Jul 28, 2022 - World

Brazilian podcast inspired by 1619 Project explores slavery's impacts today

People take part in a protest during the National Day Against Racism conmemorating the 133rd anniversary of the Slavery abolition in Brazil at Paulista Avenue in Sao Paulo, Brazil
People in Sao Paulo take part in a protest during the National Day Against Racism on May 13, 2021, commemorating the anniversary of the abolition of slavery in Brazil.

The largely ignored history of how slavery shaped Brazil — and still does — is the centerpiece of a new podcast inspired by the New York Times’ 1619 Project.

The big picture: Most of the 12 million African people enslaved in the Atlantic trade did not end up in the U.S. but in what is now Latin America and the Caribbean, studies show.

  • About half of them were taken to Brazil, which was then a Portuguese colony.
  • Brazil in May 1888 became the last country in the Western Hemisphere to abolish slavery.
  • That legacy has carried over into modern Brazil, where Black people suffer greater rates of poverty and police brutality. It echoes the impacts of systemic racism that Nikole Hannah-Jones explored in the 1619 Project three years ago.

Details: The Projeto Querino podcast, coming out Aug. 6, is aimed at helping listeners “know and understand the real weight that racism and slavery had on the formation of Brazil, in all aspects,” host Tiago Rogero tells Axios Latino.

  • The episodes, which will be in Portuguese but will have English transcripts online, will dive into how enslaved people helped Brazil gain independence and wealth but weren’t allowed to reap the benefits.
  • It also celebrates the deep influence of Black people in music, literature and religion and will be a magazine series too.
  • The episodes will be accompanied by a magazine series.

What they’re saying: Rogero says although the exploitation of Africans and their descendants through slavery generated Brazil’s wealth, “it was also the struggle of Black people for freedom and humanity that guaranteed Brazil's main social achievements, such as the right to a public and universal health system and the access of poor people of all colors and races to universities.”

By the numbers: 55% of the Brazilian population identifies as Black or pardo, the census term for people of mixed race.

  • The average Afro-Brazilian household earns just half of what white households do, according to the country’s statistics agency IBGE.
  • Police kill a Black person on average every four hours, according to a study from NGO Rede de Observatórios da Segurança based on six Brazilian states, including Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.
  • Overall homicide rates are three times higher for the Black population, IBGE data shows.
  • A 2003 law required schools to include Afro-Brazilian history in their curriculums, but less than 20% of districts have complied, analyses show.

Background: Rogero came up with the idea for the project while visiting the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington in 2019 and also listening to an audio version of the 1619 Project.

  • He wondered why the similar Brazilian stories “remained untold.”
  • Once back in Brazil, he sought the help of podcasting company Rádio Novelo, the magazine piauí and the Ibirapitanga Institute, an organization that provides grants to projects promoting racial equity.

The intrigue: A mostly Black team of journalists, historians, researchers and producers put the podcast together, Rogero says.

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