“How do you feel being a black woman in a patriarchal and racist country?” – ‘Black Soul’ exhibition in Rio de Janeiro reflects on empowerment of the black woman

Black Women Of Brazil


Note from BW of Brazil: Women telling their stories, revealing experiences and revealing with their words what it means to be a black woman in a country like Brazil. In fact, this is one of the objectives that led to the creation of this blog. Considering the comments we receive on this blog and social network pages, the information presented on this blog shatters many long held beliefs about the influence of race in the lives of black Brazilians, particularly black Brazilian women. The exhibit is another in long number of projects from across the country discussing the idea of black identity and experiences of how blackness is experienced in Brazil (and for good reason – see here and here), a number of which have been featured on this blog (see here, here or here, for a few examples). We wish success for this important…

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Alonso de Illescas


In 1997, the National Congress of Ecuador declared October 2, the national day of Black Ecuadorians giving formal recognition to Alonso de Illescas (pronounced O-lone-zo Day EE-yes-cahs) a native of Senegal, West Africa.

At the age of about 10 years, he was captured by slave traders and taken as a slave to Spain. He was baptized and confirmed in Seville with the name of Enrique. He later took the name of his master, the merchant Alonso de Illescas.

He lived in Seville for seventeen years before he was sent to the Caribbean to assist his owners. He first spent time on the island of Santo Domingo where his owners established a merchant enterprise which included clothing, cured meats, swords, horses, olive oil, wine, and the selling of Africans

In contrast to the lives of other Africans who were brought to the Americas as slaves, Illescas more than likely never worked on a sugar plantation or in a rice field. Instead, he was a trusted personal servant expected to perform many duties for his owners and probably served as elder Illescas’ personal servant during his youth in Seville. From the Indies he traveled to Panama and then to Peru, the silver-producing capital of the early Spanish Empire. Records indicate that he and Alvaro, one of his owners, were active in Peru by 1551.[5] In 1553, he along with twenty-three “Guinea slaves” departed the port of Panama on the southbound journey to Lima, Peru. The journey proved to be typical in that the ship’s pilot had to contend with north and westerly Pacific Ocean currents and therefore decided to seek harbor in San Mateo Bay on the Esmeraldas coast. In spite of this, the ship ran aground inside the bay and stranded the crew, passengers, and slaves onshore. They were forced to travel along ragged shorelines to reach the nearest settlement, Puerto Viejo. In the course of the journey, Illescas and the other slaves decided to seize the moment to head into dense forest and claim their freedom.

Illescas, along with his fellow escapees, struggled to survive at first, making alliances with and attacks against native communities. The first leader of the group was an African named Antón.

Anton later died and Illescas eventually rose to a position of leadership by way of alliances that he struck with the local Nigua indigenous communities. He officially became the leader of his Maroon community in the late 1560s. Throughout the rest of the sixteenth century under his leadership, the community came to include Amerindians and even a few Europeans.

Allonso was a skilled negotiator and knew how to win the friendship of the Indians, making appropriate partnerships, particularly with the tribe of the chiggers. An account by Miguel Cabello de Balboa has it that Alonso was once invited to a great feast with the powerful Indian chief Chilianduli and his people in the village of Dobe, surprisingly at the end of the party Alonso and the marrons killed 500 Indians, and Alonso de Illescas therefore became the new lord of the people.

For the Indians there was no choice but to agree and accept the newcomers.They therefore supported Alonso and his free blacks in the fight against enemy tribes, especially the dreaded Campaces. As a sign of alliance the Indians awarded their women as a trophy to the black warriors of Allonso to marry, many formed polygamous partnerships, and their offspring at first were referred to as mulattoes by the Spanish and by the 1590s as zambos, giving rise to a new breed of people in South America “the zambo of Esmeraldas.”

Alonso was cunning, brave in war, with his quite literary abilities in Spanish language also quickly learned the local languages. With the Spanish colonizers he maintained a relationship that could define as “hate and love,” in order to preserve their autonomy while leveraging their friendship.

He established his people in the headwaters of Atacames, called San Martin de la Campaces, the place of which was the historic meeting with the priest Miguel Cabello de Balboa, in the month of September 1577.

In the 1570s Illescas’ Maroon community also began trading with Spanish ships that periodically stopped on the Esmeraldas coast.

