Unfortunately, the most current policy in Brazil remains the policy of death. The target? Black bodies, peripheral and slum dwellers.
For some time now, I have not even been able to process the many mournings that go through us, because soon there is one more, and another, and another. Not that this is new. We know that walking down the street and running the risk of dying doesn’t come from today.
But I feel that there is an undisguised cruelty that makes a point of underlining what it came from. I can’t write about Kathlen de Oliveira Romeu without imagining me or imagining other women like me.
Kathlen was just 24 years old. She was an interior designer and model. She was 14 weeks pregnant and her posts on social media show a woman happily building a black family, waiting for her first child. Full of plans, and life. Literally carrying a life in the womb.
She walked to meet her aunt and was murdered on a Tuesday in daylight at the Comunidade do Lins, in Rio de Janeiro. No, you can’t be happy and walk quietly in the favela where you were born.
Her death is a cruel and painful portrait of what it means to be a black woman in Brazil today. It took me a long time to write this text. It’s been a month since I narrated about the massacre of Jacarezinho. I felt like an endless déjà vu, repeating the same words about how racism kills people who come from where I come from, how necropolitics rules the daily life of favelas and suburbs.
Have you noticed how the so-called “lost” bullets always find a target? Since 2017, 15 pregnant women have been shot and eight have died in Rio de Janeiro, according to data from the NGO Fogo Cruzado.
This is called structural racism and is part of the ongoing genocide strategies of the black population. Again: necropolitics, state-designed death policy, where he chooses who will live and who can be expendable. It wasn’t an exchange of fire, Kathlen was murdered.
There is no “my feelings” capable of expressing the pain and fury of seeing yet another black body toppling. There is no primer, empathy capable of embracing pain, the word still does not account for barbarism. Death came before life, killing not only the mother, but the possibility of a future for a black family that was being formed.
During the period of slavery, black women could not experience motherhood. They were separated from their children. They couldn’t have a family. For a black woman, the possibility of relating affectively and living her motherhood is a form of existence. It is the highest endurance.
So today I don’t have much to say. I can’t stand repeating myself anymore.