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Agencia Mural is a news agency "made by and for the outskirts," particularly of Greater São Paulo in Brazil.
How Black Communities Redefined São Paulo, Facing Down Racism And Poverty
Matheus Souza

How Black Communities Redefined São Paulo, Facing Down Racism And Poverty

São Paulo is 400 years old, but the outlaying areas beyond the historic center are relatively new. They were born out of poverty and have given rise to resistance and culture, especially through music.

SÃO PAULO — Despite being 400 years old, a considerable part of São Paulo was created in the last 70 years, especially the neighborhoods on the outskirts of the Brazilian city. But what was the process of building these neighborhoods?

When talking about “peripheries” in Brazil, many people have an idea of what the term represents — even without saying the city, it is already possible to imagine the so-called places and people, the level of income, skin color and even the neighborhood infrastructure. And in general, this picture is not far from reality.

Thousands of huddled houses, dirt streets
This is the hill, my area awaits me
Screaming at the fair (We're coming!)
Trust me, I like that, more human warmth
- Translation of Racionais MC’s, in “Fim de Semana no Parque”

However, a few decades ago, the "periphery" did not represent anything much beyond the obvious — that is, places far from the central region. It was from the 1980s onwards that this began to change and the term acquired meanings beyond geography.

Social, racial and identity factors were incorporated largely because of cultural movements that translated the common feelings of those who lived in these spaces into art. One of these movements is rap.

On the periphery, joy is the same
It's almost noon, the euphoria is general
That's where my brothers, my friends live
And most around here look like me
- Translation of Racionais MC's, in “Fim de Semana no Parque”

Brazilian peripheries, as we understand them today, have among their origins the city of São Paulo. Although 400 years old, the city only became an economic power in the middle of the 20th century, which was also when the population started to grow until it became the largest in the country.

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