Meet Anti-Racism Writer Veronica Maria Brown-Comegys
And learn why she believes better education is the key to avoiding a "gruesome future"
When I started writing about anti-racism, I suddenly met a lot of people doing the same to tackle racism and inequity both in their corner of the world, and globally. Veronica Maria Brown-Comegys is one of those writers. I’ve been impressed by her thoughtful posts and comments on LinkedIn, and thought you’d like to get to know her work, too. Please meet Veronica.
Veronica, what made you become an anti-racism writer?
My career as an anti-racism writer grew out of my decision to write about Brazil. When I was 14 years old, my white Brazilian pen pal told me that racism didn’t exist in his country. I was captivated by that lie which was spread by the Brazilian government. Ultimately, I discovered the truth.
At the end of my first year as a newspaper reporter, I went to Rio de Janeiro for ten days. After the vacation, I was driven to find a way to spend one year in Brazil before my thirtieth birthday. I achieved that goal by winning a scholarship for reporters who were interested in South America.
Over the years I’ve written two or three versions of my manuscript. I noticed during readings the audience responded most positively to chapters that featured me learning the Brazilian attitudes about race and the role of Black women.
Meanwhile, I was still burdened by effects of child abuse inflicted by my grandmother when I was three years old. In addition, I carried the burden of the racist treatment at the university, and employment. Mom and I suffered from depression. Ultimately, I decided I might find relief if I shared my Black American story. The essays were a secondary activity to researching and writing about Brazil.
What anti-racist cause are you most passionate about?
I am most enthusiastic about Critical Race Theory. My readings of Eurocentric articles and academic books along with interactions with white people from all levels of society convinced me that their racism is fueled by ignorance, unfounded delusions, lies, ethnocentrism, and provincialism.
One major weapon we have is: facts/truth. Significant education can reveal that white people’s accomplishments were fueled by sheer numbers, brute force and greed, not innate superiority. Now we are subjected to slow genocide by systemic racism in laws, allocation of funds, housing, education, healthcare access, and law enforcement. The public needs an awakening. We cannot move forward without accepting the full, ugly truth about the past.
What response have you had to your work?
I have not received significant feedback although my byline has appeared in Medium, the Michigan Chronicle Newspaper, Lansing State Journal Newspaper, Blavity, ForHarriet, Latino Rebels, and Lupita News.
In terms of anti-racism content, which are your top three topics?
Anti-Black racism in Native American and Hispanic communities: Who’s Your Brother?
Treachery on the job: My White Female Co-Workers Sharpened Their Claws
We are always surveilled and under suspicion: Misperceptions of age, intent endanger Black lives especially kids
I know you’re working on a book. What’s it about, and can you share any insights you’ve had so far?
My interest in Brazil began with deception about racial attitudes. Even African American journalists and sociologists were initially deceived by the Brazilian government’s “racial democracy” propaganda. One Black American journalist wrote, “Black people have more social acceptance in Brazil” than in many other countries.”
As recently as a decade ago Black Brazilian activism was being misrepresented. Even the headlines in articles written by African Americans stated that, “Black Brazilians have recently started fighting for their rights.” Some gave the impression that Black, and women’s activism was launched only after the end of the dictatorship in the 1980s.
Over the years, thanks to study, academic papers, conversations with Black Brazilian intellectuals, journalists, academics, feminists, and three visits to Rio, I have expanded my knowledge about the oppression and activism of Black Brazilians.
Recently, during an interview, Durval Arantes, an English teacher and author said:
“Black activism has existed in Brazil since the early stages of our history. The list is robust and dynamic.”
Arantes described the Revolt of the Males, which was led by literate Muslims. They were called “slaves of gain,” and they worked for merchants, tailors, craftsmen, and carpenters. They rebelled against repression by authorities. The Muslims opposed: the imposition of Catholicism, substandard living conditions, prejudice, physical punishment, and sexual abuse.
About six hundred enslaved people rebelled. It occurred on January 24-25, 1835, in Bahia. In the aftermath 281 were imprisoned, eighteen were put to death, and others were deported.
Share one anti-racism article written by someone else that really made an impact on you.
A Lot of Black People Are Getting Their White Supremacy “Wake-Up” Calls: It’s the call no “respectable negro” expects to receive by Marley K
I was at a disadvantage when I entered the working world because there wasn’t a lot of talking in my house. When I was a child and a teen, Mom and I suffered from depression. She’d come home, prepare dinner, and lay down because she had a headache. There were no “teachable moments” about what the whites did at work that day. Years later our wake-up calls occurred on jobs. Eventually, I was the first Black reporter at a newspaper. A high-level politician hired mom.
In relation to racism, what is your vision for the future?
I imagine the future will be gruesome if the country doesn’t drastically revamp the education system. I belonged to a writers’ group consisting of white people, who had earned a M.A. in Fine Arts. To them the world consisted of the United States and Europe. The white men were antagonistic when I read essays about my Black reality. They even tried to gaslight me. They weren’t the type to riot outside a school that planned to present CRT. But in their quiet way they were resistant to change. Sometimes I thought, “It’s sad that these “clueless” folks rule the planet”.
I’d love to hear how Veronica’s words landed with you. Please leave a comment.
Thanks for reading,
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