Brazil Highlighted Slavery During The Olympic Opening Ceremonies & That's So Important
During a gorgeous and visually pleasant 2016 Rio Olympics opening ceremony, Brazil did what, arguably, very few countries would do. While highlighting the history of the country, the powers that be refused to hide, and rather Brail highlighted slavery during the opening ceremonies, giving credit where so much credit is due when constructing how the world now views the city of Rio.
Perhaps this shouldn't be shocking (I would argue it's not). But with the current racial climate and police shootings and, well, you name it, it can seem somewhat astounding (and applause worthy) to see an entire country highlight the fact that they wouldn't be the country they are, if it weren't for the people who were forcibly removed from their lands and placed in said country. In fact, the theme for the opening ceremonies is "coming together," showing that the country and the culture wouldn't be what it is if it wasn't for a number of diverse people coexisting — some by choice, some by force.
When we're penly acknowledging and, essentially, celebrating an entire country, it's so important that we (as a society and a world) don't gloss over a very real, very poignant, very important part of history. This necessity (and the choice to highlight slavery) wasn't lost on opening ceremony viewers, as many took to twitter to voice their thankfulness and, at times, their surprise. Here are just a few reactions:
#OpeningCeremony I am impressed that the history of slavery was acknowledged. That would never happen in the USA.— Ryan B (@Ryan_Toronto_) August 5, 2016
Refreshing to see acknowledgement of colonialism & slavery as well as celebration of migration & rich cultural diversity #OpeningCeremony— Rosa (@RosaEmily_) August 5, 2016
Powerful history lesson of forests and indigenous, colonization, slavery. Striking and beautiful #OpeningCeremony— Lulu Garcia-Navarro (@lourdesgnavarro) August 5, 2016
Should it be surprising that slavery, a documented part 0f so many countries' histories, is highlighted? Probably not. However, the fact that it was, and on such a global stage, is worth noting. Sometimes, in order to evoke true change, you have to acknowledge, publicly, that there's a problem. Brazil did just that — and perhaps even more importantly, at such a pivotal moment. And that, in and of itself, is worth all the gold medals.