Art to inspire in the face of injustice: Claudia Silva Ferreira

An image of a Brazilian identity card, with alternate text inserted.

“My name is Claudia.”
An “Invisibility Card” for Claudia from the “Civil Directory of Humiliation.”
By Gui Soares

Trigger warning: graphic police violence

On the morning of March 16th, Claudia Silva Ferreira left her house in Rio de Janeiro to buy bread. On her way, she was caught in a gun fight between drug traffickers and a pacifying police unit, who shot her. Claudia was placed in the back of a police vehicle to be taken to a nearby hospital, but on the way to the hospital, she fell out of the trunk. Caught on the car, her body dragged along the pavement for over two blocks. She was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Claudia was a poor black woman living in one of Brazil’s urban slums, known as favelas. 

The police later tried to claim that they thought she was involved in drug trafficking and had a gun on her. Claudia was a 38 year-old mother raising eight children with her partner. She worked as a cleaning assistant. Whether she was involved with drugs or not, what the police did to her cannot be excused, not by arguments against drugs, or the “greater good,” or anything along the lines of “mistakes happen.” Claudia’s death was not an accident. 

Amanda Viera explains on FemMaterna why normalizing this violence only allows it to continue (translation mine):

“…Killing Claudias cannot be accepted as the political pathway to combatting drug trafficking in the favelas.”

The militarization of Brazil’s favelas in an effort to “clean up” for the World Cup doesn’t have positive effects for everyone. Studies have shown over and over that increased conflict and militarization of communities—even in the name of “security”—tend to increase violence against women. More often than not, that violence comes directly at the hands of the government forces installed to “protect” them.

A colorful image of Claudia.

By Laura Athayde

We cannot fix a broken system of racism, patriarchy, and class inequity with a few extra guns and tanks. We have to change the system, and that starts with treating each person living among us as a human being, worthy of happiness, dignity, and safety.

That is what blog Olga is trying to do. In response to the mainstream media coverage that did not even mention Claudia’s name when reporting her murder, the magazine sent out a call for submissions for art work that depicted Claudia’s “dreams, courage, pain, and fears, just like any other human.” The project is titled “100 Vezes Claudia” (“100 Times Claudia”) and the initial goal was to gather 100 pieces. They reached that goal in the first 24 hours and haven’t stopped since.

It is work like this that allows us to push through stories like Claudia’s. The creativity and resilience with which the artists depict Claudia remind us of the strength and dignity humans can demonstrate in the face of immense pain and oppression.

As Camilla de Magalhães Gomes writes, “I am hungry and thirsty for better days, therefore I am relentless in the struggle to live. Life is my first name, Resistance my last.”

A Brazilian identity card for Claudia.

“I am black, I am a woman, I am a favela resident. And it wasn’t an accident.”
By Didi Helene

 

A woman looking a mirror at the center of the Brazilian flag, Claudia's face looking out from the mirror.

“We are all Claudia.”
By Tays Villaca

An image of Claudia, her face in the shape of a map of Brazil.

“What were your dreams Claudia?
By Clara Gomes

Claudia Silva Ferreira, wearing a shirt with her children depicted on it.

By Marilia Cabral


 

Related:
How U.S. policy contributes to gendered violence in Mexico
Rio de Janeiro has started legalizing favela residents
Brazil’s rolezinhos: a new kind of social movement

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Juliana is looking to discover more incredible online ARTivism in Latin America. Tweet me suggestions!

Bay Area, California

Juliana is a writer, a speaker, and a consultant. Her blogging work focuses on feminist and racial justice movements lead by Latinas throughout the Americas, touching on issues such as environmental justice, immigration, colonization, land rights and indigenous movements. She has been a regular Contributor to Feministing since Spring of 2013, and also been published on the Huffington Post, Mic, and the Feminist Wire. Juliana studied Latin American and Latinx Studies at the University of California and is now based in the Bay Area where she has worked with various organizations on social media and communications strategy. In her free time, she likes to dance salsa and tango and practice Portuguese with her cousins via Skype.

Juliana is a Latina feminist writer and digital communications specialist living in California.

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  • http://feministing.com/members/franco/ Frank

    That was sad fate. I hope that the event that happen to Cluadia will serve as lesson to the police. Its time to change the system of police. I don’t believe that they thought Claudia is involved in drug trafficking. It could be their alibi to defend themselves.