Djamila Ribeiro

Brasília: Djamila Ribeiro Debates Confronting Racism in Brazil


June 2, 2024

With an online broadcast, Djamila Ribeiro participated last Tuesday (28) in the event “Reflections on May 13: National Day of Combat and Denunciation against Racism,” promoted by the School of the Attorney General’s Office (Esagu), in Brasília.

In her lecture, the Brazilian philosopher provided a historical overview of how social inequalities, reinforced through laws, have been constructed throughout history in Brazil. Djamila cited examples such as the Brazilian Imperial Constitution of 1824, which reserved the right to education for free-born citizens, and the Land Law of 1850, which prohibited Black people from owning land.

“It is important to know these laws because, although racism in Brazil was not institutionalized by laws, these laws were fundamental in creating these inequalities,” she said. “It is also important to understand our history and context as a country, so we do not reproduce views that demonstrate this lack of knowledge,” she emphasized.

Djamila invited the audience to reflect on the racial issue related to public policies, showing how the lack of recognition of racism as a system of oppression has prevented active and responsible action by the Brazilian state over the centuries.

“Denial [of racism] also has a deliberate role that has greatly delayed Brazil,” she stated. “And it is thanks to the historical struggle of Brazilian Black movements that we can have race-based public policies today,” she pointed out.

The thinker also emphasized the importance of people reflecting on what they are doing to contribute to a less unequal society, highlighting the need for a plurality of voices, narratives, and intellectual productions on the subject. “It is important for Brazilian society, for the development of Brazilian society, not only for Black people, because Brazilian society loses many talents every day due to being a deeply unequal society,” she said.


Before the lecture, the Deputy Attorney General, Paulo Ceo, thanked Djamila Ribeiro for her presence at the event. “She transcends the mere definition of a philosopher. She is a Black woman, a public intellectual. She is an tireless voice in the battle for income, gender, and color equality, for the recognition of the diverse voices that make up our society,” he emphasized.

The internal control secretary, Diogo Luiz, moderated the debate and also thanked the Brazilian philosopher for her presence. “Djamila has courageously been denouncing violence and social inequality, especially against Blacks and women, which are so characteristic of Brazilian society,” he added.

The special advisor for Diversity and Inclusion at the AGU, Cláudia Trindade, stated that the date of May 13 does not represent the true emancipation of the Black population. “Abolition was an incomplete achievement that left millions of Black Brazilians in a state of vulnerability and neglect. Real transformation can only occur with the recognition of this history and a commitment to correcting the injustices perpetrated over the years,” she said.

Democracy Observatory

Since 2023, Djamila Ribeiro has been a member of the AGU’s Democracy Observatory Council. Comprising six representatives from civil society and two from the AGU, the Council works in three areas: participatory democracy and strengthening democratic institutions; separation of powers and constitutional democracy; and challenges of contemporary democracies, the right to information, and freedom of expression.

According to the AGU’s website, the Democracy Observatory will produce studies, debates, and academic publications aimed at strengthening democracy. The AGU School will provide technical and administrative support.

*With information from the AGU website

*Photo: Wesley Mcallister/AscomAGU

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