This chapter examines the development of the black women’s movement in Brazil since the late 1980s and discusses the impact of black women’s transnational activism on policy development in the country.1 The analysis highlights strategies that activists in the black women’s movement have used to challenge racism and sexism and the impact of their efforts vis-à-vis the black movement and women’s movement as well as the Brazilian state. In recent decades, activists in the black women’s movement have developed innovative forms of feminist and antiracist praxis that have linked national struggles for social justice and equality in Brazil to transnational efforts undertaken by progressive activists from other racially marginalized communities, particularly members of other African-diaspora communities.
- Black Woman
- United Nations
- Racial Inequality
- Political Capital
- Preparatory Process
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Gilberto Freyre’s book Casa Grande & Senzala (Rio de Janeiro: Maia & Schmidt, 1933) was instrumental in the development of the ideology of racial democracy in Brazil, as were his subsequent writings. Thomas Skidmore’s Black into White: Race and Nationality in Brazilian Thought (New York: Oxford University Press, 1974) examines the role of race in Brazilian-nationalist thought. See David Hellwig’s African-American Reflections on Brazil’s Racial Paradise (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1992) for examples of African American views of race in Brazil during the twentieth century.
See Kim Butler’s Freedoms Given, Freedoms Won: Afro-Brazilians in Post-Abolition São Paulo and Salvador (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1998); and Michael Hanchard’s Orpheus and Power: The Movimento Negro of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, Brazil, 1945–1988 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994) for scholarly analyses of black organizations in Brazil during the early twentieth century. It should be noted that, despite the efforts of black activists during the early twentieth century, Brazil’s image as a racial democracy persisted well into the 1990s.
See, for example, Michael Hanchard, Orpheus and Power and Michael Mitchell “Blacks and the Abertura Democrática” in Race, Class, and Power in Brazil, ed. Pierre Michel-Fontaine (Los Angeles, CA: University of California at Los Aangeles [UCLA] Center for Afro-American Studies, 1985).
For an in-depth discussion of Afro — Latin American and indigenous women’s organizing, see Helen Safa, “Challenging Mestizaje: A Gender Perspective on Indigenous and Afrode-scendant Movements in Latin America,” Critique of Anthropology 25 (2005): 307–30.
See Edna Roland, “O movimento de mulheres negras brasileiras: desafios e perspectivas,” in Tirando a Máscara: Ensaios sobre o racismo no Brasil, ed. Antonio Sérgio Alfredo Guimarães and Lynn Huntley (São Paulo: Editora Paz e Terra, 2000), 237–56.
Sueli Carneiro, “Black Women’s Identity in Brazil,” in Race in Contemporary Brazil, ed. Rebecca Reichmann (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1999), 224.
During the late 1980s, Deborah K. King proposed the concept of multiple jeopardy as a way of to view racism, classism, and sexism as interacting and multiplicative forms of oppression. Deborah K. King, “Multiple Jeopardy, Multiple Consciousness: The Context of Black Feminist Ideology.” Signs 14 (1988): 42–72. For discussions of intersectionality, see, for example, Kimberlé Crenshaw, “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Anti-racist Politics,” in Critical Race Theory: The Key Writings That Formed the Movement, ed. Kimberlé Crenshaw et al. (New York: New Press, 1995), 357–83; Patricia Hill Collins, Fighting Words: Black Women and the Search for Justice (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1998); and Patricia Hill Collins, Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment (New York: Routledge, 2000).
See Edna Roland, “The Soda Cracker Dilemma: Reproductive Rights and Racism in Brazil,” in Race in Contemporary Brazil, ed. Rebecca Reichmann (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1999), 237–56.
Sueli Carneiro, “Raça, Gênero e Ações Affirmativas,” in Levando a Raça a Sério: Ação Afirmativa e Universidade, ed. Joaze Bernardino and Daniela Galdino (Rio de Janeiro: DP & A Editora, 2004), 83.
Sonia Alvarez, “Translating the Global: Effects of Transnational Organizing on Local Feminist Discourses and Practices in Latin America,” Meridians 1 (2000): 29–67.
Elisabeth Friedman, “The Effects of ‘Transnationalism Reversed’ in Venezuela: Assessing the Impact of UN Global Conferences on the Women’s Movement,” International Feminist Journal of Politics 1 (1999): 359.
Guacira Cesar de Oliveira and Wânia Sant’anna, “Chega de Saudade, a Realidade é Que &” Estudos Feministas 10 (2002): 199–207.
