Note from BW of Brazil: Today is November 20th. It is a day that recognized in about 350 cities throughout Brazil as the Day of Black Consciousness. It is a day to reflect upon the situation of Afro-Brazilian population. The history of afrodescendentes (African descendants). The acknowledgement of the struggle. The memory of the death of Zumbi dos Palmares, Brazil’s greatest black leader who died on this day in 1695 fighting against racial oppression and the inhumane regime of slavery. We remember the great contributions of his warrior wife Dandara, who equally fought and died for the cause of freedom.
Also on this day we must consider one of the very reasons that Brazil remains such a racially unequal country to this day. The idea that is widely divulged and believed that posits that “we are all equal”, in the Brazilian context, an extension of the old myth of “racial democracy”. This blog’s position on this phrase has always been the following: Yes, as humans we in fact are all equal, but we are not all treated as equals which makes the original statement a social illusion. Brazil has always had a problem admitting that it treated its citizens of visible African ancestry with disdain, disregard and at times outright hostility. But the evidence is more than ample. Thus today, around the country, through various festivities, cultural manifestations and marches, we continue the struggle.
Black Consciousness as a social construct and the illusion of human consciousness
by Gabriela Moura •
Originally posted in Blogueiras Negras
The month of November is accompanied by a movement on the 20th, the Day of Black Consciousness, instituted in memory of Zumbi dos Palmares, who died in 1695. The date is not commemorative, but a punctuation to remind us of the role of black struggle in the society.
Despite being in force since 2003, the date still causes rancidity to those who are unaware of black history or ignore its importance, generating erroneous and simplistic messages like the famous and boring phrase “we don’t need a day of black consciousness, but 365 days of human consciousness.” It is upon this phrase that we will now draw our analysis.
Saying that we are all human and therefore it’s not necessary to define a specific day in memory of a people is a shallow and irresponsible way to deal with Brazilian history. Although we are all humans according to biology, an observational analysis shows us that in actual fact we are not equal. As an example, we have a campaign that Amnesty International Brazil launched this week called “Jovem Negro Vivo” (Black Youth Alive), which highlights the number of young black men killed, drawing a picture of the social conditions in which these young people find themselves. The observation about society still calls our attention to the fact that there are fewer blacks in universities, more blacks on the streets, fewer blacks occupying senior positions in companies, more blacks incarcerated, more blacks in positions of servitude.
Appealing to meritocracy, those who think the Day of Black Consciousness is useless ignore primary factors such as housing and employment, which often hamper opportunities of black people inserting themselves in society in areas still denied; and so one can believe that one of the biggest evidences of a racist society is this denying the right of the black struggle for space.
In other words: there’s nothing more racist than diminishing the importance of the Day of Black Consciousness.
This date, more than a mere paragraph in the history books of elementary education, it’s an effort for social construction, the development of identity in black people and a fundamental effort to present to the country a neglected share of Brazilian history, always whitened with idea that the Portuguese represent the heroic arm that constructed the nation.
365 days of human consciousness is a lazy delusion that prevents access to Black History and lands society on the false idea that we already live in equality. Moreover, to clamor for 365 days of human consciousness be put in place of black consciousness is a way to silence the Movimento Negro (black movement) and its historical struggle for visibility.
Addressing the structurally racist society will continue hurting egos and privileges which until then had not been questioned about their social position. Racism is an open wound, historical consequence, and will always be addressed until the day that black people are truly free.
Source: Blogueiras Negras