Outlining for death: White, Black areas and redlining of Brazilian cities

Outlining for death: White, Black areas and redlining of Brazilian cities

Outlining for death: White, Black areas and redlining of Brazilian cities
Outlining for death: White, Black areas and redlining of Brazilian cities

Note from BW of Brazil: After carefully following this pattern of black death in the peripheries of various Brazilian cities, folks should understand why I take the position that the widespread murder of non-white Brazilians is not an accident. Brazil has always made it clear that it would like to do away with its black population. It’s no secret. And all of the policies and practices that we see in place seem to work toward this goal.

During the slavery era, slave masters worked Africans literally to death and then simply replaced the fallen bodies with more. After that, with abolition, black people were released and left to their own devices to survive.

With the shift into free labor, elites could have easily employed black Brazilians in the new economy, but instead the government chose to subsidize millions of European immigrants to fill these new jobs while discriminating against recently freed slaves who were obviously capable of work as they were the ones perfoming all of the labor before abolition. (Outlining for death: White, Black areas and redlining of Brazilian cities)

Then, instill a sense of inferiority of anything associated with blackness and/or Africa which would make the black Brazilian despise himself which would lead to the desire to be white, which elites also encouraged by promoting miscegenation so that their offsprings would gradually become white after successive mixtures with light/white-skinned people.

Add to this difficult access to decent-paying jobs, education and health care and these people become permanent inhabitants of the slums or homeless, which further positions them as the menace of society. And being labeled the menace of society, they are treated as such by the country’s security forces who are made responsible for protecting the good (read: white) citizens from this rouge element. As such, the nation’s citizens have no pity on this group and consequently have no reaction when they are progressively eliminated by these security forces.

But surely Brazil isn’t like that, right? After all, don’t Brazilians think that they “are all equal”? How can that be when police raids, actions and blitzes only seen to happen in the areas where the rouge element (read: black/non-white) is the majority? In Brazil today, and for a long time, security forces have long known exactly where to go to eliminate those who they see as “worthless”, “killable”, a “horde of bandits”. And it the knowledge of this location that leads to a seemingly endless flow of black bodies falling onto the ground.

So long as this violence doesn’t spill over into their neighborhoods, the “good” citizens could care less how much blood is spilled. It’s the price of security. But as Brazilians “are all equal”, it must be coincidence that these falling bodies happen to be of a darker hue, right? As you know, it is the United States that keeps its non-whites segregated in ghettos. In Brazil, everybody mixes, so it would difficult to target groups by race, wouldn’t it? Think again. Because when the Military Police invade certain areas and start spraying, these regions aren’t where the “good” (read: white) people live. (Outlining for death: White, Black areas and redlining of Brazilian cities)

Outlining for death: White, Black areas and redlining of Brazilian cities
Outlining for death: White, Black areas and redlining of Brazilian cities

Outlining for death: White, Black areas and redlining of Brazilian cities

By Joice Berth

80 shots against a family man occured where young people celebrating their jobs we shot at 111 times. What does this say about cities?

Four years ago, 111 shots were fired at a car where five young people came from a celebration of their first salary. They were all black and young. The culprits are awaiting a popular jury, after a lot struggle by relatives for justice. The mother of one of the boys, suffered cardiac arrest and died, due to the suffering caused by the loss of her child. The justification of the police was that they were confused with the suspects of an assault that happened in the surroundings.

The location?

The neighborhood of Costa Barros, in the region of Guadalupe, Pavuna and other neighborhoods of the suburb (periphery) of RJ.

After these four years, many young black male and black females (it should be remembered that genocide also kills women and girls, directly or indirectly) continue to be murdered by the Brazilian state, which allows and justifies these free executions, since the anti-racism laws did not count on an offensive that would grow over time, demanding that the nuances and lines of racism be specified to better capture the real motives of these executions, such as genocide, for example.

But yesterday, precisely on April 7 of the following year, another heinous case comes into the statistics that only grow: a black family is attacked on public roads, in an “action” of the army, which unloaded 80 rifle shots into one car, killing the father of a family and musician Evaldo dos Santos Rosa, 51.

51-year old musician Evaldo Rosa dos Santos was murdered after the Brazilian Army riddled his car with 80 shots

According to reports, they were on their way to a celebration of a baby shower. Among the victims of the attack, a child as young as 7 years old. The justification of the police, was that they were shot by mistake. A mistake of 80 rifle shots. It is not possible for anyone to believe it.

