July 25 marks Black women's fight against oppression
July 25 is a special day to celebrate the ancestry of Black people. On July 25, 1992, Black women's groups from 32 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean gathered in the Dominican Republic to denounce oppression, and debate solutions in the fight against racism and sexism. The date was recognized by the United Nations as the International Day of Black Latin American and Caribbean Women and the Diaspora.
After nearly 30 years, Black women continue to face challenges as a result of centuries of discrimination, oppression and social inequality. According to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), Blacks in Brazil correspond to 54% of the population. According to the African Women Association, 200 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean identify themselves as Afro-descendants.
In Brazil, Black women are paid on average 56% lower than white men. Households led by Black women are among the most vulnerable: 14% don’t have clean water supply and 40% are not connected to a sewage system. According to Brazilian researcher Raquel Barreto, our history is marked by what others tried to do with us, but is also measured by our collective capacity to build, mobilize and dream.
In Brazil, July 25 is also the day when we honour Tereza de Benguela, the leader of a quilombo (a type of settlement built by Blacks who escaped enslavement). She lived in the 18th century and fought against slavery. Under her leadership, her settlement — Quilombo do Piolho (also known as Quariterê) — resisted slavery for 20 years. It ended up being destroyed by the Portuguese colonist Luís Pinto de Sousa Coutinho and his group. About 100 Blacks (Africans and Brazilians) and some Indigenous people who lived there were murdered or imprisoned.
This is just one of many examples of the harm that Portuguese colonizers caused to Brazilian people.
Sources: Federal University of Reconcavo da Bahia, Free Turnstile and Marie Claire magazine
Images: Creative Commons