The racial disparities that Black Brazilians face because of institutional racism is getting more exposed by the COVID-19 crisis, mirroring the African American experience in the USA.
The Parque das Missões favela, on the north side of Rio de Janeiro, is a maze of shacks on the banks of the polluted Pavuna River, just across the bay from Galeão International Airport.
The majority of its residents are Black. Most work in the informal sector as street vendors, domestic workers or hairdressers. But for many, continuing to do their jobs has been difficult under COVID-19.
Fabiana da Silva lived there for years, and is the director of a local group that provides residents with weekly donations of nonperishable goods — it’s a lifeline for many in the community.
“People don’t have money,” she said. “The government is providing an emergency stipend, but it’s not even enough to pay for cooking gas. Without gas, you don’t eat. Or, you spend your money on food and you cook over the fire, putting your home and your children at risk. That’s the reality for many families.”
More than 40 million Brazilians don’t have enough to eat and the hunger index has reached its highest point since 2004.
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