Note from BW of Brazil: Before I start this post let me acknowledge the fact that I’m not a huge soccer fan. For me, sports and novelas are simply two tools of manipulations used by the Brazilian media to keep men and women preoccupied with things that aren’t really important to their lives. That in itself is a whole other topic. But today I will discuss something that I’ve noticed over the years even not paying much attention to futebol games, scores and highlights. I noted this fact yet again in the past fews weeks as more examples of Brazilian racism and racism in soccer stadiums once again became front page news with three recent incidents involving two players and a referee. What always catches my eye is that every time I see a black Brazilian soccer player in the news because of a racist incident that happened to him, it always seems that his wife or girlfriend is white. No, I haven’t written down all of the times that I seen this over the years, but suffice it say, if I were to create a new soccer league using only professional black players with white wives or girlfriends, I would have enough to probably compete with any established league.
Now as this is a topic that has been frequently covered on this blog, let me start off this post with the disclaimer: This blog doesn’t hate interracial couples and is not against interracial couples. The objectives here are to analyze and understand what drives the union of such couples beyond the typical conclusion of “love has no color”. As such, a better question would be: If “love has no color”, why is it that well known Afro-Brazilian soccer players rarely (if ever) choose black women as partners? Some of these men are often featured in the Brazilian media and a few of them will have international eyes focused on them with the coming World Cup. What message will it send to the world when all of these prominent black men stand in that spotlight but never with a black woman at their side?
Note: It’s safe to assume none of them have ever heard Muhammad Ali’s views on the topic
Muhammad Ali on interracial marriage
It’s not necessary to name all of the players I’ve seen over the years and most Brazilians already know the facts, even if they support the existence of such couples as proof of Brazil’s absence of racism (which is a fallacy in itself). One case that comes to mind was back in April of 2005 when the black player known as Grafite (Edinaldo Batista Libânio) was called “seu negro de merda” (or “black piece of shit”) by an opposing player, Leandro Desábato. The incident made headlines and was a hot topic as at the time racism in European soccer stadiums was also attracting international coverage. In the middle of all of the talk about the topic, I remember seeing Grafite appear as a guest on the late night talk show, Programa do Jô. While the player conversed with host Jô Soares, the camera showed a quick glimpe of Grafite’s girlfriend in the audience. At the moment I remember thinking, “Hmm, ain’t that something. Black man cries racism and then goes home to the ‘protection’ of his white girlfriend.” I acknowledge that one doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the other, but it was interesting.
The very next year, I remember reading on the now defunct website Mundo Negro that the black goalie Dida of 2006 seleção (national soccer team) World Cup team was the only black player whose wife was black. OK, so it wasn’t just me who noted such things. As time went on, I noted that it seemed that nearly all black Brazilian men of public acclaim were married to or dating white women. Musicians, racially conscious rappers, soccer stars, political figures, you name it. Was’sup with that? In the online social network Orkut it was not only predominantly black online communities who were discussing this; I also read this in mixed communities as well as predominantly white communities. The topic of affirmative action quotas was a hot topic back then and racial debates would get pretty heated. It was always only a matter of time when black-white debate would lead to a white person throwing out, “Well, if you negros have so much pride, why do all of your top soccer players only chase white women?”
It’s not necessarily so that dating/marrying a person of another race proves a lack of racial esteem/pride, but it is still a legitimate question to ask. Often times when this question is posed, the typical response that will be given is the the aforementioned, “love has no color”. But in reality, only a person who is lying or doesn’t want to acknowledge the truth of Brazil’s racial hierarchy knows that a white woman, specifically a blond (real or fake), is given more social value than a black woman. It is the white woman that earns more money. It is the white woman whose image is plastered all over the media. It is the white woman that is valued for marriage, as the old Brazilian saying goes: “White woman for marriage, mulata for fornication, negra for work.”
