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Educação & Realidade

versão impressa ISSN 0100-3143versão On-line ISSN 2175-6236

Educ. Real. vol.44 no.2 Porto Alegre  2019  Epub 19-Jun-2019 


Racial Issues for Children: resistance and denunciation of the unsaid1

IUniversidade Federal Rural do Rio de Janeiro (UFRRJ), Nova Iguaçu/RJ - Brazil

IIUniversidade Federal de Rondônia (UNIR) Vilhena/RO - Brazil


This text is the result of research conducted between 2014 and 2016 in a day care center linked to a federal institution in Rio de Janeiro, which dealt with the effects of an antiracist education on the subjectivity of children. We start from the premise that children understand and reinterpret the world in their interactions through peer culture. This article, in turn, aims to identify the aspects resulting from CNE / CP 003/2004, Law 10.639 / 2003 on the educational practices of early childhood education, and to discuss how racial issues influence the experience of pedagogical practices in educational spaces geared to childhood. The study concluded that although the crèche analyzed conforms to the legislation when inserting the theme of ethno-racial relations as a tactic for education, it is still necessary the presence of a technical body aware of the education antiracist.

Keywords: Childhood; Race; Resistance; Law 10,639; Early Childhood Education


Este texto resulta da pesquisa desenvolvida entre 2014 e 2016 numa creche vinculada a uma instituição federal do Rio de Janeiro, que versou sobre os efeitos de uma educação antirracista para a subjetividade das crianças. Partimos da premissa de que as crianças compreendem e reinterpretam o mundo em suas interações por meio da cultura de pares. Com este artigo, por sua vez, objetivamos identificar os aspectos decorrentes do Parecer CNE/CP 003/2004, da Lei 10.639/2003 nas práticas educacionais da educação infantil e discutir como as questões raciais influenciam a vivência das práticas pedagógicas nos espaços educativos voltados à primeira infância. O estudo concluiu que, embora a creche analisada se adeque à legislação ao inserir a temática das relações etnico-raciais como tática para a educação, é necessário ainda a presença de um corpo técnico consciente da temática antirracista.

Palavras-chave: Infância; Raça; Resistência; Lei 10.639; Educação Infantil


The motivation for the research that resulted, in parts, in this text, had in the TV program called Custe o que Custar (CQC, 2013) an inducing principle. In one of its programs, the CQC program tried to reproduce, in a journalistic way, an experience developed more than 70 years ago in the United States: the Self-Perception Test. Performed with children for whom four identical puppets (two white and two black) were shown, a number of questions were put forward: to point out which puppets were the best, which one was good and which one was bad, and which would they prefer to play with. These tests were applied in several regions of the USA and the result showed that most of the interviewed children preferred the white dolls and rejected the black ones. Beauty and kindness were the attributes of the whites, the wickedness and the ugliness, of the blacks. In all cases, the children associated the good adjectives with the white dolls and the bad adjectives to the black ones, including the boys and girls who considered themselves similar to the black doll. The study thus showed the negative impact of racism among American children and its effect on the self-esteem of these children.

Unfortunately, the results of the TV program were very similar to those of the initial survey. A black girl in Brazil, however, unlike the other children, chose the black doll to be her princess, stating that she was more beautiful and cooler. What should have made the difference? This gave rise to the questions on which this text proposes to reflect. What will have strengthened the black girl, who acknowledged herself capable of being the princess, the good and beautiful character? Why couldn't the other black children perceive her? Would there be a differential of the individual / family order only? May the school's action, as a locus of antiracist practices, influenced the direction of the construction of a self-image that escaped othering2?

In the history of each man it is possible to find fragments of the history of all men. In the history of each black person there is, although in a diffuse way, the experience of other blacks; the marks of discrimination which are often common to them. For every black person, no matter his/her social, economic, and intellectual condition, he/she will always be seen as a black person. Black is not its substance, but its adjective, which is often taken as its very essence. Yet, as Fanon (2008) taught, black is not white either. The question is whether it is possible to develop ways of overcoming and if this power would not be exactly in relations with young children.