The region’s remote geography with dense forests and mangroves and the indigenous inhabitants’ (Campazes who lived south of the Bay of San Mateo)[8] prolonged resistance to Spanish rule helped to enable the Maroon community to survive for generations.

Illescas never took bribes, and even rejected the title of governor when many politicians gave up their properties to take on the title of governor of Esmeraldas. Alonso IIlescas trained new leaders starting with his son Alonso Sebastian de Illescas and his grandson Jerónimo (Geronimo) so that they be loving of justice and liberty and keep their territory free of Spanish rule. Although, Esmeraldas was the first province invaded by the Spanish, it was the alliance between Blacks and Indigenous people that kept the Spanish from taking full control.

Near the end of Illescas’ life, he ruled his community with the help of two sons, Sebastián and Antonio There is no historical record of Alonso de Illescas after the 1590s. Therefore, he must have died in the Esmeraldas region at some point between 1587 and 1596. While Illescas did not live long enough to witness a peace agreement with the Real Audiencia of Quito, it was achieved. His son Sebastián obtained the title of Don and was recognized as leader over the Illescas Maroons by 1600. In addition, Sebastián received the sacrament of confirmation by Quito’s bishop in 1600 and he took Alonso as his confirmation name. Illescas’ family ruled Esmeraldas for at least two more generations.

Miguel Cabello de Balboa a Spanish priest openly acknowledged in his letters to the King of Spain that Alonso de Illescas was a man of superior qualities. He wrote to King telling him that it was not so easy to subdue a man who was so well prepared and knew how to defend in all fields.




Toyin Ashiru

At Brazil’s top university, black militants invade a class and initiate a debate on quotas and racism

Black Women Of Brazil

Militants interrupt class at USP to initiate a debate on racism and affirmative action Militants interrupt class at USP to initiate a debate on racism and affirmative action

Note from BW of Brazil: So the debate rages on! Nowadays it’s impossible to get an understanding of how people see race, class and privilege without tackling the issue of affirmative actions quotas for non-whites in Brazil. Initiated in the first few years of this century, the debate has brought to the forefront how divided Brazilians are when it comes to addressing centuries of oppression and exclusion of the black population from so many areas of Brazilian society. As any honest person could tell you, it is virtually impossible to climb the ladder of social status without a college education on one’s resume. And as numerous studies over the past decade have pointed out, those who most likely attain the education are overwhelmingly Brazilians who identify themselves as brancos, or white people. 

Signs demonstrate how the issue of quotas has divided the country. in the past decade -  Top sign: "Against racist quotas" Bottom sign: "USP will get blacker! Quotas now!" Signs demonstrate how…

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One of Brazil’s most important groups for preserverance of black culture, the Solano Trindade Popular Theater celebrates 40 years

Black Women Of Brazil


Note from BW of Brazil: One of the most important figures in Afro-Brazilian History and Culture, Solando Tridade was born on July 24, 1908, in the district of San José, in Recife, Pernambuco. Besides being a poet, he was also a painter, playwright, actor and folklorist; a legitimate poet of black resistance par excellence. In 1930, he began to compose Afro-Brazilian poems. In 1934, he idealized the first Afro-Brazilian Congress in Recife and in 1936 participated in the second Afro-Brazilian Congress in Salvador, Bahia. In 1936, he founded the Frente Negra Pernambucana (Pernambuco Black Front) and the Centro de Cultura Afro-Brasileiro (Afro-Brazilian Culture Centre), for the dissemination of black intellectuals and artists. In 1940, he moved to Belo Horizonte. After arriving in Rio Grande do Sul, settling for a time in Pelotas, where he founded with poet Balduíno de Oliveira a folk art group, which didn’t move forward because of…

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We are empowered black women! We will not whiten ourselves anymore

Black Women Of Brazil

Women of the Encrespa Movement in Paranã, Tocantins.                             Women of the Encrespa Movement in Paranã, Tocantins

Note from BW of Brazil:This is the type of inspiring material we love to bring you hear on BW of Brazil! I’m sure somewhere out there, in Brazil as well as outside of the country, there are people who are scratching their heads and going, “why so much focus on the issues of hair and identity?” Well, simply put, if you didn’t grow up in Brazil, or really anywhere where Africans and their descendants live, you wouldn’t understand the pressure of growing up under a system that silently tries to destroy your very existence, emotionally, psychologically and in the case of Brazil’s policy of whitening its population, literally physically! Millions of Afro-Brazilian women (and men) grow up with an ideology of whitening themselves from the…

