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On Past African American History (Not In the Books), we discovered fascinating post by Kamal Shariff about 10 Things Afro-Brazilians Want You to Know
10 Things Afro-Brazilians Want You to Know
Back in 2002, according to the Estado do S. Paulo newspaper, former U.S. President George W. Bush reportedly asked Fernando Henrique Cardoso, then-president of Brazil, “Does Brazil have blacks, too?”
For Brazilians, this statement showed a stunning ignorance of the country, which is the fifth largest in the world and is one of the seven-largest economies. But ignorance about Afro-Brazilians and their culture is nothing new. The history and the voices of Afro-Brazilians are often muted.
As eyes begin to wander from Rio de Janeiro as the Olympics end this weekend, here’s a parting shot of what I’ve learned about Afro-Brazilians from years of conversation with black activists in Brazil:
- Brazil has the dubious honor of being the last country in the Western Hemisphere to end slavery (in 1888) and the country to import the largest number of African slaves, more than any other country in the Americas, from the 1500s to 1850.
- People of African ancestry, according to the first national census of 1872 (pdf), represented more than 65 percent of the population; this includes blacks and people of mixed African heritage. Also, by 1872, more than half the people of Brazil were free people of African heritage. In the census of 1872, 15 percent of the population remained slaves.
- Afro-Brazilian slaves, in particular, left a disproportionate imprint on the culture of Brazil. Evident in almost every aspect of the culture and economy, Afro-Brazilians not only were responsible for producing sugar, as stereotyped, but also developed the early infrastructure and architecture; were cowboys; were responsible for the culinary traditions; and, in the colonial period and during the early national period, were over-represented as health care workers. Afro-Brazilians contributed to every aspect of the economy as workers.
- All the main cultural forms of Brazil have a base in Afro-Brazilian culture. Once thought of as barbaric or backward, these traditions are now part of Brazil’s national identity. For example, samba, the national music of Brazil, was the focus of enormous police oppression throughout the 19th century until the 1930s. Playing samba music and dancing to it was illegal throughout Brazil. There are examples in the 19th century where African instruments were prohibited, and people engaging in samba music were arrested and punished.
- This was also the case with capoeira, the Brazilian martial art, and a beautiful dance form, which was created by Africans and was also outlawed and prosecuted by the police until the 1930s, when it became part of the national culture.
Read more of the original post on the Root.com — http://www.theroot.com/articles/culture/2016/08/10-things-afro-brazilians-want-you-to-know/