Black Consciousness Week: anti-racist education, political representation, racism and AI, environmental racism and much more!

Posted in: 11/17/2023

Synergia Black Consciousness Week 2023

Black Awareness Day ( November 20), established in Brazil in 2011, and the National Day to Combat Racism (November 18) have played an important role in reinforcing anti-racism and combating inequalities : highlighting the issues faced by black people every day.

Issues such as the lack of representation and proportionality in politics and the job market , especially in leadership positions, confronting racism , cultural appropriation and reinforcing awareness about ethnic-racial issues gain strength in November.

But we cannot forget that these issues need to be brought into daily discussion , reinforcing the need and helping to demand public policies and affirmative actions aimed at promoting equity.

For Synergia Socioambiental, the fight against racial discrimination and the fight for equity are constant causes of great importance. Since 2019, the company has promoted Black Awareness Month in November – with external and internal actions aimed at celebrating and debating topics.

Issues about blackness are addressed in various content on our website. And, in 2021, we launched the first version of the Anti-Racism Guide, which is now in its revised and updated second edition .

Synergia Anti-Racism Guide _Updated version 2023
Click on the image and download the Synergia Anti-Racism Guide | Updated version 2023

The company committed to reaching 50% of management positions held by self-declared black and brown people by 2030 and, furthermore, reaching 25% of senior management positions held by self-declared black and brown people by 2030 . Currently, Synergia has 53.1% of self-declared black or mixed-race employees in its general professional staff.

This year, the company decided to share content related to Black Awareness Day here on this page and on our social networks .

Throughout Black Consciousness Week you will see important topics such as:

  • Anti-racist education
  • Black representation in Brazilian politics
  • Racism in times of AI (Artificial Intelligence)
  • Environmental Racism

And much more…

There will be a lot of quality content for you, because it’s not enough to not be racist, you have to be anti-racist! And, for this, having knowledge is essential .

Check out the campaign now, updated daily this week!

11/20 | Anti-racist education – Awareness that comes from the grassroots

Today is officially Black Awareness Day . And, to begin with, we chose a topic that should be the basis of society: education . However, in this case, we will show the importance not only of education as a whole for society , but of anti-racist education .

According to the Continuous National Household Sample Survey (PNAD), published by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), in 2022, 56.1 % of the total Brazilian population declared themselves black and mixed race . Furthermore, the 2022 Census, released this year, also indicated that the quilombola population in the country is 1,327,802 people, representing 0.65% of the population .

Black Consciousness Week - anti-racist education. Synergia photomontage on Adobe Stock photo
Synergia photomontage on Adobe Stock photo

However, even though Brazil is a country with a black majority , little is said about the implementation of anti-racist education , which actively combats systemic racism and promotes equal opportunities, both inside and outside school walls.

Although Law 10,639/2003 was instituted in 2003 , which made the teaching of Afro-Brazilian and African history and culture mandatory in all schools, from elementary school to high school, 20 years later, one of the main tools for Anti-racist education still faces challenges .

Teachers allege institutional racism , the absence of a policy that coordinates educational actions , the lack of support materials and training incentives as some of the obstacles to the complete implementation of laws and the implementation of Afro-Brazilian education in schools . This would reduce the treatment of racial issues to specific actions on specific dates , instead of an approach that takes place in the application of the school curriculum as a whole.

Black Awareness Week - anti-racist education Photomontage by Synergia on Adobe Stock photo
Synergia photomontage on Adobe Stock photo

A survey carried out by Geledés Instituto da Mulher Negra and Instituto Alana, released in April this year, revealed that 71% of the country’s municipal education networks do not comply with what is determined by Federal Law 10,639/03 , and only 29% of municipal secretariats of education have consistent actions so that the legislation is actually put into force.

Experts who evaluated the research results pointed out that the lack of compliance with the law represents a delay for society and an educational imbalance , preventing the entire Brazilian population, not just the black and brown population, from having access to the knowledge necessary to establish dialogues , recognition and respect for the different ethnic-racial groups in Brazil.

It is worth checking:

  • In January, due to the celebration of the 20th anniversary of Law 10,639/03, the Anansi Observatory opened a free digital collection that brings together research, teaching materials and games, literature, among others, which aim to reduce ethnic-racial inequalities in schools. Check out the dynamic library “ Racial Equity in Basic Education: Research and Materials ”
  • The Alana Institute launched support material on anti-racist education in which it addresses “reflections and pedagogical practices aimed at promoting education for ethnic-racial and anti-racist relations in schools”. The material includes an anti-racist checklist for choosing teaching materials and reports of anti-racist experiences in schools in Brazil, in addition to a selection of books and films that address racial issues. Find out more and download the support material “ Recreating the school from the perspective of ethnic-racial relations ”

11/21 – Political representation: why does it matter so much?

