Note from BW of Brazil: Today is the Day of Black Consciousness in Brazil, celebrated in hundreds of cities across the country. And while it remains an important symbol of the black struggle and a demonstration of the historical and cultural importance of the Afro-Brazilian community and the ongoing political struggle to attain social equality and minimize structurally racist inequalities, this year’s celebrations have taken on an even more political significance due to the political situation in the country that has taken a sharp turn to the right since the coup that led to the ouster of President Dilma Rousseff and 14 years of her party’s (PT or Workers’ Party) rule in the country.
The PT’s reign which, for many represented the first Brazilian government that attempted to balance out the country’s vast social/racial inequalities, and the movement and political agendas that led to the end of four straight terms of her party, has shown how deeply the country is divided along political lines, which in term reflect social and racial inequalities and divisions that one side (middle and upper classes) prefers to ignore or pretend don’t exist. And now with the chosen puppet in place to represent international interests (President Michel Temer) one can only imagine where the country will be headed in the next few years.
With Rousseff and the PTs dismissal, social organizations have been fearing the worst as Temer’s administration has already begun making drastic cuts and sweeping changes of which the open objective seems to be the complete reversal of the direction in which the country was steered over the past 14 years. Recent municipal elections nationwide also seemed to be another signal that drastic changes will be coming to Brazil over the next few years. A few weeks back, we brought the story of the young, black city councilman elected in Brazil’s financial powerhouse of São Paulo and his declared goals of bringing an end to the system of quotas that were implemented more than a decade ago as well as the Day of Black Consciousness holiday. With the holiday having been overturned in another major capital city in the nation’s south, activists in São Paulo see the writing on the wall and saw in this year’s march the necessity of of galvonizing the troops for what may turn out to be a forminable challenge to a holiday that was such a hard fought achievement in the first place.
Vem Pra Rua and Movimento Brasil Livre call for mobilization on same date and time of the March of Black Consciousness in São Paulo
By Douglas Belchior
It is essential to mobilize as many blacks men and women and of the population as possible who defend the values of human rights and democracy, to be present on Sunday, November 20th, starting at 11am, but especially at 2 pm, at in beside the Masp musuem (Museu de Arte de São Paulo) on Avenida Paulista in São Paulo, at the March of the Black Consciousness.
In complete disregard for the tradition and symbolism of the celebration of the national day of black consciousness, the right-wing movements ‘Vem Pra Rua’ and ‘MBL’ (1) have convened an act and a congress for the same date, time and place as the March of Black Consciousness, in São Paulo.
The Vem Pra Rua (go to the streets) Movement, on its page with more than 1 million and 400 thousand followers, is calling for an act “in support of the Lava Jato operation and the 10 measures against corruption” for November 20, at 3 pm, in the space next to MASP, on the Avenida Paulista, at the same place and time of the beginning of of the 13th March of the Black Consciousness, promoted by the Movimento Negro (black movement).
This same weekend, MBL – Movimento Brasil Livre (Free Brazil Movement) is promoting at the Hotel of Alameda Santos, two blocks from MASP, its National Congress, where it will present its bench of neo-liberal councilors to its followers, as well as count on the presence of the stars of the Brazilian reactionary and racist right, among them STF (Supreme Court) minister Gilmar Mendes, Secretary of Education, Mendonça Filho, SP’s elected mayor João Dória Junior, lawyer Janaína Pascoal and columnist Reinaldo Azevedo. Only the “good people”…
Racist agendas and risk of confrontation
Both the ‘Vem Pra Rua’ and the ‘MBL’ are mobilizing from the most hypocritical part of the upper middle class, those who beat the pots and pans (at protests) and uninformed young people, to the most backward sectors that even ask for military intervention in the country, with participation already proven by fascists and Neo-Nazis. They also stand out for the shameless and even violent way in which they expose their racism and their homophobia, both in the political defense that they make for the end of social policies such as the Bolsa Família, Prouni, Mais Médicos, racial quotas, LGBT rights, etc., and in the treatment of their employees and in the daily life of their relationships, especially in moments of meetings like that that should happen at MASP this Sunday.
Among the calls made for the Act, one of them refers to the fact that former President Lula has filed a request for the imprisonment of Federal judge Sérgio Moro, as shown below.
