By Beatriz Miranda, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Despite Brazil’s progressive constitution concerns with human rights and social inequalities based on race are still a problem in the country. According to Carioca lawmaker Benedita da Silva and Bahian sociologist Vilma Reis, Brazil’s black population still fights to guarantee its basic rights.
Known as the “Citizen Constitution”, the 1988 Constitution is considered the most democratic from Brazil’s history – compared to the six previous ones. Among the fundamental principles foreseen in this document is the promotion of welfare for all citizens, regardless of social origin, race, gender or age.
The Citizen Constitution also stood out for being the first to consider racism as punishable crime, representing an important step for the Afro-Brazilian communities’ struggle.
Additionally, the official document foresees the prohibition of income and professional discrimination – regarding gender, age, race or civil state.
Even though the 1988 Constitution has encouraged the approval of key public policies against racial discrimination and inequality, the social inclusion of the black population remains a great challenge in Brazil.
“The black population hasn’t entirely accessed the rights a Republican state should guarantee to its citizens. It is not possible to think of a democratic society without overcoming this stage,” says Reis.
For Benedita da Silva, Rio’s representative in the Federal Chamber of Deputies, and one of the only three black female lawmakers in the House (among 513), Brazil has been currently living a ‘profound regression’ in terms of social policies.
“We have nothing more important to do in this moment than to support our democracy,” affirms the lawmaker.