Note from BBT: For those of you who are familiar with my blog, Black Brazil Today, the images featured in today’s post are probably not shocking because, if you’ve followed the site for more than a few years, you know these sorts of displays are pretty much the norm in Brazil. In past posts, I’ve already shown how black children in Brazil aren’t spared from racist actions, gestures, comments and jokes and this recent display that was recorded on a city’s government website for all the world to see is just another example of this.
Besides the cruel jokes and racist insults that black children regularly report from all over Brazil, they also have to deal with the fact that in history textbooks, black Brazilians are often only mentioned in the context of slavery. For those of you that don’t know, Brazil was the recipient of the largest number of enslaved Africans in the Americas, shipping about 5 million Africans to the land that would come to be known as Brazil. In comparison, the United States received less than 400 thousands enslaved africans. This means that Brazil received somewhere between 10 and 15 times more enslaved Africans than the US did.
What I’ve noted in covering Brazil for more than two decades is the manner in which Brazil’s media, politicians, advertising industry, business community and nearly every other sector in society continues to commit racist acts and then either deny that such acts were in fact racist, downplay them or label those who reject such acts as whiners. Just keep in mind, the act that I am featuring today was actually posted on the official website of a city’s government as if there wasn’t anything wrong with it. Let me get into the story and then you can judge for yourself if there’s anything inappropriate here.
Today’s report is courtesy of the Noticia Preta, Revista Fórum websites as well as the Revista Ebano Brasil IG page where i first became aware of the story.
Black children are dressed as slaves in the civic parade in Paraná state in southern Brazil
In the images of the public event, which was attended by several politicians campaigning, students who represented the discoverers and the royal family are white
A revolting video had repercussions on social networks last Sunday, September 18. Black children who participated in a civic parade in the municipality of Piraí do Sul in Paraná state were dressed as slaves for the staging of historical passages in the country. In the case of the colonizers and the group that represented the Portuguese royal family, the children appearing in the scenes were white. The act was in recognition of September 7th, Brazil’s Independence Day and this year, the date of the Bicentennial of that Independence, which was postponed in the city in the interior of Paraná, and rescheduled for that morning.
The city of Piraí do Sul is about 180 km or 112 miles from the state capital city of Curitiba. The event in commemoration of the bicentennial of the Independence of Brazil was attended by local authorities, politicians, religious representatives, municipal schools, state schools, philanthropic associations, troopers and business organizations.
In the video, it is possible to see the moment of the parade where there is a boat simulating the arrival of the Portuguese in Brazil in the 15th century. Soon after, black children appear dressed as if they were enslaved people. Next, white children appear carrying signs with the words “Royal Family” (família real) and “Independence of Brazil”.
The videos circulating on the internet show at first a boat being towed by a car. Inside the boat are white children dressed as “discoverers”, as one of them even uses a simulacrum of a lunette, an instrument widely used by Iberian navigators in the 15th and 16th centuries. Behind this group, black children in costumes alluding to the captives, shamefully exploited for over 300 years in the country, walk around in chains.
Then, in another part of the parade, a small group of children walk down the street, one of them holding a sign identifying the Portuguese royal family, which arrived in Brazil while still in the colony, in 1808. These members are also white.
The case generated revolt on social networks, with requests for the video to be taken down due to the racism shown. Searching the web pages of the Piraí City Hall, it is no longer possible to find the video, but there are still records of the parade in which the case happened.
The founder of Rio De Janeiro based Voz da Comunidade newspaper, René Silva, for example, commented on his networks. “Whoever had the brilliant idea of putting children on as enslaved people in the civic parade in Piraí do Sul, Paraná, should be in prison. What madness!” he wrote.
Also outraged, an internet user commented “Slavery in its various forms continues to be present in education, police violence, health, justice, the state, in the HR departments of companies, in history, in culture, in short, in society as a whole.”
“Can anyone tell me if there is any other name besides RACISM for putting on BLACK CHILDREN to parade dressed as SLAVES? Those responsible NEED TO BE PUNISHED!”, commented an outraged user.
The Revista Ébano Brasil IG page responded in the following manner.
It’s really hard… Every single one…In Piraí do Sul, a city 180 kilometers from Curitiba, a civic parade places black children dressed as enslaved people. IS IT IN THIS PLACE OF “REPRESENTATION” THAT WE WANT TO LEAVE OUR CHILDREN? THAT TALK OF “DESCENDANTS OF SLAVES”, THE MARGINALIZED OF HISTORY. If you really want to represent our children, REPRESENT them as ROYALTY, as they are all descendants of KINGS and QUEENS who were taken from their African Lands. That’s how we want to see representation. We will not tolerate this!
The images in this video were made available on the official profile of the Municipality of Piraí do Sul on Instagram. In response to the markings on the networks but without yet issuing an official note, the Paraná Public Prosecutor’s Office said. “The Paraná Public Prosecutor’s Office, through the Piraí do Sul Prosecutor’s Office, informs that it was aware of the facts and a procedure will be initiated to investigate the incident.
Contact was made with the city hall of Piraí do Sul to know their position regarding the racist practice organized by the school during the parade, but until the closing of this report there was no return.
Note from BBT: So tell me, how would you react if this incident had happened at the school your child attended? Is it not a big deal? Nothing to lose sleep over? Would you be outraged? Well, maybe you wouldn’t want your child going to a school in Brazil because this is just the tip of the iceberg of things I’ve read that happen in that school system. Combine this with the fact that Brazil was the largest recipient of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, was the last country of the Americas to abolish slavery and a place where people are regularly working or freed from working in conditions that are similar to slavery today and you can begin to understand why incidents such as this cannot be tolerated. So tell me, if this would have happened at your child’s school, what would you have done? If your child was dressed as the colonizer in this display, would it have bothered you? And what if your child was dressed as one of the slaves?
Drop a comment and let me know.