Is there sexism within the Movimento Negro? The voices and accusations that cannot be silenced


Note from BW of Brazil: Within any organized social movement there will always be areas of agreement and there will always be voices of dissent due to disagreements. Whenever there are different factions intersecting often times points of contention will arise in which one faction will feel slighted, disregarded or pushed aside by other groups, cliques or forces within the movement. We see these differences when nations and governments that claim to stand for justice and equality while saying nothing of glaring racial inequalities. We see it these same governments and nations preach fairness and equality for all men, thus totally ignoring the feminine majority. We see it within feminists movements dominated by the ideals of white women that totally ignore the demands of black women. We also see it within the confines of black organizations that have long been dogged by accusations of sexism on the part of black women who feel solidarity with black men along racial lines but note postures of superiority coming from these men along lines of gender.

These accusations have existed for a number of years and in the first piece of today’s post, we re-visit a controversial story that made headlines back in 2012 when a woman accused an historically important organization of the Movimento Negro in Bahia of sexist aggression. With the publication of two recent pieces by black female activists (also below) on the issue of sexism within the movement, we present the 2012 incident and both recent pieces on this important topic.

Woman accuses leader of bloco Ilê Aiyê  of sexism; bloco publishes note of clarification

According to Dayse Sacramento, Fernando Ferreira verbally abused her and pushing her up against trio elétrico

By Gilvan Reis and Metro 1

February 24 and February 28, 2012

On Facebook, Dayse Sacramento's message had been shared almost 400 times
On Facebook, Dayse Sacramento’s message had been shared almost 400 times

The testimony of a reveler of Ilê Aiyê has caused controversy in social networks since last Thursday (23). According to the testimony of the an owner of a Master’s degree from the Cultural Criticism program at the University of Bahia, Dayse Sacramento, the episode would have occurred in the Ilê parade on Tuesday (21), on the Osmar circuit in Campo Grande. Dayse spoke about it on her personal blog and Facebook that she had been a victim of sexism and having been pushed up against the trio elétrico (1) in motion by one of the bloco’s leaders, Fernando Ferreira Andrade and accused of not having bought her costume legally.

After following the bloco for two days, Dayse said that she had bought a costume to enter inside of the roped off area in the last Carnival. Once inside, she was approached by two men at the beginning of the route with the following words: “People like you dirty up and embarrass the Ilê Aiyê bloco. Next year, we will put people like you out, Ms. Indecency. You must respect the bloco.”

After being surprised, she understood that the message supposedly referred to the abadá (2): “I was already in tears, I realized they were referring to my reformed costume, just the strapless shirt, with the stomach covered and the skirt still intact, I didn’t reform it,” she reported. Protesting the situation and demanding respect, she was by being held by the arm Fernando Ferreira by the arm and pushed against the trio elétrico that was in motion. “You hardly bought your costume! Who knows how you even got here!” Fernando allegedly said.

According to Dayse, at realizing the situation, other women affirmed that this was a recurring thing in the bloco parades. She preferred not report the case to the police, but she filed a complaint with the Observatório de Discriminação, Violência contra a Mulher e GLBT (Observatory of Discrimination, Violence against Women and LGTB) of the Secretaria Municipal de Reparação (Municipal Secretariat of Reparation) and stated that, in addition, she would take judicial action against the bloco. According to official data, the Observatório recorded in this Carnival 142 occurrences, 256 cases of racial discrimination, 138 assaults on women and 18 occurrences of homophobia.

President of Ilê Aiyê, Vovô
President of Ilê Aiyê, Vovô

Ilê Ayê  speaks on the case

After he learned of the complaint, the president of the block, Vovô of Ilê, reported that in fact the associated looked for him on that day. “She came to me and I asked if she had identified herself before what happened; if she had shown herself to be an associate. And she went away.” According to Vovô, the bloco has struggled with regard to the reform of costumes. “We have tried every year to raise the consciousness of associates. There are people who buy a costume and transform it into three. This brings us financial and also logistical problems with Sucom, with the number of cordeiros (rope holders), in the end,” he points out.

About the allegations that had been leaning against the trio by one of the leaders, Vovô said that the entity will investigate the case. “We will see if this occurred and how it occurred. But we must emphasize that we are a bloco whose majority are women, more than 60%. There is no sexism within  Ilê. The associate, who claims to know the bloco, should know our history. If she was offended by some situation, the Board apologizes. We are open to dialogue and we will investigate what happened,” he said.

