Nicole Froio on Black Brazilian activists maintaining its history in the nation's tech future

For YES! Magazine, Nicole Froio explored the task at hand for Black Brazilian activists who are fighting to retain the historical significance of Rio de Janeiro’s Port Zone as tech bros roll in.

For community activist and photographer Maurício Hora, who has lived in Morro da Providência, the favela (working-class neighborhood) that towers over Gamboa, his whole life, the city’s begrudging preservation of Cais do Valongo wasn’t an attempt to honor Afro-Brazilian culture. Instead, it was about profit, allowing white-owned businesses to move into the area and edge out Black residents. As Tara Nelson details in a 2019 story for RioOnWatch, these white-owned businesses, including YouTube, have moved into the area. 


In his studio in Gamboa, where large photos of his community are displayed on the wall, Hora says that the city’s projects in the Port Zone have brought opportunistic entrepreneurs to the area who haven’t hesitated to capitalize on his neighborhood’s Black history. “I call it afro-opportunism. This is an area that will stop being Black because of businesses that push Black people out.”

This money-making machinery came to a head in March 2022, after business owners in Largo São Francisco da Prainha—a historical square where Black women used to host and feed people who escaped slavery—had a disagreement with a local all-women samba band, Moça Prosa, that had been holding monthly shows in the public square for nearly 10 years. Newly opened bars in the areas disputed Moça Prosa’s right to perform in the square because the band sold their own drinks to cover the costs of their performance. While bar owners argued that this could cut into their profits, Moça Prosa refused to perform for free. 

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