A protester wearing earrings with the image of the continent of Africa takes part in the International March Against the Genocide of Black People in Rio de Janeiro on Aug. 22, 2014. YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images
Cetilá Itas (second from left) pictured with Afro-Brazilian children holding a sign that reads, “Black Children Matter,” in Portuguese. Rodrigo Morais
The new black power movement in Brazil is big.
Brazil is known for its beautiful beaches, beautiful women, samba, sun and celebration. For decades, millions have enjoyed the music, food, dance and culture of the fifth-largest country in the world, especially now as the nation has taken center stage as host of the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro.
But also, in a not-so-glaring spotlight, are Brazil’s new black “Gladiators.” These new young voices are leading a growing socialist movement and spreading their message of black pride through social media.
Despite their contributions to the growth and development of their nation, black Brazilians fall behind all others in what’s been described as a “racial paradise.” They are the country’s poorest, most disenfranchised, and victims of overwhelming levels of systemic discrimination.
Now many blacks there are saying that enough is enough.
Cetilá Itas is 29 years old. She is the leader of the newly formed #VidasNegrasImportam movement in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil.
“#VidasNegrasImportam is an initiative inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States,” says Itas.
“The goal is to focus on the lives of black people that have been claimed in the name of the ‘myth of a racial democracy,’” Itas adds. “This myth denies the perspective that there is a political genocide of the black population occurring.”