Marielle Franco

When I was in Brazil, I voiced my curiosity about the, “Favelas,” the Black slums that populate almost inaccessible, prime real estate in Rio de Janeiro’s highlands. I was told that they were created by runaway slaves who were looking for safe places to hide out.

Favelas became the home of the many, “Escolas de Samba” (samba clubs) that compete during Rio’s famous carnivals. These favela-based samba groups keep busy throughout the year rehearsing their intricate routines and creating the wildly colorful costumes that are seen during the yearly display. Unknown to the denizens of the favelas – up to now, that is – their occupation with samba, the crime and occupation of prime real estate, was accepted by the authorities as a form of social control. With crime now out of hand, and the rich salivating for those grandiose vistas, policing has become more intrusive and more brutal.

With a majority Black and Mixed-Race population, Brazil as always tried to fool itself and the rest of the world into believing that it does not have a racial problem. While it tells its citizens that they are all Brazilians, equal under the flag (sounds familiar…), everyone knows that to be poppycock.  The opposite is evident in every facet of Brazilian life. Rejection is attributed to anything but color.

Apparently, New Millennium Brazilians of all stripes have had it with this blatant national subterfuge. They note how post-emancipation struggle still grips the United States, which received only a fraction of the humanity trafficked out of Africa.

Genteel European life was being created in Brazil, on the backs of indigenous and imported human chattel long before the British colonies decided to found its phony egalitarian republic. Opposed to the North American concept, race –mixing in Brazil was encouraged. However, as with their North American cousins, “White” always remained supreme.

Marielle Franco was born and raised in a favela. She was able to escape and become educated. She found that by being Black and gay, full citizenship still eluded her. In her early thirties, she decided to go back and try to make a change in favela life. She found that being the only Black face on a fossilized city council was not quite enough. They still were operating on the basis of false equity. Nothing was considered racial.

Franco began to point out the fact that most of the people being killed by authorities, in the favelas and elsewhere, were either Black or of mixed race. She probably had other inequities in mind, as well.
When she began to build up a constituency based on race, that was her death knell. It is the thing that Brazil has been fearing for centuries. Marielle Franco was riddled with bullets as she got into her car. The assassins are a mystery, of course, but oddly enough the rounds they used were traced the police ammunition stock.

Ironically, the next, last thing they did not want was a martyr for the cause of Brazilian racial equality! Like a shooting star, the name of Mariel Franco reached every nook and cranny in Brazil, as well as every other nook and cranny throughout the world. Brazil never will be the same.

*****  *****  *****

They snaked along in a samba.

That snake became a black mamba.

“How odd,” others thought,

But soon they were caught

In the throes of a big, “Bomba”!

Curtis W. Long

Curtis W. Long

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  • Curtis, that's a hell of an important piece. Short, concise, and to the point. And triggered in me these words.

    Let’s briefly step outside US-centricity for a moment and look at Brazil. Perhaps then a few more Americans will get it through their thick skulls that Eurocentric, post-emancipation racism – all too often enforced through police brutality with deadly force– is a clear and present danger for people of color living in America’s many, fast-growing ”favellas,” the ghettos of every city in the US.

    Oh yeah, and then I think of Trump’s desire to execute dope-pushers, which will of course reflect the ethnicity of who goes to jail in America for selling some weed to the old lady down the block with cancer. Yeah, let’s line them all on that wall to Mexico and shoot them. Oh, and let's not forget the homeless, Spanish-speaking children of color. If they come begging anywhere near Trump Tower, just send out a special police squad to mow them down, like good old Rio. First Nations folk too. Persians, Arabs, Africans, the list of "shithole countries" will grow. Oh heck, everyone who doesn't''t have an orange face and a JP Morgan Chase Palladium Visa card in their wallet. The last man standing will then have to shoot himself to finally put an end to illusion that is racism.

    Sorry, maybe that was too much. But that's perhaps because I lived with a Brazilian woman for a year and got some deep insight from that. That and sweet words whispered in Portuguese as we made love. Eu te amo...

  • Pity that the strongest voices end in violence - which doesn't dilute their message.

    Pity, but not a mystery, sadly.