The inquiries allowed us to establish a cut for research: antiracist practices and their consequences in the interactions of young children. The research was then based on several texts put into dialogue: field observations; institutional material such as the printed of the Political Pedagogical Project, as well as its condensed version on line; child registration forms; material of the teachers - log books, project sketches, projects; dialogues / interviews with the child day care professionals; pedagogical projects developed in Kindergarten 1 (4 year-old children) in 2014; pedagogical books of teachers of Kindergarten II (5 year-old children) in 2015.

Cultural issues are thus not only a source of conflict, but also as effects of discriminatory practices, or anything that may harm or deny the fundamental rights of any man, whether due to his / her ethnic-racial status, age, class or gender. Questions that can be verified in the practices and knowledge prescribed and outlawed in official curricula - cognitive territories where many blacks sometimes feel native and foreign in their own home and because they have been banished and displaced in them, they live with the feeling of cognitively wronged. Looking at childhood in an educational institution has, as its aim, to deal with the theme of racism, and to promote a frank debate deconstructing stereotypes, through the evidence (Ginzburg, 1989) thinking of other ways to grow in this world, without imagining how beautiful or cool those different from me, those that I can never be, really are.

About Identities and Speeches

The idea of a black identity is a problem since both terms allow different meanings. On one hand, the concept of identity has been questioned by different areas of knowledge, which deconstruct the idea of a unique, integral integral identity. We agree, however, with Hall (2004), when he defends the continuation of the use of this concept as an analytical category since it has not yet been dialectically overcome and:

[...] that there are no other, entirely different concepts that can replace them, there is nothing to do but continue to think about them - although now, in their detotalised and deconstructed forms, one no longer works in the paradigm in which they were originally generated (Hall, 2004, p. 104).

As assumptions of the research, we start from a conception of childhood in which the child is an active subject in society that produces culture and is produced in it (Kramer; Motta, 2010)3 and an comprehension that the human being is made in the language, privileged to manipulate the production of the senses, to attribute meanings to others and to itself, being therefore a central element of sociocultural structuring (Hall, 2003). Some authors helped us in this process. Initially, the issue of difference was related to postcolonial studies, especially, Bhabha (1998) and Fanon (2008). Then, it was considered relevant to approach the antiracist education proposals represented by Law number 10.639 / 03 (Brazil, 2003) and the guidelines for its implementation. Finally, we present the way in which we conceive the subjectivity, articulated to the language and to the sociocultural dimension in which the subjects are inserted, crossed by the fundamental Bakhtinian theoretical contributions for the understanding of research in human sciences, as dialogical. Although contemporaneity has brought problems to the concept of identity, nevertheless, in thinking about the construction of black identity it is necessary to articulate it in its personal and social dimensions. The various social identities, gender, sexual, class, nationality, among others, are defined in culture and history, as pointed out by Louro:

These multiple and distinct identities constitute the subjects, to the extent that they are questioned from different situations, institutions or social groupings. 'Recognizing oneself in an identity presupposes, therefore, to respond affirmatively to an interpellation and to establish a sense of belonging to a social group of reference' (Louro, 2000, p. 12).

Black identity is then "[...] a social, cultural, historical and plural construction, arising from the way in which the view of the subjects belonging to the same ethnic / racial group about themselves is structured from the relation with the other" (Gomes, 2005, p. 43). And what do others say to our children? Do you teach them the richness of differences in encounter?

Answering these questions can lead us to the following conclusion: our society is strongly marked by the differences imposed and created by the European culture of the white man. However, affirming this condition or denying it simply will not result in advances. It is about planning one thing and another, putting them on suspicion and criticism. As Bhabha (1998, p. 76) says, it is not the colonialist self (the white man) nor the colonized one (the black man) that should interest you, but the disturbing distance between the two of them. It is this detachment that constitutes the figure of colonial alterity to be overcome / alleviated, from anti-racist educational actions.

For Fanon (2008, p. 26), one can not deal with matters concerning the black person without regard to the other: the white man. A man who, not infrequently, has been the model to be followed as the finished standard of the human being; the mirror that was / is imposed by the colonial powers. It is against the narcissism or the metaphysics of color that Fanon (2008) insists and seeks to elaborate in his book Black Skin, White Masks an understanding of the relation between black and white, no longer as closed things in themselves, as essences, but things that touch each other. It is not possible to speak of one without referring to the other; without touching on their relationships. In Bhabha's (1998) proposition, the interweaving of culture and politics are of interest. Rather than putting one against another, it is important to put them in front of each other in social interactions whose processes are not reduced to the binarisms of self versus others, but rather, to others.

