Debate on the world of black psychologists: Obstacles for Afro-Brazilians entering the profession, blackness as class identity and job market inequality

Afro Brazilians

“The psychologist must first of all recognize the worker. The world of work translates into the class dimension. Let’s think about how to work together for the end to discrimination in Brazil, with collective action and taking a politician position”, said Rogério Giannini.

Patricia Ferreira – SinPsi

“White people, if you knew the value that black people have/You would take a bath in tar and become black too.” So said the song “Que Bloco é Esse?”, that in 1975 rocked the first presentation of the oldest Bloco Afro* of Carnival in Salvador, Bahia: Ilê Aiyê.

For it was with this black pride and the desire to discuss the world of the work of black psychologists in the state of São Paulo, which led to “Roda de conversa: Psicólogas (os) Negras (os) e o Mundo do Trabalho (Circle of conversation: Black Psychologists and the World of Labor”, in SinPsi  (Sindicato dos Psicólogos do Estado de São Paulo (Union of Psychologists of the State of São Paulo) headquarters, on August 15th. .

The Perdizes (neighborhood) house has gradually been receiving psychologists working in different areas of the CAPs a Human Resources (Psychological Assessment Center to Human Resources). After the coffee break, everyone sat down to watch the Nau dos Insensatos (Ship of Fools) project, a series of reports produced by SinPsi. After viewing the video, more people came in. Many were reuniting years after graduating from the same college.

Everyone introduced themselves; each with a different life history. Most studied as scholarship recipients, as psychologist Walter Martins said:

“There is still a lack of incentive for blacks to follow academic professions. Our families themselves influence us not we get into areas where there may be prejudice. But I’m here, a trained and active psychologist, to share my experience with you”, said Martins during his presentation to the group.

While the psychologist spoke, everyone nodded. Identifying the path of struggle for jobs was immediate. Absurdities like requests for hair straightening for admission were cited.

Leader of the Pre-Vestibular* Community Course Union of Nuclei of Popular Education for Blacks/and the Working Class (União de Núcleos de Educação Popular para Negras/os e Classe Trabalhadora or UNEAFRO), Douglas Belchior spoke of the importance of the entity as a tool for grassroots organizing. “Today I have friends doctors, lawyers, psychologists. All Blacks. This is a great achievement. It’s no use to argue about class struggle in Brazil without speaking of the participation of blacks”, said the young man, criticizing the racial hierarchy imposed in Brazil: “We live in a society that refuses to recognize itself as mixed. There are some who say they are less black, (that they are) brown (pardo). Who never heard someone speaking of the color chocolate?” he provoked.

All agreed with Douglas when he said that segregation and prejudice, so insistent in Brazilian society, are due to the fear of the raising of consciousness of blacks. “Black identity is class identity. And that is precisely a revolution. But what elite likes revolutions?”, he asked.

Also invited to the event, the president of the Instituto Sindical Interamericano Pela Igualdade Racial (Interamerican Trade Union Institute For Racial Equality – INSPIR) Ramatiz Jacino, gave a brief overview about the 14 years of militancy in the Movimento Negro (black movement). A  professor of History, Ramatiz extolled the role of research and training on racial issues.

“We are here to talk about the world of work for the black psychologist. And data shows that prejudice comes in the form of reduced wages for black workers. This is very serious. It is palpable discrimination”, he emphasized, citing research from DIEESE (Departamento Intersindical de Estatística e Estudos Socioeconômicos or Intersyndical Department of Statistics and Socioeconomic Studies) which shows, on one end, the white man with a salary of R$1534 (per month, about US$767) and, on the other, a black woman receiving R$558 (per month, about US$279).

But one is wrong who think that there were only blacks in the circle of conversation. The Bahian Marília Fernandes, white with blue eyes, spoke about her commitment and identification with black culture and struggle.

“I was always interested in the cause. I grew up and live in a place that breathes black culture. I believe there are no even whites in Brazil. We are all mestiços (mixed-race). I am happy to be here”, she said. Another not-black present in the discussion, the former president of the Conselho Nacional de Juventude (Conjuve – National Youth Council) Gabriel Medina raised questions such as police violence suffered by black youths on the outskirts of São Paulo.

 “It’s a violence allowed because the non-news media and government leaders do nothing. You can be sure that I’m going to be stopped by police in a blitz with black friends in my car, the treatment given to me, that is white, is incredibly different”, Medina reported.

Coletivo Sindical (Union Collective)

The debate touched upon the 10.639/2003 Federal Law, which required the insertion of African History and Afro-Brazilian Culture in schools, and the European theory of eugenics, that defends the superiority of the white race and that had distinguished followers like the writer Monteiro Lobato.

The policy of quotas for admission into federal universities and federal technical colleges, recently approved by the Senate, also gained ground in discussions. As well as the issue of employability. It is common for blacks to enter college by the quota system, graduating and then have trouble getting jobs. When they do find a job, in most cases they earn less than a white psychologist in the same function, as exemplified Ramatiz.

The group evaluated how much the issue of eugenics was into interjected into blacks, the devaluation of race. Many acknowledged the difficulties of even being accepted by patients that expected to be attended to by another representative, a white care giver.

To advance the proposals and seek solutions to the racial question was confirmed the formation of a Coletivo Sindical (Union Collective), which will meet biweekly. The next meeting will be held on August 29 at 7pm at the SinPi headquarters – At Aimberê Street, 2053, in the neighborhood of Perdizes.

Rogério Giannini, president of SinPsi recalled that the issue of blacks brings with it the issue of class. “The psychologist must first of all recognize the worker. The world of work translates into the class dimension. Let’s think about how to work together to end discrimination in Brazil, with collective action and taking a politician position”, he stated.

At the end, the director of SinPsi Cátia Cipriano, black and female psychologist and creator of the meeting, was surprised by the rapport of the group.

“We had participants with inquiring content, with diverse knowledge. Proposals that came out today will bring richer and richer meetings. Especially now that we are a Coletivo Sindical” she said.

If the Ilê Aiyê began making carnival and today it is Bahian cultural heritage and a group that battles for the appreciation and inclusion of the black population, psychologists may do very well for the black cause. The beginning has already begun.

* – Blocos are the street bands and groups that are the main popular expression in Carnival of Pernambuco and Bahia in Brazil. These demonstrations are mixed under the term “street carnival”, a term that still includes the bandstands and parades in streets of Salvador, Bahia and Olinda and Recife in Pernambuco, and happen during a period of about two months (beginning before and finishing after Carnival). Blocos Afros are called such because in their clothing, rhythm and lyrics they incorporate aspects of African cultures, using a set ahead of percussive electric trio, plus costumes whose themes of prints establish connection with Africa. The first Bloco Afro created in Brazil was Ilê Aiyê, in 1974 by Vovô, thus inaugurating a change of carnival in Salvador with the inclusion of African musicianship.

** – The vestibular is an exam that Brazilians must pass in order to enter college. As students who attend private high schools are usually better prepared to pass this exam, some organizations are offering pre-vestibular prep courses to prepare other students, usually from the public school system, to be able to pass this exam. 

Source: CUT São Paulo

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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