In 2018 Erica Malunguinho made history by becoming the first transgender person to be elected to state congress in Brazil in over 180 years of the political house’s existence. Prior to becoming a congresswoman Erica created and launched the urban “quilombo” Aparelha Luzia in 2016. Since then it has become one of the most influential and powerful black cultural spaces in all of Brazil. Quilombos are Brazilian “maroon” societies and represent the first act of resistance to slavery.
Today, quilombos are typically rural black communities that maintain their African heritage, strongholds in the fight against racism, cultural erasure and environmental destruction. As an urban quilombo, Aparelha Luzia unites black people, shielding them from the everyday racism that they endure in the outside world, and elevates the longevity of black culture. Aparelha Luiza is a 10,000 square-foot warehouse on the edge of downtown São Paulo which features live music, art and intellectual get-togethers almost every day of the week.
One of her major motivators to run for congress was the assassination of Marielle Franco, an LGBTI+ Afro-Brazilian politician. Additionally, black women are acutely underrepresented in Brazil’s government. Regardless of the expansion of LGBT right since 1985 and the legalization of same-sex marriages in 2013, Brazil remains one of the deadliest countries for transgender people, with 179 reported murders in the 2017. This is the highest number in a decade.
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