“Black Race Trophy” celebrates anti-racism work in Brazil and beyond

The trophy is given to activists who contribute to the fight against racism. Image: Giovana Fleck/Global Voices

At a time when racism is on the rise in Brazil, an award recently highlighted politicians, singers, activists, and athletes working to combat racism in their societies — either in Brazil or in Portuguese-speaking countries in Africa. According to the Public Security Yearbook of 2022, there was a 31 percent increase in cases related to racism in Brazil in 2021 compared to the year before.

Seeking to increase awareness on the subject, the ‘Troféu Raça Negra’ (Black Race Trophy, in English) was created to celebrate personalities active in the fight against racism. The trophy was delivered in November 2022 in São Paulo. In addition to honoring Brazilians, it also recognized names from the African continent.

Shared Colonial Origins

It is known that Brazil and Portuguese-speaking countries in Africa are marked by a history based on their struggle to overcome colonization and the search for independence against the domination suffered by European countries.

Part of this history has been highlighted by the proximity that Brazil and African countries have sought to recover in recent years. Incidentally, even during the government of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who left office in 2022 and whose administration was characterized by a reclusive international policy, ties between Portuguese-speaking countries remained.

The origin of relations between Brazil and the two African countries dates back to when the Portuguese colonies experienced a relationship marked by the trafficking of enslaved people between the African and American continents. The three countries are part of the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries (CPLP).

This Year's Black Race Trophy Winners

The Black Race Trophy highlights union, female representation, and rights conquered in the last two decades. The event's organization page highlights that the trophy was launched in 2000 during the 500th anniversary of the arrival of the Portuguese to Brazil.

The second edition took place in 2004. Since then, it has been held annually to recognize and praise people who contribute to various activities, providing future generations with a record of determination, work, perseverance, and public example in building a more pluralistic society.

Among the 2022 honorees was Graça Machel, a Mozambican politician, and human rights activist. She is also the widow of Mozambican political leader Samora Machel and former South African President Nelson Mandela. This selection is due to the fact that she has been leading global human rights campaigns on behalf of girls in vulnerable contexts.

There is also Paulina Chiziane, Mozambican writer and winner of the latest edition of the Lusofonia literary prize — Camões Prize. Chizane was chosen because she has been a leading writer promoting African culture and identities. In her speech, Graça Machel said:

Eu quero, com humildade, dedicar esse troféu a todas nós mulheres do nosso tempo. Assumindo de mãos dadas. Todas nós vamos lutar para que essas meninas cresçam em uma pátria de iguais, que ninguém as magoe, as discrimine, dê um salário a menos, as trate com desprezo, simplesmente porque são mulheres.

I humbly want to dedicate this trophy to all of us women of our time. Taking over hand in hand. We will all fight so that these girls grow up in a homeland of equals, that no one hurts them, discriminates against them, pays them less, treats them with contempt, simply because they are women.

The keynote speech of the event was made by the organization, which Graça Machel leads with other activists from Africa:

Graça Machel esteve ontem entre os 16 laureados no Brasil pelo Troféu Raça Negra 2022, sinalizando quanto respeito e reconhecimento ela conquista em nível mundial por suas ações que já causaram impacto em todo o mundo e deixaram sua marca em um ano de desafios e esperança.

Also awarded were former Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff, Brazilian Environmental Minister Marina Silva, Attorney General of São Paulo Inês Maria Coimbra, rapper, singer, and songwriter MC Soffia Gomes, Executive Director at Bradesco Glaucimar Peticov, and others.

On occasion, José Vicente, dean of the Zumbi dos Palmares University, organizer of the event, said:

Essa é uma histórica noite. Nós estamos honrando o passado dos nossos ancestrais, de construir uma nação de iguais, e que ninguém seja distinguido pela sua raça ou cor da sua pele. Para que os nossos filhos tenham um país em que possam entrar, ficar e permanecer em qualquer lugar, que eles possam ser o que quiserem, e que eles possam desenvolver qualquer das suas habilidades.

This is a historic night. We are honoring our ancestors’ past, of building a nation of equals, and that no one is distinguished by their race or the color of their skin. So that our children have a country where they can enter, stay and remain anywhere, that they can be whatever they want, and that they can develop any of their abilities.

In Mozambique, the event was promoted by civic organizations that promote human rights in the country:

The Black Race 2022 trophy was awarded to 16 influential personalities at world level, among which two Africans with international projection stand out: Graça Machel and Paulina Chiziane. The list includes Dilma Rousseff, former President of Brazil; among others.

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