The black feminist voice of Stephanie Ribeiro

Stephanie Ribeiro was still an architecture student when her essay started to go viral on the internet. At a university, with a white people majority, she found in black feminism and writing a place of welcome and struggle. Soon several women identified with what Stephanie had to say and the writer became one of the most expressive voices in Brazilian activism.

Photo: Instagram @ste_rib

Since 2012, the architect and black feminist activist have had pieces published on sites such as Marie Claire Brasil, Blogueiras Negras, Géledes, Confectionery, Modefica, the Feminist Press, among others. And through her participation in lectures and events, she was consolidating her space. In 2015, Stephanie received the Theodosina Ribeiro Medal from the São Paulo Legislative Assembly, which honored her activism on behalf of black women.

At 26, she is now married, “mother” of a dog called Basquiat. Today Stephanie Ribeiro is considered one of the main voices of her generation, especially on the Internet, where she is followed by 70 thousand people. In an interview with ATLANTICO, she spoke about her journey, the challenges and achievements of the Brazilian black feminist movement and the search to remain consistent with what she believes.

ATLANTICO – You have a very high profile today as a prominent voice in Brazilian feminism. How do you see this?

Stephanie Ribeiro – I believe that this is very positive at the same time that it brings great responsibility. I am concerned with not losing consistency in relation to the social struggle and the debates that are necessary, even if it often means harming my social life. I think we need to appreciate coherence and I feel that this is a great responsibility, so I face it with joy because it is considered that black women are hardly heard in our country. But with the weight of the responsibility to remain attentive and consistent with what I believe.

ATLANTICO – Black feminism has been gaining more and more space in the center of discussions involving gender, racism, and class, mainly. What do you relate to this growing interest?

Stephanie Ribeiro – I believe that, in general, we close our eyes to black activism as a society. Today in the world and in Brazil, there is a growing demand for these discussions given the expansion of black people in spaces of narrative dispute. But I think that in the case of Brazil, what makes the discussion more present, is that we are in a country of the black majority, and we have a very broad history of black movement and black people who created materials and were part of the country’s culture, but who were made invisible. So, even if there is a charge for representation, we have the knife and cheese in hand, because a lot has already been done and is being done in relation to black activism. Finally, I think that around the world we are having discussions that involve identity and gender, and we are influenced by that too.

ATLANTICO – What do you believe are the central discussions of black feminism, specifically Brazilian, today?

Stephanie Ribeiro – Many. We have [municipal] elections this year and there is a constant mobilization in favor of black representatives who are aligned with the agendas and needs of black activism. But as a black feminist, I see that it needs to go beyond the political dispute, to reflect on agendas that end up being silenced in such an adverse political context, such as, for example, the right to safe and legal abortion. I think there are many guidelines for public health, security, the genocide of the black population … There are many things.

ATLANTICO – Who do you believe your audience is?

Stephanie Ribeiro – My audience is mostly female, mostly women regardless of race, class and even age. People who show themselves already engaged in something and are open to differences.

Photo: Instagram @ste_rib

ATLANTICO – How do you relate to your audience?

Stephanie Ribeiro – I believe in connections, but I also always put myself in a position to impose limits. As I work in social networks, people often believe that they are much closer than they really are to me.

ATLANTICO – How did you start writing?

Stephanie Ribeiro – I started writing in 2012. My first piece was on the Blogueiras Negras website and it was very important for me. The desire came from the fact that I was attending a university with a white people majority and felt very alone in my convictions and in my own existence. It was at that moment that I approached black feminism and started to write about it.

ATLANTICO – In 2015 you were honored with the Theodosina Ribeiro medal, due to your activism in favor of black women. And in 2018 it was recognized by the UN with the Most Influential People of African Descent. How do these awards influence your way of doing activism?

Stephanie Ribeiro – I am happy and grateful for the recognition. Sometimes it works so that people at least respect me. As a woman, I feel that for my opinion to be considered, I need to surround myself with titles and external recognition. Unfortunately, the sexist structure is like that. But I don’t think it changes my view of the world and how I talk and do things.

ATLANTICO – What is the impact of this type of recognition on your life?

Stephanie Ribeiro – I think my mom is very proud! She is always attentive and shows it to her friends, that’s cute. And whenever something incredible like that happens, Tulio (her husband) takes me out to dinner, which is also great. Look, I feel happy to know that “I’m not crazy” ”, it this still an issue. I am a woman, and as a woman and a black woman, I think the world attacks you so much when you speak and defend an idea, that sometimes it is good to feel that you are not exaggerating.