Black Women of Brazil

The site dedicated to Brazilian women of African descent

“I’m not ashamed to be who I am: black”: 14-year speaks of her transition from shame to pride of her natural hair


14-year Nathane discusses her transition to natural hair through the influence of the Meninas Black Power collective

14-year Nathane discusses her transition to natural hair through the influence of the Meninas Black Power collective

Note from BW of Brazil: In Brazil, the national mythology tells us that “we are all equal”. What the mythology doesn’t reveal is that in a country dominated by Eurocentric standards of beauty, those citizens (more than half of the population) whose physical features don’t allow them to hide their African ancestry are often ridiculed, insulted, made fun of and psychologically assaulted in ways that belie the mythology that everyone wants to believe to be true. One of the main focuses of these assaults is hair texture. For centuries Brazilian society has instilled in the population the idea of cabelo bom (“good hair”, meaning straight hair) and cabelo ruim (“bad hair” meaning kinky/curly hair) and the experiences of perhaps millions of people throughout the country can attest to an ongoing anti-African sentiment hidden behind the “we are all equal/racial democracy” facade.

For many years after the abolition of slavery in 1888, Afro-Brazilians didn’t know how to deal with this fact. Children and adults of visible African ancestry were often taught to ignore such humiliating experiences with racism, told that insults weren’t in fact because of physical features or were encouraged to have relationships with persons of a more European appearance in order that their children don’t have to go these assaults as well. Fortunately, over the past few decades, a number of Afro-Brazilian organizations have sprung up with the objective of not only fighting Brazil’s particularly potent brand of “racist non-racism” ideologies, but instilling pride in persons who have been or will be victimized by such discourse.

One such group that has had a great impact on the issue of self-esteem and black pride is the collective known as the Meninas Black Power, which can be loosely translated as the “Afro Girls”. Meninas Black Power have been featured here in a number of posts highlighting their activism and objectives and below we present yet another positive change that this group brought to the life of another black girl who was accustomed to asking herself why she was born with the physical features that she has. 

“I’m not ashamed to be who I am: a black”

Courtesy of Brasil 247

Encouraged by the work of the collective Meninas Black Power (Afro Girls), a 14-year old student decided to assume her cabelos crespos (kinky/curly hair) and says that she will not only not straighten it but will assume in its true form. “Today I can beat my chest and say that I am of a descendant of Africans and I’m very proud of that. (…) From now on, I will not be influenced by people: I will influence them,” says Nathane

Nathane always received nicknames at school because of her cabelo crespo and her black color. “I kept asking myself: ‘why was I born like this?’, ‘why don’t I have normal, straight or curly hair?’. Every time I looked in the mirror, I felt ugly, I thought people would laugh at me. And each time it happened, I got more frustrated.” Until one day, skipping class to straighten her hair, she learned about the Meninas Black Power (Afro Girls) that had visited the school where she studied, in the Tinguá neighborhood of Nova Iguaçu, in the Baixada Fluminense region of Rio de Janeiro. After learning more about the work of the group – which encourages “the consciousness of the value of this natural cabelo crespo and other naturally black characteristics”, “through educational activities directed to the infant, juvenile and black women public” – she saw that she needed not to be ashamed of assuming her natural characteristics.

Nathane and the pick given to her by her father

Nathane and the pick given to her by her father

“When I talk about leaving my hair natural, I don’t speak of only not straightening my hair, but to assume it my true form. I’m ready for this. And when people see my natural hair, they will know that I’m not ashamed to be who I am: black. Today I can beat my chest and say that I am a descendant of Africans descent and I’m very proud of that,” she says in an article published in the Meninas Black Power site. Currently, at age 14, Nathane cut all of her hair straightened by chemicals (a technique known as the big chop) and sports her cabelo crespo. “I had doubts, but decided that I will face my fears and that, from now on, I will not be influenced by people: I will influence them. (…) I want that the teacher Jaciana and the Meninas Black Power to know that they are very important in my life because they are helping me overcome my fears.”

