Rooted in our culture and society, even though more than half of the population is represented by black men and women, racism is there. Veiled, often ignored. But you just have to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and practice an empathetic look around you that you will notice. That is why we want – and we need (!) – to talk about anti-racist tourism as well. Above all, it is necessary to promote initiatives in this direction and give a voice to people who work for an egalitarian life and free from prejudice.
In today’s post we chat with the CEO of Conectando Território, a tourism agency that connects people to Afro-Brazilian culture, memory, and history. Thaís Rosa Pinheiro is a black woman, entrepreneur, tourist expert, master in Social Memory at Unirio, specialist in African and Afro-Brazilian history and in Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution.
The conversation was great! Check it out below and get to know this important initiative in favor of anti-racist tourism – and in favor of Afro-Brazilian history.
Raízes Sustainable Development: Thaís, how did your relationship with tourism start?
Thaís Rosa Pinheiro: I have always been passionate about cultures other than mine, especially the diversity of Brazilian culture. I am a tourism expert and I have a travel agency that seeks to break stereotypes and bring people from different territories together.
Raízes: What can we do as a society to adopt anti-racist conduct?
Thaís: Education. Knowing the Brazilian history is the first step to understand where we are in the present. Then, look at your privileges, and from them think about real actions that can contribute to the reduction of racial inequalities in Brazil.
Raízes: And in relation to tourism, how to take advantage of travel to put this into practice?
Thaís: In relation to Brazilian tourism, getting to know traditional communities, Afro-Brazilian and indigenous history helps to connect with history and culture. It also collaborates to generate income for black and indigenous communities and entrepreneurs, for example.
Raízes: Your company, Conectando Território, created the web series Nzinga: Women Travelers. Tell us a little bit about it.
Thaís: The web series “Nzinga: Mulheres Viajantes” brings the story of black women who travel the world, undertake their dreams and projects, and expand to other territories. It aims to break stereotypes of black women, showing plurality, seeking to encourage other women and bring references to the universe of tourism.
Nzinga, was an African, Angolan queen who fought in the 17th century against Portuguese colonialism, seeking the autonomy of her people.
Raízes: Why did you decide to create it?
Thaís: Because I want to bring stories from other black women and show the multiplicity of us all. And also, because I always traveled and was the only black woman in hotels around the world. They never recognized me as a Brazilian because they always had references of white Brazilians.
In addition to realizing the invisibility of black people in the world of tourism, which, thankfully, is gradually changing, starting in 2010 I started meeting other women like me around the world and started to interview them to learn about their stories.
The idea was to bring stories of places that have stereotypes around them, like Nigeria for example. So, what I want is to demystify beliefs and bring other perspectives and voices to tourism.
Raízes: How does curatorship work for choosing interviewees?
Thaís: I started with my friends who are references for me, and who have incredible life stories. But the main idea is to focus on women with the same characteristics: who take charge of their lives and undertake their dreams around the world.
The web series “Nzinga: Mulheres Viajantes” was launched in 2020 and has 3 episodes. While searching for new interviewees and sponsors or supporters for the project, Thaís is offering, in this pandemic moment, the Virtual Tour of Little Africa, an ethnic tourism project that seeks to understand the context of the history that has led us until today.
During the conversation, Thaís indicated other content, portals and references from authors related to the topic. Here’s a tip for you to know:
YouTube Connecting Territories: it is the official channel of Thaís’s agency, of Community Based Tourism, which seeks to connect people to Afro-Brazilian memory, culture and history and traditional communities such as quilombolas and urban communities.
Portal Geledés – Instituto da Mulher Negra: a civil society organization that stands in defense of women and blacks because it understands that these two social segments suffer from disadvantages and discrimination in access to social opportunities due to racism and sexism in force in Brazilian society.
Portal Alma Preta: journalism agency specialized in racial issues in Brazil. The content is diverse, with reports, coverage, columns, reviews, audiovisual productions, illustrations and dissemination of events from the Afro-Brazilian community.
Some references by authors and authors of books in different areas: Beatriz Nascimento, Helena Teodoro, Abdias Nascimento, Silvio Almeida, Milton Santos and Lélia Gonzalvez.
Studying, knowing, and delving into history is important so that mistakes do not happen again. It is necessary to reflect to change attitude. It is with this in mind that Raízes agreed to participate in some virtual meetings of anti-racist training, developed by Sistema B, in partnership with the Institute of Identities of Brazil. Are you with us in this fight?