How artist Eustáquio Neves taught me about institutional racism.
Updated: Jun 24, 2020
This video reminds me of a personal experience with institutional racism. My connection with artist Eustáquio Neves starts when I was a Master Candidate at Universidade Federal do Espirito Santo. I wrote a research project to investigate the work of this amazing artist who uses photography to express racial issues. It took me months to prepare and I studied really hard to compete with about 50 students for a few vacancies with a scholarship. I don’t remember the exact number, but it was less than five, I think, in 2007.While preparing the research project, I consulted a few professors including my undergrad advisor who helped me reviewing it. In the meanwhile, I’ve heard from a classmate that racial issues were not very welcomed as research projects at that institution and I became really concerned of having my application denied. I had read all the books from the bibliography and I passed the exam on a great rank. I don’t remember if it was the 4th or 5th position but I remember that with that score I was on the rank of approved candidates and I thought I had succeed the interview process. How naive I was! For my disappointment, I was eliminated, after one year of preparation for that academic dream.One year after, I got married and moved to the US and applied to the Master’s degree program at the university of Oregon, on Arts Management. For my happiness, not only I was accepted among hundreds of candidates from all over the world but I was also granted a scholarship that covered 90% of my tuition.Only five years later, when I was back in Brasil, I found out that my own advisor which during my undergrad granted me 100% score on my final project, refused to be my advisor on my Masters, claiming to be too busy for that research topic that she was not interested. Note that she was part of the selection board that I was participating.How can you prove in that case, that I was victim of institutional racism? What if I hadn’t been granted a scholarship abroad? Only years after I was connecting the dots of odd things that happened in the past: I finally understood why the same professor refused to give me a recommendation letter for my application abroad and I remembered her saying in class that our best brains left the country on research and bla bla bla. Odd things that I never agreed with such as, professors saying during my under graduation, that they were against the way racial fights were organized in the US, drastically separating whites from blacks or that they were against quotas at the university, etc…etcDuring my undergrad, I remember having just two black professors, fact that many of us were very aware and critical of.Now after 13 years, I am reviewing Eustaquio Neves and having a better understanding about his work through our own personal shared experiences of institutional racism, which is unfortunately very alive and for that very reason an existential moto in our lives and work.Here I share one of his videos that I resonate with, you may activate the subtitles and see the continuation of this story. #vidaspretasimportam #blacklivesmatter #rioencantos #tours #afrocentered #Brazil #art#blackpower https://youtu.be/uuSJpNbiS6U