Prejudice against blacks on the job is still a reality


Experiences with discrimination didn’t make these people give up their professional goals

by Nathan Santos

Prejudice against blacks, a legacy from the slavery era, is still present in the social nuclei, even though some argue that this is a thing of the past. And, in the context of integration into the labor market, inequality between blacks and people of other races is proven, causing another axis of discussion on the topic.

In the Metropolitan Region of Recife (capital of the northeastern state of Pernambuco), for example, a survey showed that there is still a difference between the wages and working hours of blacks and non-blacks. According to the study by Condepe/Fidem, it’s a fact that there was recorded a reduction in inequality in the labor market in recent decades, however, in spite of the black Economically Active Population (População Economicamente Ativa or PEA) being 69.4% black, while non blacks are to 30.6%, the working conditions of blacks are characterized by precarious jobs, with no social protection, longer working hours and lower wages.

Among the unemployed, 14.4% are blacks and non-blacks represent a percentage of 11.2%. For black women, the situation is even worse, since the unemployment rate is twice the rate of men who are not black. This last data comes from the newsletter of the Pesquisa Emprego e Desemprego (PED or Employment and Unemployment Survey) on the inclusion of blacks in the labor market in the Recife Metropolitan Area in 2011.

The view of who is black

Getting a job opportunity for George de Souza, 34, initially was a difficult task. According to the social scientist and musician, to stand out in the market, even in the midst of prejudice, he had to assume his condition. “It’s necessary to identify as black and seek to put in mind that we are equal to everyone.”

George de Souza, Social Scientist

The social scientist states that discrimination hurts not only the honor of the people, but also hinders them in the job search. “The moral damage can be subjective, but, you end up  weakened. I’ve met people who have gone into depression,” he says.

Paintings of African cultural expression at Akotimene center

After going through a religious ministry that discussed the reality of young people, George gained prominence in the labor market after joining a public agency and assuming a management position. According to the musician, there are still lots of people discriminated against, with a kind of prejudice which he classifies as institutional racism. “It’s like there’s a greater weight for me being black and being in a leadership role. They questioned me as to whether I was capable of being there,” he says.

black Brazilian women
Akotimene Centro de Referência Afro Indígena 

Currently, the social scientist is one of the people responsible for the Centro de Referência Afro Indígena (African Indigenous Reference Center) Akotimene,  pictured right, located at the Casa da Cultura (House of Culture), in downtown ​​Recife. The space offers several cultural productions, of national and international origin, such as clothing, props, books, musical instruments and paintings among other things.

The Akotimene center focuses on items that exalt African culture

The ridiculous became the beautiful

For a long time working as a receptionist in a religious group, Cinthia Almeida, 27, wanted to spread a work of African origin. Having black skin and disposed to wearing clothes and accessories of her liking, she says that she’s not afraid of using props that may make someone reproach her.

Cinthia Almeida

“I have suffered prejudice. But little by little I was wearing my clothes of African origin and some people said that it was ridiculous. But after a while, the ridiculous became the most beautiful,” said Cynthia. This latest reference corresponds to a project that, after much insistence, she has achieved in her own religious group.

Cintia created a dance group linked to black representations such as maracatu (1), lundum (2), and maculelê (3), among others. Even with opposing views, the work was gaining participants and respect from the members of the religious group. I stopped being a receptionist and started working with culture, which is what I like,” she says.

Vanessa Marinho, 30, also reveals that she was discriminated against, believing it was because of color. “In 2004, I worked in a bookstore and I realized it was treated differently from other employees. I also noticed discrimination in the number of employees, in which of the 20, only two people were black,” she says.

Vanessa Marinho, teacher

Currently, Vanessa, who is a teacher, is unemployed. “Maybe the fact of being black can be a cause of my situation of unemployment. My resume is good, and this I’m sure of. I make an issue of submitting it personally, but so far no opportunity has presented itself,” she explains.