The location?

The neighborhood of Guadalupe, in the region of Pavuna, Costa Barros and other areas of the suburb (periphery) of RJ.

It is critical to ask a question that has been neglected in all cases of genocide and slaughter:

How often does this happen in Leblon, Ipanema, Lagoa, Gávea or Jardim Botânico?

These neighborhoods are called upper crust neighborhoods. Without much cognitive effort, we conclude the overwhelming presence of pessoas brancas (white people) occupying these privileged places of the city where the square meter comes to cost up to 20 thousand reais. Endowed with all infrastructure and many luxuries, such as sight to the sea, these neighborhoods harbor the heirs of a historical and institutional slaughter called slavery (or enslavement, since it was a political process of imposing physical force and mental alienation with the intention to exploit the labor of a people kidnapped from their places of birth).

All the slaughters, killings or executions that account for what we call the genocídio da população negra (genocide of the black population) have a specific place: peripheries and slum areas (or areas that underwent political and social action, forming the physical space of racial violence and end up becoming a deposit, literally speaking, of those unwanted by the system of dominação branca – white domination.

The first favela of the country was born in Rio de Janeiro, as a consequence of the Guerra dos Canudos (Canudos War), when soldiers arrived in the old capital in search of the promises of housing that were guaranteed to them as payment for their “good performance” in the war that would eliminate Antônio Conselheiro, according to what historians point out. As they were deceived, they did not receive the part that was theirs in the agreement, they had no alternative but to settle on a slope that had a large plant that resembled a plant called favela, abundant in the region of Canudos. (Outlining for death: White, Black areas and redlining of Brazilian cities)

Some 10,000 soldiers stayed there and were joined by an expressive portion of ex-slaves who lived in unhealthy and expensive (for the condition offered) tenements called cortiços, or in sub-dwellings in the places where those who continued in regime similar to slavery worked.

Today, the present Morro da Providência is 122 years old and is one of the slum areas with the highest level of violence, which was aggravated by the Unidade de Polícia Pacificadora (Pacifying Police Unit), the fearsome UPPs.

But it is worth mentioning that there was already a racial segregation of space in colonial cities, which were later urbanized, in the strict sense of the word, and which, in the favela, found its ideal place to base the institutional practice of violating negritude brasileira (Brazilian blackness) also in physical spaces, denying the African architectural influence and expelling the população negra (black population) from the formal city.

What is clear is that there is an institutional order where racism is subdivided into practical actions for the elimination of the população negra, and this is a historical process proven by the laws that followed from the colonial period to the present day. (Outlining for death: White, Black areas and redlining of Brazilian cities)

To call a space of the city área nobre (upper crust area), is to delimit the place that embodies the social hierarchy that indicates who should or should not die, whether physically or symbolically. (Outlining for death: White, Black areas and redlining of Brazilian cities)

The space of the city or materialized place of subalternity as a racist construction of the subjectivity of the black population, are the peripheries and the slum areas, where the stigma of violence as a result of drug trafficking is based on the common sense of the population, saying tacitly that these are places where death is the only solution.

A clear inversion of values, since the articulators of violence as discursive and practical are in the noble areas (read: white), enjoying the bonus of exploitation, so-called social privileges, and maintaining the verticality of racial/social relations.

Racism delimited not only social spaces, but also physical spaces by designing cities in an exclusionary and segregationist way, reinforcing supremacia branca (white supremacy) as a form of predatory power.

In the US during the New Deal racist policies, a term was coined to describe this strategic demarcation of areas, obeying racial and class criteria, to limit access to real estate financial loans, redline maps.

The so-called redline maps were used in the US because the government needed to rebuild the real estate market after the Great Depression and avoid foreclosures. (Outlining for death: White, Black areas and redlining of Brazilian cities)

In this sense, the agency called Home Owners’ Loan Corporation a study among real estate brokers and real estate market specialists to give neighborhoods in more than 200 cities biased and derogatory considerations, such as “desirable”, “declining” or “dangerous”, quantifying the number of people born black and foreign. The smaller the score, the lower the chances of someone getting a bank loan to buy a house.