In this encounter with, observing the practices, the relations, and the discourses that were experienced in the day care center, we sought to find possible epistemological, political and ethical models whose knowledge and practices were accumulated in and through the experience of the conviviality between whites and blacks. Conviviality presupposes alliances, conflicts and all kinds of negotiations that are sometimes on the border between love and racial hatred for one another. So, of deep attraction and repulsion for the other, as Bhabha preaches:

Can these divided subjects and these differentiated social movements, which show ambivalent and divided forms of identification, be represented in a collective will in which the Enlightenment heritage of Gramsci and his rationalism clearly echo? How does the language of the will conciliate the reverses of its representation, its construction through a symbolic majority where the dispossessed ones identify themselves from the position of the people of possessions? (Bhabha, 1998, p. 57).

Understanding the ways in which subjects construct identities and appropriate culture necessarily passes through the ways in which the processes of socialization have lived. It is not possible to think of cultures and identities without thinking about the context of the society that also educates us. In the words of Fanon (2008), the problem considered here lies in temporality, but not in its pure lamentation or celebration. Nevertheless, "[...] they shall be black and white desalienced, who shall refuse to be shut up in the substantiated tower of the past. On the other hand, for many blacks, the disalienation will be born of the refusal to accept the definitive actuality" (Fanon, 2008, p. 187).

We consider, as Bakhtin (2010), that the possibility of constructing understandings for human phenomena goes through the enunciation as methodology of research in Human Sciences. What questions does the great time poses to us for reflection on the totality of form / content, which makes up the triple dimension of human culture: art, life and knowledge? We are interested in knowing, in dialogue with others, how the world seems to us. We take for granted that researching in the human sciences is to seek understandings with and in the presence of people. This is a condition of our humanity. It is working with the word of others, with the worldviews they reveal in their speeches and helping to broaden the vision of the world we share.

It is in the plurality of the human community, in the variety of possible answers that one can try to understand the world. Hence one can confirm the importance of the other full of value in the course of the research, able to offer other visions. However, it is not just a matter of knowing what the other thinks, nor confirming what it causes. We think with Adichie (2017) that the history of the world can not be seen from a single point, it is not unique but polyphonic history.

About the (Mis)Matches in the Child Day Care

The arrival on the field was a revealing moment: our pre-established certainties had to be put appart to allow us to look at the events without pre-judgments. If we are certain when we address the other, we do not enter into a dialogical relationship with it. In this line of reasoning, an excellent research project can and will be surprised by unexpected answers to questions that have not even been asked.

At the first meeting, deliberately anticipated, we observe the outside area, where adults come to deliver and receive their children. We soon realized that there were only white people. In terms of blacks, there were only a few employees. It was lunchtime and there were a few chattering assistants sitting on the bench.

A certain disappointment with the prevalence of white families4 among the people attending the Day Care Center is undeniable. How then would it be possible to conduct research without racial issues being a prominent point in the daily life of this group? At the same time, when observing that the simpler positions - auxiliary, porter, security - were occupied by black people, we identified that we could think interests from that frame for the research.

Once we established familiarity with the characteristics of the institution, in an interview with the Social Worker, we learned that the nursery attended the children of the public service tenders of the institution. As it is common in the Federal Government in Brazil, the services considered medium began to be outsourced, markedly in the 1990s, a period of expansion of neoliberal policies and a reduction of the State and its staff. Decree No. 2.271 / 97 provided that:

Art. 1 - In the scope of the Federal Public Administration, autarchic and foundational, indirect activities may be the accessory, instrumental or complementary activities to the subjects that constitute the area of legal competence of the organ or entity. Paragraph 1. The activities of conservation, cleaning, security, surveillance, transportation, information technology, cup service, reception, reprography, telecommunications and maintenance of buildings, equipment and installations will preferably be indirectly executed. Paragraph 2. The activities inherent to the functional categories covered by the position plan of the body or entity may not be indirectly executed unless expressly provided otherwise by law, or in the case of a position totally or partially extinguished within the scope of the general staff (Brasil, 1997).

