“Black is my color”
The 25th of July, the international date of the struggle and resistance of black women, was chosen during the First Meeting of Latin American and Caribbean Black Women in 1992 to draw attention to the demands and needs in the lives of black women in Latin America and the Caribbean. But why is it necessary to have a day of black women? Black women are the ones that are affected by prejudice and racial discrimination.
Brazil is a country full of inequalities arising from regional, ethnic, racial, age, gender and territorial issues. Racism is one of the strongest expressions of these inequalities, reaching around 47% of the Brazilian population. In 2010, IBGE – Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics estimated that in Brazil, we are approximately 50 million black women.
Racism, prejudice and discrimination are present in Brazilian society and reinforce the inequalities and exclusion of black women in various sectors – politics, education, health, culture, labor, etc. According to the WHO – World Health Organization – such discrimination results in a maternal mortality rate six times greater in the group of young black girls and women compared to non-black women.
In Rio de Janeiro, black women are the majority among the victims of murder – one with intent to kill (55.2%), attempted murder (51%), injury (52.1%) rape and indecent assault (54%).
“Discrimination against women means any distinction, exclusion or restriction based on sex which has for its object the result of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on the basis of equality of men and women, human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field” (Convention of the United Nations/1979 on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women).
Where are the black women in the labor market?
Do you see young black girls or women working as receptionists, mall vendors and/or in private banks? How many times have you been attended to by a black female doctor? Racism in Brazil, pushed black women out of the formal labor market and is the father of the “good appearance” often demanded in the market. In the formal labor market we occupy the last place at the base of the pyramid of indicators.
Socioeconomic result: We receive the lowest salary in the country (LAESER/2010).
2nd Black Women’s Seminar: Roots of Resistance
71% of black women are in precarious and informal occupations; this means no labor rights and secured welfare, compared to 54% for white women and 48% for white men. (Data DIEESE/SEADE, IBGE, IPEA)
The pyramid of wage indicators, which demonstrates the inequalities of gender and race, points out that the white man has the highest salary. Then comes the white woman’s salary, then the black man and, finally, the lowest salary: the black woman.
One in four young black Brazilians between the ages of 15 and 24 years are not in school or not working – which corresponds to 25.3% of this population group. The rate of black women who don’t work or don’t go to school is higher than young women in general (23.1%) of young men (13.9%) and black men (18.8%). (ILO, 2012)
When comparing the presence of black men and women in higher education, we found that even though women having a greater presence in the universities, they suffer more from unemployment than black men (DIEESE, 2007), a group that also experiences the racial bias of Brazilian society.
Thus, there is the double exclusion of these women, racial/ethnic and gender.
“I black woman, resist” – Alzira Rufino, political activist of the Black Movement and the Black Women’s Movement)
Luisa Mahin, a former slave and leader of the Revolt of Malês, the greatest of all slave revolts of the northeastern state of Bahia (1835).
Mariana Criola, leader, along with Manuel Congo, the greatest escape of slaves in the history of Rio de Janeiro (1838). She was arrested after resisting the siege of the police, under the shouts of “Die yes, do surrender no!”
Antonieta de Barros, a black journalist, born in the early twentieth century, in Santa Catarina, broke boundaries and became the first black woman to assume a popular post in Brazil, elected state representative elected by direct vote twice.