Chafariz do Lagarto
"To the thirsty people, the Senate gave water in abundance. Year 1786"
The construction of this fountain started in 1785 and was completed in 1786. It still stands today on Rua Frei Caneca, next to the famous Sambadrome where the annual Carnival parades are held. The massive fortress across the street from the fountain is a military police installation that houses a SWAT battalion and a civil police training center. So, even though the area might look a bit sketchy to a tourist, you can pull out the camera and take a few snaps. I suggest you be discreet, take your photos, and keep it moving, because, while the police presence discourages shenanigans, they are not there to guard the fountain!
All of Our Stories are Simultaneous: History is Complicated (pt. 1 of 4)
All of our stories are simultaeous. History is complicated.
The greatest myth that we are taught about history is that we started from nothing and we progress in steps—sometimes in baby steps, sometimes in small leaps. This is especially damaging when we consider Black and African history in the New World. Slavery is the beginning and President Obama is the end and we got here walking a straight path by putting one foot in front of the other. Beyond absurd, this myth is damaging and it's offensive to the truths that the descendants of Africans in the diaspora carry as individuals, as groups, as communities, and as nations.
The story of Mestre Valentim (Master Valentine) sheds a great deal of light on the complexity of our stories in the New World. Born to an enslaved Afro-Brazilian mother and an unknown father, he trained and studied, mastering his craft before moving to Rio de Janeiro at the age of 22, just as the city was becoming the capital of Brazil. In this context, he honed his craft and apparently invented a noble lineage on his father's side along with a childhood and education abroad in Portugal. Which is more shocking? That he might have boldly reinvented himself upon arrival (“Fake it 'til you make it!”) or that the elites were so racist that they accepted it without question (“A Black man couldn't have such skill without some white blood and a European education!”) This version of his life story persists until today, for the same white supremacist reasons.