Like many countries that have a history with the Transatlantic Slave Trade, Brazil has never been able to grapple the matters of race.
Data shows that out of the more than 9.5 million people taken from Africa between the 16th and 19th centuries, more than 4 million slaves landed in Rio de Janeiro. That’s nearly 10 times more than the total number of slaves sent to North America during this time frame.
After hundreds of years of silence and denial, leaders in Brazil recognized the contributions from those of Africa descent during the 2016 Summer Olympic Games and addressed the impact enslaved people made on the country’s history.
People of color felt it was a turning point for the country to tackle racism head-on in a place where the impact of slavery continue to manifest itself in the obstacles Afro-Brazilians face compared to their white counterparts.
You see it in Rio’s favelas, which translates to “low-income neighborhoods,” where Afro-Brazilians disproportionately dwell and in the workplace where on average, black Brazilians earn 57 percent less than white Brazilians.
You also witness the impacts of a post-slavery society in the criminal justice system where Black people make up more than 64 percent of the prison population, and black youth are killed at an alarming rate.
In 2017, the Permanent Forum Racial Equality, a Brazilian coalition that advocates on behalf of black and anti-racist movements, petitioned the UN’s Human Rights Council on the rate of targeted homicides of young black Brazilians, as reported in Face 2 Face Africa.
The report found that black youth are murdered in Brazil every 23 minutes. More than 70% of murder victims in Brazil are black and 93% of the time, they are men.
But the study gets worse.
Investigators concluded that they “came upon a cruel and undeniable reality: ‘the Brazilian state, directly or indirectly, perpetrates the genocide of the young black population.’”
The report only confirmed what anti-racists advocates and black people have known for some time.
But one thing that sticks out in the report is that Brazilians had come to expect young black men to be killed. Lawyer Daniel Teixeira told the Agencia Brasil that the situation in Brazil had become “neutralized.”
Read more about the study and its findings here.