University Conference - Alline Parreira

June 13, 2018

Brazilian house cleaner to deliver conference to US PhDs
Minas Gerais-born Alline Parreira will tell her first-person life story at CUNY
University in New York next week

Friday, June 15th, Alline Parreira who is a Brazilian house cleaner will present her personal story at an academic conference at CUNY University in New York. She will narrate her history of identity construction as a woman who was born poor and black in a backwoods part of Brazil. She was adopted twice by white women and suffered prejudices within the family and local society. Against all odds Alline was able to obtain a government scholarship to travel in Africa. This experience changed her life.

I am forwarding her recent photographs and pictures of her teenage years in Africa. If you need more details or want to interview her, let me know. The event will be broadcast online via Facebook at the non-profit page BRADO-NYC

About the speaker
Not all knowledge comes from books, and Alline Parreira, 27, is living proof of this. Born in the Sertão (backwoods) of Minas Gerais, in the municipality of Manga, Alline was illegally adopted, by a intersex woman, when still in the womb of her biological mother. She was adopted again at three months of age to become a slave to an elderly white family. Alline struggled on, poor, black, facing racism and prejudice in the construction of her gender identity and seeking acceptance as a black woman without similar racial reference in her adoptive family. She has a lot of stories to tell, and next week on June at7:00 pm she will narrate her first-person life trajectory in an innovative documentary, mixing poetry, oratory and projections of her life path from Manga to New York at The City University of New York in the United State, with the translation of Dr. Eduardo Vianna.

A black Brazilian woman speaking at a large American university is already surprising, but Alline's case is even more so. She is self-taught, has no college degree, is a social activist and sustains herself by doing housework in New York, where she has been living for two years. "For us black women that were not allowed to narrate our stories in the first person, I break this paradigm, I am the one who tells my own story, this is very important," says Alline.

"Life was my University, I had to learn without attending college, with nothing, I got all this information somehow, I learn, and I research a lot. My identity building is based on what I learned from the academic writers Angela Davis and Frantz Fanon", she recalls. "With Angela Davis, in "Women, Race and Class", I have identified that throughout this process of building my identity, gender, race, and class, I have always walked together with others like me, I am a poor, black woman. With Frantz Fanon, in the book 'Black Skins White Masks', in a very radical way I decolonized myself, totally modified my being, I freed myself, "says Alline. "We cannot dichotomize the two types of knowledge," says Eduardo Vianna. "Conceptual, theoretical knowledge has to be at the service of practice, but practice needs to be analyzed, which requires concepts," argues the moderator and translator.
During the talk, Alline, who was invited by Group BradoNYC, will include a surprise performance which will be followed by a conversation about privilege, identity, social transformation. Without the correct application of the Statute of the Child and the Adolescent, ECA, Alline was donated by her mother and adopted by an extremely poor woman who also lived in Manga and was later adopted by this woman's mother. This is how slavery operates in Brazil.  They lived in the hinterland of Minas Gerais, almost on the border with Bahia, on the edge of the São Francisco River, and went through all kinds of deprivation: from affliction to opportunity, both in the family and in school, where she was neglected and had to be made literate by her foster mother, who was illiterate, they learned to read and write together.

In spite of all the impossibilities, against all odds, Alline was able to turn around when she discovered government programs implemented by Brazilian presidents Luis Inacio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff, receiving aid like Family Grant and the opportunity of qualification courses. Another highlight in Alline's story was when she won a scholarship under the Dilma government, and traveled alone across the African continent. "It changed my course, and it broadened my horizons, with the practical knowledge of a black woman traveling alone", she recalls. Afterward, Alline, who had already taken a liking to studies and reading, began to apply the critical concepts she was learning from writers who combat oppression, such as racism and sexism.  Alline began to apply these concepts to her own reality and life trajectory. Alline's activist spirit gained momentum from these readings this helped her to understand oppression was not something natural and immutable which we must accept.
"When I tell my life story, people are surprised. I was adopted illegally, I grew up in a white family that was extremely poor, completely dysfunctional. I have experienced many oppressions both in my adoptive family and in school. No one ever expected anything good from me" she recalls. "When one talks about a black child adopted by a white family, one soon imagines that the family is rich, but mine was very poor, we did not have electricity, we cooked on a wood stove for lack of gas."
In the future, Alline hopes to tell her story in a book: for that, she is looking for partnerships or publishers. Alline Parreira is living proof that the knowledge of life does not boil down to a top-level diploma.
Alline Parreira will speak about her life story at CUNY, on Friday, June 15th, starting at 7pm with a live stream.
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