Popular participation in the process of proclaiming the republic was very low, especially among black people.
This is what experts and scholars on the subject explain. Marked by a strong military presence and elitist thinking, the Republic came in 1989, one year after the abolition of slavery. But it did not bring the black and popular classes, who to this day suffer from inequality and social exclusion, into spaces of power.
Vantuil Pereira, historian and professor at the Center for Public Policy Studies in Human Rights at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, UFRJ, explains what led to this exclusion
“The conception of a republic is an elitist conception, right? It’s an elitist conception that comes from the military sectors, positivist sectors, sectors that were influenced by European scientific thought at the end of the 19th century, which still focused on the exclusion of the poor, perhaps black people, right? Because in fact, in this concept of society, it would not be up to black mestizos to occupy spaces of power, right, despite this contradiction in Brazil, right? Some mulattoes, some mestizos, occupied these spaces, but it’s not a state project, a broad democratization, right?”
The historian and professor at the Federal Institute of Rio de Janeiro, Camilla Fogaça, who is also part of the Collective of Black Historians Tereza de Benguela, highlights that black women had an even smaller participation in this process.
“This reduction and invisibility appears even in the lack of historiographical sources on the female role. So there is a hierarchy of figures that appear throughout the proclamation of the republic where black women practically do not appear, right? These black female names are not visible. And women’s participation basically takes place in the family environment, in the environment, sometimes even in commerce, where they exchange information, and exchange challenges, to the figure, or the position they hold, in the face of the process of slavery or the end of slavery. , but the end of this slavery does not appear clearly to them.”
And after the proclamation, in addition to the Republic not adopting measures to compensate the black population for the violations committed during slavery, it made the exclusion official. For example, in articles of the 1981 Constitution, as Vantuil explains.
“The exclusion is accentuated, you know, it is accentuated. It’s good to remember that the Constitution that will soon be voted on is a Constitution that, for example, limited the right to vote for the illiterate, right? And it’s good to remember that the largest portion of illiterate people is either the formerly enslaved or the freed, right.”
According to the UFRJ professor, these direct and indirect discriminations persist and cause inequalities to this day.
“We know today that an overwhelming number of people arrested, incarcerated in Brazil today, are black people. So I think that the justice system has to undergo a complete transformation in the sense of not being a racist system in its way of seeing punishment, seeing society. When we talk about favelas, favelas, violence, especially the State’s action in these territories, those most affected are black people. So we need to have a very clear view of the State, to have public policies for these populations, housing, health and housing policies”.
Both Vantuil Pereira and Camila Fogaça believe that the political participation that was not allowed during the proclamation could be the key to structural changes in the present.
“We have the vote, the expansion of parliament and the number of candidates aimed at women, this was recently, right, this already increases political participation, but I think greater supervision in relation to the parties, how they are applying the law aimed at increasing the number of women in their parties”.
Pereira also defends the deepening of public policies to democratize education and policies to encourage diversity, within political decision-making spaces and in companies.