In Brazil there is also a redline that is silent, as it goes unnoticed to naked eyes, but when we look at a map like the one in the following image, it becomes deafening:

Racial Map of Points: City of Rio de Janeiro – Brazil. Red and green dots represent pretos (blacks) and pardos (browns) while the blue represents brancos (whites)

Our redline demarcates just like a glass wall, áreas pretas (black areas), where it is allowed to kill, rape, invade and perform completely arbitrary actions, such as shooting 80 or 111 rounds of rifles and áreas brancas (white areas) (upper crust neighborhoods).

Although the peripheries and áreas favelizadas (areas made into slums) also shelter white people, the black contingent is the majority and, due to other racist practices, its social mobility is terribly compromised. In black areas, such as those described above, to be black is to be a natural suspect, but it is also to belong to a deformed and dehumanized block made invisible by the racist system,  if not to be coldly eliminated.

In white areas, permanence is forbidden and restrained by intimidating looks and attitudes, if not by the real verbalization of racism that makes up the mentality of the Brazilian citizen.

That is, in any space of the city, ser preto é ser suspeito natural (to be black is to be a natural suspect) and a certain target of white inhumanity, constituted by the racism that is the main national legislator.

Racism is an urban planner who plans and defines spaces of death and life in big cities [1].

The great challenge of urban policies is to face the understanding of racism as a transversal social structure, and then to diagnose where it acts as a perpetuator of practices that corroborate racism.

The racial division of the city space has been designed and articulated by mentalities inheriting coloniality and has refused to review the absorption of the racist structure by urban and housing policies. Kimberley Creenshaw, an American black intellectual who coined the term intersectionality, warns of the need to work in any area of activity, naming problems arising from structural oppression.

Maria Lucia Pereira, leader of the Movimento da População de Rua (Street Population Movement) of Bahia, died in 2018, warned in an interview that when public policies do not specify race, as is also the case with land policies and housing assistance to the homeless population, efficient implementation is not achieved.

Inclusive urbanism is not enough; it is necessary to think of ways that break the racial logic that is physically delimited in the construction and division of the cities.

The peripheries and favelas are part of an important dehumanization articulation of black subjects, exposed to racist practices that culminate in physical death.

The spaces of the cities mirror the racial hierarchies that are given by the sociopolitical system, and need to become components of analysis and diagnosis, named in all plans and works that aim at socio-spatial improvements. It is no coincidence that a climate of war has been established in the peripheries and areas of favelas, with the excuse of inhibiting drug trafficking.

We know that the guerra às drogas (war on drugs) is a war against the população negra, since it is not only the black places of the cities that have traffic, as the white and elitist areas also have it.

These black spaces are places of racism that have materialized to chancel the other practices that figure in the great umbrella of the historical racial hierarchy. In these places, social permission is combined with the neglect and perpetuation of stereotypes, stigmas, and the physical and symbolic violence that has killed black and poor people since the beginning of this country.

Source: Carta Capital


[1] Reference to Janes Jacob’s work, Morte e Vida nas Grandes Cidades.

About Marques Travae 3747 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.


  1. Your understanding of the problem is unclear.

    Look at that picture of the cops menacing the shirtless man. They are the same color as the man.

    So, the culprits of the anti “black/nonwhite/pardo” violence are “black/nonwhite/pardo” themselves……the rank and file officers !

    They as Brazilians are so filled with self loathing and so desperate for a paycheck, a pension, and a sense of belonging to something that they sign up to commit group autogenocide on behalf of their white/whiter paymasters.

    What is the solution ?? Brazilians must look to South Africa. How did a handful of whites maintain a system of terror over the other 90% of the population ?? By using security forces staffed by same members of the oppressed groups. And what did Winnie Mandela do to stop them ?? She created a policy of bringing consequence right to the door step of the security forces.

    Not being “white”, the rank and file security officer did not live in special enclaves, by lived close enough to the people they oppressed. They were therefore vulnerable in their homes. and even on missions, the objective was to grab at least one and give him a special treatment called “The Necklace”. – A tire fitted around the neck of the officer, filled with gasoline and set to burn.

    You can imagine the psychological impact after a few officers were subject to said treatment. Their morale was quickly broken and they refused to the dirty work of their white minority handlers at any salary. Brazilians in these besieged areas will have to engage in the same policy. Consequence will have to brought directly to the security agents in a gruesome and spectacular fashion…………after a few incidents, the rank and fle officer and his family will start to ask the critical question – “Why am I risking my life against people who look just like me and who i am only marginally better of than, while my bosses like Bolsinaro and his ilk get to live consequence free ?

    at that point, the game will be up and the whole nasty system will collapse.