Sueli Carneiro, “A Batalha de Durban,” Estudos Feministas 10 (2002): 209–14.
For an in-depth discussion of black women’s involvement in the preparatory process for WCAR, see Sueli Carneiro, “Articulação de Organizações de Mulheres Negras Brasileiras,” Revista da Articulação de ONGs de Mulheres Negras Brasileiras 1 (2003): 19–21.
Edward Telles notes that a representative of the Palmares Cultural Foundation, an entity of the Brazilian government focusing on Afro-Brazilian culture, announced that Brazil would not host the regional conference of the Americas in 2000, claiming that black leaders did not want the conference to be held in Brazil. Telles argues that the position taken by the Palmares Cultural Foundation was insincere, given the amount of time and energy that black leaders in Brazil put into the preparatory process for WCAR. He also notes that the head of the Brazilian mission for a preparatory conference to WCAR held in Geneva in May 2000 later cited cost factors as the reason for not hosting the regional conference. Telles argues that this excuse was unconvincing, given the fact that such conferences were largely subsidized; Telles, Race in Another America: The Significance of Skin Color in Brazil. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004).
Dr. Fátima Oliveira has published extensively on issues related to black women’s health, women’s health, and racial/ethnic health disparities; see, for example, Fátima Oliveira, Saúde da População Negra, Brasil, 2001 (Brasília: Pan American Health Organization, 2002).
Kimberlé Crenshaw presented a document to the WCAR preparatory meeting in Croatia during November 2000. This paper, “Background Paper for the Expert Meeting on Gender-Related Aspects of Race Discrimination,” was published as part of a special dossier on the UN World Conference Against Racism that appeared in the Brazilian feminist journal Estudos Feministas in 2002. Essays by Nilma Bentes, Sueli Carneiro, and Guacira Cesar de Oliveira and Wânia Sant’anna also appeared in this dossier, which is an important example of knowledge production by activists in the black women’s movement. For a detailed discussion of knowledge production by black women activists in Brazil, see Natalie Lebon, “Beyond Confronting the Myth of Racial Democracy: The Role of Afro-Brazilian Women Scholars and Activists,” Latin American Perspectives 34 (2007): 52–76.
Jurema Werneck, “O dia seguinte: a conferência mundial contra o racismo e suas conseqüências,” Revista da Articulação de ONGs de Mulheres Negras Brasileiras 1 (2003): 10–13.
In her coauthored memoir, pioneering Afro-Brazilian politician Benedita da Silva discusses her personal struggles against racism and sexism within the Brazilian political arena. Her experiences shed light on the elitist, race- and gender-exclusive nature of the public sphere in Brazil; see Benedita da Silva, An Afro-Brazilian Woman’s Story of Politics and Love (Oakland, CA: Institute for Food and Development Policy, 1997).
See, for example, Anani Dzidzienyo, “The Changing World of Brazilian Race Relations?” in Neither Enemies, Nor Friends: Latinos, Blacks, Afro-Latinos, ed. Anani Dzidzienyo and Suzanne Oboler (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), 137–55; Leith Mullings, “Race and Globalization: Racialization from Below.” Souls 6 (2004): 1–9; Edward Telles, Race in Another America; J. Michael Turner, “The Road to Durban — and Back,” NACLA Report on the Americas 35 (2002): 31–35.
For a sobering critique of the Cardoso and Lula administrations’ actions with regard to racism since the Durban conference, see Jurema Werneck, “A Luta Continua: O combate ao racismo no Brasil Pós-Durban,” in Observatório da Cidadania, ed. Fernanda Lopes de Carvalho (Rio de Janeiro: Ibase, 2005), 56–65.
For scholarly critiques of affirmative-action policies and health policies for the black population, see, for example, Peter Fry and Yvonne Maggie, “A reserva de vagas para negros nas universidades brasileiras,” Estudos Avançados 18 (2004): 67–80; Peter Fry and others, Divisões Perigosas: Políticas Raciais no Brasil Contemporâneo (Rio de Janeiro: Civilização Brasileira, 2007); Peter Fry and others, “AIDS tem cor ou raça? Interpretação de dados e formulação de políticas de saúde no Brasil,” Cadernos de Saúde Pública 23 (2007): 497–507.
Editors and Affiliations
© 2009 Manning Marable and Leith Mullings
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Caldwell, K.L. (2009). Transnational Black Feminism in the Twenty-first Century. In: Mullings, L. (eds) New Social Movements in the African Diaspora. The Critical Black Studies Series. Palgrave Macmillan, New York. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230104570_6
Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, New York
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