Celebrate Black Brazilian Stories & History, Starting With Child of the Dark

Black Brazilian female authors Carolina Maria de Jesus who authored Child of the Dark in 1960 and Lélia Gonzalez, who is the most noted Black Brazilian feminists writers, are being honored at the Urban Peripheries Literary Festival in Rio. These female authors wrote about being Black women unapologetically, through applauding language that wasn’t molded into what many consider proper forms of speech to even accepting and loving the way Black women are made, even in their struggles.

Everything they wrote was enriching to the Black woman, and this is why we are listing some of the must reads by Brazilian authors and Afro Brazilian stories and history as the celebration of Rio’s Urban Peripheries Literary Festival continues.

Child of the Dark: The Diary of Carolina Maria De Jesus, translated by David St. Clair, captures the desperate truth directly from the slum, or favela, as written by the celebrated Black Brazilian female author Carolina Maria De Jesus. The diary consists of moments in her life where she fought for her family in the favela so that it wouldn’t bring them down with it, her disgust with the government and how she believes they conspire against the poor and even after being published, her conditions never changed. She was still left to struggle in the favela.

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Maria Firmina dos Reis (1822-1917), was a teacher and writer from Maranhão. Black woman, she was the first Brazilian novelist. In 1859, she published Úrsula, the only abolitionist novel written by women in the Portuguese-speaking world at the time. His legacy, forgotten for more than a century, also includes short stories, poems and music.
In Cantos a Beira-Mar, the reader will learn about two of his best works in verse and prose: the short story A Escrava, published in 1887, a year before the abolition and the anthology Cantos a Beira-Mar collection of beautiful poems that show all the restlessness and sensitivity of Maria Firmina dos Reis. (This book is written in Portuguese.)

Frontiers of Citizenship is an engagingly-written, innovative history of Brazil’s black and indigenous people that redefines our understanding of slavery, citizenship, and the origins of Brazil’s ‘racial democracy’, with the stories of slaves, Indians, and settlers to life, the author Yuko Miki argues that the exclusion and inequality of indigenous and African-descended people became embedded in the very construction of Brazil’s remarkably inclusive nationhood. She demonstrates that to understand the full scope of central themes in Latin American history – race and national identity, unequal citizenship, popular politics, and slavery and abolition – one must engage the histories of both the African diaspora and the indigenous Americas. – Amazon

Is Bahia, Brazil the beautiful black paradise that attracts visitors from all around the world without flaw, presenting itself as an all around tropical paradise, or is its presentation a thick sheet masking an ugly reality of anti-black authoritarian violence of Brazil’s racially hierarchal society? Christen A Smith takes us there in the book Afro-Paradise.

In Mapping Diaspora, Patricia de Santana Pinho investigates African American roots tourism, a complex, poignant kind of travel that provides profound personal and collective meaning for those searching for black identity and heritage. It also provides, as Pinho’s interviews with Brazilian tour guides, state officials, and Afro-Brazilian activists reveal, economic and political rewards that support a structured industry. –Amazon

Written by Durval Arantes is the fiction novel titled O Último Negro that folds in Brazil and the United States, originating in an incident that occurred in 1976 and casually reported to a young newspaper reporter. Covered up until then for an unimaginable reason, and kept secret for many years, these extraordinary revelations surface in the midst of an ethnic-university clash involving black and white students.

The casual outburst of a São Paulo “socialite” awakens the investigative instinct of the reporter, who ends up unearthing extraordinary facts from the past. A work written in Brazil and to be read all over the world. Robust, with more than 50 chapters, the book brings in its characters the proposal to contribute to a better understanding of what was the African Diaspora and what were its reflexes in the formation of the two largest Nations with Afro-descendant populations in the Americas. (This book is written in Portuguese.)

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