Politics , like education , plays an indispensable role in changing society , and both are directly linked. As we have seen, it is essential to create public policies that support and contribute to the advancement of issues related to racial equality .

But how can we guarantee that the black population will be remembered, included and represented in the creation of affirmative laws and policies when the national political scenario presents a clear discrepancy between the number of white and black people occupying positions of power and decision-making ?

The Federal Supreme Court (STF), for example, one of the main Brazilian institutions, gives us a sample of this lack of representation . According to the website , of the 171 ministers who have “served on the court in its 132 years of existence, only three were black men and three were white women”.

The website was even created by an alliance of black movements in August this year, with the aim of pressuring President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to nominate a black woman to fill the vacancy on the STF that was created by Rosa Weber’s retirement. .

Black Consciousness Week - political representation Photomontage by Synergia on Adobe Stock photo
Synergia photomontage on Adobe Stock photo

Earlier this month, during the event “ 1st Journey of Justice and Racial Equity ”, minister Luís Roberto Barroso, president of the STF and the National Council of Justice (CNJ), declared that structural racism is a reality in Brazil , and needs to be faced by the entire society .

On the occasion, he announced the implementation of a scholarship project to encourage the entry of black people into the judiciary . The measure could have an impact, considering that the number of people on the bench in Brazil who identify as black or brown people is less than 15% : 12.8% are brown people , and black people represent only 1.7% .

Minister Barroso reinforced yesterday, on Black Awareness Day , the intention of creating the project, and highlighted the importance of affirmative actions like this so that black people can compete for vacancies under equal conditions – as the scholarship system would enable these /students did not work during exam preparation , dedicating their time exclusively to studies.

In other areas of politics, black representation is also low, although it is increasing due to actions such as reserving funds for black candidates and advertising time proportionally between white and black candidates in municipal elections.

In the 2022 elections, the number of black people who applied (14,712) was, for the first time in a general election, greater than that of white people (14,550), according to the Superior Electoral Court (TSE). However, black and brown people were the majority in the dispute for positions with less political weight .

Black Consciousness Week - political representation Photomontage by Synergia on Adobe Stock photo
Synergia photomontage on Adobe Stock photo

Regarding the number of people actually elected , the TSE points out that – although there was an 8.54% increase in candidacies from black people in 2022, compared to the 2018 general elections, and an 11.4% increase in the number of black people elected – in 2022, only 32.12% of black candidates were elected .

To conclude, a concrete example of the importance of representation: a recent survey carried out by the Insper Racial Studies Center, at the request of the Lemann Foundation, showed that black people in leadership positions increase the number of inclusion projects , proposing up to three times more laws and public policies dedicated to inclusion than non-black people.

Package for Racial Equality

In commemoration of Black Awareness Day , the Federal Government launched the second Package for Racial Equality , a set of 13 measures proposed by the newly created Ministry of Racial Equality , in partnership with 10 ministries and other federal bodies. The objective of the package of measures is to promote racial equality by supporting affirmative actions and encouraging , mainly, black culture and anti-racist education, among other areas.

Check out the 13 actions proposed by the Racial Equality Package


11/22 – Racism in times of Artificial Intelligence (AI): invisible even to technology?

Have you ever thought that the development of a society can reflect on its technologies, but technologies can also reflect extremely complicated and unresolved issues in a society, such as structural racism ?

This is what we are seeing with the emergence of so many cases of allegations of racism happening on the internet . But this time, the issue goes beyond the prejudice practiced between users : we are talking about complaints that algorithms and artificial intelligence (AI) may be propagating racial discrimination .

However, how can we teach the algorithm of social networks and artificial intelligence not to reflect prejudices and reinforce stereotypes when it learns from us, humans, and we live in a structurally racist society ?

Black Consciousness Week Racism in times of Artificial Intelligence (AI):
Synergia photomontage on Adobe Stock photo

Before moving on to Artificial Intelligence and its broader use and greater access to the general public, something very recent, this discussion begins with the algorithms used in social networks . For some time now, black influencers have been denouncing some platforms for not delivering , or publicizing less, their content.

