Black women in Brazil: Celebrate of July

Paper By Stella Chagas

Black lives matter; however, based on data from Atlas da Violência 2021, this is not true for Black women in Brazil. The non-white women have to deal with many issues and inequalities, such as their lives being viewed as not having the same value as those of white women. Nevertheless, black Brazilians, like all black women around the world, are still fighting in the anti-racist struggle in Brazil.

This group is present in all states of Brazil. The North and Northeast regions represent the most significant proportion of black women in the female population. However, in all territories around the country, the non-white women “reside mainly in urban areas, especially in suburbs and more carious regions in the cities.” (Werneck & Iraci, 2016: 11)

According to Atlas Violence, in this country, 66% of women murdered in 2019 were black. When we think about the absolute numbers, these data reveal even greater inequality at the intersection between race and sex in female mortality. Between 2009 and 2019, the total number of black women who were victims of homicide increased by 2%, from 2,419
victims in 2009 to 2,468 in 2019. Meanwhile, the number of non-black women murdered dropped by 26.9% in the same period, from 1,636 women killed in 2009 to 1,196 in 2019. Thus, black women in Brazil have more chances of being killed than white women.

On the one hand, Jackeline Romio (2013) argues violence against black women is understood from their specificities, stating the violence is a result of different situations that they have been exposed to, such as socioeconomic inequalities, intolerance, family conflicts, racism, religious prejudice, and marital conflicts, among others. On the other hand, Sueli Carneiro (2003) defends that racism must be understood as an articulation axis of the inequalities that impact gender relations. According to her,

                                          1 “Race and sex are categories that justify discrimination and subalternities, historically constructed and that produce inequalities, used as justifications for social asymmetries, which explain that

    1 “Raça e sexo são categorias que justificam discriminações e subalternidades, construídas historicamente e
que produzem desigualdades, utilizadas como justificativas para as assimetrias sociais, que explicitam que
mulheres negras estão em situação de maior vulnerabilidade em todos os âmbitos sociais (CARNEIRO, 2017,
p. 19)”

black women are in a situation of greater vulnerability in all social
spheres”. (CARNEIRO, 2017, p. 19)”

Even though the black population is the majority in Brazil, the opportunity to live a dignified life is not the same for these people; as we may see in the case of black women, they are the primary group in poverty in this country. They are facing inequalities in many aspects, such as: living in bad housing conditions, and their salary is the last one in the wage pyramid. In this case, the first one in the pyramid is a white man, the second is a white woman, third is the black man and the last one is non-white women. They are the last part of the population that can pay for insurance, and black women are also the primary group suffering from health issues in Brazil. According to research from Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in Brazil, there are different racial treatments for pregnant women. The data indicates that black women are at greater risk of having inadequate prenatal care. They are also most likely the ones who suffer/will suffer obstetric violence (IBGE, 2021).

Losing their freedom is also a reality for black women in Brazil. They are the leading group of female prisoners, and there are many cases in which we see how racism is the principal reason to put these women in prison. An example is a young pharmacy doctoral student at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, from a low-income family in Rio de Janeiro; the
imprisonment happened in 2014 during a holiday trip to the state of Ceará. The police do not have any evidence of guilt; regardless, besides being in jail for almost two months, the police accused her of being a drug user and lying during the testimony. It is essential to highlight the man was an Italian guy and that she was the only black tourist in the city at
the time (Werneck & Iraci, 2016).

However, despite all these difficulties black women have faced in Brazil, our struggles and our voices will not be cancelled. We have many examples of a powerful women who have been fighting for our freedom and equal rights. We celebrate, on July 25 th, the International Afro-Latin American, Afro-Caribbean, and Diaspora Women´s Day, and we
have many vital women to celebrate their lives, like our ancestral calling, Teresa de Benguela. She was an essential leader, and in her command were black and indigenous people who had managed to escape slavery. Under her leadership, the Quilombo of Quariterê was constructed. Tereza de Benguela was responsible for the entire political, economic, and administrative structure of the quilombo and created organizational and defense strategies (CAPIRE, 2021).

The other significant female black personality in Brazil was Lélia Gonzalez, a crucial black activist and intellectual. Her struggle was an important tool to denounce racism and sexism as forms of violence that subordinate black women. Gonzalez had a Ph.D. in Political Anthropology. In the 80s, she published her first book, “Lugar de Negro”. Her
struggle left a legacy for all black women, making all people aware of her works and militancy, and thinking about the issues surrounding the role of black women in Brazilian society (PALMARES, 2019).

We could not be writing about black women and their essential struggle in Brazil’s history and not talk about Marielle Franco. She highlights the political agenda issues of gender, the “favela,” and blackness; in her struggle, she defends the importance of having spaces for non-white women in places such as schools, universities, politics, in short, in multiple
positions of power. In this way, the meaning of this place is significant because such action reflects the possibility that the other world is possible, insofar as a woman who before “was just a favelada and now is a favelada and a councilor.” (Medium 2017, nd.)

In conclusion, the data demonstrates how difficult and dangerous it is to be a black woman in Brazil; nevertheless, all those struggles will not stop us. We are still fighting.



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