Jaciana by Melquiades, for Meninas Black Power

Who is the menina black power?

Nathane: "Who is the Menina Black Power (Afro Girl)?"

Nathane: “Who is the Menina Black Power (Afro Girl)?”

Nathane is already an acquaintance of ours. She is 14 years old, studying in the school in which we operate in Tinguá has been gradually constructing her identity as a mulher preta e crespa (black woman with kinky/curly hair). She went through the transition. She braided, braided it again, did ​​the big chop … and braided her hair again immediately. But the desire to see her hair free spoke louder! A month after the big chop she took the braids out and sported a beautiful crespa. Her father gave her her first pick: he did this himself and recalled the times when he also wore cabelos Black Power (an afro) in the 1970s. We thought then that would be pretty cool that we follow this process closely. Before that, let’s learn a little more about it. We have two accounts written by her and an interview I did so that she could speak of issues that are interesting to us! Let’s see?

The complex

December 9, 2013

At school they always gave me nicknames because of my hair or my color. At first I didn’t care, but it started to be frequent. And I kept asking myself: ‘why was I born like this?’, ‘why don’t I have normal, straight or curly hair?’

Every time I looked in the mirror, I felt ugly, I thought people would laugh at me. And every time it happened I got more frustrated. I wanted to spend the day sleeping. When they called me to go out, I wouldn’t gp, because I thought I was not worthy of being seen by these people.

Today I’m over this, I’m learning that it doesn’t matter what they think of you, but rather the concept you have of yourself. But sometimes this complex comes back as a nightmare and I don’t even have the will to get out of bed.

The decision

February 15, 2014

When I started to think about not relaxing my hair, I was full of doubts. In my heart I felt it would be good, but my head said I would not like it. I was afraid of what people would say, but at the same time I wanted to know how my life would be if I did that.

I had doubts, but decided that I will face my fears and that from now on I will not be influenced by the people: I will influence them. I am very happy because the people I love are supporting me in this new phase of my life. One of the reasons that led me to make this decision was the people who believe in me and in my potential and I want these people to feel more proud of me and I will not disappoint them. I want the teacher Jaciana and the Meninas Black Power know that they are very important in my life because they are helping me overcome my fears. I thank God for putting you (all) in my life.

With you I am learning more about my ancestors, I am learning that being different isn’t bad. Now I think every time I straightened my hair, I rejected all that my ancestors suffered for me to be free, in order for me to have rights in society today.

When I talk about leaving the natural hair, do not speak not only straighten your hair, but to assume my true form. I’m ready for it. And when people see my natural hair, will know that I’m not ashamed to be who I am: black. Today I can beat his chest and say that I am of African descent and I’m very proud of that.

Interview

This interview is from August 1, 2014. It was done a little before the Big Chop.

MBP – How did you realize you needed to change the way they dealt with your hair?

Nathane – I always straightened it but I wasn’t satisfied. One day I skipped class to go to the salon to straighten my hair and knew through my friends that you (Meninas Black Power) had gone to the school. I was sorry not to have met you but I was curious to know what you were talking about.

MBP – What was your feeling when you saw so many mulheres crespas together?

N – I felt deceived. I always heard that my hair was ugly and I saw in you that it was a lie. I saw that I need not be ashamed of my hair.

MBP – How was your conversation with your parents about the transition and your willingness to wear cabelos crespos?

N – My mom took it well, but my father was very afraid because I’ve been very sad because of my hair. I had a “complex”, I didn’t want to leave the house and he was worried that this “complex” would return.

MBP – How are the comments that you’ve started to hear?

N – My friends support me, but the negative comments from other people who I don’t even know they still make me sad.

MBP – Do you think of relaxing your hair?

N – No. No way..

MBP – What challenges do you think you’ll face wearing your natural hair?

N – Criticism, prejudices, I have to face the people who think I have to have curls. I have cousins ​​who have curls, this is frowned upon, and people fail to understand that what I want is to leave my natural hair as it is. They think that I’ve gone into a transition to relax (it). I think that they prefer not to hear me. I don’t want to relax (it), nor get curls done in the salon, I want my natural hair as it is.

