Skip to comments.Black Brazilians Push Government to Pay Reparations for Brazilian Slavery
Posted on 07/10/2014 10:48:07 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
While the worlds eyes remain riveted on Brazils World Cup stadiums, most people arent aware that the country is also the home to one of the worlds most progressive reparations movements to repay Afro-Brazilians for their enslavement.
Slavery in Brazil didnt end until 1889, making Brazil the last nation in the Western Hemisphere to outlaw the institution, and the legacy of slavery has firmly ensconced Black Brazilians in the lower rungs of Brazilian society.
By and large, black Brazilians live in the worst housing and attend the poorest schools, writes Roque Planas in a comprehensive two-part series for the Huffington Post that probes Brazils reparations movement. They work the lowest-paid jobs, and they disproportionately fill the jail cells of the worlds fourth largest prison system. This lopsided state of affairs, Afro-Brazilian intellectuals and the countrys social scientists largely agree, is a result of racial discrimination with roots in the countrys history of slavery.
In Brazil, the reparations movement is centered on the quilombos, which are communities said to be founded by runaway slaves. Brazils constitution which was ratified 26 years ago after two decades of a military dictatorship dictates that residents of quilombos have a constitutional right to land settled by their ancestors. But as more than 1 million Black Brazilians ask the country to live up to the words in the constitution, the government is showing a reluctance to follow through.
Brazil was such an important stop in the slave trade that more people of African descent currently live in Brazil than in any country in the world besides Nigeria, making up about 51 percent of Brazils population. What the residents of the quilombos are seeking, Planas writes, is akin to the Native American reservations in the United States, minus the self-government.
Planas refers to the devastating case made for reparations for African-Americans in the U.S. by writer Ta-Nehisi Coates in The Atlantic and says, The idea that the U.S. government would even consider handing thousands of tracts of land to black communities is unthinkable. Few Brazilian conservatives find the idea appealing, either. Many of them have scorned the quilombo movement as an affront to property rights and have tried to overturn the law in court. And despite drafting the quilombo law in the first place, the Brazilian government has been so slow to hand over land titles to the communities in question that many applicants wonder if theyll ever receive them.
As Planas details, many members of Congress werent entirely aware of what Congresswoman Benedita da Silva, one of 11 Afro-Brazilians in Congress at the time, was doing in 1986 when she managed to convince them to include the language that gave land rights to the quilombo members. The law said they would own the land they occupied, pay no rent and no one, no matter how rich, could legally kick them out.
Planas writes that most of the assembly members who voted for da Silvas article likely viewed it as a symbolic gesture that would affect only a handful of communities. But the movement has now grown from 29 quilombos in 2003 to more than 2,400 today, comprising more than 1 million people with hundreds more communities applying that have yet to be recognized.
There are quilombos that encompass thousands of people and quilombos that consist of just a few extended families, Planas writes. There are quilombos in the cities, quilombos along the countryside, quilombos on islands and quilombos in the rainforest. The land claimed by these communities totals about 4.4 million acres, according to the Brazilian federal government an area roughly the size of New Jersey.
When asked if she knew her proposal would be applied so extensively, da Silva said, Of course thats what we were working for. [The article] wasnt born just because I was at the Constitutional Assembly. It was born because there existed and continues to exist a black movement that includes academics, includes quilombolas, the universities all dedicated to validating black peoples land rights.
And if Obama won’t pay, they’re coming up here wearing bright yellow and green clothing.
True reparations also means sending them back to where they came from, right?
We have bought you an entire village! With chicken, pigs and goats and a communal well!
51% is demanding reparations from the other 49%??
the making of amends for a wrong one has done, by paying
money to or otherwise helping those who have been wronged.
I agree entirely that ‘the sins of the father’ can't be addressed by punishing the sons, or the daughters, or the grandchildren, or anyone that wasn't the perpetrator of the wrong. That said, I don't know how people ever got the idea that enslaving others was acceptable. Also, it's not like this was 1000 years ago, and it's still happening in some places in the world now in the 21st century.
I understand what you mean. Many whites did not see blacks as human, to them they were animals. So whites worked them w/o pay just as they would work their other animals. That may come close to explaining how and why whites did it, but we know there were many black slave owners also. I doubt they too did not see blacks as human, so what was their excuse? Greed?
And whites had white slaves (Romans, and others), and I’m sure Chinese had Chinese slaves. It isn’t a question of race - it’s a question of power. Might makes right.
Blacks in africa stilll have slaves If the slave owning kings of africa didn’t sell their least productive slaves, there would never have been slavery in the New World.
Slavery in Brazil didnt end until 1889, making Brazil the last nation in the Western Hemisphere to outlaw the institution.
I guess the writer does not consider Haiti to be in the Western Hemisphere. Slavery is still practiced there.
True story, a former significant other of mine, a copper brown Carioca from Rio explained to me how as a child, she was not permitted to use the front elevator in an apartment build she would visit. The tenants or attendant made her use the back service elevator. Her adoptive grandmother lived there who was white. I don’t have the full story on why this was not addressed to her satisfaction then, she may not have made a point of it as a child. When we visited years later, we rode the front elevator in that building several times for no good reason.
People think Americans are racist? Heck, even the Brasilians I spoke to had that impression. The left has successfully marketed us as such but it’s nothing near the truth. Folks here and there have no clue how reversed the truth is.
“how” — I can see it as quite a simple idea in a non-Christian world: “there is some physical labor to do, let me force this person to do it for me” — this probably started with the growth of agriculture, as hunter-gathers wouldn’t need a slave society.