Five things every black child learns in school – why it is necessary to broaden our references beyond the positivist perspective of Europeans



Note from BW of Brazil: Brazil’s school system is yet another avenue for which persons of African ancestry are invisible or made to look inferior in comparison to other groups. Both in terms of the pedagogical material in which Africans and their descendants are presented in the classroom as well as how black children are treated in the classroom setting (both by other students as well as by teachers) it is not a coincidence that some black children ending dropping out of school entirely or developing an inferiority complex in terms of their racial identity. Leaving the security of the home and entering the public school system, racism expels the black child from school  when the student is confronted with teachers that look nothing like them or don’t relate to them or hostile classmates or apathetic directors who end up reproducing the society’s racist views. As such, when considering the importance of schooling, the school environment is one of the first places where black children internalize their place in society. 

Five Things Every Black Child Learns in School

By Leopoldo Duarte

Since January 2003 Law 10.639/03, that makes mandatory the insertion into the national school curriculum content about Afro-Brazilian and African history and culture – before colonization and European piracy, was enacted in Brazil; an important achievement for the education of a country formed by predation and silencing everyone and everything that contradicted europóide supremacy. However, unfortunately, even after 12 years of its creation, the law still hasn’t avenged – this and (Law) 11.645/08, which has included indigenous issues since 2008. There are few educators who find excuses for remaining in illegality, and it’s thinking of these professional examples that I have elaborated this list.


African subordination

In biology one is taught that the cradle of humanity is África, however in the Social Sciences, generally, it skips from the Paleolithic to Ancient Greece at the blink of an eye. It even seems that the Greek philosophers were not educated in Egito (Egypt/Kemet) – or that the classical European civilizations didn’t have A Terra dos Pretos (The Land of the Blacks) as a north. In other words: African history and culture did not begin when Europeans decided to enslave black people and loot their lands, resources and assets. The history of black people did not begin with slavery and goes beyond the Pharaonic dynasties mentioned, here, in passing.

The Cruelty of Portuguese Colonization Remains in the Language

Although respected Brazilian linguists argue that Brazilian Portuguese has a strong influence of the Bantu, the Creole character of our language – even being called Pretoguês (black Portuguese)- continues to be made invisible in reverence to the higher bond inherited from the colonizers. The Portuguese language regarded as correct remains the same imposed on the negros da terra (blacks of the land) and subjugated Africans in the “New Continent”. And today, if you are a black or indigenous child with pretension to become a respectable adult, the most appropriate thing to do is to learn it quite branquissimamente (very whitely). Despite the evil methods for suppressing the various mother tongues, João do Rio recorded the existence of speakers of a yorubanto language in Rio de Janeiro in the early twentieth century, indigenous communities still preserve what is still treated with contempt by the authorities and the structure our Portuguese language is strongly influenced by it.

Consequences for the black child – Feeling of inferiority – social inadequacy – compromised potential – school failure

Limited General Culture

Every contribution to Brazilian culture coming from the European and Asian settlers are marked in our culture: Portuguese traditions, Anglocisms, Spanish architecture, nonna dishes, French urbanization, Chinese pastel, Oktoberfest, “Japanese method” etc. But the same is not true of all black contributions. The feijoada, Candomblé, samba, capoeira, maculelê (1), acarajé and so many other fruits were appropriated by “Brazilian heritage.” That is, the stone remains Portuguese, but afoxé (2) singing in Yoruba has a brazuka (3) patent. These cultural elements, even though they were born in black communities, were adopted and usurped y the nation. Not by mere villainy, but also because without the African and indigenous, Brazilian culture would not be more than a vira-lata (mutt) Xerox of the colonizing culture that still makes us perceive everything that descends from non-Brazilian Africans as primitive or exotic.

Depleted Geography

For many of the school students of today it’s easier to draw a timeline dating back to all the flows of European and Asian immigration that came to Brazil than to mention three of African ethnic groups trafficked to here and make distinctions among them as it is possible to make of the European ethnicities-nations. The general knowledge about European conjecture of politics-culture is also much more scrutinized than the continent where half of the Tupiniquim (4) population descended. It is not uncommon to present African geography only to point to its vast natural resources without any association between the Caucasian exploration/exploitation of this with all the conflicts and ills that they cultivated there.

Insignificant Representation

Commendable black people are always an exception. Martyrs or anonymous masses and big names from a past already gone by while black people who went wrong are in whatever news or statistic of misery and violence. How can we expect children to construct a positive image of themselves when in the schools the educators themselves, who consider themselves educated, drank only from the hegemonic source of knowledge? When the majority of people with knowledge to transmit are white and black people serve most for guarding the gates, ensuring the safety and cleanliness of the students and the school? How can we strengthen our children when history tells us that all blacks who revolted against racist oppression were exemplarily murdered. Even that one who preached peaceful demonstration, wearing a suit, speaking politely and worshiping the same European God of the oppressor?

Anyway, I could prolong here and explain more reasons why it is necessary to broaden our references of success, gender, sexuality, civilization, society beyond the optical positivist of Europeans, but the fact of you perhaps not knowing what I mean exactly well illustrates the lack that these prospects make in enlightening anyone. It perfectly translates the type of disability that causes the folklorization of Brazilian Africans and Indians. So in case you have any next child of school age, demand the pedagogical coordination that complies with current legislation so that one day our education can be as plural and welcoming as we aim to be as a nation.

Source: Revista Fórum


  1. Maculelê is a type of Brazilian folk dance of Afro-Brazilian and indigenous origin. The maculelê in its origin was an armed martial art, but today is a dance form that simulates a tribal fight using two sticks as a weapon, called grimas (esgrimas), with which participants deliver trims and blows to the music. In a greater degree of difficulty and daring, one can dance with machetes instead of sticks, which gives a beautiful visual effect with sparks coming out after each stroke. This dance is very associated with other cultural manifestations such as Brazilian Capoeira and frevo.
  2. Afoxé, also called candomblé de rua or street Candomblé, is a street procession coming out during Carnival. It is an Afro-Brazilian manifestation with roots in the Yoruba people. Generally, its members are connected to Candomblé terreiro. The term “afoxé” comes from the Yoruba language. It consists of three terms: a, the nominal prefix; fo, meaning “to say” or “pronounce”; x is means to achieve or accomplish. According to professor Antonio Risério, afoxé means “the statement makes it happen.”
  3. The term ‘brazuca’ means ‘brasileiro’ (Brazilian) and describes the way of life of the country.
  4. The tupiniquins, also called the tupinaquis, topinaquis and tupinanquins, are a group of indigenous Brazilians belonging to the Tupi nation.
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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