Vovô also considered as unnecessary some of Dayse’s statements: “We don’t understand her need to assert that she is heterosexual and that she is educated, doing a master’s and all. As if in Ilê we would not accept whoever had another orientation or were not educated. It’s necessary to know more of our history,” he emphasized.

The statement issued by the bloco confirms the fact that the costume’s modification being condemned by the direction of Ilê itself. Also in the note, the bloco confirms the argument and explained that the screams were due to the loud sound of the trio elétrico. The Portal da Metrópole talked to Ilê’s Vovô, founder of the bloco, who justified the condemnation due to damages suffered in the illegal sale of costumes.

“It’s a matter we’ve been fighting for a long time. It represents a loss of about 30% to 40%. Dayse Sacramento bought the costume outside of the bloco out of the hands hand of a third party, not an associate. If there was an aggression, why didn’t she seek the police?” said the founder.

Vovô was also asked why there is no security seal in the bloco’s costumes. An old problem from the use of shrouds in traditional blocos to prevent bootlegging, these blocos placed a security seal, which could not be removed from the costume. Vovô said that due to the repercussions, they will adopt the seal in the bloco in 2013, along with a legal document agreement between the member and the bloco.

Charges are re-occurring, says former associate

After the note was published on the bloco’s Facebook, the coordinator of the Centro de Cultura e Idiomas Mário Gusmão (Mário Gusmão Center for Culture and Languages), Denilson Santana, commented on the publication, stating that the case is not unprecedented and that he left Ilê because of witnessing assaults.

 “It’s not the first time that this type of treatment happens. I personally am a witness of an assault suffered by an important councilor of the Movimento Negro (black movement) in the bloco. A ‘security’ guard punched her in the face just because she was crossing the bloco and stopped to talk to me. I’m really good friends with several members of the ‘Ilê’, but I’ve already been so often attacked in the bloco that I’ve stopped making my presence until the day that something changes,” he reported.

Note from BW of Brazil: There are simply to many unanswered questions to come to a clear conclusion about this case. One the one hand, if it is true that the director was verbally and physically aggressive with Sacramento, and other women verify that this is common treatment, we could have a clear case of sexist aggression. Beyond this issue, we have the question of accusations of Sacramento buying what surmounts to bootlegged material which can be devastating for any independent organization. As we don’t have any more information from Sacramento on the the topic, we cannot pass judgement on that aspect either. The only thing that could be said on both accounts is if they happened as the accusations allege, both parties would be in the wrong. Whether there was or wasn’t a clear case of sexism here, it still opens an opportunity to address the issue which, as stated previously, is not a new one within the Movimento Negro. 

On sexism, the Movimento Negro and revolution

by Luka

Originally published at BiDê Brasil


In the black movement one says so often that when we advocate the necessity of thinking about the issues that concern the lives of women and black LGBT it is dividing the movement, sectorializing and weakening the unity. Funny that one forgets, or pretends to forget, that the racial debate  fought by us in the feminist and LGBT movement specifically pointing to what our complete emancipation means we are also labeled divisive, sectoralists and the like.

However it’s interesting to see how many black men in the spaces of general policy end up allying themselves with white men when the logic is to silence the agendas that can achieve “unity” of the policy. The guideline that there is diversity and specificities and that they need to be understood in constructing the everyday policy is thinking about constructing the emancipation of an entire class that is a cis and trans woman, that is indigenous, that is black, that is a lesbian and that is profoundly marginalized and subjugated by the state in which we live is profoundly revolutionary and not vice versa.

In fact, criticizing the existence of such debates, pointing out the existence of sexism, homolesbobitransfobia, racism in any organization and movement also goes for us thinking of how to build a political process that deconstructs existing historical vices in politics. The maintenance of the sexual division of labor militancy in spaces of militancy is one of the most damaging things to the struggle for the emancipation of all oppressed and exploited. Nothing more.

There is no revolution in Brazil if you have no cis and trans women, black, indigenous, lesbians thinking and talking about politics in all areas and not just to serve as a tokens, but to effectively present policies constructed for emancipation built of those that are marginalized.

Class is this diversity, the Movimento Negro (black movement) is this diversity, the feminist movement is this diversity, the labor movement is this diversity … If we don’t think about politics for oppressed diversity we’ll just do more of the same.

