Photos: Black Brazilians in ‘quilombos’ to be counted in census

by | Sep 20, 2022 | World

For the first time in its 132-year history, the Brazilian census now under way will count members of so-called “quilombo” communities founded by formerly enslaved Black people who resisted the system of oppression.On Ilha de Mare, an island with several quilombos off the coast of Salvador, in northeast Brazil, this chance to be counted is one step in a political transformation for which local organisers have long been fighting.
“Being part of the census is a strategy for us, a strategy for resistance and change,” said 52-year-old Marizelha Carlos Lopes, a local activist and fisherwoman on the island, where 93 percent of people identify as Black. “One of our objectives is to escape an intentional invisibility.”
Her friend Eliete Paraguassu, 42, is mounting another front in the strategy. She is the first woman from the island campaigning for a spot in the Bahia state legislature – one of a record number of Black candidates running for state and federal office in Brazil in this October’s elections.
Together, Brazil’s updated census and the rising number of Black candidates are part of a slow reckoning with centuries of slavery that ended only in 1888, making Brazil the last country in the world to abolish the practice.
Quilombos were formed over centuries by enslaved people who escaped forced labour to create isolated, self-subsistence communities in remote forests and mountain ranges or on islands like Ilha de Mare.
Quilombo residents now hope th …

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