What do you know about Brazil? Besides what you saw in City of Gods and clips from the Carnival in Rio? Cause all that is just wild. I mean, I love it, but it’s lowkey tragic too. Did you know Brazil is home to the largest Black population in the Western Hemisphere? More Black folks than the US, yes. And way more racism.
Watch a movie called Besouro to see how Capoeira was developed just to kick white colonizer ass there. That’s a fighting art that originates in Angola.
Many came from West and Central Africa during the slave trade, but that’s not where ALL the Black people there came from, or when! Some of it happened in ancient times. And some of it was some super God mode stuff.
You may know that Brazil is home to the Amazon Rainforest, one of the biggest rainforests in the world, responsible for a lot of the oxygen we breathe today.
You probably also know that those rainforests are being cut down at a crazy rate, to make room for cheap soybean fields and cattle farms so that companies like McDonald’s can spend less to make more money!
Well that tragedy turned into something else. First, the cutting of trees revealed ancient sites that would have otherwise remained hidden. In my 2012 book When the World was Black, we told the story of this ancient civilization and who were its founders.
Thousands of years ago, these people settled around the Amazon River and converted the land into fertile soil. How? They invented tierra prete, or “Black Earth,” a revolutionary soil that cannot be reproduced today. If you dig up a 5,000 year old chunk of this soil and add it to barren wasteland, that land will become fertile!
How? In addition to some very advanced composting, the builders of the Amazon civilization had knowledge of genetic engineering. They bred microbes that would live in the soil and maintain its amazing qualities. This is just the beginning. After all, there are five million acres and over 75% still hasn’t been explored!
Since we published the story of the Amazon’s most indigenous people and their fight to protect their homelands, two things have happened:
- Amazon nations have begun winning MAJOR legal battles to protect their land AND be compensated in the millions for what they’ve lost. Yes, they’re getting their power back.
- Where the trees remain, radar that can see underground has revealed hundreds of sites, suggesting that the ancient population here could have been in the millions! And only 5% of the sites have been dug up for what they could reveal.
Who were the people who built this little-known ancient civilization? We know they did trade with West African long before Columbus. In the appendix of When the World was Black, I list several times that genetic signatures from Africa and the Middle East made their way into the Americas, including a few waves coming from ancient Egypt!
A MAJOR arrival point was Brazil, thanks to the ocean currents that act like a conveyor belt from West Africa to the Americas. Columbus heard about this Transatlantic current from the Moors, and recruited a Moor named Pedro Alonso Niño to show him the way in 1492.
This current also sweeps into the Carribbean (where Columbus landed) and the Gulf of Mexico. Both had their own ancient civilizations, although the one in the Carribean is now mostly underwater near the Bay of Bimini, while few people understand the role of the Olmecs in founding Mesoamerican civilization. These were all Black people.
In the Amazon, the most isolated indigenous people remain Black-skinned or darker than their neighbors. These people are not the descendants of slaves. They are the Original people. This is a reminder that many of the native people of the Americas, from Central America into the American Southeast, had Black ancestors. Some of these ancestors descend from the first settlers of the Americas, who came from both East and West, by both land and sea, and in many successive waves of migration. The earliest waves of human settlers, like all humans before about 6,000 years ago, were rich in melanin, their dark skin charged by the Sun.
Later waves brought different features, like those of the Siberians and Mongolians who came after thousands of years adapting to Asia’s northern tundras and deserts. I think everybody had braids though. Probably everybody. And feathers.
But Africans have braids and feathers too! And Africans have genetic evidence in South America so old they had to have been sailing there over 8,000 years ago! We know the Dafuna Boat found in Nigeria is that old, and we have rock art paintings of boats even older than that. Ivan Van Sertima’s They Came Before Columbus documents many of these journeys. We know they came to do trade, but they were treated as Gods almost everywhere they were received. This was certainly the case with the Olmecs and the mysterious Moundbuilders of the American Southeast.
In most places, they say those people are no longer here. Those ancient Black folks just disappeared huh?
In reality, those great men and women did not simply die off or disappear. Like the miraculous soil they crafted in the Amazon, they thought about things thousands of years in advance. This is something our ancestors could do, especially the wise who traveled the world, teaching and doing trade! So wouldn’t they have found ways to survive?
