A black woman on the STF?

Image: Donald Tong
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By RAYNER DOS SANTOS RODRIGUES*

This indication faces resistance from those who still deny the centrality of the debate on the oppression of minorities in the construction of another truly democratic country.

The Portuguese colonial system created an ethnic philosophy that served as the foundation for the construction of the Brazilian social order. Establishing civilizational levels according to ethnic composition, from this ideology a social hierarchy was built based not on the capacity or incapacity of each person, but on the color and origin of birth – in this hierarchy, black people make up the lowest level.

Thus, as the spaces of power and social prestige represented the interests of the lordly class, its composition was white, since, through that racial selection mechanism, the higher one climbs to the top of the social pyramid, the whiter its composition.

With the end of slavery, albeit in new forms, this ethnic philosophy remained and, therefore, also established the social stratification of class society. In it, new mechanisms keep black people immobile at the bottom of Brazilian society, so that spaces of power and prestige continue to be the representation of the Brazilian elite and, therefore, continue to be white. The Federal Supreme Court was no different: created in 1891, its historical composition is marked by the appointment of 171 ministers, of which 168 were white, of which only 3 were women, none of them black.

It is true that the appointment of a black woman, in itself, is not capable of reformulating an institution that has always fulfilled the role of guaranteeing the interests of national and international elites, as in its role in the 2016 coup – the great national agreement, with the Supreme Court, with everything -, in protecting the illegal activities of Operation Laja Jato, in withdrawing Lula's candidacy in the 2018 presidential election and in supporting the sale and destruction of what remained of the national industrial sectors, perpetrated by Paulo Guedes and Jair Bolsonaro – for this reason, in fact, it is necessary to nominate someone who has a real commitment to defending national sovereignty and the economic and social development of the country, something that does not exist in the latest nominations.

However, in its limited capacity to act for the transformation of the country, given the class-based nature of the judiciary, the appointment of a black woman has several important roles, in addition to the strictly technical. As it is a new perspective on various topics, its presence leads to a series of debates, especially on the racial issue, as occurred in Brazilian universities after the entry of quota students.

Furthermore, its representation in a space of power and social prestige makes it possible to interrupt in other black men and women a process of denial of their identities, since, by linking their inferior social condition to the color of their skin, it is common among this portion of the population seeking to “whiten” themselves in an attempt to be better inserted into the circuits of consecration and social ascension – which means, consequently, a denial of their political role, as a black subject, in the radical transformation of these racialized social structures.

However, this indication faces resistance from those who still deny the centrality of the debate on the oppression of minorities in the construction of another truly democratic country. If, as they say, race and gender are not criteria for choice, but technical qualifications, then do black women have any natural predisposition to inability to understand the law, given that none of them have been nominated in 132 years? What this argument tries to hide is that gender and race have always been criteria for choice and, if they are, why not a black woman on the STF?

*Rayner dos Santos Rodrigues He is a graduate student at the Faculty of Law at USP.

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