In 1888, Princess Isabel signed the Golden Law what abolished slavery of Brazil. This long and gradual process was the result, not of the Princess’s genuine desire to free the slaves, but because Brazil was under strong pressure from European states that, with the Industrial Revolution, sought to profit from their products and therefore needed more people to buy your goods. And it was also, above all, the result of intense struggles of black communities and of the slaves, who from the journey on the slave ships were looking for ways to resist Portuguese “authority”.
The slow and gradual process of abolition
The forms of resistance practiced by slaves could occur in different ways: through suicide, through abortion to prevent their children from being born slaves, through rebellions, pretending to be sick and even in the form of infanticide. But, without a doubt, the most famous form of resistance known is the quilombos, black communities (which also functioned as a refuge for non-blacks who were going through a situation of misery) that protected fugitive slaves and led rebellions to the engenhos and their gentlemen.
Over the decades, the pressure of the black movement was increasing and, little by little, laws were being created to put out the flame of the rebellion. One of the first laws to be created was the law that prohibited the slave trade in 1831, but which was not enforced by the government, but in 1850, with the Eusébio de Queiroz Law, this rule was made official, even though the practice continued clandestinely.
In 1871, the Free Womb Law and, in 1885, the Sexagenarian Law. And in 1888, the Golden Law, which solved a problem among the many faced by the black population of Brazil.
The Golden Law brings up a project of exclusion and marginalization of ex-slaves, already seen in 1850. On this date, the land law came into force, a law in which you could only own land if you bought it.
The problem starts there: without financial conditions, ex-slaves were unable to own land and were forced to do everything to survive, some even went back to the engenhos where they were enslaved to work, in exchange for shelter and food. Without a space in the countryside, they were forced to go to the cities, where they faced problems of lack of employment, violence and precarious sanitary conditions.
The forms of exclusion and violence against blacks have not ceased, nor have resistance struggles. In 1910, for example, João Cândido led the Chibata revolt, in which black sailors rebelled against the ill-treatment suffered on the ships where they worked.
As can be seen, the law of abolition, despite giving legal freedom to ex-slaves, does not endeavor to integrate them into society nor does it guarantee the protection of these individuals, creating a turbulent historical root that we can observe until today .
How is the situation of the black community configured today?
The black community, especially the peripheral black, still faces many difficulties, which are the result of this dark historical past. Last year (2019), 75% of those killed by the police were black and black, according to a study by the Brazilian Public Security Forum.
The military police and the Brazilian militia often operate within the favelas and kill hundreds of innocent people, mostly black, every year. Let us remember the brothers Victor Hugo and Roger dos Santos Silva, from Ágatha Vitória, Kauan Peixoto … the deaths are becoming commonplace and show the reality that the Brazilian elite wants to tell about the criminalization of black society.
The rate of femicide is also higher among black women: 65% of cases take the lead compared to white women. In addition, in 2019, the number of blacks in public universities was exceeded for the first time: 50.3% of students were black and brown. However, about 55.8% of the Brazilian population is made up of blacks and browns, that is, this number is still much lower than desired.
In April of this year, the number of black men and women killed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic quintupled, revealing the neglect of public agencies and the government with the precarious conditions that the majority of the black population suffers in Brazil.
Despite being freed, blacks and blacks are still not even close to being free from injustice, violence and the place of ignorance in which they are placed.