If you’ve ever visited Brazil, there’s one thing you would have noticed – hardly anyone speaks English, or at least it can feel that way at times. If it comes as a surprise, shock or irritation – it’s time to recognise your ‘English as a first language‘ privilege… Need a guilt-free way to use that privilege for a good cause? Black English could be for you!
BLACK ENGLISH: FROM SALVADOR’S FAVELA TO THE WORLD
(Extracts from article written for AfroPunk.com)
“My idea to help poor black people from my community to communicate in a second language, which is English. As a black English teacher, and as I live in this neighbourhood, it’s important that I start here (Nordeste de Amaralina)”
When I first met Adriano during carnival in Salvador earlier this year, one of the things which struck me was that was his fluency in English, which I’ll admit came as a surprise as I hadn’t met many black people in Brazil who speak fluent English. Anywhere else in the world, the fact that someone speaks English linked with their race wouldn’t have been a factor of surprise, however in Brazil having a second language such as English is largely connected to class. “If you go to a rich neighbourhood, most of the people who live there have been abroad before, they know how to communicate in English due to one reason – they have money for it. The project Black English will focus on that – to help my community communicate with the rest of the world.” Adriano shared.
“We don’t see much representation of Black people who speak English, or black volunteers coming to our community. When we think of volunteers we only think white people. So the project will be a great way to connect the diverse representation of the Black English-speaking world and welcome them to our community – show them the real Nordeste.”
Black English is a project which will allow the English-speaking black diaspora to volunteer in Adriano’s community, Nordeste de Amaralina (a district of Salvador made up of multiple favelas), to teach English, offer workshops and also have tours given by locals who’ll be able to practice their English. Adriano believes having a second language will help create opportunities for people of his neighbourhood, as well as provide access to international platforms.
Is Brazil on your to-visit list? Let me know your thoughts in the comment box!
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