Cries of captivity and liberation on Black Awareness Day

The Passion of Christ continues century after century in the bodies of the crucified. Jesus will agonize until the end of the world, so long as a single one of His brothers and sisters is still subject to some cross, like the Buddhist bodhisatwas (the Illuminated) who pause at the threshold of Nirvana, do not enter, returning to the world of the suffering –samsara– in solidarity with all who suffer — persons, animals and plants. With this conviction, the Catholic Church, in the liturgy of Good Friday, puts these moving words in the mouth of Jesus Christ:
“My people, what have I done, how have I offended you?, answer me. What else could I have done for you? How did I fail you? I had you leave Egypt and fed you manna. I prepared good land for you, and you prepared a cross for your king”.

As we Brazilians celebrate the abolition of slavery, (May 13, 1888), we realize that it is still incomplete. The Passion of Christ continues in the passion of the Black people. A second abolition is needed: the abolition of misery and hunger. The cries of captivity and liberation are still heard, coming from the senzalas, and now from the favelas around our cities. The Black population still talks to us through wails and pleading.

“White brother and sister of mine, my people: what have I done to you, how have I offended you? Answer me! ”

I inspired in you music full of banzo and contagious rhythm. I taught you how to use the bumbo, the cuica and the atabaque. It was I who gave you the rock and ginga of the samba. And you took what was mine, made a name… a big name, accumulated money with your compositions and returned nothing to me.

I came down from the mountains and showed you a world of dreams, a world of boundless fraternity. I created for you thousands of multicolored fantasies, and for you I prepared the greatest feast in the world: I danced the carnival for you. And you were so very happy that you gave me a standing ovation. But soon, very soon, you forgot me, sending me back to the mountains, to the favelas, to the naked and crude reality of unemployment, hunger and oppression. .

“White brother and sister of mine, my people: what have I done to you, how have I offended you? Answer me! ”

As an inheritance, I gave you the beans and rice that are the day-to-day dish. Of the left overs I made the feijoada, the vatapá, the efó and the acarajé: the typical cuisine of Bahia and Brazil. And you make me endure hunger. And you let my children die of malnutrition or suffer irremediable brain injury, leaving them forever stunted.

I was violently snatched from my African homeland. I knew the negreros’ nave-phantom. I was made a thing; a “piece“, a slave. I was the Black mother to your children. I cultivated the fields, harvested the tobacco and planted the sugarcane. I did all the jobs. It was I who built the beautiful churches that everyone admires and the palaces that the slave owners inhabit. And you call me sluggish and arrest me as a vagabond. You discriminate against me for the color of my skin and still treat me as if I continued to be a slave.

“White brother and sister of mine, my people: what have I done to you, how have I offended you? Answer me!”

I knew how to resist. I managed to run away and founded quilombos: fraternal societies, without slaves, of people who were poor but free: Blacks, mestizos and whites. In spite of the lashes on my back, I passed cordiality and sweetness to the Brazilian soul. And you sent me to the capitão-do-mato, hunting me like a bug. You razed my quilombos and still now you ensure that abolishing the misery that enslaves cannot be forever a daily and effective truth.

I showed you what it means to be a living temple of God. And therefore, how to feel God in a body filled with axé, and how to celebrate God in rhythm, in dance, and in food. And you repressed my religions, calling them Afro-Brazilian rites or considering them simple folklore. You invaded my terreiros, throwing salt on them and destroying our sacred figures. Often you turned the macumba into a police case. The majority of the youth murdered in the peripheries between 18 and 24 years of age are Black, and because they are Black they are suspected of being at the service of the drug mafias The majority of them are simple laborers.

“White brother and sister of mine, my people: what have I done to you, how have I offended you? Answer me!”

When with so much work and sacrifice I enabled some advance in life, receiving a hard-earned salary, buying my little house, educating my children, singing my samba, supporting my favorite team and being able to have a cold beer with their friends on the week end, you say that I am a Black man with a white man’s soul, thus degrading the value of our souls as dignified and hard working Black men. And in the contests, under equal conditions, you almost always leave me behind, in favor of a white.

And when policies were developed to repair the historic perversity, allowing that which you always denied me, to study and prepare myself in the universities and technical schools, so that I could improve my life and the life of my family, the majority of your people shouted: that violates the Constitution, it is discrimination, a social injustice.

“White brother and sister of mine, my people: what have I done to you, how have I offended you? Answer me!”

My Black brothers and sisters, on this November 20th, the day of Zumbí and of the Black Consciousness, I wish to pay homage to you, to all of you, who have managed to survive during all this long time, because the happiness, the music, the dance and the sacred are all inside of you in spite of all this Way of the Cross. of the sufferings that are unjustly imposed on you.

With much axé and love, Leonardo Boff white and Black, by option.

Leonardo Boff Eco-Theologian-Philosopher Earthcharter Commission

Free translation from the Spanish sent by
Melina Alfaro,

2 comentários sobre “Cries of captivity and liberation on Black Awareness Day

  1. Caro, e querido, Leonardo Boff,

    escrevo, ousadamente, para lhe pedir que perdoe meu pai. Um cristão, rato de sacristia, como seus filhos lhe apelidaram. Um médico, que foi membro da JUC, e por meio de quem conheci a Teoria da Libertação. Mas ele assiste a rede globo, gosta do FHC, acho que apoiava a UDN (sendo da JUC?), e jura que o Lula foi encontrado bêbado em Joinville nas escadas de algum lugar.

    Acho que sou eu que peço perdão por não poder respeitar meu pai. Não consigo. São tempos ruins. Eu acredito no Senhor e no Papa Francisco, mas não acredito em Deus. Que a vida inútil da pobreza histórica tenha seu fim no paraíso. Neste mundo, vai ser difícil.

    Desculpe-me não ter esperanças, mas se puder perdoar meu pai com orações, eu agradeço. Ele merece estar com Deus.

    muito agradecida!


    • Leila, entendo seu problema e mais que tudo seu sofrimento. Apenas lamento que há pessoas que não sabem encontrar uma verdadeira embocadura na vida.
      E só temos uma para viver. E deve valer a pena. O importante não é se vc cre ou não em Deus.Basta crer na justiça, no amor,na verdade e na solidariedade que são os verdadeiros nomes de Deus.


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