Note from BW of Brazil: Today is July 25th, the Afro-Latin American and Caribbean Women’s Day. A day in which black women reflect on the struggles for recognition, the right to self-determination and celebrate many hard won battles for equality, a brighter tomorrow and a more dignified representation. The path is a long one and the battle tiring in a struggle for basic things that in a proper world, wouldn’t need to be fought for. If you’re not sure of the struggles that black women in Brazil must endure, be sure to many of the posts on this blog delve into topics such as racism, the acceptance (and society’s rejection) of cabelo crespo (curly/kinky hair) and the development of black identity in a country that makes it clear that it wants to be white, just to get an idea.
The lives of black women must be revered; perhaps the saddest and most repugnant example of why happened last March when wife and mother Cláudia Silva Ferreira’s body was dragged on the ground from the back of a Military Police SUV. Ferreira’s death was just one of the many of the daily examples of being the most under-appreciated parcel of Brazil’s population. But we also celebrate the accomplishments of women such as writer Conceição Evaristo, Feira Preta’s creator Adriana Barbosa, and Nilma Lino Gomes, the first black woman to be named dean of a federal university. Here at BW of Brazil, you will find many other examples of why July 25th is a special date. Historian Luciane Reis breaks it down a little more below…But for now…Happy Afro-Latin American and Caribbean Women’s Day!!
Why do we revere July 25th, the Afro-Latin American and Caribbean Women’s Day?
by Luciane Reis*
First published on the Blogueiras Negras blog
Black women have never recognized the myth of fragility that has always justified the subaltern spaces that were given to them. They learned very early how hard the work is in the spaces made available and above all that their lives were worth what they fought to have. The process that dehumanizes the black population, made it so that sexism over these women had a greater impact than in others, especially in the commercialization of their lives and bodies, in addition to their affection.
We know what the consequences of denying the role of black women in shaping the culture of the people are, especially in partisan politics and in the social area. Even among the most advanced and plural feminist movements, there is still a difficulty in recognizing black women who were present in the social movements and struggles and especially in their capacity of occupying these “privileged” spaces. The heroines and black intellectuals are made totally invisible in the historical processes.
After centuries of exploitation, there is still in an intense way the erotization and appropriation of black women, where the division between holy and profane ended up occupying the space of casual diversion. Nothing different from the past by black women in the diaspora as a whole and especially in Latin America, where this identity is legitimized from Euro-western roots, a root that rejects the black presence in history and everyday life that excludes and discriminates against them. Due to the common understanding of this reality in the Black Diaspora, a group of black women saw the need to start a debate at the international level on the situation of African descendant population, racism, discrimination and especially to question the European identity imposed on these people.
Faced with the realization that it is hard to be a Latin American black woman in a society constructed on racism and patriarchy, the Latin American countries were delineated via territorial, social, economic and political exclusion. These data confirmed the reality of the black diaspora in the racial perspective and especially the black women, where this identity implies suffering a double oppression historically constructed and the hegemony of one gender over the other. By understanding these facts, the need arises to construct a global identity with an articulation that would allow having greater visibility of the situation across the region.
These women internationalize the debate that makes the movement of Afro-Latina and Caribbean women emerge, thus contributing to the creation of the largest feminist black antenna. This approach allowed the approximation of professionals of communication, culture, academics and related areas that hegemonize the black struggle in the Diaspora in a continental way. From this articulation in 1992 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, the 1st Meeting of Afro-Latin American and Afro-Caribbean Women was held, where took two decisions were made: the creation of the Rede de Mulheres Afro-latino-americanas e Afro-caribenhas (Network of Afro-Latin American and Afro-Caribbean Women) and the setting of July 25th as Afro-Latin American and Caribbean Women’s Day. A date that nowadays we are proud to celebrate.
July 25th internationalizes black feminism via agglutination of resistance of black women to citizenship in the regions in which they live, especially the oppressions of gender and ethnic-racial. Thus, this date extends and strengthens organizations and identity of black women, which has been constructing strategies for combating racism and sexism. This is not any arbitrary date for us black women, it means disrupting a feminism that never contemplated us. It redeems the struggle of black women of the diaspora started in the late 70’s through black feminists in different parts of the diaspora.
Celebrating July 25th is to celebrate and honor the development of new feminist perspectives, in particular the introduction of the difference in traditional feminist theory. After all we cannot forget that the feminism that emerged in the 1970s affirmed an homogeneous female identity, so it could not identify and visualize specific demands of women who suffered from the intersection of many conditions such as, gender, race, class, ethnicity, sexual orientation and religion.
Strengthening July 25th gives visibility and energy to the emancipation of black women from a feminism that placed gender oppression as a priority oppressive factor on women, without regard to the demands of black women. It is to strengthen the emancipation of a feminism that could not encompass the differences between them, i.e. look for multiple experiences and feminine identities.
Empowering this date is to contribute to the historical struggle of women who were and are the protagonists in the guiding and demanding of their countries a meeting of demands that nowadays improves the quality of life of the black population is to fight for the guarantee and amplification of the access to rights already conquered, mainly in the construction as a continent of Afro descendants as a transnational nation. It is this collective construction that we must believe in when we honor the 25th of July, the Dia da Mulher Afro-latino-americana e Caribenha/Afro-Latin American and Caribbean Women’s Day.
Source: Blogueiras Negras
* – Luciane Reis is an historian