Note from BW of Brazil: As an old adage says and continues to be true, if you want to know where politicians stands, how they govern or whose orders they follow, simply follow the money. And rest assured, if these candidates don’t receive a lot of money, they will have very little influence to carry out the objectives of who they are supposedly representing. These are facts are often brutally clear when we consider the careers of prominent black politicians who are often selected and supported by the black community based upon the assumption that said candidate will represent the interests of the black community. This is often not the case and perhaps two of the biggest examples of this can be culled from the candidacies of two prominent candidates of African ancestry in the United States and Brazil.
In 2008 and 2012, US President Barack Obama was elected with the enormous support of the African-American community even as a candidate and sitting president made no clear promises to the black community. Leading up to the 2014 election, Marina Silva showed much promise in the possibility of becoming the first black female president in Brazil’s history. However, within the last few weeks of her campaign, Silva’s stream ran out and she eventually bowed out of the race. But similar to Obama, Silva made no open statements or promises on the topic of race beyond defining herself as a black woman. These two examples, among many others, provide us a clear pattern when it comes to assessing the commitments and objectives of black candidates in relation to the community that they are expected to serve. But this is before we consider the principle factor that will determine the objectives of these candidates: money.
In the political world, if one doesn’t have a lot of money to campaign, said candidate most likely will not be able to compete in any campaign. And these candidates do attract donations, their allegiances will be influenced if not outright controlled by the financiers of their campaigns. And as specifically black agendas are not particularly attractive to those with deep pockets, black agendas will continue to fall to the wayside even when the candidates classify themselves as black. For many black activists who have followed the meteoric rise of President Barack Obama, nearly eight years of the “first black president” have been a disaster for the African-American community. This writer has no reason to believe that had Marina Silva been elected as Brazil’s first black woman president, there would have been any sort incentive for her to push specific issues that affect the Afro-Brazilian community. One need only look at her national and international handlers to realize who President Marina Silva would have been ultimately serving.
That, in essence, details the precarious situation of black candidates who desire to have success in mainstream politics. One can be physically black, which is already enough of an obstacle in itself, but to bring in the huge amounts of money that will lead to such success, political blackness is often what must be sacrificed.
Major donors and companies have no interest in agendas of the black movement, says researcher
Sergio Henrique Teixeira advocates the end of donations made by companies
By Alvaro Magalhães
The geographer Sergio Henrique Teixeira de Oliveira, a researcher from Unicamp and member of the collective Raízes da Liberdade (Roots of Freedom), says that the major funders of election campaigns have no interest in the agenda of the Movimento Negro (black movement).
“The agenda of the black movement is not an interesting agenda for large companies and for large financiers. This makes it so that black candidates more engaged with the racial question don’t enter an electoral contest on conditions of equality with white candidates.”
An unpublished study by R7, based on TSE numbers (Superior Electoral Court), showed that black applicants received, on average, about a third of the average collection of whites in the 2014 elections. Among women and men the difference was similar.
Teixeira says the difference in funding is indicative of a structural racism.
“Racism in Brazil is not conjunctural, it doesn’t materialize only in personal attitudes. It contaminates all institutions that reproduce it.”
According to the researcher, the low representation of blacks in the Parliament ends up handicapping a series of demands of the Movimento Negro.
“The Estatuto da Igualdade Racial (Statute of Racial Equality) was approved in 2010. But its content was well below what was expected. Regarding quotas in the public service and universities, for example, it was predicted that the proportion of reserved places should be equal to the percentage of the population of each state. This didn’t go in.”
Teixeira advocates ending donations to candidates made by companies.
“The funding on the part of companies ends up making those elected become defenders of the interests of these companies. Even the black candidates, when they get funding, end up leaving aside the demands of the Movimento Negro. Marina Silva, for example, was a black candidate. She declared herself negra (black). But in her agenda, in the debates, the issue disappeared.”
The researcher also says that a debate on public campaign financing is needed.
“I am in favor of public funding, but this has to be thoroughly debated. How will the funding be allocated? The way free time is divided today is not good. The smaller parties have negligible time to put out their proposals.”