Note from BW of Brazil: Representation. The discussion of which has only grown in importance in recent years in a key factor in the rising tide of momentum in Afro-Brazilian circles that are demanding a bigger slice of the Brazilian pie. Without this representation in media, politics, education, etc., millions of would be politically black people who be potential participants and activists in the struggle voluntarily exclude themselves as they fail to recognize themselves in the struggle. In a Brazil that has always promoted the ideal of whiteness, masses of Brazilians of visible African ancestry fail to even notice the lack of black representation in so many areas of Brazilian society, which weakens the overall force of the movement. Afro-Brazilian activists have long proclaimed Brazil to have “the largest black population outside of Africa” but without this representation and subsequent raising of consciousness, millions of people will continue to remain silent on an issue that directly affects them. And Brazilian elites have long known this and with techniques of black exclusion, they have managed to keep this huge sleeping giant in its place. But with the rise of alternative methods of outreach, mainly the internet, new possibilities are beginning to “sound the alarm” and awakening this giant to its full potential. The young woman featured in today’s article (featured here last November), is one of the voices leading the charge.
Lack of black representation causes symbolic death, says the creator of Ubuntu
Monique Evelle, a young black woman entrepreneur, participated in the debate on media and black empowerment in the Festival Afreaka
By Nadine Nascimento
The Afreaka Festival: encounters of contemporary Africa and Brazil held a round of debates on “Media and digital social tools for black empowerment” on Tuesday (21) in downtown São Paulo. The table included the Bahian communicator and entrepreneur Monique Evelle.
Monique, 21, is responsible for the creation the Social Desabafo organization and “Ubuntu”, the first social network of collaborative learning in Brazil and space of content exchange space and experiences on the history of Afro-Brazilian culture. Monique is on the list of “30 mulheres com menos de 30 anos para ficar de olho″ (30 women under 30 to keep an eye on), made by Claudia magazine and the M de Mulher website.
“Ubuntu”, an expression in the Zulu language means “Eu sou porque nós somos” (I am because we are), a philosophy followed to the letter by the activist, who sees “unity as key to the promotion of debates and new socio-racial politics.” Therefore, the event promoted by the Festival had an intimate tone, in a space of reflection on black issues within social movements, and university networks, with the testimonies of personal experiences of those present.
“Where hashtags do not reach”
The tone of almost the whole discussion was questioning about the fact that black “empowerment” often give in non-accessible places, such as universities and social networks, as the black population is a minority in higher education and about half of the Brazilian population has no access to the internet. For her, it is necessary to take this knowledge “where the hashtags don’t reach”, recalling an expression of philosopher Djamila Ribeiro.
“When we created Social Desabafo, we went to networks first, we went to the streets. Because on the Internet we always have this debate with those who are already adepts of militancy. We have to think for whom we are speaking. And most Brazilians don’t have access to the internet,” she said.
For the young entrepreneur, first of all, blacks should recognize themselves as such for only then will they manage to fight for socio-racial policies. “Understanding oneself as black is a difficult process and is related to also understanding a whole historical process. After 350 years of slavery, many things were denied to us. Today, we can relatively choose whether or not to enter the university. We need to think about how to dialogue with the periphery. Could it be that when we go to universities we know how to dialogue with the periphery from where we came?” she asked.
The activist also spoke of “symbolic death” which, according to her, represents all psychological violence to which the black community is subjected daily. “Some militants believe that we can’t discuss symbolic death, while black youth are dying for real. But when we occupy a space with a lack of representation, that is, predominantly white, straight, cis and elitist, it sickens us and we’re dying inside.”
Racism, according to Monique, perpetuates itself by the difficulty of Brazilian society in handling it, preferring to deny its existence. Therefore, patience and persistence in black militancy would be necessary when talking about racial inequality.
“We live our whole life being silenced and now we no longer want to dialogue, we want to explode. When a white says something we don’t like, we soon block it out. The problem is that it would be the only time we could dialogue with that person. We need balance. It’s hard to keep listening to racists until the end, we want to attack, but we need to have patience. You can tell when people are talking about it because of ignorance and what we can do is to explain and recommend texts or films on the subject,” she believes.
Source: Brasil de Fato
What a brilliant young lady! More people like her should seek political office.
This is a great story! I wish Monique Evelle every success! Change and self-affirmation and love aren’t easy when you are oppressed, but it is young visionaries like her to help to keep us all moving forward!