The Situation of the Negro in Brazil III
The map of black cultural production and its urban and rural history is being organized and already partially made available through computerized means. The history now available only in closed collections or of difficult access, also abroad, sometimes fragmented, is being organized in a database that includes all the diversity and black Brazilian intelligence. Religious pieces are being identified and returned to their owners, when they are not donated to the collection. Archaeological sites, such as the Serra da Barriga, and areas of old quilombos are being studied. The history of the Portuguese language in the country, the loss of languages of African origin and the ‘invention’ of the language we speak throughout the national territory, is being systematized. The lives of women like Chica da Silva, Carolina de Jesus, Luiza Mahin; the competence and political disenchantment of abolitionists such as André Rebouças, Joaquim Nabuco and Luís Gama, who thought of Brazilian development; Machado de Assis; brotherhoods; the terreiros and the actions of their spiritual leaders; the sensitivity and contradictory universe of scientists; the concepts of diversified production, as opposed to plantations, developed by many quilombos; sophisticated work with metals – all this wealth begins to be available in various languages for the nation that does not know the ancestral trajectory of at least forty-five percent of its population.
The projection of Brazilian culture abroad has been the object of dissemination actions that unfold to promote the country’s image, valuing multiculturalism and cultural exchange. The national plurality begins to be adequately represented and the presence of Afro-Brazilian artists begins to be more diversified in the market.
The physical and, at the same time, symbolic landmark of the new government posture is the creation of the National Center for Information and Reference of Black Culture.
The understanding that the lack of information keeps the black population stagnant in the lower social spaces, sometimes indifferent to transformative possibilities and, furthermore, that citizens of all origins need to have references to be proud of our Africanities, led the government, through the Palmares Cultural Foundation, to develop and implement such a project.
The National Black Culture Information and Reference Center, whose cornerstone plaque was signed by Presidents Nelson Mandela and Fernando Henrique Cardoso, will be inaugurated within the framework of the V Centenary of the Discovery of Brazil, in the federal capital, with the objective of expanding the capacity participation of Afro-Brazilians in the country’s human, scientific and technological development process. Cultural dialogue with Africa and multiracial countries gains new content from this initiative.
The recognition of the importance of black culture in the national day-to-day and of its positive dynamics as a civilizing model has been expanding. Its musical essence, the capacity of this collective to transform adverse conditions into factors of human development and joy, its aesthetics rich in diversity, its inclusive religiosity, come to be perceived in the nation as a whole as positive elements of our diversity.
The system of cultural values of the State, when including the history of the Negro, has been transformed and demanded new reflections, new vocabulary, the development of new concepts of citizenship and, above all, the beginning of more respect for these new voices in a scenario that never was representative of that plurality.
The projects supported by the National Culture Fund, by the patronage laws, for works of conservation and preservation of the heritage, have, due to the personal engagement of Minister Francisco Weffort, more and more included the Afro-Brazilian heritage. Actions in states and municipalities are being encouraged to consider local diversity. Local leaders are beginning to realize that the heritage created by blacks generates resources and visibility for their administrative units and, therefore, producers of such wealth must be considered.
The new Brazilian cultural policy creates immense possibilities and many demands for the State and for society.
The market was motivated, several publications aimed at the black public emerged and were expanded. A new, more inclusive aesthetic is beginning to be visible in fashion. Communication, initially official and now, slowly, commercial, begins to treat black people as people and to include images of human beings from various ethnic groups.
The cultural market, however, remains exclusive and financing for very shy black productions. There is still an immense gap between the cultural discourse and the practice of inclusion. The products of theater, music, dance, literature, cinema, television and painting, presented in everyday life, are far from reflecting social dynamics. The producers, with reference to the concepts created by the myth of racial democracy, treat the black as a segment, in a decontextualized and eventual way.
In turn, black movements, which have motivated current changes with their historical activism, have been critical partners of the state and are beginning to work with other sectors to deepen transformations and to ensure that the government’s agenda is streamlined. Disbelief in institutions and indifference to political representation are beginning to be transformed in the population as a whole.
There is a profound transformation underway in the national identity. The understanding of Africanities, here recreated as part of the Brazilian ethos, changes the references and breaks the limitations imposed by a false Eurocentrism and overturns the concepts of race and fragmentation of diversity. The valued inclusion of the black demobilizes the need to prove that what is different is better or worse, in addition to allowing deeper and more pleasurable exchanges between humans of various origins.
However, as the values of the State are only transformed through laws, programs and policies, data are being organized on the result of the investments planned for the period 1994 to 1999, so that the next multi-annual plan includes specific goals for the creation of a new scenario, until the beginning of the next decade.
The Brazilian civilizing work – the possibility of the privilege of the encounter overcoming the marks of perversity and the hardships of the road traveled – begins to be sculpted to the sound of the drums, with the wisdom of the old black women and the elegance of capoeira .
I do not warn you of reprisal,
nor do I claim my rights for vengeance.
I just want to
Banish our breasts
This hereditary and sad gum
That hurts me
so much And it shames you so much.