Source: Brasil 247

56 comments on ““I’m not ashamed to be who I am: black”: 14-year speaks of her transition from shame to pride of her natural hair

  1. bamabrasileira
    October 27, 2014

    As an American living in Brazil, who also has natural hair, I got a HUGE kick out of the fact that our hair in its natural state is called “Black Power” here 🙂 I am also so happy to see so many Afro descendants re-claiming their Blackness. I always question the census data that shows that a little over half the country is considered Black / Afro descendant, as I think the number may be 10-15% higher, based on my own observations. In any case, I am happy to see kinky and curly hair being normalized in the media and in life, as I am DONE with seeing these dark skinned women with those ugly, poorly executed blond highlights that makes their hair thin and crunchy 🙂

    • Tyler
      October 28, 2014

      I think the numbers are more or less correct. Brazil is a huge country, so to observe its racial distribution is difficult, you would be biased by wherever you are living. The race distribution in Brazil is not homogenous, with less black people towards the south and majority in Bahia.

      • bamabrasileira
        October 28, 2014

        When you travel all over the country and observe more Black and Brown people than “white” people, you are not dealing with regional bias. I think it is more likely that more Brazilians are “discovering” that they are, in fact, Black, or feeling less of a stigma in being associated with ex-slaves. And most of the “white” Brazilians I see here would not really be considered that in the USA. Your assumption that the numbers are “more or less correct” are just what you think 🙂

    • Tyler
      October 28, 2014

      Sure… My assumption is just what I have observed, just as you (” I think the number may be 10-15% higher” is also just what you think ;-))

      Being all over Brazil means what? Did you visit the German colonies in south Brazil? I did and hardly saw any black people there – even for Swedish standards. So, on average I could add numbers up and be well within 50%.

      Now, I agree what is white in Brazil is not the same as in the US, but doesn’t mean US is right. If you have an individual that is 10% black and 90% white does it really make sense to call this person black? I know in the US this could be the case, but I don’t think this is very logic.

      • bamabrasileira
        October 28, 2014

        Except what I see is probably more accurate, as white people have a tendancy not to notice race, since they are not often discriminated against based upon their race alone (well…unless they go to the Middle East these days). On the other hand, if you have lived and travelled the world as a Black or Brown person, your race isn’t an abstract concept that you get to argue about by saying “well, TECHNICALLY…” Just ask President Obama, who had a white mother that the world has chosen to ignore when they right articles about “America’s first BLACK president”..

        You must also consider that many Brazillians are just now truly owning their Blackness, as the stigma of being Black in Brazil is being lifted by the society somewhat. For me, being “all over Brazil” means visitng no less than 25 cities that ecompass The Northern, Middle, and Southern regions of Brazil, and observing very few “white” people dispersed around the cities. Sure, there are some small colonies/cities with predominantly white populations, but PLEASE don’t use those relatively small and new German colonies in the south as some sort of evidence that , because they exist, half the country is now white! But you are Swedish, so that explains a LOT! What you personally “think” and “feel” about race and the percentages of different races that live in all of us is nice for you as a white person to think about. However, outside of your abstract notions about race, is the reality for people who are clearly of African descent. If you not understand what “clearly of African descent” means, its probably because you are white 🙂

        I have commented before that I always have to laugh at least a little when I see “white” Brazilians leave South America to discover that they are often, in fact, “something other than white” in the eyes of the rest of the world

      • bamabrasileira
        October 28, 2014

        Except what I see is probably more accurate, as white people have a tendancy not to notice race, since they are not often discriminated against based upon their race alone (well…unless they go to the Middle East these days). On the other hand, if you have lived and travelled the world as a Black or Brown person, your race isn’t an abstract concept that you get to argue about by saying “well, TECHNICALLY…” Just ask President Obama, who had a white mother that the world has chosen to ignore when they rwrite articles about “America’s first BLACK president”..

