Today, there was a meeting co-sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Brazil and the United States Mission to the United Nations in commemoration of the International Decade for Persons of African Descent: Recognition, Justice, and Development. The welcoming remarks were made by Ambassador Duarte, who mentioned both the US and Brazil’s shared past of slavery, present of social challenges, and aspiration of ending gender discriminations. With young black women accounting for 80% of female homicide rates in Brazil, there needs to be a change in Brazilian policy. Ms. Butts moderated the panel discussion.
Ms. Alexander shared an excerpt from her poem about Venus Hottentot, a South African woman who moved to London to become an entertainer but instead became caged and characterized as a circus freak. She believes that one of the challenges for women of color is that identities have been so misdefined, existing under the shadow of stereotype — this historical imperative has affected her creative outlet and poetry.
Ms. Ribeiro spoke of her personal experience as a woman in academia who confronted a world that was entirely black, white, and eurocentric. Black culture and contributions are denied and never reflected on TV or academia. She stated, however, that new technology has made it possible for black women to have a presence on the Internet: she herself runs an online column. Ms. Sterling and Ms. Nascimento spoke of the need for movements to conjoin and to take an intersectional approach. In the last 10 years, there was a 10% decrease in homicides in white women and a 64% increase in black women. This shows that the policy against women in Brazil are not reaching black women, and these panelists were the voices that brought light to the necessity to make a change.
Meeting: Women of African Descent: Shaping Racial Identity
Date/Location: Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016; 13:15-14:30; ECOSOC Chamber
Speakers: Ambassador Carlos Duarte, Deputy Permanent Representative of Brazil; The Honorable Cassandra Q Butts, United States Mission; Elizabeth Alexander, Ford Foundation Director; Valdecir do Nascimento, Brazilian activist, Executive Coordinator of Odara – Black Woman Institute; Djamila Ribeiro, Brazilian Political Philosopher; Chery Sterling, Director of Black Studies, The City College of NY
Written By: WIT Representative Jin Yoo
Edited By: WIT Representative Alex Margolick
Photo Credit: Rhee SC, & Lee SH (2010)