Santa Catarina is a small state located in the southern portion of Brazil. It is one of three states located in this region that, along with Rio Grande do Sul and Paraná, are considered the most European of all Brazilian states, both in terms of its racial composition and cultural influences. In the 19th century, this region attracted a large influx of immigrants from Germany and Italy. The region was originally colonized by the Portuguese and the Spanish. Today, this region has the smallest concentration of Afro-Brazilians in the entire country. According to reports, Afro-Brazilians make up somewhere between 9.6% and 11.7% of the population of the state of Santa Catarina. Florianópolis is the capital city of the state and as of 2007, it had a population of about 420,000.
In 2009, the black councilman Badeko honored a group of black women for their unique contributions to the city of Florianópolis. The Troféu Mulheres Negras – Destaques 2009 (Black Women of Distinction Awards of 2009), held on the evening before the annual Black Consciousness Day in November, honored a number of women for their accomplishments. After receiving her award, the journalist Márcia Feijó had this to say:
“I always say that sometimes the racism comes from ourselves, but we devalue ourselves. Because we think that we are inferior….Being there and getting that trophy…it was not for my ego, no. I made sure to be there because I believe that my presence, and all of us, honorees, more than anything, was for the black girls of Florianopolis so that realize that they, like us, are also worthy of a trophy. It is so that they know that their curly hairs are like those of the beautiful model Anelise Lalau, one of the honorees. So that they know that they can be successful designers or producers, like Matiza and Kênia. So that they know that there are engaged black women directing social actions that benefit them and they can also do this for the girls to come. In that regard, I feel so proud to have received this award.”
The event also honored Vera Lúcia Rodrigues of the Instituto Figueirense de Assistência Social (Figueirense Institute of Social Assistence), the fashion model Anelize Lalau, the plastic artist Gláucia Antônia Assis Santana and Mariza Vera of the NGO Projeto Sol e Lua (Project Sun and Moon). Also, although the award ceremony was called the Black Women of Distinction Awards, it also honored various black men of Florianópolis. Below are a few of the winners.
Márcia Feijó, journalist and co-editor of the “Variedades” section of the Diário Catarinense newspaper
Fábia Hafferman, journalist, with a specialty in photography
Maritza Fabiane Celestino, fashion designer
Marisa Costa, General Director of Colégio Tendência of Florianópolis, a high school that specializes in technical courses and college entrance exam preparation.
Maria Aparecida Caitano, the first black judge of the Regional Court of Labor in Santa Catarina, was a winner of the award in 2010.