1. Maracatu is a term common to two distinct performance genres found in Pernambuco state in northeastern Brazil: maracatu de nação (nation-style maracatu) and maracatu rural (rural-style maracatu). A third style, maracatu cearense (Ceará-style maracatu), is found in Fortaleza, in the northeastern state of Ceará. Maracatu also designates the music style that accompanies these performances. Source: Wiki

2. The lundu or lundum is a contemporary musical genre and a Brazilian dance of hybrid nature, created from the drumming of Bantu slaves brought to Brazil from Angola and Portuguese rhythms. From Africa, lundu inherited the rhythmic base, a certain rhythmic sway and  lascivious aspect, evidenced by umbigada, (4) the rhythmic sway of the hips and other gestures that mimicked the sexual act. From Europe, lundu, which is considered by many to be the first Afro-Brazilian rhythm, made use of Iberian dance characteristics, like the snap of the fingers, and melody and harmony, along with the instrumental accompaniment of mandolin. Source: Wiki

3. Maculelê is a type of Brazilian folk dance of Afro-Brazilian and indigenous origin. The maculelê in its origin was an armed martial art, but today is a dance form that simulates a tribal fight using two sticks as a weapon, called grimas (esgrimas), with which participants deliver trims and blows to the music. In a greater degree of difficulty and daring, one can dance with machetes instead of sticks, which gives a beautiful visual effect with sparks coming out after each stroke. This dance is very associated with other cultural manifestations such as Brazilian Capoeira and frevo (5).

4. Umbigada is an Afro-Brazilian dance created in the mid-nineteenth century. Umbigada is of African origin, brought to Brazil by slaves, and was practiced in quilombos. Simply calling the dance umbigada explains it in reference to the slaves who wore short clothes with their umbigos (navels) exposed, the more adult slaves (which had tighter clothes) were the ones who were more familiar with the dancing, so though dance always did so with their navels out. Source: Wiki

5. Frevois a musical rhythm and a Brazilian dance originating in the state of Pernambuco, mixing marcha (6), maxixe and elements of capoeira (9). It was declared Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. Appearing in the city of Recife in the late nineteenth century, frevo is characterized by an extremely rapid pace. Performed much during carnival, conflicts were common between frevo blocos, in that they were placed ahead of their blocosto intimidate rival blocos and protect its banner. Source: Wiki

6. Marchaas a musical style is a piece of music originally written for marching and frequently performed by a military band. Thus, marcas range from the funeral march of Wagner and Chopin, to the military marches of John Philip Sousa and Edward Elgar and the marchas hymns of the late nineteenth century. Source: Wiki

7. The Maxixe (aka Brazilian Tango) is a type of Brazilian ballroom dance created by blacks that was popular between the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Dancing is accompanied by the musical form of the same name, contemporary polka and principles of Choro (8) and performed by composers such as Ernesto Nazareth and Patápio Silva. But the biggest name in the composition of maxixes was undoubtedly the conductor Chiquinha Gonzaga. Source: Wiki

8. Choro, popularly called Chorinho, is a genre of popular and Brazilian instrumental music. The musician, songwriter or instrumentalist associated with Choro is called a chorão. A frequent characteristic of Choro is often seen in the virtuosity of the musicians, as well as the musicians’ abilities to improvise. The rodas de Choro (circles where Choro is performed) are meetings more informal, very different from presentations and shows. They usually occur in bars or in the homes of musicians, where they all come together to play Choro. The term choro means crying and the musical style is somewhat reminiscent of American Dixieland Jazz. Source: Wiki

9. Capoeira is a Brazilian cultural expression that mixes martial art, sport, music and popular culture. Developed in Brazil mainly by descendants of African slaves, it is characterized by agile and complex blows and movements, primarily using kicks and sweeps, and head butting, kneeing, elbowing, acrobatics on the ground or in the air. One characteristic that distinguishes it from other martial arts is its musicality. Practitioners of this Brazilian martial art not only learn to fight and play, but also to play the typical instruments (such as the berimbau) and sing. An experienced capoeirista that ignores the musicianship is considered incomplete. The word capoeiraoriginated from the Tupi-Guarani, which means “what was killing” through the junction of the terms ka’a (mata or kill) and pûer (“que foi” meaning “that was”). Source: Wiki

Source: Leia Já

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

1 Comment

  1. Why do you people have to make up statistics , many of my white friends are unemployed and have never been in a leading position at the work place.
    All this blacks nowadays claim to be racism is: Oh, they said I have ‘bad hair’, my african clothes, and blah blah blah , that’s not empowering! Thats disgusting..Tell the truth!

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