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169 Conclusion ABOVE THE ASPHALT From the Margins to the Center of Black Diaspora Politics Is it possible that one day my children and the children of my children will lie down on the old walls and rocks of Gamboa de Baixo, to fish and admire the moon, as I have done in the past? Or will they be dead? Yes, dead! Or perhaps, who knows, expelled from their community, like what happened to the population of the Pelourinho, Água Suja, and Ogunjá and so many other poor black communities in Salvador. Ana Cristina, lecture at Brown University, 2011 A Luta Continua On August 4, 2007, at an official ceremony in the open space of the historic São Paulo Fort in Gamboa de Baixo, community leaders celebrated what they thought was the landmark agreement that would eventually lead to the possession of land for local families. The agreement was between the state navy and the mayor’s office to transfer the land to the city government. This political act was the result of decades ofstruggleoverlandtenurethatpromisedtobenefitresidentswhohad been living on and using the land since the colonial period. The municipalitywouldthenhavethepowertotransfercollectivelandtitlesto the Gamboa de Baixo community neighborhood association. Collective rather than individual land titles would make both mass removal and real estate speculation difficult. Thelegalpossibilityoflandtenuresparkedmuchdiscussionamong the Gamboa de Baixo residents in attendance. They questioned the meaning of the city government signing a contract “allowing the use of navalland.”DonaVilma,havinglivedintheneighborhoodforoverfifty years, asked government representatives present at the ceremony, “Is my house considered to be on naval land? Will I be able to receive my title?” Dona Vilma’s question reflected the concerns of other residents 170 CONCLUSION who were distressed for the same reason. They began asking a series of other questions, like, “What exactly are the boundaries of this naval land?” They inquired about the possibility that the land agreement was partial—in essence, authorizing use but not ownership—and that some parts of the neighborhood would be kept out of the agreement. The agreement regularized only land owned by the state for local use and control, leaving out significant portions of land belonging to other legal entities, such as the Catholic Church (and now the Odebrecht construction firm). In addition to the navy, several competing owners of the land were missing from this legal agreement. Doubts about the meaning of the collective right to land in the city of Salvador have caused many residents to view the tenure and titling process with suspicion and call into question the viability of partial land ownership of some areas of Gamboa de Baixo. Black women neighborhood association leaders in Gamboa de Baixo are at the forefront of these debates on land rights, and this official document was not the one for which they had waited so long. Though signing the agreement inside the fort was important symbolically , what they really wanted was, however, a document that made it legal for all local residents to stay in their homes permanently and that acknowledged collective ownership. How would the city government pass on ownership to the neighborhood if the neighborhood only had the right to use the land? Several of the activists present pointed out this inconsistency and began to shout about the underlying racial injustice at the heart of the issue.Ritinhaledchantsofthenamesofblacknationalheroes:“Zumbi, Dandara, and Luiza Mahim!” and, “Long live the black people!” She wanted to remind residents of blacks’ and black women’s tradition of resistance when fighting for the right to live with dignity and material resources such as land. Dona Lenilda began, in typical style, to sing the Gamboa de Baixo political anthem and was promptly joined by the otherresidents:“Fromhere,Iwillnotleave.Noonecantakemeaway.” The neighborhood anthem expressed the resident’s determination that the many-decades-long struggle of those with no rights of citizenship for land in downtown Salvador could not end with a partial government contract. The black women–led struggle for land rights in Gamboa de Baixo brings up the following question that has troubled CONCLUSION 171 popular movements in predominantly black communities in Salvador: Howdoyouclaimrightsinacontextwheregovernmentactionsgenerally ignore gendered racism as a structural element of social inequalities and disregard the participation of this segment in the articulation and implementation of public policy? This question reflects how the representativesofgovernmenthavecontributedtostereotypicalviews of urban black communities, generally, and black women, specifically, who are seen as unable to negotiate their own demands. Six years later, without collective land titles Gamboa de Baixo continues to face the possibility of spatial displacement even with recent state investment...


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