Black Awareness Day Brazil

black awareness day in brazil is during november 20th

Hey galera! Everything’s good? Do you know what we celebrate on 20th of November? It is Black Awareness Day in Brazil, a day to celebrate awareness of the black community for the journey and circumstances their ancestors came to Brazil and the wealth of contribution to the country and society, which has in the past not always been recognized.

When is Black Awareness Day in Brazil?

Days of the weekDateMonthYear


The Black Awareness Day in Brazil

The date of Black Consciousness Day Brazil was chosen because one of  the greatest civil rights activist in Brazil: Zumbi dos Palmares. This is the anniversary of his death. He fought bravely against slavery. The special date to celebrate Zumbi was established in 2003, but was only made official in 2011.

More than just a celebration, it is a day to think about the position that Black people have in society then and now. The past generations who have suffered (and still suffer) through racist acts, despite the abolition of slavery in 1888, discrimination still continues. It’s a day dedicated to fight racism and defend Black people’s rights and respect in society.

The National Black Awareness Day is only a public holiday in some Brazilian states such as Rio de Janeiro, Alagoas, Amazonas, Amapá, Mato Grosso do Sul and Rio Grande do Sul.

Zumbi dos Palmares

The leader in the fight against slavery in Brazil was Zumbi dos Palmares, who was not born into slavery but was born in a Quilombo. Quilombos were communities where people who had been enslaved and managed to escape, lived together in freedom. There, he fought until his death in defence of his people against the oppressors who enslaved them.

Quilombo dos Palmares was located on a long strip of land, stretching about 200 kilometres, near the coast; between the Cape of Santo Agostinho in Pernambuco, and the northern part of the São Francisco River, now in the state of Alagoas. Zumbi dos Palmares died on November 20, 1695, at the age of 40.

Black Awareness and its History

The various African groups who came to Brazil in the early 16th century did not recognize themselves as black (as we recognize today), but as Bantos, Hauzas, Kanembus, Fulas, and so on, referring to the ethnic groups to which they belonged. After the formal abolition of slavery on May 13, 1888, freed black people had to now confront a new fight: the fight for equality and civil rights.

This feeling of discrimination alienated black people from society, education, and consequently marginalized them in the labor market. Over time, the discrimination has decreased and black people began to have opportunities in sports, in the arts, but not so much in high society or the ruling class.

The Black population campaigned for a symbolic celebration of the constant struggle for their release, and for the end of discrimination and prejudice. The creation of Black Awareness Day in Brazil is a way to value the brave people that contributed so much to the Brazilian culture and who were unjustly enslaved by the white man.

As of January 2003, the Federal Law 10,369 established National Black Awareness/Consciousness Day in the school calendar and teaching Afro-Brazilian culture became a part of the curriculum for all schools in the country, and now incorporates typical activities and projects that celebrate the history of African Americans. Additionally, there is also the intention to make the population aware of the importance of black people socially, historically and culturally in Brazil.

An important reminder! Unlike many other languages, in Portuguese the word NEGRO is not offensive!

How to fight against racism?

The racial issue in Brazil is very important and can be complicated, so in our classes we try to teach our students about it and we can recommend you some authors for you to read. We must understand that racism is not an issue for black people but for society as a whole. So what can we do fight against it? As we are learning Portuguese online, we’ll show you some expressions that are considered to be racist, but still used by many Brazilians on a daily basis. That way you’ll know how to replace them with appropriate expressions.

Expression: Mercado negro = black market
Associates the color black to something criminal.
Change to: Clandestine market/ illegal market

Expression: Lista negra = black list
Associates the color black to bad behaviour.
Change to: Forbidden list / bad list

Expression: Humour negro = black humour
Associates the color black to unfortunate situations.
Change to:  Acid humor

Expression: morena(o)  = dark or light skin
Many people feel uncomfortable with these terms because they are a way of whitening of black skin.
Change to: Do not use these terms.

Expression: Cabelo duro = frizzy/hard/stiff hair
Often used to describe afro curly hair. There is no such thing as hard or bad hair, right? All hair is beautiful 🙂
Change to: Curly hair / Afro hair.

Expression: Mulata(o)
This if often used to describe people with light black skin. In addition to being a way to whiten black skin, this word referes to mula (mule – animal that is a cross between a mare and a donkey).
Change to: Do not use these terms.

Remember: It is not enough not to be racist, we have to be anti-racists.

Books to Read About Black Awareness

So, if you are learning Portuguese, I am sure you would like to take this special day to sum it to learning more about Black Awareness, right? That is why we made this list! This way you can learn more about the theme while getting to know new Brazilian authors!