In 2020, digital influencer Sá Ollebar carried out a test for a week on her Instagram, with the aim of analyzing her reach numbers: instead of using her photos, the influencer used photos of white women . The result was that her reach increased by 6000% , denouncing the racism of algorithms. In the same year , Twitter users – now called

At this time, when it has become common to use AI tools to generate images, other events have exposed issues that could indicate racism . Recently, Renata Souza, a PSOL deputy, used one of these tools to generate an image that portrayed a black woman in a favela . The image created by the AI, however, was of a black woman holding a firearm . When contacted, the company responsible for AI responded that “creating reliable and inclusive AI technologies is a critical issue” and that it would continue to make investments to resolve issues like this.

Black Consciousness Week Racism in times of Artificial Intelligence (AI):
Photomontage by Synergia on an image generated by the Adobe Firefly tool.

Experts indicate that, to prevent technologies from reproducing prejudices , it is necessary that the people who develop these systems use inclusive data that brings diversity , training the systems with images of black people. However, this also involves hiring different people and teams – which can often come up against a lack of access to the necessary study and training to fill technology vacancies dedicated to this type of service.

It is important to highlight that, according to data from the Continuous National Household Sample Survey (PNAD), in 2022, 70% of young people aged 14 to 29 who were out of school were black and 28% were white people. And when it comes to higher education , the situation of inequality is no different. In 2020, according to a survey by the Institute for Applied Economic Research (Ipea), 18% of young black people aged 18 to 24 were attending university , while among the white population the rate rose to 36%.

For black people who manage to overcome these barriers and enter the technology market , the situation of inequality has not yet been resolved. A survey carried out in 2020 by the Potências Negras and Shopper Experience community revealed that 83% of the 1472 black and brown people participating reported having already suffered discrimination in the workplace . Furthermore, the average income of black people in technology areas corresponded to 66% of the income of white people .

In this scenario, we can understand that the problem of racism in the algorithm and in Artificial Intelligence would be directly related to the lack of diversity and inclusion in companies , a fact aggravated by the lack of access to education, incentives and public policies.

In other words, in addition to investing in improving the accuracy of the results of content generated by AI , companies need to be more concerned, considering the fight against racism in their own organizational cultures and contributing to a society with more equity, in general.

11/23 – Environmental Racism and the intersection of vulnerabilities

Environmental racism considers that the people most affected by the climate crisis and environmental disasters are those who belong to vulnerable groups , mainly socially.

These people end up receiving environmental risks unequally and also suffer from the deprivation of public policies , including environmental ones, and lack of access to environmental benefits , such as being able to enjoy green areas.

In Brazil, environmental racism is present in several aspects, from the construction of projects that could affect quilombola and indigenous communities to the lack of adequate housing and sanitation in peripheral areas in large cities.

These areas, which concentrate a large part of the population considered to be at the poverty line , are also those that suffer from the greatest risk of landslides, landslides and floods, among other environmental disasters.

A 2016 survey, carried out by IBGE, revealed that black people represented 78% of the population that comprised the poorest 10% in Brazil . And 78% of the people who lived in favelas were black.

Black Consciousness Week Environmental racism Photomontage by Synergia on Adobe Stock photo
Synergia photomontage on Adobe Stock photo

According to data from the study “ Environmental racism and socio-environmental justice in cities ”, released by the Pólis Institute in 2022, a large part of the population residing in risk areas in Brazil is black .

Considering Belém (PA), Recife (PE) and São Paulo (SP) as samples , the Instituto Pólis research pointed out how the three capitals – located in different Brazilian regions (north, northeast and southeast, respectively) – demonstrate socio-environmental vulnerability in urban territories : Belém, with 75%, Recife with 68% and São Paulo, with 55% of the black population in their risk areas.

The study also highlighted that these regions, with little infrastructure and no access to basic services , also concentrate a large number of black women , heads of families, earning up to 1 minimum wage.

As we have seen, social and environmental injustices can disproportionately impact populations that are already in a vulnerable situation, especially those that accumulate social markers : such as poor black women.

Climate policies, as well as climate change adaptation and mitigation actions , need to recognize and consider inequalities, especially racial ones. And, for this, it is necessary that more and more black people have representation and are part of the groups responsible for decision-making and planning public policies .

COP28 will address climate justice, but what about Environmental Racism?

COP27 – United Nations Conference on Climate Change – held last year, brought relevant debates about the impact of climate change on groups that are already socioeconomically vulnerable – including women and indigenous and quilombola people in the discussions – and highlighted the importance of climate justice for everyone .