And this hidden machismo behind the black movement, no way?

by Cris Santana

Originally publushed at Blogueiras Negras

I think it’s fair titling this text as a form of intimidation to this militant “crew”.

First because they hate being called out, second because I am black woman. And being called out by a woman who calls herself a feminist, must be something similar to death for these males!

First, let me introduce myself, Cristiane, 27, a single mother of a 10-year old boy, a domestic, housewife, Educafro student and future student of a Bachelor of Arts.

This is my first text to the blog and I would like to thank the Blogueiras Negras (Black Women Bloggers), for the space and Djamila Ribeiro, for encouraging me to write. You all are inspirations!

The other day, I posted on my Facebook profile the following sentence: “Black man, that takes advantage of slick talk, intelligence and training, academic, to engage with black woman and then come out hurting, cheating and even speaking badly, deserves a kick between the legs! “

Between a beef and another with a renowned militant from the Santos region, he told me that the Movimento Negro (black movement) doesn’t respect a black woman that practices “misandry” (hatred of men) with a black man on the web, referring to my post.

That was the thousandth intervention criticizing my Facebook posts, comments and even my behavior.

After all, innumerous times I had been called a “sweet feminist” in an attempt to delegitimize and undermine me as a feminist.

How many of us have suffered or suffer silently this kind of aggression, and have or have had quiet some kind of aggression, often times coming from men within the Movimento Negro, that divides tables of debate, hold positions in politics and travel Brazil and abroad often times stealing our feminist discourse and swearing they are anti-sexist! But alas, something is wrong with this thing!!

From my point of view, a man who defends the black feminism does not necessarily need to be married to a black feminist, however, it is essential that in addition to recognizing our struggle, he respects us! You cannot have respect for a black man who abuses a black woman in any form, deceives her, says the girl should have patience with him only with the intention of exterminating her.

And it is good to remember that there is no feminist man!

You black men, sexist and shameless, using the Movimento Negro to hide yourselves, don’t represent us in anything. You don’t have any moral to talk about feminism and you embarrass us, segregate and blind our eyes. You abuse supposed “power”, take advantage of our weaknesses and shortcomings to lie and sow discord among us.

It’s very hypocritical to lecture or take militant stands against sexism, if you assume yourself to be a sexist, or not even needing to assume yourself as such, but don’t make any effort to deconstruct this violence, and then we enter into the question “from father to son” when you place the blame on the raising of your fathers.

We know that the upbringing that was given to us was sexist, our mothers lived under the yoke and orders of men who oppressed them. The girls brought up to be housewives and the boys being taught early on that a man doesn’t cry, that the correct posture of a man in society is to impose. The more sexist the better.

However, there seems to be resistance on your part not to deconstruct these customs that in the “little school of the white man’s sexism” our parents learned and reproduced. Sexism kills, brothers, you all  need to think about the pain that we black women go through, how many abuses and how much we suffer silently. But unfortunately, this goes beyond the consciousness of the problem, there’s a whole work of acceptance that should to be done by you. For if we want to enter a university, we can, and if we want to earn more that you, we can. If the food is not ready 6pm, you can learn to cook, or simply pick up a blessed telephone and order a pizza!

We can all, it’s time (or has it already passed) of the men to understand, “Who runs the world? Girls!”

Cris Santana

Remove your masks, pseudo militants, the encirclement will close itself, the Movimento Feminista Negro (Black Feminist Movement) only grows and nothing has happened beaten.

Take care, you men and please, leave from the front with your sexism that we will pass up with our empowerment.

Cristiane Santana, 27, Educafro student, Santos.

Source: BiDê Brasil, Blogueiras Negras, Metro1, iBahia


1. Trio Elétrico (or electric trio) is a kind of truck or float equipped with a high power sound system and a music group on the roof, playing for the crowd. It was created in Bahia specifically for Carnival and it is now used in similar events in other districts and countries. This setup is used in Brazilian Carnival inside the blocos carnavalescos and other festivals in Brazil, specially in micaretas. The idea was introduced in 1949 during a carnival in Bahia by the duo Dodô e Osmar (Adolfo Nascimento and Osmar Macedo). Source

2. Abadá can refer to various items of clothing: a white tunic worn by for prayer by African Muslims, the uniform of port workers in Brazil, the pants worn by capoeristas, or a shirt sold at a carnival or theatrical production to promote the event. Source

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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