  2. Whoever posted the first comment deserves a salute!……..I’ve been saying the exact same thing! Yes, Winnie Mandela should have been the president! I also believe that those 27 years of Nelson’s confinement were to make him into a lobotomized coon traitor to his people, Winnie, had the answer and the of indigenous of SA would be markedly better today if she had!
    I personally believe that if the black people of Brazil and the rest of the world don’t understand what is really happening and make the right moves we will be facing possibility of extinction!……..the European forced his way on to the world and the only way to get them out will be by FORCE!

  3. I think there is one important factor not mentioned above that makes the South African case qualitatively different from the Brazilian case – in fact, one that accounts for almost all the difference. During the Apartheid era, the blacks of South Africa had always known who the enemy was. There was no “racial democracy” or “whitening process” that confused the black masses from identifying their true nemesis. The whites depended on sheer brutality to keep the blacks in their place; they knew that, for most, they could not depend on black collaboration in their oppression.

    Not so in Brazil. It is true that if blacks do what “al” is prescribing, there would be tangible results. But that is putting the cart before the horse. One has to have a cohesive and militant society to conduct such acts and get away with it. For instance, in South Africa when such acts were conducted, the community was solidly behind them and ready to protect them from authorities. In Brazil, they would be handed over to the authorities the next day. The problem with the black community in Brazil is that, up to this day, they have no clear picture of who the enemy is – almost 50% of the mixed population and a sizable portion of blacks (though a minority) voted for Bolsonaro! This is not a picture of the kind of society ready to fight back.

    Given their numbers (55% of the population”), if Brazilian blacks had reached the level of consciousness that black South Africans had reached, they would have brought drastic changes in all aspects of their lives without resorting to the extreme measure that “al” is talking about. For instance, think what peacefully boycotting companies, institutions and TV stations (Such as Globo) that discriminate against them by more than 100 million blacks would do. The change would be instant. But the reality is the opposite. I never stop wondering how is it that a city like Salvdor, 80% black, keep electing a white mayor and an almost all-white city council election after election. These are prisoners of their own mind, and hardly a population willing to fight back.

    So what makes al’s proposal impractical is the sad state of Afro-Brazilian community in general.

    • It appears that many of the blacks in Brazil don’t even know that they are black. It has taken blogs like this one and social media for many to be awakened to the knowledge that they are black people. It’s almost like they have ben children in the proverbial garden of Eden and have finally eaten of the forbidden fruits and their eyes are finally opening to their condition. I am not Brazilian and I do not think I have ever had an incarnation in Brazil, so I am not sure what kind of brainwashing and mind control has taken place on the black masses that so many didn’t even know that they are black. I lived the first 16 yrs of my life in a black majority nation and I have never not known that I am black. I cannot see how grown adults living in such a deeply rooted racial and classist society do not have this knowledge of self. I can only assume that what has taken place in Brazil against the black population is not like anything that took place in other former slave colony societies. Of course, it was always mentioned that the Portuguese slave trade was even more diabolically brutal than the already extreme brutality of other slave traders; Perhaps black Brazilians had to compartmentalize and disassociate from themselves to survive the brutality, but something happened in Brazil to the black ppl that has caused them so disconnected from reality.

  4. Majority of black Brazilians do not really identify as black. There is very little unity among the blacks. The black activists are majorly on their own and not getting the type of supports they should get from the black communities. The major concern of most Black Brazilian is to whitening their offsprings or not to have offspring at all. (Whitening offspring by marrying a white person- they hate being black). Doing anything at all cost to be accepted by the white community. These involves selling their own brothers just to be accepted.

    Most are only militants or activist online and on social media. They don’t even date themselves. Brazil is the worst country to black. There are proper organized Japanese, Chinese, Lebanese and European communities in Brazil. But there isn’t one single normal black neighborhood. Yeah true that you find more blacks in the favela/ghetto but then its still mixed settlement between blacks and mixed race whites. Most mixed race/pardos don’t consider themselves blacks, unless when convenient. In my years of living in Brazil I’ve never met a black executive or even proper business owner. I only see black janitors, security guards, maids, few in the police, or any job where they are buried in the background, Brazil as a nation is ashamed of its black population. THey hate it when foreign media show black people in interviews (They say it makes it look like Brazil is a black country). The definition of black in Brazil is very different from the world view.

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