Note from BW of Brazil: In reality, if we study other situations around the world, this scenario is quite familiar. Underprivileged black populations lend their loyalty to a party that it believes has its best interest, and in some ways, this seems to be the case. But upon closer analysis, things haven’t in fact changed that much and in some ways are unchanged or even worse than before. Brazil’s Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT or Workers’ Party) has been in power since 2003, with Presidents Lula da Silva (2003-2010) and Dilma Rousseff (2011-present) having won a combined four straight elections and guaranteeing the party’s command of the country until at least the end of 2018.
For some black Brazilians, improvements in the situation of the black population since 2003 show obvious reasons for why the PT should remain the clear choice for Afro-Brazilians. Blacks have entered universities in numbers that are unprecedented in the nation’s history. This parcel of the population have also moved into the middle class in record numbers. On the other hand, the rate of murders of black Brazilians have been called genocidal for good reason, political representation remains almost null and void and the overall public educational situation continues to leave the masses of black people out of the race for social ascension.
Rumblings that make accusations of the exploitation of the black population for votes in order to remain in power have been made by some experts for some time now, but one has to wonder if it would really have mattered if the other major party, the PSDB, had won the election. In last year’s election season, none of the final three candidates even touched upon issues of racial inequality in the debates and as some have pointed out, the black population had no mechanism for holding any of the candidates responsible for any promises as none of them even made any promises for this parcel of the population.
With that said, the PT did have an edge over the PSDB in terms of the black vote, winning by a total of about 55-37% according to pre-election estimates, this doesn’t represent an overwhelming advantage. So what are the options for Afro-Brazilians if they want more of their demands met by political representatives? Well, this writer is never one to believe in any politician connected to big money and for good reason as we’ve seen from two huge scandals that have rocked the administrations of both Lula (mensalão) and Dilma (Petrobras). The bottom line here is that as long as Afro-Brazilians continue to remain unorganized as a strong political/economic force and dependent upon big name/big money (white) politicians, they will never be able to have their demands met. This is not to say that having a black president is necessarily the answer either as we’ve seen in situations in the United States and South Africa.
In the following piece, Flávio Leandro introduces an article on this topic by Éder Souza
Who is the Capitão do Mato (sell-out/traitor) (1), the one who is led by the bridle, by the political parties or those who prefer an independent, united fighting for the cause of blackness?
The biggest idiocy for a black is to feel happy and fulfilled to be a page of politicians, negotiating the Black and Quilombola cause in exchange for public office and base metal.
Do not forget that it was the sinhozinhos (little slave masters) of the PT who left the order for the black leader of the party Sérvulo de Oliveira, to use social networks to threaten with death Minister Joaquim Barbosa.
And all you servants of Zé Dirceu (2) for life, were silent and pretended that nothing was happening.
Brazilian blackness has been discriminated against, scorned, ignored, folklorized, discarded and excluded, exactly because of black professionals and traders of the race, who wallow in political parties, in search of a snack. Indifferent to the evils released on his own equals.
Black people, free yourself from the PT (Workers’ Party)
By Éder Souza
Throughout Brazilian history, blacks have always had a greater part of the time the weight of theState against him. During the colonial period, slavery that fell upon the population brought by force from Africa was brutal, and the few blacks who managed to excel under these adverse conditions such as Xica da Silva and Henrique Dias, were always at the expense of adversities and explicit and implied warnings that this was not the “lugar de negro” (place of the black).
With independence in 1822, things didn’t change much. Men like Machado de Assis and André Rebouças, two of the greatest Brazilians in their fields, managed to get social recognition for their expertise despite being black and having a negative social burden because of their ethnicity and African origin in a still slave society.
The twentieth century, despite advances, was not easy for blacks in Brazil. As in previous periods, its music, religion, dances and forms of expression were constantly persecuted by the state and was constantly trying to “tame” the African descent in behavioral patterns judged to be acceptable for blacks, that is, put them in their “rightful place”.
Today in Brazil, there is still a sizable prejudice against blacks even after the struggles of the last century that brought civil equality in various parts of the world (such as the end of apartheid in South Africa) and greater access to consumption and education. Blacks are still the most numerous inhabitants of periphery areas; those who are in greater numbers of extreme poverty; those who occupy positions of lower pay; the biggest victims of violent crimes; and those with the lowest levels of education.
