Pedro Borges: “The life of blacks in Brazil will continue to be hard” | International
In a country where more than half of the population defines itself as black or mestizo (56%), the favorites to reach the Presidency of Brazil in this Sunday's elections are white men: Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Jair Bolsonaro. Also his vice-presidential formulas. In the first debate, not only were there no black candidates, but there were also no black journalists, emphasizes Pedro Borges (São Paulo, 30 years old), co-founder and editor of Dark Soul, an agency specializing in racial issues. "Racism in Brazil is so strong that the largest segment of the population is treated as a minority," she notes.
"At the same time that we have a government of the extreme right, which at certain times flirts with fascism, we are witnessing the strengthening of the black movement, especially black women," Borges assesses about the moment Brazil is going through. “The country of the myth of racial democracy no longer exists. Term. The black movement, victoriously, tensed the discussion and it was impossible to deny the existence of racism in Brazilian society”.
Ask. Is Brazil then still a racist country?
Response. Brazil was built and created from the notion of race and racism. For 388 years, work in Brazil was restricted to black people. The country is the nation that has received the most kidnapped human beings from Africa, the greatest crime of humanity. Brazil also formulated its entire economy without changing the social structure of inequality, which allowed the legal maintenance of white racial privilege. If you look at any Brazilian statistic, you'll see white men at the top, then white women, black men, and lastly black women. Brazil is a didactic country when it comes to exclusion and segregation.
P. The idea of a mestizo country, of harmony between races, is then a myth...
R. Brazil achieved a feat, which was to sell the world the idea that we are an orderly country, that we live in harmony of races. We are one of the most violent nations to be a woman, LGBTQIA+, poor and black. The statistics of violence in the country indicate that the profile of urban and police violence is always the same, black youth.
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P. Is that why society needs specialized media on racial issues, such as Dark Soul?
R. Brazil had a first debate of candidates for the presidency of the republic without any black candidate, or any black journalist. None. We are the second country with the most blacks in the world, after Nigeria. Most of the blacks from the so-called African diaspora are here in Brazil. But for the decision-making processes of the country, there is a space of power created with only white people, mostly men. This scenario gives the dimension of the importance of the work of Dark Soul.
P. The two favorite presidential formulas have white men as candidates, both for president and vice president.
R. A portrait of Brazil. What was different in a recent period was Dilma Rousseff, who suffered a stroke [de Estado] political. All this because a national development project was in power, with the desire to distribute income, to a greater extent, and to reduce social inequalities, to a lesser extent, with the leading role of a woman. Dilma Rousseff is a white person and she has been through all of that. It is necessary for Lula to win. Bolsonaro's fascist project must be defeated. But you have to keep your feet on the ground, life for blacks in Brazil will continue to be hard.
P. How do you evaluate the Bolsonaro government?
R. Bolsonaro has fulfilled what he promised. He can be accused of many things, but not false advertising. He said that he would not give space to marginalized social groups, that he would not demarcate indigenous lands and that he would arm the population. He did all of that. What he did not achieve was not due to a lack of will, but because there is still a glimmer of democratic institutionality in Brazil. The Federal Supreme Court, and to a lesser extent the Congress, were counterweights to the current president in certain circumstances. Therefore, for fulfilling what he promised and for being a black man, raised in the outskirts of the city of São Paulo, I can only consider his government tragic. Inequalities increased, poverty grew, Brazil continues to be a violent country and now with more armed people in the streets.
P. What do the ideas of the Workers' Party and Lula represent for a young Afro-Brazilian?
R. Among the Brazilian presidents of the democratic period, Lula was the best. There are no discussions about it. It is with Lula that young blacks enter Brazilian universities and that income distribution programs are built, such as Bolsa Familia. The entry of blacks into universities seems like a small thing, but it is not. More than that, young black people began to love each other. And here I speak of love not as a small and romantic feeling, but as a transforming force. With our hair, braids and pride we begin to demand more change. Lula's first term, however, has contradictions.
P. In Colombia, a black woman was elected vice president this year for the first time, the environmentalist Francia Márquez, Gustavo Petro's formula. Has that impacted Brazil?
R. The Brazilian black movement was very excited by the victory of Petro and Francia Márquez. Brazil, unfortunately, did not follow suit. Lula invited Geraldo Alckmin, representative of conservative sectors of society and former governor of the state of São Paulo, responsible for managing one of the most violent police forces in the country, to be her deputy.
P. Have Bolsonaro's supporters managed to appropriate symbols of Brazil such as the national team's flag and jersey?
R. They did it. It became ugly to wear the jersey of the Brazilian soccer team or the flag of the country. However, there is a movement to bring these symbols back, with progressive and black artists using these marks of national pride. The shirt of the Brazilian soccer team is an example that shows the complexity of Brazil. The country is internationally recognized in sports for the talent of black athletes, who suffered and continue to suffer racism in the country.
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