AFRICANGLOBE –The consistent pattern of genocide being carried out against the Black population of Brazil has long been a topic of concern. Whether being killed in day to day violence, by Military Police (MP) in actions of which the policy seems to be “shoot first and ask questions later”, death squads whose hit men are often composed of off-duty MPs or victims of the stray bullets fired in majority Black neighborhoods, the bodies continue to stack up. In the United States, the repercussions of the murder of the unarmed Black teen Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri has gained international attention. Brown’s murder at the hands of police was only one of a number of unarmed Black men who have been killed by police in the US over the past several weeks as the blatant assault on the Black community seems to be reaching a boiling point in that country. But, as the numbers pointed out on a post here a few years ago, the situation is still much worse in Brazil.
As Jonathan Watts of The Guardian wrote on August 29th: “Although Brazil has a population that is a third smaller than that of the US, it has almost five times as many killings by police. And though the vast majority of the victims are Black or mixed race, there is far less of a debate about race.” So as the general population continues to go on with the day to day as if nothing is strange is going on, thousands took to the streets all over Brazil on Friday, August 22nd to express their outrage at this disregard for life, particularly against those of darker skin. As such, the question is, where is the international media? In the march that took place in São Paulo, a large sign carried throughout the march showed solidarity with African-Americans in the death of Michael Brown. (Sign in photo below: “We are all Michael Brown. For the end of the police”). But is Mike Brown’s death more important that the deaths of Raissa Vargas Motta, the mother/daughter pair of Maria de Fátima dos Santos and Alessandra de Jesus, the infamous murder of Cláudia da Silva Ferreira and too many Black Brazilian men and youth to name here? The struggle is the same throughout the African Diaspora. The media coverage should be also!
At least 50,000 people took to the streets across the country in the Second National March Against the Genocide of Black People that took place on Friday (August 22) in at least 10 states and in 15 countries had repercussions in 15 countries, according to initial estimates of the organizers. The protest had its strength in cities like Salvador, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Brasília, Vitória, Belo Horizonte, Porto Alegre and Manaus, with demonstrations that altered the routines of these cities.
In São Paulo, about a thousand people gathered at the MASP museum on Avenida Paulista to participate in the demonstration, according to estimates of their own Military Police. The march down the avenue toward Consolação street in the direction of the Municipal Theatre downtown, where in 1978, one of the oldest institutions of the Movimento Negro Brasileiro (Black Brazilian movement), the Movimento Negro Unificado contra a Discriminação Racial (MNU or Unified Black Movement against Racial Discrimination) began activity.
In Brasília, the demonstration took place in Zumbi dos Palmares Square, in Conic, and brought together about 400 people according to estimates of the Military Police of the Federal District. The rally in the federal capital brought together representatives of social movements, religious groups, artists and people who face racism on a daily basis and marching through the streets surrounding the Rodoviária de Brasília, one of the busiest areas in town, where buses depart to other administrative regions of the Federal District and surrounding areas.
“The objective of the march is to give visibility to the issue. Who is marching here are the people of the periphery, of the settlements. Want to give a turn to those who are on the margins, who don’t speak,” said one of the organizers, Layla Marisandra, of the Fórum da Juventude Negra (Black Youth Forum). “In the DF (Federal District), it’s no different from other states. Here we have an invisible cord that divides the [south and north] wings of the surroundings and the satellite [cities]. There’s a population that only go downtown to work.”
In São Paulo, the protesters shouted slogans against police violence affecting primarily the Black and poor in Brazil. “Black death today, in Brazil, has reached the numbers of a civil war. Every 25 minutes a Black person dies in this country,” said National Coordinator of the Movimento Quilombo, Raça e Classe (Quilombo Movement, Race and Class), Tamires Rizzo.
According to the Mapa da Violência 2014 (Map of Violence 2014) report, proportionally, 146.5% more Blacks died than Whites in Brazil in 2012, in situations such as homicides, traffic accidents or suicide. Between 2002 and 2012, these numbers have more than doubled, according to the study by the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences, with support from the Secretariat for the Promotion of Racial Equality, the National Secretariat of Youth and the General Secretariat of the Presidency.
Rapper and geography student, Tiago Onidaru said he sees up close the consequences of violence. “We lost several brothers in the community. If not a friend of ours, it’s a friend of a friend,” said the 27-year old, who also complained about Black representation in the media. “It’s a lack of representation, and when there are (Blacks) it is to make them look ridiculous,” said the rapper.
In demonstration in Brasília, the stories of violence and prejudice were many. The nursing technician Lourdes Pereira, 49, had her nephew Flávio Rogério, 20, killed by police in Teresina. “My nephew died because of a pre-judgment of the police. This judgment is disguised racism,” she said. She is a resident of Cidade Ocidental, a municipality in the state of Goiás near Brasília. A Black woman, Lourdes said that “she feels the difference up close. When we seek employment, for example, and we are not chosen and the difference is not in the resume.”
The rapper Divino Monteiro, aka Dino Black, expresses feelings in verse. “My brothers only mark their presence if they were there to wash the bathrooms or the floor. It hurts me to think of so much exploitation. There are Black suckers thinking that slavery ended. You can believe that it hasn’t,” he says the song “Onde Estamos” (Where We Are). “When the Black comes in, he’s the first suspect. That happens to me: it’s enough when I get on a bus for everyone to look at me, it’s enough to go into a store that they think I’m going to steal something,” says the rapper, who is resident of Candangolândia, an administrative region of the Federal District.