Thus, as in other public agencies, functions considered as support were outsourced, while those that characterized the activities of the Institution remained under the responsibility of public employees. At the outset, the day care center was already included in a middle-service concept, allowing most of the workers there to be hired through CLT (Consolidação das Leis de Trabalho) by service providers. This characteristic extended to the professors there. On the other hand, given the specialization of the services provided by the institution, the level of training required in public tenders was notably graduate and / or postgraduate. Historically in our country, this level of schooling was more accessible to middle and upper class subjects, mostly white5.

Without entitlement to Day Care, the kids who were children of employees with lower schooling and contracts through the CLT were excluded from this possibility of educational service. The vacancies destined to the professionals at the end of the study ended up attending, in the majority, the children of parents with high education, predominantly white. At first glance, the situation was demotivating, but we were still interested in how the antiracist actions were done in practice, and certainly the smaller presence of black children would not prevent this from happening within the pedagogical political project of the day care center.

The richness of the field material collected would certainly lend itself to the most varied analyzes, however, we had as objectives, to identify aspects arising from the application of Law 10639/2003, in particular, CNE / CP 003/2004, dated March 10, 2004 - National Curricular Guidelines for the Education of Ethnic-Racial Relations in the educational practices of Early Childhood Education and their implications for relationships established among children, manifested in play, speech as well as in collective and individual productions.

Analytical Categories

From the pedagogical point of view, the work developed in the nursery where the research was carried out is of the type that we wish for all the Brazilian children. The quality standard meets nationally established educational indicators in a unique way. If there is something to observe in its pedagogical action, from this research, it refers to aspects that transcend the pedagogical reality and that are configured as cultural data. The analytical categories described here were those that were possible to our eyes and ears, but which, once presented to the subjects of the field, changed. Of course, the groupings of the events and statements proposed here are those chosen by the researchers. They count, therefore, with something arbitrary. In the analysis, a theoretical effort is made to make dialogue about the conception of Education, conception of childhood; issues related to differences; gender issues and race issues.

We consider it appropriate to treat differences of gender and race as specific categories. Otherwise, when they were all dealt with in one and the same package of diversity and difference, there was a risk of not identifying traits that are undoubtedly constituent elements of the individualities involved in personal and institutional relationships that have serious consequences in the construction of subjectivities.

Issues Related to Race

In order to discuss the existence or not of an antiracist education in day care, it is necessary first to deal with issues related to race and racism, in order to avoid silencing the issue as a social or pedagogical strategy. The idea of race by Hall (2003) helps us to operate with the concept, since it puts it on the plan of a practice of discourse:

[...] race is a political and social construction. It is the discursive category around which is organized a system of socioeconomic power, of exploitation and exclusion - that is - racism. However, as a discursive practice, racism has its own logic. It attempts to justify the social and cultural differences that legitimize racial exclusion in terms of genetic and biological distinctions, that is, in nature (Hall, 2003, p. 69).

The problematization of the idea of race as presented by Hall (2003) in Brazilian society runs up against the apparent racial cordiality. For Sales Jr. (2006), this reveals a strategy of weakening the emancipatory forces that are disarranged when confronted with networks of interdependence and a way of being integrated from their subordination. The clashes, seen as racial conflicts, must be avoided by a pact of silence that unites whites and blacks.

The 'cordiality' of Brazilian racial relations is an expression of the stability of racial inequality and hierarchy, which diminishes the level of racial tension. Cordiality is not for 'naughty blacks'. The cordial relations are the result of rules of sociability that establish an asymmetrical reciprocity that, once broken, justifies the 'suspension' of the friendly treatment and the adoption of violent practices... Cordiality is a kind of tolerance with reservations, associated to clientelism and to patrimonialism in social relations (Viotti da Costa, 1999), reproducing relations of dependence and paternalism (Sales Jr., 2006, p. 230).

Cordiality, by means of the racist nonsense, causes social discrimination not to be attributed to race and, if this occurs, to be seen as episodic and marginal, subjective and idiosyncratic. However, cordiality is not confused with gentleness, but it is expressed in the very forms of aggressiveness, reducing the relations of power to personal, informal and private relationships. For Sales Jr. (2006), the emptying of the collective, public and institutional nature of racism promoted by cordiality allows, in parts, that patronage and patrimonialism operate in a combined and supplementary way to infiltrate racism and set up official institutions.