Lula’s lawyers accuse Moro of the abuse of authority and irregular conduct in the episodes of coercive conducting, search and seizure of documents in his residence and that of family members and illegal telephone interception (2).
March of Black Consciousness confirmed
Despite the convening of the demonstration by the rightwing movements and the risk of confrontation, the March of Black Consciousness reaffirms its peaceful and democratic character. The demonstration is maintained, confirmed for its concentration starting at 11am on Sunday, November 20th. Throughout the day there will be presentations of Afro-Brazilian cultural groups. At 3pm there should be an act with the presence of leaders of the movements and the beginning of the march towards the city’s downtown. .
Call your Family and friends and strengthen our mobilization!
Racist “courts” overturn Day of Black Consciousness in Porto Alegre, capital of Rio Grande do Sul
The day of November 20th is considered the day of Zumbi dos Palmares and Black Consciousness. In contrast to May 13th, the date of the signing of the false abolition of slavery (in 1888) and which is not claimed by the Movimento Negro, November 20th is marked by the death of Zumbi dos Palmares in 1695. Such a date is treated as a day to honor Zumbi, and all that he and so many other black people represent in the fight against racism. Such actions serve to strengthen beyond the calendars; our quilombos are still much needed to combat racism and capitalism.
By Alexandre Tubman
According to Federal Law 10.639, from January 9, 2003, November 20th is included as National Day of Black Consciousness on the school calendar. And Law 12. 519/2011, sanctioned by former president Dilma Rousseff, defines the date as a holiday but it is up to the municipalities to adopt them.
On Monday, November 7th, the Rio Grande do Sul Courts overturned the law establishing the holiday in the capital city of Porto Alegre, claiming unconstitutionality in its application.
In less than a year of its application, it was finally on November 24, 2015 that the Justice approved it as a holiday, the Day of Black Consciousness and the Diffusion of Religiousness, much celebrated by the black movement, however leaving racist businessmen and merchants with pains in the elbows. At the time they tried to file a lawsuit to stop our holiday, but they didn’t succeed. During the voting they still tried to adjust the date for the third Sunday of the month and not the 20th, but that proposal was also defeated. Then the courts put the holiday on November 2nd for federal responsibility, and day 20 was under the jurisdiction of the municipality of Porto Alegre.
Now passing over the rights they conquered with much struggle, they claim that the holiday brings losses to the local economy. According to the magistrate, the date doesn’t represent any indication to be treated as a day of safeguarding, which is not fundamental and meaningless for any religious denomination …
It is at the least absurd such pronouncements. Other holidays celebrating saints and symbols of the homem branco (white man) are not mentioned. The few “spaces” that we have or conquested are seen as a great hindrance to the homem branco. Entrepreneurs claim that they are not against the Day of Black Consciousness, but that they can not suffer damages, as if they themselves were producing or working for this, and not their employees who have been suffering brutal attacked to their rights.
We’ve seen a turn to the right in these municipal elections, along with the coup scenario that we see in the federal government, which has already begun to apply brutal attacks on every working class, and that has even already pronounced that many rights will be cuta and started taking a holiday of extreme importance to maintain our history alive, such a measure may well serve as an example of what the political line, in this more right-wing context, will be for the oppressed sectors. It may be the quotas at universities tomorrow, and if we don’t come up with an answer, even the right to walk on a sidewalk.
Activists of the Movimento Negro will try to file an appeal with the STF (Supreme Court), claiming that the measure of cutting off the holiday on the 20th is unreasonable, according to information only the city and state can do so and didn’t comment on this. This shows very well the racism embedded in this judicial system, which doesn’t hesitate to punish one of our own, but turns its back, as it always has in giving us what is ours.
- These two organizations were instrumental in leading the protests of hundreds of thousands in the streets throughout the country calling for the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff. See more here
- Embattled former President Lula da Silva has been at the center of an ongoing investigation of a huge corruption scandal known as Operação Lava Jato, or Operation Car Wash. Over the past several months, da Silva’s face has been consistently plastered on front pages of magazines and newspapers as well being featured as the lead story on TV news journals that continuously delve into the former president’s involvement in the scandal.