now has quotas for blacks and a law requiring the teaching
of Afro-Brazilian History in school. These measures are obviously
racist. Besides, the history of Africa is the history of tribal warfare
and slavery, stoning to death for adulterers, sexual mutilation
as custom. This will bring no contribution to Brazilians’ self-esteem.
very recently, black activist groups always fought for the elimination
of the item "color" in identification documents in Brazil.
With the unfortunate quota legislation devastating college education
these days, black students insist in putting down their color when registering
for vestibular (college entrance exam). These same black groups
have always deemed any supposedly scientific criteria to establish a
person’s color as racist. The question becomes, then, Who is black,
for legal purposes? In the case of the Rio de Janeiro state law and
the federal legislative bill, the criterium is self-statement. A person
is pardo(a) (brown) or negro(a) (black) if he or she says
so, even if they look white.
in this country of the "Gerson law" (always look for the benefit
to be gained), not a few whites claimed to be blacks in the last UERJ
vestibular (Rio de Janeiro State University), the first Brazilian
public university to establish the quota system. Then came the cry from
the black leaderships: let’s determine scientifically who is white and
who is black, and sue the whites who have declared to be black. Conclusion:
words of command from afrodescendants are more changeable than the clouds.
Clouds, however, change in every direction, while these words change
in one direction only, which is the direction of obtaining advantages
for blacks, not only by dispensing with merit but also by trampling
over the eventual merits of those declaring to be whites.
current President is far from being the first ignoramus to take office
in this country. Both the House and the Senate are full of juridical
illiterates who understand nothing about lawmaking and can’t even distinguish
major from minor laws. Loaded with stupid words of command usually originated
in the United States, they create irresponsible legislation with the
tranquility of one who doesn’t have to report to anyone. Such is the
case of the quota law. Only now, after the UERJ vestibular and
a torrent of lawsuits, astute analysts have found out that the notorious
law goes against article 5 of the Constitution: "all are equal
before the law, with no distinction of any nature".
if we needed more than this gross juridical errorwhich will now
serve only to further clog the already clogged courts and generate handsome
profits for lawyers, who are the real beneficiaries of the quota lawthe
President, scarcely in office, sanctioned the law requiring the inclusion
of Afro-Brazilian History and Culture in the official elementary to
high school curriculum. The classes will cover everything from history
of Africa and Africans to the black struggle in Brazil.
legislative measure is obviously racist. And why not the history of
Portugal and Portuguese struggle in Brazil? Or the history of Italy
and the struggles of the Italians? Or the history of Japan and the struggles
of the Japanese? Brazil is a melting pot of cultures and the African
contribution to its development is far from being the only one, or the
most important one. The study of Afro-Brazilian history has, however,
its complications. For the chiefs of the black movement, it is not enough
to tell the story of Afro-Brazilian culture; we need to embellish it.
That’s what one infers from the prohibition of the book Banzo, Tronco
e Senzala (Blues, Stocks and Plantation Slave Quarters), written
by Elzi Nascimento and Elzita Melo Quinta, in the Federal District schools,
by order of governor Joaquim Roriz, upon request from petista
Senator Paulo Paim (PTWorkers Party).
is said to have been deeply affected by the information contained in
the book saying that "Negroes lost their human condition as soon
as they were imprisoned in Africa and became mere merchandise at the
disposal of whites" and that to imprison blacks was not difficult.
"Especially after the merchants started getting help from traitor
blacks who imprisoned people of their own race in exchange for tobacco,
cachaça (sugar cane rum), gun powder and guns".
is the self-esteem of a black child when he or she receives a book saying
that if these people have one day been slaves, it’s the fault of blacks
and not of the Europeans of the time, merchant of slaves?"asks
Paim. The Senator seems to ignoreor purposefully omitthe
fact that slavery was not an invention of the Europeans. It is as old
as the Bible and neither prophets nor patriarchs condemn it. Not even
Paul, the reformer of the Old Book, condemned it. It ruled in Greece
before Europe even existed. Centuries before the first European slave
ship entered port in the African continent slavery already existed,
with no interference from the West.
President of Senegal, Abdoulaye Wade, is the first one to admit it.
Commenting on the claims of black activists, he identified himself as
a descendent of a rich family of slave owners and asked if anyone was
going to ask him for reparation money. Good thing he didn’t ask that
question in the newspapers of the Brazilian Federal District, or he
would be censored by Governor Joaquim Roriz.
black tribal chiefs eased the merchants’ task, selling slaves from other
tribes, isn’t ignored either. They did sell, and they are still selling
them now, in the 21st century. In Mauritania, Sudan and Ghana,
in Benin, Burkina Fasso, Mali and Niger, slavery still persists, just
like in the times of slave ships. Last year, cable TV GNT showed European
whites buying slaves in Sudan. These buyers were not merchantsthese
were representatives of European NGOs, buying blacks in order to free
them. The purpose might be noble, but demand generates supply and the
only thing that these NGO dollars was doing was to stimulate slave trafficking.
This is the history of Africa. And if any author relegates slavery to
past times, the book is outdated.
new law signed by the President adds to the school calendar the anniversary
of the death of Zumbi (November 20th) as National Day of
Black Conscience. This patriotistic ambition for heroes, typical of
underdeveloped countries, has led black politicians to elect Zumbi as
a hero of the race. Well, the black hero was also a slave owner. Where
do we stand now? Will the authorities censor any book attesting the
status of Zumbi as a slavist?
defending quota systems in universities, Brazilian blacks have fallen
into a clumsy trap. They may find it easier to obtain a diploma today,
but tomorrow who will hire the services of a professional who entered
college through the back door? By demanding the inclusion of African
history in the curricula, they have fallen into a more sophisticated
history of Africa is the history of tribal warfare and slavery, stoning
to death for adulterers, physical mutilation as punishment and sexual
mutilation as custom. Democracy, human rights, freedom of the press
and female emancipation are unknown institutions in that continent.
Six thousand girls have their clitoris extirpated every day in twenty
countries, in the Middle East and Africa. This is done by local barbers
or midwives, with instruments that are not sterilized.
to this day, tends more to Idi Amin Dada than to Mozart. More towards
Bokassa than towards Einstein. To study its history, past or present,
helps no child with no self-esteem.
Cristaldohe holds a PhD from University of Paris, Sorbonneis
an author, translator, lawyer, philosopher and journalist and suffers
São Paulo. His e-mail address is email@example.com
by Tereza Braga, email: firstname.lastname@example.org