In this form of racial relations, it is a question of stigmatization as a political microtechnique of the body, (re) producing, distributing and consuming its marks, odors, colors, textures, tastes, flows, gestures, joys etc. In this way, two 'white' and 'black' organisms are opposed as 'races', as different accesses of individuals to their 'own' bodies and, from there, to other social goods. [...] Color becomes synecdoche of race relations (Sales Jr., 2006, p. 232).

It is perceived that the first defining element of the black subject is his blackness. The part taken by the whole precedes any other forms of identification. "In this way, the 'black body' according to a racist semiotic regime is the very place of subordination or exclusion" (Sales Jr., 2006, p. 233).

The excess of vision (Bakhtin, 2011, p. 21) allows us to construct the idea of unsaid as one of the elements of analysis. If identifying it requires the comprehension of the text in its context, a comprehensive view is only possible to the other; to the one that gives aesthetic finish to the ethics in the plane of life. They are signs, vestiges, small communications, great silences that say something to the attentive researcher and willing to build an understanding of what is seeing / living of its unique and unrepeatable place. The other has "[...] an experience of me that I myself do not have, but which I can in turn have about him" (Geraldi, 2000, p. 17).

In this context, the issue of the non-said, that is, of the racist feeling present in society, is expressed as expressive in that it can reveal the most perverse forms of discrimination, since it is difficult to identify a discriminatory practice in the behaviors of each subject, because in order to perceive it, it takes a comprehensive vision that alternately focuses on behaviors and actions that separate and drive away whites and blacks. The unspoken can be taken as something that is enunciated, without words and without the responsible signature of the one who formulates it. The subject benefits from the silence and implied meaning that can be put on the account of the listener (Ducrot, 1987).

In this tension of identity construction it was possible to find the unsaid in several texts: on the registration forms that did not request color / race information; in the interactions between peers, in the pedagogical actions that, although dealing with various moments of diversity, did not explicitly address issues related to racism and work projects that followed a similar path.

Color / Race Declaration for the School Censos

Only in 2015 it became possible to find the first enrollment form that included color / race information: the child was black. From the political point of view, it was a victory the presence of the datum in the registration form of the children in the day care center. However, the explanation about the silencing was not configured for the children who renewed their enrollment; these continued without the declaration made by their relatives. Exactly ten years after the inclusion of the color / race field in the school census, the National Institute of Studies and Educational Research Anísio Teixeira - INEP, launched a campaign for greater adherence to the completion of this item, highlighting its importance for the elaboration of public policies, with inequalities in educational indicators of black and indigenous populations. According to the INEP, the school census of 2014 had the following distribution:

Table 1 Ethnic-Racial Composition of Students in the School Census of Basic Education Brazil 2014 

Color Distribution (%)
Mongolian 0,4
Indigenous 0,5
Black 3
White 29
Brown 34
Not declared 33

Source: INEP (2016).

Why was there the resistance in including / filling this item? What does it reveal? The justification presented by INEP for inclusion of the field already denotes a certain tension arising from making explicit this difference between the subjects (students and professionals) attending the school:

The inclusion of this item in the student's and school professional forms in the School Census classroom is one of the results of the National Policy for the Promotion of Racial Equality (PNPIR), 2003, and the dialogue established between Inep and the governmental organizations organs dedicated to the promotion of racial equality (such as the Secretariat for Policies for the Promotion of Racial Equality - SEPPIR), as well as racial social movements. This debate took place through the recognition that the School Census represents the main tool for collecting basic education information. The inclusion of color / race information in the diagnosis obtained through the School Census is able to reveal, for example, how ethnic-racial inequality influences the trajectories of students in schools (Brasil, 2016, p. 4).

The Institute seems to anticipate possible questions, thus ratifying the indications of the delicacy necessary to explicitly treat the theme. The logic of silencing is imposed as a symptom of the denial of the question. The symptom that manifested itself in the Child Day Care reveals, as we can see in the table below, the scope of the problem.

Table 2 Quantitative Declaration of Color Race in the School Census of Basic Education Brazil 2014 

Situation Absolute Number %
Declared 37.746.500 67
Non declared 18.318.175 33
Total 560.646.75 100

Source: INEP (2016).