Black Consciousness Week Environmental racism Photomontage by Synergia on Adobe Stock photo
Synergia photomontage on Adobe Stock photo

For the next edition of the event, COP28 , panels on climate justice are already scheduled. But some black movements have complained about the absence of activities specifically aimed at discussions about “the consequences of environmental racism in the lives of black populations”.

Women from the Black Voices for Climate Network – formed from the Black Women and Climate Justice project , from Amnesty International Brazil – will be present on a panel to debate a climate agenda that includes the inclusion of black women and is anti-racist . Furthermore, the group will defend the loss and damage fund and publish a report that denounces violations of socio-environmental rights in several regions of Brazil.

Know more:

  • As in 2021 and 2022, you can follow COP28 coverage daily here on the Synergia Socioambiental website and social media.
  • Also check out the “ Climate Justice for Women ” campaign , which highlighted the role of women in working towards climate justice.

11/24 – Black protagonism and the fight against cultural erasure

Only in 2023, for the first time in history , the country’s main television channel featured black protagonists for the 3 soap operas that were on air. One of these protagonists (Barbara Reis), in fact, is only the second black woman to occupy prime time , at 9 pm, as a protagonist. Taís Araújo, in 2009, had been the first – she also made the debut of a black woman as a protagonist on the network, in 2004, in the 6pm soap opera, “ Da Cor do Pecado ”.

At the time, there were few questions. But the title , “Da Cor do Pecado”, an expression considered racist for objectifying black bodies, did not go unnoticed with the most recent re-presentations of the soap opera. And, although the channel responsible for the re-presentation kept the original title , avoiding reproducing it most of the time, the soap opera received a warning saying “This work reproduces behaviors and customs from the time in which it was made”, since on several occasions the characters reproduced racist behavior .

Let’s return to an important fact: in 2022, 56.1% of the total Brazilian population declared themselves black and mixed race . According to projections by IPEA (Institute for Applied Economic Research), made in 2008, the black population in Brazil would reach the majority by 2010 . But it is necessary to consider that due to prejudice , or fear of it, many people stopped declaring themselves black or mixed race in surveys.

Synergia Black Consciousness Week 2023 Cultural erasure Photomontage of Synergia on Adobe Stock photo
Synergia photomontage on Adobe Stock photo

This scenario has only changed, and continues to change, as the appreciation of the black race and the increase in self-esteem of this population occurs, according to IBGE experts and historians, who highlight that public policies and affirmative actions have been, and will continue to be, fundamental to this.

However, as a factor of change, it is also necessary to highlight the importance of representation . And, as we have seen, it took a long time for black people to be included in the main television programs without having them in secondary roles and with little space.

Furthermore, black representation in popular culture has faced, and still faces, other major problems. An example of this are carnival costumes that reinforce stereotypes , such as “crazy denial” and blackface , with white people made up to look black.

Another type of racism has become evident in the internet age: recreational racism . In an interview with the BBC , Adilson Moreira, author of the book “Recreational Racism”, released in 2019, defines it as “a set of social practices that operate through the strategic use of hostile humor, racist humor”. For the author, this type of racism reproduces “the idea that racial minorities are not competent social actors ”.

Among the cases of recreational racism that became famous is that of influencers from Rio who delivered bananas and stuffed monkeys to black children . It is worth highlighting that recreational racism has been a crime provided for in legislation since January this year, and can lead to up to 5 years in prison.

And, although there have been complaints since 2019, another situation has received media attention and generated criticism on social media: cases of “ blackfishing ”, which are characterized by white people pretending to be black . In other words, here, there is the “appropriation of aspects of black culture by people with lighter skin with the aim of taking personal advantage of this identification through the projection of the image”.

Synergia Black Consciousness Week 2023 Cultural erasure Photomontage of Synergia on Adobe Stock photo
Synergia photomontage on Adobe Stock photo

The last example of the most recent cases involving culture and racism have been the adaptations of popular works in which the main characters, originally white, are played by black people. The adaptations, which aimed to bring more representation , often received criticism and racist comments in an attempt to justify non-acceptance.

However, in several adaptations, we had characters from different ethnicities replaced and played by white people – a fact that almost never generated commotion proportional to when the opposite movement occurs.

Over the years, largely due to the engagement and demands made by black movements, we have observed a scenario of change – which attempts to resolve the problems caused by the erasure and silencing of the black population , their culture and their customs for so long.

The path towards an anti-racist society involves recognizing the history of the black population, but also through representation , appreciation and investments in anti-racist education and public policies that understand the fact that, even with late but significant advances, there are still We are very far from a society with equity.


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