For Beginner Students

Pequeno Manual Antirracista by Djamila Ribeiro: This small and easy-to-read book was written with the idea of provoking reflection on structural racist discrimination and assuming responsibility for the transformation of things. Djamila Ribeiro won a very important prize with this book, for making a subject sometimes too complicated to be conveyed so easily.

For Intermediate Students

Quarto de Despejo by Carolina Maria de Jesus: This book is practically the biography of a poor black woman, living in a favela in São Paulo, who recycles trash. It is considered one of the greatest books on the anti-racist struggle in Brazil, and one of the great references when talking about books by black Brazilian authors.

Enciclopédia Negra by  Flávio dos Santos Gomes, Jaime Lauriano and Lilia Moritz Schwarcz: This is one of those books everyone should read in their lifetime! Embark on an adventure to get to know incredible black people who left their mark in Brazilian history!

For Advanced Students

Racismo Linguístico by Gabriel Nascimento: This book, the author discusses questões of linguistic exclusion, tracing a number of black authors who have often been cut off from history. It’s a incredible book if you are learning Portuguese and want to have a broader view of the anti-racist debate!

Casa Grande e Senzala by Gilberto Freyre: This classic book of Brazilian sociology explores racial dynamics in Brazil and their influence on the formation of Brazilian society.

Vocabulary of the Black Awareness Day in Brazil

PreconceitoRacist act / Discrimination 
QuilomboVillage of escaped slaves
Igualdade de direitosEqual rights
Cultura afro-brasileiraAfro-Brazilian Culture
Currículo escolarSchool Curriculum
ConscientizarTo be aware
 Gerações PassadasPast generations 
AlienarTo alienate
 ValorizarTo value 
Lei FederalFederal Law

Want to learn more about Brazilian’s culture? Come have Portuguese classes with us!

Now it’s your turn!

You’ve learned a lot today, now it’s time to practice your Portuguese! Say if the sentences below are true or false according to what you read. You have to put a (C) if it is correct and a (E) if it’s false. Don’t forget to rewrite the wrong sentences correctly!

  1. A data do Dia da Consciência Negra foi escolhida aleatoriamente. (  )
  2. Essa data só foi oficializada em 2010. (  )
  3. Os Quilombos eram lugares onde as pessoas que foram escravizadas moravam após escapar. (  )
  4. O Quilombo dos Palmares estava situado no Rio de Janeiro. (  )
  5. A escrivão foi abolida em 13 de maio de 1888. (  )
  6. O Dia Nacional da Consciência Negra no Brasil faz parte do calendário escolar. (  )
  7. Ensinar cultura afro-brasileira faz parte do currículo escolar. (  )
  8. Em Português a palavra negro é ofensiva. (  )

That’s it! Did you like learning a bit more about Brazilian History and Culture? Have you ever celebrated the Black Consciousness Day in Brazil?

See you in the next Dica!


Click on the links to see more related Dicas
Mulatto in Brazil
Who is Anderson Silva
Vasco da Gama Football Club
Independence Day in Brazil


  1. A data do Dia da Consciência Negra foi escolhida aleatoriamente. ( E )
    Foi escolhida em homenagem ao Zumbi dos Palmares.
  2. Essa data só foi oficializada em 2010. ( E )
    Foi em 2011.
  3. Os Quilombos eram lugares onde as pessoas que foram escravizadas moravam após escapar. ( C )
  4. O Quilombo dos Palmares estava situado no Rio de Janeiro. ( E )
    O Quilombo dos Palmares estava situado entre Pernambuco e Alagoas.
  5. A escrivão foi abolida em 13 de maio de 1888. ( C )
  6. O Dia Nacional da Consciência Negra no Brasil faz parte do calendário escolar. ( C )
  7. Ensinar cultura afro-brasileira faz parte do currículo escolar. ( C )
  8. Em Português a palavra negro é ofensiva. ( E )
    Essa palavra não é ofensiva em Português.

This post is also available in: English Português (Portuguese) Español (Spanish)

3 Responses

  1. Olá pessoal.

    Uma pergunta para vocês: Qual é o termo ‘correto’ (se é que existe um) no Brasil para falar de uma pessoa que tem o pai negro e a mãe branca ou o pai branco e a mãe negra?


    1. Poderíamos dizer que é o termo “pardo”, mas depende muito de pessoa para pessoa. As vezes a criança nasce mais escura e se entende como negra, e as vezes mais clara e se entende como branca. A definição hoje no Brasil é autodeclarada, ou seja, a pessoa se declara de acordo com o que entende que é.

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