To remain present in the world, like the life in the soil they left behind? Or like the trees they planted, which became our Amazon rainforest. Yes, that rainforest is not a natural jungle. It was carefully planned, organized, and planted by the Black folks who made its soil. They planted a massive garden of eden that would produce clean air (and medicine) for us, for thousands of years! This is the same ingenious Black people they’re saying were wiped out due to poor planning or disease. Um, no. I can’t see it.
Just like the Amazon nations who survived by seclusion after encountering whites for the first (and sometimes last!) time, there are others who became a part of modern society. They became our ancestors. These were the Black people who were already here, who were quickly absorbed into the slave economy of the country for a few hundred years. That ended only recently, you know?
Mexico may have abolished slavery before the US (thanks to Emiliano Zapata, Vinvent Guerrero, and others of African descent), but Brazil didn’t stop until much later. They had TOO many Black people! They still do! And as you may have seen in those video clips of Carnival or City of Gods, the Black people there aren’t anymore aware of this history than Black folks anywhere! Why? Racial miseducation is a major operation, tied into the underpinnings of how this whole neo-colonial world works!
After all, if the poor and enslaved really knew who they were and what their rights are, this system wouldn’t function! In Brazil, they have over 18 different racial classes, meant to keep the people apart and fighting each other! This is why those Amazon victories give me hope. So does the news that Knowledge of Self is spreading across the Americas, even into the Amazon, at an even faster rate than they can cut down trees!
Soon, thanks to native archaeologists, we’ll know even more of what these amazing Black communities established in the Amazon. We may never, however, find any written records. Our ancestors didn’t always need those, because we had both oral and mental traditions.
We know that after Francisco Orelliano sailed down the Amazon, reporting big cities with massive walls and people everywhere, the same area was depopulated by the next time white folks came. Most of this was because disease was spreading and people were dying. White folks brought a bunch of nasty demons within em, leading with smallpox and syphilis (a dog disease!). This didn’t kill off everyone, however. Many among us knew that once we saw white people, it was time to go!
In fact, many of the ancient American prophecies spoke of the coming of the white man and the end of Indian civilization. Thus, the wisest among us got away. Some remained free, establishing “palenques” and other fortified towns resisting enslavement for centuries.
In the Carribean and South America, these Black revolutionaries were called Maroons. We republished some of their stories in a book called Black Rebellion: Eyewitness Accounts of Major Slave Revolts. In the Southeast US, the Seminoles were a major African-Indian confederation united against white rule, and Black men routinely married into Indian tribes as royalty.
Outside of those Indians who had been rounded up and trained by whites, most Indians saw their own dark skin as a sign of connection with these Black men and women from far away, while some who knew their “old history” heralded them as Gods and leaders.
These are the deep backstories of the Black and Indian people who make up the ancestry of most Black people in America today. Outside of folks like Barack Obama and Kamala Harris, most Black folks across North and South America can trace their ancestry directly back to two very strong Black communities – one side native to the Americas, and another side native to Africa.
Does this mean Black folks are technically African-Americans after all? Dammit Jesse Jackson, did you know?! Why didn’t he explain? Ah, maybe cause you’d also realize what you’re entitled to as a result. Way more than 40 Acres and a Mule!
After all, this land is yours not just because your family built it, but because your family may have been on this soil for over 5,000 years! No wonder some of us feel so connected to this crazy place! Must be the same for the people of Brazil and the Carribean, even if they don’t know the deep history. They’ve gotta feel it!
So is this why we can become territorial, even on lands we may not think are ours! Cause they might be! And what if we really understood this? Could you imagine how our children would think and grow up? What if we showed them how to reclaim it all?
I’ll tell you this much, it begins with knowing what’s what. Read up and learn your own history. Find your traditions. Read a book like Knowledge of Self or Black God to see who you might REALLY be. And this is the first step to reclaiming all of yourself, and your whole world with it. You with me? You know it’s never just a history lesson with me! Hope you’ve gotten some jewels to use, and some to share!
Further Reading and References:
- La Brega
- Black Rebellion
- When the World was Black 1
- When the World was Black 2
- Black God
- Knowledge of Self