Black consciousness: black representativeness in health
By Thays Moura and Black Brazil Today
In Brazil, November 20th is a very important date as is the month of November as a whole. This is because the 20th is the Day of Black Consciousness and the month of November is the month of the Black Consciousness. In Afro-Brazilian circles, many refer to the month of November as “Novembro Negro” or Black November. In many ways, in terms of the black population, November is to black Brazilians what February is in the United States, Black History Month. Throughout the month of November, there are numerous seminars, events, presentations, performances, lectures, etc. celebrating the importance of the month.
If effect, the information divulged by Afro-Brazilian organizations, groups, teachers, professors, professionals, etc. make up for the near invisibility of black Brazilian history in the nation’s school system. Even with a law that mandates the inclusion of African and Afro-Brazilian History and Culture, schools and teachers in general don’t have the preparation, materials or even the will to comply with this law.
So, even though Brazil’s Black History Month passed more than two months ago, Brazil’s Black History is part of Black History in the African Diaspora, so I thought it would cool to discuss a little bit of Black History, Brazilian style in recognition of this month. So, to start, what is the story of this date behind the selection of the month of November and the 20th of November? Besides being a day set aside to talk about the historical and cultural perception of the Black population, it also seeks to make people aware of racial discrimination. In this way, it brings into question the position of Blacks in society, and their presence.
In today’s text, you will learn more about the Black Consciousness Day as well as be informed about the presence of black people in the area of health. In reality, the material on this very blog, whether directly connected to history or simply sharing the experiences of African descendants in Brazil, IS black history. Also, given the fact that it’s been nearly a year since this whole pandemic has shut down societies across the world and changed our daily realities. For this reason, you will also meet some prominent professionals in this area along with a platform to find black health professionals in Brazil.
ORIGIN OF BLACK CONSCIOUSNESS DAY
The date chosen was November 20th, because this was the day of Zumbi dos Palmares‘ death. Who in turn, was a northeastern black leader, very important in the fight against slavery. Zumbi is recognized as one the great leaders of the Palmares quilombo, or maroon society, of fugitive slaves in the area of the modern day state of Alagoas in the 17th century. Zumbi was captured and murdered on November 20, 1695, and in the 1970s, a group of Afro-Brazilian intellectuals known as Grupo Palmares began to promote the idea of celebrating this date as a day of resistance of Brazil’s black population. This law was proposed through Bill no. 10.639 in 2003. However, it was only sanctioned in 2011 (Law 12.519/2011), by President Dilma Rousseff. It was at this time that the Day of Black Consciousness became official in Brazil.
THE PRESENCE OF BLACKS IN THE AREA OF HEALTH
Have you ever been served by a black health professional? Unfortunately, it is still quite difficult to find black people in the undergraduate health courses. According to IBGE Census data, only 27.3% of health professionals are black. Still with data from the same research, only 17.6 % of the Brazilian doctors are black. This information is worrying, once it doesn’t reflect our society, which is formed in its majority by pretos (blacks) and pardos (browns). According to the National Household Sample Survey (PNAD) 56.2% of Brazilians are pretos and pardos.
Speaking more specifically of the northeast region, according to Fiocruz research – Fundação Oswaldo Cruz (Oswaldo Cruz Foundation), in the Northeast region, 6.6% of the nursing professionals identify themselves as pretos.
Therefore, it is worth reflecting on the reasons that make the presence of blacks in universities so scarce, as well as in professions considered prestigious, mainly in the area of health.
Now that you have learned a little about Black Consciousness Day and the reality of Brazil in relation to this subject, it’s time to meet some prominent professionals in the field of health. They are all Brazilians and have brought great contributions to the area, keep reading to know them!
BLACK PEOPLE OF PROMINENCE IN THE HEALTH CARE SCENARIO
Maria Jose Barroso
Ana Neri was a white nurse that was considered the precursor of nursing in Brazil for having provided volunteer services during the war in Paraguay. In the same period, many black women played an important role, which ended up being neglected because of slavery. One of them was Maria Jose Barroso, who even without ever having studied the profession in a formal way, played a significant role as a nurse of the Legião Negra (Black Legion) (see note one). She also participated in the constitutionalist revolution of 1932.
A dermatologist, a reference in black skin, is considered the only specialist in the area in Brazil. Her interest for the area originated when she was participating in a congress in the United States. There, the doctor met a society of black dermatologists and was delighted by the area. Therefore, she decided to dedicate her career to treating black skin in Brazil. Katleen is a pioneer in Brazil in laser procedures focused on black skin, which is often directed only to white skin. Through her studies, and tests on herself, she learned to adjust the technique to black skin.
The plastic surgeon Abdulay Eziquiel, is also a specialist of the Brazilian Society of Plastic Surgery and Speaker Merz. She also has international experiences in California and Italy along with experience in the largest hospitals in Rio de Janeiro. The professional acts in several areas, both aesthetic and repairing plastic surgery.
Besides being a dermatologist specialized in dermatological surgery, Fred can also communicate and understand the patient’s symptoms using the language of libras, Brazilian Sign Language.
The biomedical Jaqueline Goes, was responsible for mapping the first genomes of the Coronavirus in Brazil. She is a renowned black researcher, who fought to overcome racism and machismo to excel in her profession. Jaqueline remains engaged in projects of black empowerment and representation. Recently she participated in a chat with Bayer professionals about the Black Leadership Trainee Program. She also participates in the Comunidade Afrosaúde (Afrosaúde Community), a platform that brings together black health professionals, seeking visibility for them.
Responsible for the AfroSaúde (AfroHealth) community. He is also among the 100 Most Influential People of African Descent. Arthur won this title through the category Health and Heroes of Covid-19. Through his work with AfroSaúde and also for having created the TeleCorona, which in turn tended to over 400 black families free of charge, orienting them on the new Coronavirus. In his trajectory, the dentist has always fought for representativeness and attention to the black community, with innovative and technological projects aimed at this public.
HOW TO FIND BLACK HEALTH PROFESSIONALS
The first step to change this reality is to support and encourage the black health professionals that already exist. Generating visibility and representativeness so that more people feel encouraged to follow the same path. But how can we do this? There is a platform called AfroSaúde. Through it it is possible to find black health professionals, and seek specific care with them. Currently on the platform there are more than 1200 registered professionals in more than 130 different cities.
Since its creation, the platform was developed to reflect on structural racism. Therefore, it aims to give visibility to Black health professionals and be the bridge between them and patients seeking representation.
Source: Faculdade Ide
- Legião Negra, meaning Black legion, was a battalion of two thousand black volunteers in the Constitutionalist Revolution of 1932, which began on July 9, 1932 against then President Getúlio Vargas.