Novel New
You witnessed all the pomp and circumstance, and competitions of the Rio 2016 Summer Games

I watched with some interest part of the opening ceremonies of the 31st Olympiad down there in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. But I wasn’t that taken by the proverbial “pomp and circumstance” of the opening ceremonies, which included one aspect of special interest to me: representation of Brazil’s Black people and the history of slavery, which is the why they are in that country (as well as other countries across the South American continent) in the first place.
One of my reasons for watching that evening was to see how, or if, a significant component of Brazil’s population, Black people, would be represented—showcased as it were—and I wasn’t disappointed. There was a troupe (on a giant wheel), ostensibly a representation of Brazil’s African peoples, with brief commentary of the country’s dubious history of Slavery. Nothing was said about the way Brazil’s descendants of the slaves have been essentially relegated to the margins (the back pages as it were) of that country’s face, modern-day life and history. And in 2016 they remain in that position as Brazil continues to pride itself on its diverse… colourful, cultural makeup and specious inclusion—the latter is non-existent.
In my years of watching images of Brazil I have never seen so many Black people in a national government-organized display of a dubious aspect of Brazil’s history. [Rio’s famous Carnival is a whole different matter.]
It was a tacit admission to the international community of that nation’s history—its complicity in the African slave trade, and the continuing compartmentalizing of the descendents of the slaves. Furthermore, it was saying to the world that contrary to the mainstream media images we’ve become accustomed to seeing, that Brazil does have a Black face—over 50 percent of its population—along with millions more who are derivatives of Black.
It’s just that Black people (slaves that we were, are still perceived and treated as such) in Brazil, much like they… we are in [North] America.
The Blacks in Brazil are mentally handcuffed and effectively excluded from all the reins of real power in that country.
“One of the world’s most diverse nations is still just beginning to talk about race…” I read in an article. Never mind that speciousness that Brazil with its oft-touted “diversity” […] is “a colourblind.” Which is why in Brazil talk of  “race” is gradually gathering momentum, as people around the world who are not wearing blinders are seeing that country for what it truly is: in addition to being beautiful, it’s also racist. And then there’s that other issue of social deprivation, of wealth versus blatant inequality.
When Brazil’s early white settlers realized the gold mine—literally and figuratively speaking—that Brazil was, they first imported Africans to do the hard work, and then resorted to importing Europeans, clearly with a view of ‘cutting’ out of that massive virgin land a European country in the South American land mass.
And in its quest for specious social/racial harmony (and to eliminate its Blackness), it resorted to lightening, whitening… of its population, where no racial group is better than the other—aside from those who are white. They have usurped all aspects of power: political, economic and otherwise in that country.
Read an article in the August 1, 2015 issue of THE GLOBE AND MAIL, Globe Focus. It’s titled ‘Black IS BEAUTIFUL, BUT WHITE—WHITE IS JUST EASIER.’
It’s an extensive, fascinating, educational, enlightening… and sometimes disturbing read. It provides insights into that country of diverse, happy people, Brazil. The exposé was written by Stephanie Nolen, the Globe and Mail’s Latin America bureau chief, based in Rio de Janeiro (at the date of publication).
While you’re at it, to be further enlightened, read Elisa Larkin Nascimento’s book, Africans in Brazil: A Pan-African Perspective.
Brazil may be “a beautiful country” as many people say—geographically and demographically. But don’t tell that to the country’s 100 million Black people, the largest outside Africa.
As Brazil’s Black people continue to be marginalized, a popular Internet radio program, The Breakfast Club, comes to mind. During an appearance the guest, Black scholar/activist Dr. Umar Johnson comes to mind. He questions the lack of international solidarity among Black people, the way people of other ethno-cultural groups do.
“Other people, races, nationals… have done so “why not Blacks?” he asks. Why don’t we have Black/African international fora, where people of the Diaspora periodically converge, ostensibly to discuss our place and role in the world? Or are we so disconnected by psychological forces, or for whatever they are worth, nationality and culture?
Those Black people on that massive wheel (representing a piece of machinery) at the opening ceremonies are the largest number of Black Brazilians I have ever seen in any national government- organized event. Wonder if they’ll become celebrities after the closing ceremonies this weekend.
The 2016 Summer Olympic Games were sold—and bought by ‘some’ Brazilians—as an economic boon that would inevitably help transform the lives of the host country’s historical underclass, the marginalized millions inhabiting that nation’s infamous Favelas and other sanctuaries [of the underclass].
Wishful thinking.
It was merely another opportunity for that country’s wealthy elite (in Rio) to make more money by displacing (forcefully removing) as many as 77,000 people from their “communities” to build residences to house Olympics’ athletes and then sell/rent to citizens with the means. The daily protests in Rio by up to 70 per cent of Brazilians opposed to the Games were inconsequential. And the media made sure to keep them out of the picture.
As someone who has visited Rio and other parts of the country told me, real estate developers have come to realize the value of the breathtaking view of Copacabana and other popular beaches and sites around Rio.
Come Sunday, the 2016 Rio Olympics closing ceremonies will take place. And reality will slowly set in like a pall as Brazilians go back to their respective stations in life, normalcy—whatever it may be—doing or living with crime, economic and political corruption, daily survival… and other socially-impactful ills that were glossed over as the country, especially Rio de Janeiro, prepared to host the Games.
It will have been 16 days of internationalism down there. The international cameras will have, and will be back to reality.
Yes, according to data, Brazil’s Black population has surpassed the 100 million mark; the country has a population of just over 200 million. The wealth, filthy lucre, is firmly concentrated in a few hands, that proverbial one percent.
Will that ever change?
According to an article, “The founding principle of the first republic was eugenics… This was enshrined in an immigration law that stated, “The admission of immigrants will comply with the necessity of preserving and developing, in the ethnic composition of the population, the characteristics that are more convenient to its European ascendancy.”
Such is the mentality, the ethos, of those who continue to embrace the “Brazil experiment.”
God, or someone, please deliver those 100 million Black Brazilians.