If you step foot on to the breezy beaches of Bahia or walk through a town square in Rio de Janeiro, nearly every restaurant will serve Brazil’s national drink, the caipirinha. The concoction is sweet, but its hidden history may leave behind a bitter taste.
Caipirinhas are made of a 400-year fermented sugarcane spirit called cachaça. Captors forced enslaved people on sugar plantations to drink a daily ration, believing it would both dull pain and give them energy during those treacherous days.
Enslaved people were boiling sugar cane in deep, hot cauldrons when they witnessed the bubbling froth that formed during fermentation and named it cachaça. But today, the spirit’s Black roots often go unnoticed.
Like many African descendant communities, Afro-Brazilian culture has shaped the country entirely, from music to food. This pattern is true across the diaspora, too. In the U.S., Black culture has always shaped America’s perceived “coolness” across global media.
In nearly every corner of the world, hidden Black history is there, and it’s up to us to educate ourselves and each other when we discover something new.
We’ve always been innovative people who should never forget that our contributions are immense and that the world doesn’t move without Black creativity.