        You must also consider that many Brazillians are just now truly owning their Blackness, as the stigma of being Black in Brazil is being lifted by the society somewhat. There are at least 10 ways that I have heard to describe a person’s “degree of Blackness”, while there is only 1 word to denote whiteness or Asian-ness. For me, being “all over Brazil” means visitng no less than 25 cities that ecompass The Northern, Middle, and Southern regions of Brazil, and observing very few “white” people dispersed around the cities, as they relate to Black and Brown people. Sure, there are some small colonies/cities with predominantly white populations, but PLEASE don’t use those relatively small and new German/Polish/Dutch colonies in the south as some sort of evidence that , because they exist, half the country is now HALF white! But you are Swedish, so that explains a LOT! What you personally “think” and “feel” about race and the percentages of different races that live in all of us is nice for you as a white person to think about. However, outside of your abstract notions about race, is the reality for people who are clearly of African descent. If you not understand what “clearly of African descent” means, its probably because you are white 🙂

        I have commented before that I always have to laugh at least a little when I see “white” Brazilians leave South America to discover that they are often, in fact, “something other than white” in the eyes of the rest of the world

    • Tyler
      October 28, 2014

      I do like your answer… 🙂

      But….

      Le me say… I lived in Sweden, for most of my life. I am Swedish only on paper, I do not look Swedish. I do look white, no doubt, but definitely not Swedish.

      In any case, you are using American standards to see things… whatever the rest of the world and Obama and etc believe mixed people are is irrelevant to the question of what a mixed person is. According to your definition anyone with the potential of being discriminated against – irrespective of what family pedigree – is black! (““America’s first BLACK president” articles are written by people with American thinking, just as you.. wouldn’t you agree?)

      About the South of Brazil, sorry, I was there a lot and I’m not talking about any small colonies. I’m talking about large cities with predominately white people (e.g. Santa Catarina).

      I find disturbing that mixed raced people need to choose sides – when in reality, they are neither white nor black. Unless of course, the definition is any race that can be discriminated against.. then Indians, Mexicans, etc are all black, right?

      • bamabrasileira
        October 28, 2014

        LOL! Oh, I must have been dreaming when I read all those articles and saw all those news stories from Europe, the Middle East, Asia, South America, and Africa describing President Obama as America’s first BLACK president! I was living in Ireland when he was elected and, since I am Black, was ALWAYS talking to Europeans and Asians about how BLACK Obama is!

        ! I do not even know where to begin with your white view of life! I have found that white people often have problems understanding race relations because they want to make logical arguments about it based upon what they think and feel is logical or the “right” way to be, rather than listen to the lived experiences of non-whites.

        It is a pandora’s box, and, unfortunately, the rest of the world does not necessarily hold your liberal views. So now, I will simply accept that your Brazilian experience is true for you! ::-)

        Also, in Northeastern Brazil, people of a native origin are also called “black” coloquially, but are more formally called “Indigenous” while Black and mixed people are called “Afro-descendants”. In North America, anyone from Central America,South America, or Spain is considered “Hispanic” – neither white or black. We physically describe Native Americans as “Red”, and Asians as “yellow”.

        Sweden is basically full of white people with a relatively small percentage of non-whites (though that number is growing along with the racism, now that you have a more relaxed policy towards immigrants), so I can see how all of it is confusing for you 🙂

    • Brazilian
      October 30, 2014

      The numbers are correct and even if not, the error would not be in the size of the black population (so your 10% increase is incorrect), but in the size of the mixed race population, since some people of mixed ethnicity will declare themselves as white (the same also occurs with mixed race people declaring themselves as black, but that is more rare).

      Yes, we do accept Obama is black, but that is mostly because he is a foreigner who declares himself this way- most people in Brazil would NOT identify a common Brazilian person with Obama’s looks as black – for us this would be a “mulatto”.

      Also, we have different words to degrees of blackness as much as for degree of whiteness – what you fail to understand is that a mixed race person has degrees of both and the words reflect as much one as the other. You, as an American, feel these are reflecting degrees of blackness because that is how YOU see the world.

