When The Seattle Globalist asked Brazilian residents on the streets of São Paulo to finish the sentence “To be black in Brazil is…,” they got answers that reflected both pride and frustration. The most common undercurrent were stories of having to overcome prejudice, which is disappointing though not surprising.
But there is also a sentiment of resistance that permeates these anecdotes, like when a young man shares the story of winning a lawsuit against a bus driver who discriminated against him because of his race. And just as the #BlackLivesMatter grass-root movement began in the U.S. to bring attention to issues blacks in America face with law enforcement, Brazil has Reaja ou Será Morto (React or Die) – a movement that’s been around for a decade but only recently switched tactics to gain more attention. Reaja ou Será Morto began in Bahia, but has become a national campaign to fight against the police brutality that disproportionately targets blacks. Police in Brazil have killed nearly as many people in the past five years as U.S. police have killed during the past 30 years, according to statistics from the FBI and the Brazilian Public Safety Forum.
Over the summer, about 5,000 people took to the streets of Salvador de Bahia to protest police violence. Once again, the people there echoed many of the same sentiments expressed by Americans. “This country loves our Black culture, our music, our bodies, but hates the fact we still exist as the majority,” a 26-year-old Brazilian woman told Refinery29. “Salvador is the front line of the war against African people in Brazil. My people built this city — this country — through slavery. We will not be silent. Black lives have value; Africans all over the diaspora want to live.”
Watch the video above and see what else people had to say about being black in Brazil.