A still very high percentage of non-color / race declaration is perceived. This omission allows us to raise the hypothesis of a strong influence of the racist nonsense, that is, the fantasy that, once the question is not addressed, it disappears.

Interaction Among Peers

Among the children it was possible to observe the action of the culture of pairs and the way they appropriated racism, although it seemed to hide in the silence that surrounded it. By peer culture, we understand, with Corsaro "[...] a stable set of activities or routines, artifacts, values and interests that children produce and share in interaction with their peers" (Corsaro, 2009, p. 32).

Maria Rosa is the first one to pick up the baby / black doll. But in less than 30 seconds, she lets it go. Nina also comes to hold her, but she soon releases her also by changing to the white doll (Field Notebook).

Worth noting is the supply of black dolls present in the school's toys. For antiracist education, their presence as an option for recognition and appreciation of black children is fundamental. Left available, however, without an action that affirms its value and its beauty, they lose the anti-racist sense they desire. This was proved by the fact that the only black female student in the room was not fully accepted by the other children. She was trying to get in, but she was constantly excluded or had the toy taken from her hand by other children.

Undoubtedly, among the children there was the perception of the different colors - especially the black one - in the construction of the subjects. As a consequence, there was still an interpretive repetition / reproduction of the perception that being black brought with it the loss of essential human rights, and the subject being a child, the right to play.

It may be inferred from the observations that skin and hair issues are especially perceived by children as color / race markers. On these aspects, Gomes points out the tension and ambivalence that surround the body and the black hair in the construction of the black being in our country. "Curly hair and black body, placed in that order, are expressions of blackness. Therefore, they can not be considered separately" (Gomes, 2008, p. 9).

The black child approaches and stands behind the researcher combing her hair with her fingers. Asked if she likes to make hairstyles, she says: 'I like it, but I can not do it because my hair is hard' (Field Notebook).

While, on one hand, these icons contributed to the strengthening of racism by lowering the black person, in a polysemous perspective, they were at the same time potentialized as elements of positive affirmation as producers of a black beauty. A child affected by the speech of hard hair, so common in everyday life, will lack much more than a positive affirmation for the acceptance of itself. Without an effective deconstruction of the standardized discourse of hair beauty and the introduction of new references - in which it can be situated in the world without having to compare itself and its hair can be seen as something that differentiates it but does not make it inadequate - the pedagogical work in order to combat racism, there is no chance of succeeding. An antiracist education needs to take into account not only difference as an exponent for problematization, but as an element for building new ways of seeing its constituent elements.

Saying: resistance and denunciation of the non-said

According to Gomes (2006, p. 3), the hierarchization of subjects from racism, elevating whites to a position of power (of beauty, of reference) and relegating blacks to subalternization, is constructed by cultural, social, political and aesthetic, from the categorization of skin color and hair. But if recognition and valuation are given to the White people, one can see how violent it is the impossibility of the blacks to reach the valued aesthetic standard.

A child (with curly hair) asks the researcher: Why are you wearing a headband? Because I like to wear it, she heard as an answer. Yes, I like it too, says the girl. But today I'm not wearing it. But why do you need to wear the band, the child wants to know. I do not need it, I like it (Field Notebook).

Although not directly addressed to the pedagogical actions observed in the nursery, color / race issues were present in the daily life, either in the exclusion of children from the fun, in the manifestation of dislike with their own hair or by the idea that something would be accurate / necessary to contain the curls or tame the hair that did not conform to the hidden rules of embellishment.

Differences demands are treated in planning and translated into practice. The Political Pedagogical Project dedicates itself to treating them and the projects developed during the year also contemplate them. One can not deny the genuine effort to add the theme to the curriculum. There is, however, a treatment of the different in general; of an abstract difference that does not materialize in the color / race of the subjects involved.

As noted earlier, the black child (the only one in the room) being repelled in the interactions and having their attempts to get along denied by classmates was subtly excluded. But would it be imperceptible to the adults in the room? It is indisputable that the action in which the black student is projected out of the common spaces or prevented from playing with certain toys, is done without the notorious manifestation, as pointed out Sales Jr.:

Discrimination often occurs without any explicit or implicit enunciation of racial character. Race relations are, in this case, a game of non-verbal language, unspoken, silent speech, more corporal than verbal, by which individuals mobilize forces, bodies and social events, and appropriate them. 'Silent speech' is in the strongest form of unsaid (Sales Jr. 2006, p. 243).