      ” I have to laugh at least a little when I see “white” Brazilians leave South America to discover that they are often, in fact, “something other than white” in the eyes of the rest of the world.” And what they discover is the same kind of confusion you have… I have traveled a lot to Europe and can guarantee you that Europeans are very confused about what a mixed race Brazilian person is. Take myself for example. My father is a mixed race person – he looks more or less like Colin Powell with a bit more European features. My mother is a south Brazilian with German parents, so myself I look more more white than black, but my hair is still more African-like, just like my father’s. What do Europeans think I am? I have been identified as Spanish, French, Moroccan, Palestine, Mexican… you name it! So, what we discover when we travel abroad is nothing but deep confusion about what a mixed race person is. This is mainly due to the same mistake as you – foreigners want to simplify and see everything as black or white. That is nice for you, who is black, but that is not my experience. I will not pretend to know what is to be black, but don’t pretend to know you understand how a mixed person experience life as well – you don’t.

      Finally, no, we not hate the US in Brazil, quite the contrary and you are totally correct about this point. But don’t forget – in Brazil, as an American – you are essentially a white person – you are black only until you open your mouth.

      • bamabrasileira
        October 30, 2014

        All this can be cleared by saying “Afro-descendant” in Brazil = “Black/Mixed (which is really just code for Black” in other places). This is the language and concepts I am working with. So, uh, yeah, I suspect my math is correct.:-) Also, you sound suspiciously like one of the many Brazilians who simply does not want to be associated with being Black. We are not confused about what Black/Afrodescendant is. It seems that you are. Also, you do not have nearly as many words to describe “degrees of whiteness” as you do to describe “degrees of Blackness”, because being white is not stigmatized in Brazil, and people do not unconsciously or unconsciously feel the need to distance themselves from their Blackness while playing up their whiteness.

        I would say that many – not all – Brazilians are confused about what race is, because you are only now finding the courage to discuss it openly and honestly.. And I must note that “Mexican, Spanish,” etc. are nationalities – not races. All those people are suggesting is that the know you are not white 🙂 Luckily, there are several blogs by Brazilian people who are not at all confused about the fact that there is racism in Brazil, that the darker you are, the “blacker” you are, and who do not need to reclassify themselves as “something other than Black/Afrodescendant”. If we are going to use your nomenclature, then I am a “mixed” person who has the same skin tone as Obama. And not surprisingly, most of the people I encounter in Brazil think I am from Bahia…because it is clear to them that I am an “Afrodescendente”. They also feel that it is not a systemically racist attitude to refer to someone they do not know as “morena”, because that is the “polite” way to say “hey Black girl…!”

        ” But don’t forget – in Brazil, as an American – you are essentially a white person – you are black only until you open your mouth.” The fact that you have said this lets me know that you have a LOT to learn about what systemic racism is, and how it works. A lot of your “moreno” footballers think this way to, until they are reminded that they are Black as HELL as when someone calls them a monkey.

      • bamabrasileira
        October 30, 2014

        Correction: I meant to say that many Brazilians, consciously or unconsciously, feel the need to acknowledge their whiteness/European heritage while denying their African heritage, hence the “degrees of Blackness” language. Black people all over the world struggle with this (in the USA a “pardo” would just be “a light-skinned BLACK person”, and a “mullato” would be a mixed BLACK person”..and, not surprisingly, the lighter the skin, the better Black you are).