It is also true that often times when a black man walks into a room, particularly with a blond, whispers and chatter begin: “How did he get her?”, “He must be good in bed”, they’ll say. And it would be foolish to believe that black men don’t know this. Recently, Tinga, one of the two soccer players who faced racial harassment during a soccer match was invited to visit the Presidential Palace to meet with President Dilma Rouseff, along with the referee, Márcio Chagas da Silva, who was also taunted. On the TV program Esporte Espetacular, Tinga was quoted as saying:
“People look when I show up with my wife, no one knows my story. No one knows, and in a look you feel that people think, ‘look at the negão (big black guy) with a blond.’ This I feel all the time.”
Incredible! Are people supposed to feel sorry for him because people look at him when he’s with his wife? I would argue that in many cases, these men are with these women precisely because they ARE white and blond! So if it is in fact true that it is the “trophy wife” that he wants to “show off”, why complain about the attention it attracts when that is exactly why he is with her in the first place?
Another interesting case involving a black Brazilian soccer player and racism concerns the Real Madrid player Marcelo Vieira. In a Copa do Rei da Espanha match in Spain, fans of the rival team Atlético de Madrid called him a “macaco (monkey).” The racism didn’t stop with the slur against Marcelo. After having been insulted, Marcelo’s son Enzo met his father on the field and gave him a hug, to which fans screamed, “Marcelo isn’t your father.” What did these fans mean by this? It could have possibly been the fact that Marcelo’s son looks very white. But then, that it isn’t strange for black Brazilian soccer stars, is it?
This question of successful black men seemingly automatically choosing white women is actually a conversation I’ve had with a number of black Brazilian men and women. Plenty of black women have revealed to me that they’ve had black men directly tell them that they won’t date/marry a black woman for a variety of reasons (attitude, image, beauty and appearance of potential children).
In regards to the men, I’ve had a number of men who are married to white women tell me that often times it is the “Pelé Syndrome”. Although these men rarely speak specifically of themselves, retired soccer superstar Pelé is often pointed to as the first black Brazilian man to have a high level of success in Brazil’s overtly Europeanized media. In the last 50 years, “The King” has been featured as the pitchman for countless products in TV commercials and remains highly visible still today nearly 40 years after his last professional game. As part of his success, Pelé was ALWAYS seen with white women. He married two white women with whom he had children and also had a very public six year relationship with the up and coming Xuxa (Maria da Graça Meneghel), a blond who would go on to become Brazil’s most successful female media mogul in history. Today, Pelé’s significant other is a woman of Asian descent.
So how is one to interpret/explain this? I’ve heard a number of theories: “black Brazilians aren’t political”, say some. “Black Brazilians prefer the easy way out rather than fighting,” say others. Perhaps the most interesting theory I’ve heard is that these men are in the public spotlight, and as such, they always have to appear to have “the best”, and in Brazil, “the best” of women is considered the white woman. It’s also very interesting to note that within the heart of the Movimento Negro, the collective group of black rights organizations, interracial marriage is also very widespread. In fact, within this movement, some of the leadership fights just as hard in support of interracial unions as they do for the progress of the Afro-Brazilian population. It’s yet another twist to understanding a country in which the decimation of the black population by way of racial mixture was an actual policy.
Whatever the case may be, both black and white Brazilians alike have noted a very visible lack of racial pride and esteem at the heart of many of these unions. Below are two pieces on the subject, the first written by a black Brazilian man, the second by a white Brazilian man.
Topsonsky Bezerra on interracial relationships (via Facebook)
I am not against interracial marriage; I think that when true love exists, this business of color does not matter. But that’s not the issue at hand. The problem is that we have not only in Brazil but throughout Latin America a disgraceful racist mentality among the population. The racist white media has taught through the media that is black is ugly, disgraceful, submissive, and mostly bajulador (ass kisser) of whites. The image of blacks in Brazil that is passed on by the media is shameful. When a person is born and grows up in Brazil, he/she has a huge problem with this question of consciousness, here in Brazil everyone wants to be white. Whites want to be white as possible, similar to Europeans, morenos are cowards and try to pass for white helping to discriminate against blacks. A good part of black Brazilian men, for their part, do not marry black women.
