The scene of children from quilombola communities with afro hair and bright eyes participating in the telling of the story written by her is a memory that judge Jaceguara Dantas da Silva will keep for the rest of her life.
“I saw the black children pointing like this: ‘Oh mommy, that looks like me!’ I thought it was beautiful.”
In the work “Os Sonhos de Ágatha”, the magistrate of the TJ-MS (Court of Justice of Mato Grosso do Sul) challenged herself to find a message of hope to help black girls who today are faced with the racism she faced in her childhood.
Memories remained from that period that Jaceguara revisited during the pandemic, while dealing with the anxiety of being away from her mother. “I wanted to strengthen these children and tell them that they are not alone. We do have paths to follow and we can get wherever we want.”
Born into a humble family in Guajará-Mirim (RO), the daughter of housewife Leonir and Army sergeant Elias moved to Curitiba by decision of her father, who requested a transfer so that his then six children could have more opportunities in their studies. .
It was also her father who gave her racial awareness. At school, she doesn’t remember another black child. “I was a strange little animal, so much so that the children called each other to show me, because they all had blue eyes or were redheads”, she says.
The judge’s mother is of indigenous and Portuguese descent, which explains her straight hair. “I get really upset when someone asks if I straighten my hair, because I would love to have that really afro hair,” she says, excitedly.
In recent years, she has come closer to her own indigenous identity, through a project in partnership with the state government carried out by the court’s Women’s Coordination, headed by her. The action seeks to translate the Maria da Penha Law to eight ethnic groups in Mato Grosso do Sul territory.
“It’s impressive how strong ancestry speaks, because I had never realized my identification with indigenous women. Now I understand very well this division that exists within me, half black and half indigenous. When participating in an activity with them, the songs and The prayers they said touched me deeply”, he says.
It was when playing a prosecutor in a school play, at the age of 11, that Jaceguara felt motivated to study law. At that time, she claims she didn’t have references from other black people in the area or much perspective in life.
While her colleagues were from wealthy families who traveled on vacation, hers did not have the resources to do the same. The stimulus came when a friend from high school started to lend her books from her father’s library.
Without knowing Spanish, she says she struggled to read the original of Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes. “I fell in love with the ideas and utopia. It opened up a completely different perspective for me.”
As an undergraduate, in the midst of the Diretas movement, Jaceguara became the first president of the academic directory of the Faculty of Law of the Dom Bosco Catholic University, in Campo Grande (MS).
In 1989, she was one of the founders of the Tez group (Trabalho Estudos Zumbi), the first organization of the black movement in the state.
“It shaped my life. From then on, in my professional career or in other spaces, the absence of black people always caught my attention. When I traveled, I said to my two children: ‘Look, we are the only black family in this hotel’. They are extremely conscientious,” he says, adding that they both chose to do law, just like their parents.
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Upon leaving college, she tried to practice law, but had difficulty due to the lack of contacts and decided to pursue a master’s degree at USP. The class had eight students, each one the son of a reference in the legal field.
“When the professor came to me, I had nothing to say. I was da Silva, the only black woman and one of the few, if not the only one, who came from a very humble family. I had a lot of difficulty positioning myself in this universe. “
The master’s degree was interrupted when Jaceguara was approved in the competition to become a public prosecutor in Mato Grosso do Sul.
She spent the first years of her career in the interior of the state until she was promoted to the capital.
With the support of the women in her family and her then husband, she was able to take on other roles, such as volunteer professor of human rights at UFMS (Federal University of Mato Grosso do Sul), and resume her studies, completing her master’s degree at PUC in 2011. -SP.
In 2013, Jaceguara became the first full prosecutor at the Campo Grande Public Prosecutor’s Office for Human Rights.
“I dealt with homeless people, transvestites, transsexuals, prostitutes, people with disabilities, with the fight against racism and discrimination against women. In short, with all segments of vulnerable groups.”
From this period, Jaceguara cites the case of a black woman whose two children were murdered. One of them was killed when reacting to a racist insult from a retired military police officer during an argument in a bar.
“I had the pleasure of seeing this person held criminally responsible. You realize that prejudice and racism don’t just take away rights, they take lives.”
“I understand the importance of not taking our personal convictions into account and working to realize people’s rights. Regardless of who they are, they are human beings.”
In addition to “Os Sonhos de Ágatha”, in 2018 she published the work “Ministério Público e Violência Contra a Mulher”, her doctoral thesis completed in the same year also at PUC-SP.
Looking for new challenges in her career, after working as a prosecutor, she decided to apply for the position of judge, a dream of her father’s. She says that she found the list process to be smooth, although she faced resistance due to her area of expertise.
“There has been a very large polarization in Brazil and some people understand the human rights agenda as being left-wing, when in fact it is an issue for humanity. We cannot talk about a democratic rule of law if it does not have inclusion, diversity and plurality.”
Before being promoted to the court in 2022, in a vacancy destined for the Public Ministry, Jaceguara received honors for her work in favor of human rights, such as the Bertha Lutz Diploma, in 2019, in the Senate, and the Legislative Merit medal, in 2021, in the Chamber of Deputies.
The ABMCJ (Brazilian Association of Women in the Legal Career) and Unegro (União de Negros pela Igualdade) have expressed support for her nomination to the STF (Federal Supreme Court), a subject she prefers not to talk about.
The only black judge at TJ-MS, she states that all political spaces benefit when there is diversity, something she also expects at the STF.
“Having a black person, a black woman, would be something that would greatly enrich the human vision of the Federal Supreme Court,” he says.
X-RAY | Jaceguara Dantas da Silva, 61
She is a judge at the TJ-MS (Court of Justice of the State of Mato Grosso do Sul), where she heads the State Coordination for Women in Situations of Domestic and Family Violence and is a regional auxiliary ombudsman for women in the central-west designated by the Presidency of the CNJ. Member of AMB Mulheres, she has a master’s degree in State law and constitutional law from PUC-SP and author of the books “Ministério Público e Violência Contra a Mulher” (Lumen Juris, 2018) and “Os Sonhos de Ágatha” (Eureka infantil, 2022 ).