  2. gatasnegrasbrasileiras
    October 28, 2014

    @Tyler

    I know your comment was directed at “Bamba” and I will not make a long response on your comment because it’s a topic that’s already been responded to in a number of posts on this blog…But, to get right to the point:

    1) This blog doesn’t endorse the “North American one-drop rule”.
    2) Ideals of race defended here are those defended by Brazil’s own black movement activists based on studies by Brazilian social scientists.
    3) A number of Brazilians on this blog came to make a shift in their identity from parda/morena/mulata/branca after discovering how racism affected their lives.
    4) Race, in fact, IS based on racism. It is a system of privileges and penalties based on the concept European and non-European ancestry/appearance.
    5) I would never say that Indians and Mexicans are black in general. But your mistake in this phrase is assuming there is only one type of Mexican. There are Mexicans of a more indigenous appearance, those who look European and there are in fact Afro-Mexicans, who could in fact be be considered black. If we are speaking in terms of indigenous-looking Mexicans, if/when they experience racism it is due to their indigenous ancestry/appearance, and if they’re in the US, for example, this discrimination is also based on culture, language ad status as “other”.

    As a last point, there are a number of posts on this site that clearly state that most Brazilians of African ancestry don’t in fact identify themselves as “negros”, but when they face discrimination based on race it is not based on their European ancestry, which is this blog’s stance on this issue.

    • HATE
      October 29, 2014

      “4) Race, in fact, IS based on racism. It is a system of privileges and penalties based on the concept European and non-European ancestry/appearance.”

      Excellent!!!

  3. Tyler
    October 28, 2014

    “October 28, 2014

    LOL! Oh, I must have been dreaming when I read all those articles and saw all those news stories from Europe, the Middle East, Asia, South America, and Africa describing President Obama as America’s first BLACK president! I was living in Ireland when he was elected and, since I am Black, 2was ALWAYS talking to Europeans and Asians about how BLACK Obama is!”

    Well, you should have checked Brazil… you know, I know it must be hard for you, but life does not stop in the US…

    “Sweden is basically full of white people with a relatively small percentage of non-whites (though that number is growing along with the racism, now that you have a more relaxed policy towards immigrants), so I can see how all of it is confusing for you :-)”

    Let’s leave Sweden out of it, it has nothing to do with the discussion.

    • bamabrasileira
      October 29, 2014

      @Tyler
      “Well, you should have checked Brazil… you know, I know it must be hard for you, but life does not stop in the US…”

      Well, MOST of the Brazilians that I met in Ireland and Brazil are clear that Obama is an “Afro-descendant” (or what Americans refer to as “Black”). I was also demonstrating that Sweden is probably in the minority in it’s inability to racially classify people…probably cuz most of you are the same color, and have been for a long time, and your government takes half your salary so that no one ever has to experience poverty, or having “less than” others, in addition to having a fairly small population that inhabits a country the size of a state. I would say that previous experience with diverse populations matters greatly in your ability to understand things that are not in your range of personal experience….

      “Let’s leave Sweden out of it, it has nothing to do with the discussion.”

      I disagree. I think it is extremely important to try to understand why you think that racial profiling happens ONLY in America, or that the idea of race is uniquely American. I was assuming that it had something to do with the fact that you are from a overwhelmingly white society where people are born knowing that their money is not “their” money, and where you are not allowed to think that you are better than others (and if you disagree, you put yourself on a plane and move to another part of Europe or…wait for it…America!) 🙂 I kid, I kid! I am just urging you that the majority of the world does not operate like Sweden.

      @gatas
      Thanks for the clarification. It is quite helpful for you to help us gringos to understand the experience of race and racism in Brazil from the prospective of a native!

  4. Tyler
    October 29, 2014

    And one more thing ..

    “October 28, 2014

    LOL! Oh, I must have been dreaming when I read all those articles and saw all those news stories from Europe, the Middle East, Asia, South America, and Africa describing President Obama as America’s first BLACK president”

    No, you were just being American.

    • bamabrasileira
      October 29, 2014

      Oh honey, you’re so adorable 🙂

      • Tyler
        October 29, 2014

        and so are you … ; -)

  5. Tyler
    October 29, 2014

    “I think it is extremely important to try to understand why you think that racial profiling happens ONLY in America, or that the idea of race is uniquely American. I was assuming that it had something to do with the fact that you are from a overwhelmingly white society where people are born knowing that their money is not “their” money, and where you are not allowed to think that you are better than others (and if you disagree, you put yourself on a plane and move to another part of Europe or…wait for it…America!) 🙂 I kid, I kid! I am just urging you that the majority of the world does not operate like Sweden.”