Like other black subjects, this child is subtracted from their fundamental rights; your right to play is hampered by the gaze that other children direct to the color of their skin. Adults do not realize it, but she feels the insults and tries to find someone who welcomes her pain.

The child approaches and complains that they are not letting her play. At bath time, it turns out that in her bag of clothes, there are illustrations of dancers, all black [...]. After the bath, the teachers read the story of Snow White (Field Notebook).

It is very difficult to measure the distress caused by the tension between the familiar movement of valorization in the bag illustrated with black dancers and the action that keeps it away from other children when it comes in contact with the text Snow White. The anguish resulting from this confrontation will usually remain in the silence because you have already learned the difficulty in sharing what you feel. How can you explain to the adults the feeling that even her could not understand?

On the side of the discriminated, the anguish arises from the impossibility of making intelligible the intensity that affects him, of talking about the suffering that afflicts him. His suffering only feels it, but to know that he feels it, or to know what he feels, it is necessary to use intersubjectively valid categories, that is, so that he knows what he feels it is necessary for others to know it. However, the ideological ignorance of racism precludes or invalidates the use of racial categories, making it difficult to articulate the traumatic, conflictual experience of racial relations to a racial discourse (Sales Jr., 2006, p. 247).

The engaged participation of black teachers in the day-care center added dynamism to the debate. Specifically, the action of these teachers had the effect of saying that they were opposed to the racist nonsense. In the room of a black teacher, the children received pampering and hugging. The teacher had a black doll nicknamed Beatriz, her daughter. In this class, all the children took care of the doll, constantly and lived with her in the lap.

The three groups observed had black babies / dolls. Thus, in this teacher's room, the children were disputing their turn to play with Beatriz, the teacher's daughter. In the other rooms, where there was no positive teacher action, the black dolls were not very successful. In the teacher practice, we checked the existence of a want-to say, even if unspoken. In the case on screen, the teacher's action on the black doll was pronounced for the children, making the black doll occupy a prominent place in the conviviality (Sales Jr., 2006).

The black / white tension was revealed in the responsible and responsive practices that demanded a problematization of what until some years seemed unspeakable. To this action was added the speech of the children who always reproduce interpretatively the world in which they are. The loving and responsible action of the black teacher allowed another look at the color / race of the children, placing them into a valued and powerful place.

Similarly, a black teacher responsible for body and movement activities mobilized the class to treat the black pupil of the kindergarten class with affectionate words (Come here my beautiful creole!) And to take him into his arms fraternally. The teacher in this episode produces the resignification of words once used for racist statements. In the teacher's mouth, baby creole gains new intonation, transmits affection and recognition. These values are transmitted to white and black children, all of them worthy of respect and admiration.

In general, the black teachers present at the school knew the importance of occupying the spaces in an activist way. It is observed in the current speech of black teachers, the use of words of African origin as a boy, banguela6 and cafuné7". Language assumed in this context. form of resistance and cultural rescue.

With regard to children's tactics, they explained their identity-building processes based on racial parameters, highlighting skin color and hair type, showing that if adults fail to address something they are seeking to mean, they find a way to say it. And in doing so, they revealed the search for understanding themselves as white or black people, with straight or curly hair.

In an activity arranged on the wall of one of the classes in Kindergarten2, for example, one asked to answer the following questions: Name of the child. Where do you live? How is your physique? Additional Information. They replied:

Skin all white, I'm skinny; blond hair; I'm very big, I'm all brown; big black hair with curly hair; black hair, white body; I'm blue, with black hair and brown body; black and small hair; white, with the body equal to that of the mother; all white skin; my hair is a little yellowish color; more or less white, slim, black hair lisyll, skin-colored body; Hair so much hair! I'm white and I'm getting whiter. My body is the same as my friends; body all white, straight and big hair; straight hair; black hair, all-brown skin; white with the body equal to that of the mother. I'm a princess, everybody calls me that; I'm very big, my body is soft and my hair is smooth (Field Notebook).

