Sunday, February 21, 2010

LatiNegr@s Project: Benedita da Silva

Benedita da Silva is the first Afro-Brazilian Senator of the country in 1987. She has identified herself as "three times a minority" because she is Black, a woman, and poor. She sees the intersections of her identity and how her perspective and experiences can change social issues and thus her work in politics.

Da Silva was also influenced by her family's slave heritage. Her grandmother, Maria Rosa, was a former slave in Brazil's mining and farming state of Minas Gerais. Brazil was colonized by the Portuguese, who sent slaves there from Africa during the 16th and 17th centuries. The country gained independence in 1822 but didn't abolish slavery until 1888, becoming the last country in the Americas to do so. On Brazilian Abolition Day, celebrated every May 13, da Silva's whole family would gather and "speak of the importance of our being Black, of the need to go forward and never to be turned around," she recounted in Essence magazine.

There is a documentary of her life called I Was Born A Black Woman which was the 2000 Best Documentary Latino Film Festival in San Francisco.

Here's a video from one of several vlogs that have been uploaded from her Blog (it is in Portuguese)

And an interview by another Afro-Brazilian

Here is an interview with her regarding the election of President Obama and how this may influence politics outside the US with Black people (there is English translation)

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