The problem is that the black Brazilian man DOES NOT look for black women to marry, they look for white women. A white man only looks to marry a black woman if she is rich or famous. You don’t see white men looking for black women to marry; the black man also doesn’t look for black women to marry. The mestiços (mixed race men) also don’t seek black women to marry. It doesn’t matter if this black woman is rich or famous. So when a black woman gets a better job, she looks for a white man, mainly when the black Brazilian man achieves a better position in society, he completely ABANDONS the chance of looking for a black woman with whom to share his life. So were in this ridiculous little game, the cursed Rede Globo (TV network) teaches us that we should NOT use the terms NEGRO or PRETO (black), they speak of the black women as MULATA. Many don’t know the origin of the term mulato which comes from MULA (MULE), it’s a shameful thing, it’s sad. Look at the Brazilian seleção (national soccer team); you don’t see one black man married to a black woman, you only see black men married to white women.
That’s because all of these are black HOUSE NIGGAS (as Malcolm X said), they are merely PRETOS DE ALMA BRANCA (“blacks with white souls”, ie, “oreo cookies”) (Pelé, Cafu, Romário …Neymar. Neymar looks more like a circus clown when he paints his hair blonde, the guy is ridiculous …)… the black man in Brazil and Latin America is doomed to misfortune for not seeking knowledge on his own people, blacks are duped annually with this crap called Carnaval. Rebolar bunda (booty shaking) for many Brazilians means a lot, beating drums means a lot. One thing I know, the groups beating a lot of drums and the shaking of much booty allows the white racist to take account of their destinations and their lives, controlling the image of blacks, offending, taking away the self-esteem of black children. Brazil is a disgracefully burdened country that’s no use. The Brazilian people are a dominated people. Controlled and mentally enslaved. We need to get rid of the colonial currents in our minds. To finalize, these interracial marriages in Brazil don’t mean that there is no racism; there is indeed racism. There is a lot of racism in this ridiculous society. We need to free ourselves from this mentalidade brancalizada (whitened mentality).
Arouca, Tinga and the double racism of which black women are victims
By Paulo Nogueira
Days ago, we published an article on the DCM Site from the Blogueiras Negras (Black Women Bloggers) site. In it, the author cited a kind of racism little spoken of: that of black men who ascend in relation to black women. As the blogger noted, it’s as if the black women disappear, become invisible to black men who earn notoriety and money.
Brazil never had a Malcolm X, the American activist who dedicated his life to convincing black women that their hair is beautiful the way it is, and their lips, their nose, and their jet black skin. They wanted to be white, and felt inferior for not being white. Malcolm X invented Black Pride, and his greatest follower was Muhammad Ali with his epic scream: “I’m pretty…I’m beautiful.”
In an ignorant phase of his life, Malcolm straightened his hair and went after white women. Later, he never altered his natural hair, and didn’t parade blondes as if they were trophies. He awakened the vital importance of valuing people who felt, like Michael Jackson, less for not being white.
All this came to mind when I read about the deplorable cases of racism against two good black soccer players, Tinga and Arouca. Before proceeding any further, it is clear: it’s a horror and a debacle, and any fan who insults a player by calling him macaco (monkey) should leave the stadium and go to prison automatically.
That said, what do black players do to promote their race? I don’t ask that they be Malcolm X, but what do they do on a simpler and more modest scale?
The sad answer is: nothing.
To the contrary, they indirectly reinforce racism, becoming rich, they immediately imitate white behavior in the acquisition of a white woman. It’s a bleak message to black women, as the blogger whose text was published noted. To this commonplace of Brazilian footballers, I point to Mario Balotelli, the Italian striker who in his wealth and global fame opted for a black girlfriend. Balotelli is thus sending a message: women of our race are beautiful.
Clap, clap, clap. Standing ovation.
This is called social and racial consciousness. I cheer in order that Balotelli doesn’t later embark upon the same racist path of so many black players.
Brazil is a racist country.
And black women are doubly victims of racism in their romantic relationships: whites want them for sex and little else. And blacks when they become famous – another notorious example is Joaquim Barbosa – ignore them.
Such pitiful episodes of Arouca and Tinga throw light on the broad, general and unrestricted discrimination that they are victims of – black women, so pretty, so proud, so resistant and so widely, so cruelly discriminated against.