It is noteworthy that, from the 17 children questioned, they all defined themselves with regard to color and references to the type or color of hair. The importance of explicitly addressing these issues as a way of guaranteeing access to the mediation of a responsible adult, which addresses this issue within an ethical and responsible way of doing things, is to make it possible for a non-racist perspective to enter into dialogue / confrontation with the racist statements still very much present in our daily lives.

Black children and teachers bring up, in another way of saying, racial issues. Bakhtin goes on saying that although language is the subject's constituent, it is also a continuous stream that establishes itself in a permanent stream of dialogues that relate what is being said to what has come before and what will happen to it.

The statement always creates something that before it did not exist, something new and irreproducible, something that is related to a value [...]. However, anything created is always created from a given thing [...]. The datum is transfigured into the servant (Bakhtin, 2011, p. 348).

This space of maneuver foreseen by Bakhtin in the creation of the new from the already given can mean the breach where the ordinary subject of Certeau (1994) reintroduces the possibility of rupture or subversion of the order. Metaphorically we can assume that the discourse for Bakhtin and Certeau moves in the concrete world of routine actions before the possibility of new combinations or statements, not inaugural speeches, but a rearrangement of what is put on.

Closing the Talk (For Now...)

The child day care on which the study was produced is undoubtedly one of the best in the region. Spaces, equipment, rights, teachers, prepared servers. Several elements found there reflect this quality. The people who are there as educators are committed to offering the best to the children, because they believe in them. Responsibly, they bet on a proposal of education that reaches the legal points of legislation, especially regarding the insertion of the theme of ethnic-racial relations, in order to promote a generation of adults with less marked existence by the pains of racism. However, it is necessary to move ahead, overflowing the level of tactics, starting to become a strategy, as proposed by Cavalleiro & Henriques:

In order for ethnic and racial themes to be considered, the need for a technical staff with knowledge and experience to deal with this issue is identified, as ignorance and, above all, ideas linked to racist ideologies, prevent the elaboration of a policy agenda affirmative education for the respect and appreciation of ethnic-racial diversity (Cavalleiro; Henriques, 2005, p. 212).

All the people involved in the process must be mobilized. Building an anti-racist project that materializes in quotidian of the teachers, technicians and white, black or blue-colored children?

Translated from Brazilian Portuguese by Adriana Maria Loureiro

1This article is part of the Thematic Section, Childhood and Education of Ethnic-Racial Relations, organized by Renato Noguera (Universidade Federal Rural do Rio de Janeiro), Míghian Danae Ferreira Nunes (Universidade da Integração Internacional da Lusofonia Afro-Brasileira), Luciana Pires Alves (Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro) and Nancy Lamenza Sholl da Silva (Universidade Federal Fluminense).

2Othering was a term created by Spivak (1987) to refer to the different production of subjects by colonial discourse. It would be the way in which colonizers gave the colonized the status of object, pointing to degrading characteristics establishing the relationship 'Other / other', where the first, the colonizer, would be endowed with desired and positive characteristics, while the colonized would fit an inferior role.

3Child: a subject that acts in society, which produces culture and is produced, play, learn, feel, create, grow and modify throughout the historical process that constitutes human life (Kramer; Motta, 2010). They are constituted from their social class, race / ethnicity, gender and by physical, psychological and cultural differences.

4Since there is no self-declaration of color / race, neither the families in the act of enrollment, nor the employees, we will take as a criterion, phenotypic aspects, aware, however, of their conceptual fragility (Miranda, 2010).

5We have adopted Hall's (2003, p. 69) conception that takes race as a political and social construction and a discursive category that allows the organization of the system of socioeconomic power, of exploitation and exclusion - that is - racism.


7Act of showing affection by running fingers through the other person's hair.


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Received: November 22, 2018; Accepted: March 22, 2019

Flavia Motta holds a PhD in Education from the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio). She is currently a school psychologist and a Professor at the Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRRJ) where she teaches Supervised Internship in Pre-School and Didactic. ORCID: E-mail:

Claudemir da Silva Paula holds a PhD in Portuguese Language and Literature from the Paulista State University (Unesp). He is currently a Professor at the Federal University of Rondônia (UNIR). ORCID: E-mail:

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