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La Bomba



Bomba is an Afro-Puerto Rican folkloric music style developed throughout the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries by west African slaves brought to the island by the Spanish. It is a communal activity that still thrives in its traditional centers of Loíza, Santurce, Mayagüez, Ponce, and New York City. The traditional musical style has been diffused throughout the United States following the Puerto Rican Diaspora, especially in New York, New Jersey, Chicago, California, and Florida. It also became increasingly popular in Peru, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela and Brazil, and has largely influenced Afro-Latino music styles within these countries.

More than just a genre of music, it’s most defining characteristic is the encounter and creative relationship between dancers, percussionists, and singers. Dance is an integral part of the music. It is popularly described as a challenge/connection, or an art of “call and answer,” in which two or more drums follow the rhythms and moves of the dancers. The challenge requires great physical shape and usually continues until either the drummer or the dancer discontinues.

There are several styles of bomba, and the popularity of these styles varies by region. There are three basic rhythms, as well as many others that are mainly variations of these: Yubá, Sicá and Holandés. Other styles include Cuembé, Bámbula, Cocobalé, and Hoyomula.

via http://cafecitoenlechao.tumblr.com/post/98479658030/bomba-is-an-afro-puerto-rican-folkloric-music

We are Afro-Mexican|”I am Blaxican”

Life as Karen

This week I decided to interview my dad; my inspiration for this project. The interview was conducted in Spanish, the English version is translated!

Esta semana decidi entrevistar a mi papa; la inspiracion para este proyecto.


K:¿De donde eres?Where are you from?

M:Soy de Santo Domingo Armenta Oaxaca, pero me fui a Acapulco, Guerrero a la edad de 4 años

I am from Santo Domingo Armenta Oaxaca, but I moved to Acapulco,Guerrero when I was 4 years old.

K:¿En que año te venistes a E.U? Y por que?What year did you migrate to the U.S, and why?

M:Vine a Estados Unidos en 1999, a lo que todos venimos, buscando una vida mejor para nuestras familias

I came to the U.S in the year 1999, for the same reason that we all come here for; a better way of life for our families.

K: ¿

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Juan Andrés López del Rosario, also known as “Andresote” was a Venezuelan black slave who fought for the equality of blacks and Indians against slavery in Venezuela. He is most known for organizing a movement known in history as the Revolt of Andresote.

Born in Valencia in the Carabobo state. His mother was an Indian and his father a black slave believed to be from Guinea.

Andresote was a slave who worked on a plantation but to escape from his master contacted Dutch smugglers to exchange or sell various products at better prices than those set by the Guipuzcoana Company which was a ruling class in Venezuela that exploited the people and imposed high taxes, killing and punished the people who refused to pay them.

Between 1732 and 1735 Andresote organized with the help of the Dutch black slaves and Indians, an insurrection against the Guipuzcoa Company and the Spanish, for three years Andresoto and his supporters remained strong destroying the government forces and troops sent against them but in 1735 the Spanish authorities managed to quell the rebellion and managed to arrest Andresote and many of his supporters, mainly Indians, mulattos, blacks, many of whom were sentenced to imprisonment or death. They couldn’t however, take over Andresote, who with the help of smugglers escaped to Curacao.

sources http://www.ecured.cu/index.php/Juan_Andr%C3%A9s_L%C3%B3pez_del_Rosario

The Top 10 Most Beautiful Black Women of Brazilian television

Black Women Of Brazil


Note from BW of Brazil: If you are a regular follower of this blog you know that the purpose is bring more exposure to the under-appreciated black Brazilian population, specifically black women. Over the years, throughout the blog-o-sphere, there have been countless “most beautiful women” types of lists promoting the opinions of people all over the world in regards to women they find to be physically attractive.

Today, we feature a recent post by Diego Sioli that represents ten of Brazil’s most beautiful black women who are commonly featured on the nation’s most prominent television networks. Interestingly, the ten featured are the usually agreed upon in most of the “top 10 most beautiful black Brazilian women” posts surveyed on the web, with a few exceptions here and there. All of the women below have been featured at one time or another here at BW of Brazil, so feel free to…

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