Black lives matter!

In the current global context, particularly in Brazil, fascism, conservatism and fundamentalism are advancing and reasserting racism, the “natural” social hierarchy and the militarization of the police.

CESE, an ecumenical organization that works for the promotion, defence and guarantee of rights, identifies and recognizes the existence of individual, institutional, and structural racism in the historic construction of the state and Brazilian society, and acknowledges that this racism generates injustice against the black population.

Globally, colonization and enslavement have been based on white superiority, violence, the accumulation of wealth, the appropriation of colonized peoples’ culture, and the dehumanization of black men and women.  The history of rebellions, revolts, wars and demonstrations forms part of the struggle of black movements in the defence of life and liberty, for civil, human and democratic rights, hard-won but so far barely, or not, practiced.

The components of class, race and gender are pillars of the profound inequalities existing in Brazil and based on racism in society.

Black men and women from the countryside and the city “have always”, on the one hand, lived in conflict with the state and the enactment of its public safety policy and, on the other, suffered from the absence of policies to confront social and economic inequalities.  The COVID-19 pandemic has provided visibility to the black population’s real living conditions.  Who doesn’t have access to the water and basic sanitation essential to fight the virus?  Who is unemployed, underemployed or an informal worker?  Who accesses the run down public health system?  Who cries over the deaths of their children, siblings, companions?

Who are the victims of so-called “stray bullets,” “confrontations with the police” or, if they survive, who forms the majority of the prison population?  This is the politics of death – necropolitics, when you deny another’s humanity – which materialises in attacks and deaths.  According to data recently published by UNICEF, four in every thousand Brazilian adolescents will be murdered before their 19th birthday.  If nothing is done, 43 thousand Brazilians aged between 12 and 18 years old will be murdered between 2015 and 2021, three times more blacks than whites.  Among young people (between 15 and 29 years old), one black life will be lost and one future cancelled in the next 23 minutes: Davi Fiúza, Ágatha Félix, João Pedro, George Floyd, and so many other victims of structural racism.  And what to say about Miguel Otávio who died from a fall in a luxury building in Recife, when he was in the care of a white, female employer?  Dehumanization, contempt for black lives, the perception that some lives are worth more than others, can all be clearly seen in this case.

It is in this state of the “naturalization of violence” against the black population that black and antiracist movements and organizations employ and implement campaigns, mobilizations, and coalitions for denunciation and the defence of life. Especially at this moment of political and sanitary crisis, we need progress in the deconstruction of invisibility, in denouncement and the practice of antiracism.  Racism is not “black people’s problem”! It is a question of white power and privilege! The daily construction of other forms of social relationship, confronting racism and its consequences is the responsibility of society! Commitment to the assertion of rights, democracy, the implementation of affirmative public policies and the dismantling of the militarization of the police are all required.  Radicalism in antiracist practice is required!

Throughout almost 50 years of operation, CESE has always supported the black population’s movements, organizations and grassroots groups, supporting the strengthening of the antiracist struggle in the country.  Understanding that practice is essential, CESE presents its Institutional Racial Equity Policy here:







credit photo: ELLE PT

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