionais Negros (Black Professionals Network) – a response to the big companies who often repeat the cliché “there are no qualified black professionals in the market.” In weekly meetings, they promote the meeting of young professionals with recruiters, and carry out qualification actions so that professionals can improve themselves more and more. Today the Network of Black Professionals has more than 3 thousand members.

The inspiration came from American organizations such as the NABA (National Association of Black Accountants) and NSBE (National Association of Black Engineers). “Usually, we have always been the only black student in school, in college, MBA program, we are the only blacks in our areas and this can’t be normal. In a country where more than half the population is black, why still today do we have so few?”, she asks.

Lisiane’s plan is to awaken companies, large or small, to the importance of increasing the representation of black professionals in their workforce. And for that, according to her, it is not enough to open a vacancy and place the person there to work. “You need to understand that this is necessary and will add to the business, in addition to making society better,” she says.

To better understand the challenges of blacks in the labor market, Lisiane cites a video that was very successful a few weeks ago: the Paraná government’s campaign against institutional racism. “It portrays the invisible barriers we encounter every day. When you are black and going to an interview, the look may be more critical, your resume can be validated to see if the information is true, the cut or shape of your hair can be questioned, among other things. If we don’t discuss the problem and focus on solutions, it will continue, and it will affect more and more people you know and admire.”

Watching the video and getting upset is a start, but Lisiane defends the importance of taking action: “Criticizing the problem without suggesting how we can improve it gives visibility – but, unfortunately, it doesn’t solve it,” she says. So how about joining the Rede de Profissionais Negros right now?

Source: M de Mulher

About Marques Travae 3747 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

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