Inside Look: Brazilian Quilombo

by Diana Conde

Diana Brazil

One of the places we traveled to while in Brazil was an indigenous place called a Quilombola. This place as well as many others was a place where Africans who were often runaway slaves stayed. These places are very poor and only have the necessities in order to live. It was shocking for me to learn how slavery was such a big part of their history as well and how much inequality still remains today just like in the United States.

When we visited this place which has housed many generations, many of the people were very happy because today they have a lot more resources than they did many years ago. Their children are receiving better education and most importantly they actually have access to get education. Many people live in this small area which houses 96 families. The leader of the Quilombo is a woman, she is the first to lead the Quilombo as well as having been voted a second time because of how well it has been run. They also made us a typical Quilombo meal which was very delicious.

I learned that there are many quotas that universities have on the amount of afro Brazilian students they have to take in. This is done in order to level the field a bit since they were so disadvantaged in the past. This also exists in the workplace. I learned that they are trying to get more Afro Brazilians educated and in better working positions for the same reason of being disadvantaged in the past. I also learned that they aren’t trying to get them to the higher level positions just a step or two up from where they are now. Even in the government there are no Afro Brazilian people who have an important position.

This really shocked me because their situation is even worse than the United States because they still aren’t trying to be completely equal. What they wish for the most is to be able to be in the position that African descendants are in the United States which is to have the opportunity to be truly successful. While in the Quilombo one of the ladies there was asking us about Obama and how he was doing as the president. She said that they were very proud of him and that they want Brazil’s African descendants to be able to one day be president as well.

I think this visit highlights my time in Brazil because I learned many new things about Brazil. There were similarities between Brazil and the United States but there were many differences. My experience was amazing and I was able to open my eyes to a whole new world full of their own issues and battles. This experience was great and I’m lucky to have been able to participate in it.