Today, November 22, at 10 pm, I will be interviewed on the program Roda Viva on TV Cultura. So, I start this text not only with the invitation, but mainly with the call to meet the black women who sat in the armchair I’m going to occupy tonight. Just as Taís Araújo did, when opening her question to Zezé Motta a few days ago saying: “I want to start by honoring you, I salute you, [saúdo] your trajectory and who came before you, because thanks to you and our elders that my generation can be here today. So, I want to honor you very much.” I want to honor all of you very much.
On the 15th, Zezé Motta spoke about her career, about how many battles she had to fight in these five decades of work, she spoke about looking with pride at how today’s generation embraces her as an artist. During the interview, Zezé’s smile did not fail, which reminded me of Mari, who throughout her time as a councilor, talked about hardening without losing her tenderness. And in front of the questions focused on racial issues, she also told about how it was to deepen her studies on the subject, spoke about her studies with Lélia Gonzalez and how she understood herself even more as a black woman after that meeting.
On International Women’s Day, March 8, 2021, it was Taís Araújo’s turn to be the interviewee. Right at the opening of the program, it is said that the invitation to participate was made almost a year before, Taís said that he felt that the moment was to listen and not to speak. I felt that I had already learned a lot and the interview had barely started. It may seem simple, but given our demands, given the pressure we are experiencing after making a commitment to the anti-racist fight, knowing how to pause, knowing how to say “no now” to certain opportunities is an act of extreme wisdom and self-care. Before he even started to speak, Taís had already sent a message to all of us: the fight is continuous, but we must also stop and listen. And I was just listening during that interview with her talking about childhood, the pride of her origins, about welcoming concepts of beauty, about taking responsibility for being a reference, about building a family and all its meaning.
Also this year, in September, Conceição Evaristo was the one who sat at the center of Roda Viva. And she, like other black women who were there, was also asked about the advances of society in racial aspects. With all her eloquence, experience, intelligence and care, Conceição reaffirmed the importance of continuing our struggles, even with small advances. Although it is possible to point out certain improvements, the fact is, as she put it: “What I cannot fail to say is that this evolution did not happen for free. It was necessary that we black women, in every space we are, we always need to force this passage. We need to push this door. So, our achievements, they are achievements that come much more from struggles.”
Benedita da Silva, in 2002, when she was still governor of Rio de Janeiro, while sitting at the center of the circle, defended racial quotas at a time of polarization of this important debate in Brazil, and when she, as governor, implemented the first quota law at the State University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ). Benedita, when talking about “black conscience” reinforced the need for the black movement to have greater “boldness” and “unity” to face criticism from oppressive classes. She says “our conscience needs to be sharpened to seek our rights, which will not only be for us, but for our children, our grandchildren” and other generations.
I have to say that in addition to these three amazing women Chimamanda Adichie, Jurema Werneck and Erika Hilton, they also came before me. I have to say that not only did I listen, but I also strengthened myself from those speeches, to share my story, my studies, my origins and all the accumulation I had in front of the Marielle Franco Institute and since my sister was murdered.
Tonight, in this interview, I feel ready to talk to everyone, everyone, who is available to hear the talk of a black woman who exists, who struggles and lives all the intensity and joy that it is to be a black woman, a mother and activist in Brazil today.