Many of these black and poor, during the late 1990s and the first decade of this century saw the in PT (Partido dos Trabalhadores/Workers’ Party) a party that fought for the marginalized. With a flag of social inclusion, political ethics and fight against prejudice, the party won little by little, large sections of the middle class, the university intelligentsia and stratum of the poorer classes. With this political capital and a sidewalk campaign in search of ethics and social equity values for the lower classes, the party crowned the discourse of national unity in the “Letter to Brazilians.”
However, with the crisis of the mensalão (3) the flag of PT ethics fell to the ground. The solution to remaining in power was radical discourse and enlarging the fractures that exist within the nation. Now it’s us against them! The rich against the poor! The black against white! The gay against straight!
This abject rhetoric has the ideal to exploit the social divisions of the country to dominate. The important thing is to win the election, even at the expense of an irresponsible discourse. A ruler or someone who wants to govern has a duty to unify the country around a program that includes in it most of the nation, cannot play with existing social divisions and further them to stay in power. But this doesn’t interest the Workers Party addressing the issue of poverty. It doesn’t matter to the PT to improve education. It doesn’t matter to the Workers Party to attack homophobia up front. The Workers’ Party has no interest in defeating racism.
If the PT really was interested in the improvement and the ascension of blacks, hit would have worked to improve the public schools, where the majority of blacks study. However, we figure into the last places in the ranking of world education. If they were really interested in improving the lives of blacks, they would have invested in public safety, preventing the collapse of the country to having almost 60,000 murders per year, with the greatest victims being blacks from the periphery (slums).
If the PT were really interested in the improvement of blacks in society, it would have thought of serious social inclusion policies, such as the recovery of education and health, not in palliatives such as racial quotas, which only serve to mask the real problem and not solve anything. They were always full by the crumbs given by populist governments in Latin America and always full of all sorts, they never took their beneficiaries anywhere other than greater dependence on the State.
If the government values the ascension of blacks, where are of afrodescendents (African descendants) in the Dilma (Rousseff) government? And in the PT power structures? Find the black in the party leadership and the current government ministry (the ministry of Racial Equality doesn’t count as it only exists to say that there are some blacks in power. The most important thing that this ministry did today was to try to censor the reading of Monteiro Lobato). Even when you put blacks in a prominent position, as in the case of Joaquim Barbosa, it’s always to show how generous the party is, but if the recipient in some way acts against the interests of the party, he is soon called “ungrateful black” and “capitão do mato” (captain of the woods, sell-out, house negro) by militants.
Because I say that blacks do not need welfare. They need citizenship and to have access to a good education for their children to get into good universities and build their future. Blacks don’t need a government that says it defends them, they need security so that they can, like all living in Brazil, regardless of ethnicity, arrive home in tranquility and not be victims of unpunished crimes. Blacks don’t need a government that uses the flag against racism just to get elected.
Blacks, in their history in Brazil, grew, developed and influenced the culture at all levels. We got here, no thanks to State, but in spite of the State. Persecutions, intimidations and harassment of all kinds didn’t subdue us, but strengthened us. We don’t let a party, which surreptitiously promotes conflict against other Brazilians of the white skin color only as power strategy, dominate us. We don’t fail to see in our neighbor what unites us as human, not just what sets us apart. We don’t allow ourselves to be enslaved for mere fallacious discourses. The reality is that the PT did not fight for blacks. It fights only for itself and to remain in power.
It’s time to stand up and assume that the race cannot be an electoral argument, and that is immoral taking political advantage of black, poor and humble people. We all want full citizenship, and respect with our taxes, schools, hospitals and infrastructure. We can go without the crumbs of the State.
Black people, it’s time to liberate yourself from the PT.
Éder Souza – Historian and Professor of History
Source: Jornal Negritude
1. Capitão do mato, meaning ‘captain of the wood’, was the title given to the black man whose main task was to hunt down, capture and return fugitive slaves to captivity in Brazil’s slavery era. Brazilians use the term to define blacks who collude to disrupt the success of other blacks. The term has popped up numerous times in previous articles.
2. José Dirceu de Oliveira e Silva is a former Brazilian politician that had his political rights suspended by the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies and has been found guilty on charges of active corruption and conspiracy in two separate lawsuits judged by the Brazilian Supreme Court. Dirceu’s departure as Lula’s Chief-of-Staff is attributed to his masterminding of a massive corruption scheme in the legislature, the Mensalão scandal. Source
3. The Mensalão scandal (Escândalo do Mensalão), was a vote-buying case of corruption that threatened to bring down the government of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in 2005. Mensalão is a neologism and variant of the word for “big monthly payment” (salário mensal or mensalidade). Source