    I do not think racial profiling happens only in America, please…

    But you, Americans have a different idea for race than Brazilians have – I’m sorry . Brazilian society HATES your guts – black or white – and you know it – right?

    • bamabrasileira
      October 29, 2014

      “But you, Americans have a different idea for race than Brazilians have – I’m sorry . Brazilian society HATES your guts – black or white – and you know it – right?”

      Yes, they hate us SO much that that they get on planes every year and fly to America and spend $4 billion (second ONLY to Japanese tourists), they go to Disneyland so much that Disneyland now has hospitatlity that is geared specifically for the Brazilians that go there every year, 75% of the movies available in theatres are American movies, they pay money to have access to a high volume of American programming on their tvs every night (as opposed to – say – British, Canadian, or Australian programming), they want to wear American clothing brands more than any other (even though there are equally inexpensive European clothing lines they could choose), they overwhelmingly choose to learn “American” English (as opposed to British, Austrailian, Irish, Scottish, Indian, or African English), I earn a crapload of money every month because people here want an American English teacher, the majority of the private schools want exchange programs with American schools, their governmentally funded Science Without Borders Programs has requested that AT LEAST half of the students participating in the program go to America (and the rest can go whereever the hell they want to go), natural hair on Black women here is called “Black Power” (as opposed to a name in another language that could denote the same thing), I hear American music on the radio all day every day (as opposed to lots of music from any place other than Brazil)…It they hate us, they sure have a funny way of showing it LOL!

      I could go on…but I won’t. It is popular to have an “anti-American” sentiment in the world when you are talking to people who are not American. However, actions speak much louder than words 🙂 America hatred is very much a class issue here. Basically, if you identify yourself as “poor” in some way, you were probably taught that you are poor because of something America did (as opposed to your own government). But if you have money here, you probably own a house in Miami. If you don’t have a house in Miami, you will settle for going to America several times a decade. And if you want to ride a bike around the city, fly cheaply to different countries, ride a train, or walk on sidewalks, you will go hang out in Europe (France, London, Spain, Portugal, and occassionally, Ireland or Czech Republic).

      • Tyler
        October 29, 2014

        hahahahaha 😀

        OK. whatever… 😀

      • Tyler
        October 29, 2014

        You know what you are saying is ridiculous – but in the name of whatever fuck that.

      • HATE
        October 29, 2014

        WE hate America HERE, that is the truth.

  6. Tyler
    October 29, 2014

    of course you know..

    • HATE
      October 29, 2014

      but if America loves you so much, you have nothing to fear, that means you are WHITE.. which is what you wanted all along, right?

  7. HATE
    October 29, 2014

    Lesson to be learned- African American = foreigner = enemy

    • bamabrasileira
      October 29, 2014

      Let me guess…you voted for Dilma and are a member of the PT party 🙂

    • bamabrasileira
      October 29, 2014

      Let me guess…you voted for Dilma and are a member of the PT party 🙂 Just joking! My only point is that it is abundantly clear that everyone in doesn’t hate America and Americans 🙂

  8. HATE
    October 29, 2014

    you guessed wrong, we hate Americans, please die.

    • bamabrasileira
      October 29, 2014

      You mad bro? 😀

      • HATE
        October 29, 2014

        no, please die.

    • Tyler
      October 29, 2014

      You are not making our cause better, shut the fuck up.

  9. Mark Jacobs
    October 29, 2014

    Reblogged this on mark jacobs lives!.

  10. Mark Jacobs
    October 29, 2014

    Black Power 🙂

  11. Brazilian
    October 30, 2014

    “All this can be cleared by saying “Afro-descendant” …”

    A mixed raced person is not only Afriod-escendent so, if you want to simplify as such, you need to say African-European descendent.

    “Also, you sound suspiciously like one of the many Brazilians who simply does not want to be associated with being Black.”

    If I wanted to to bury my African past I wouldn’t have gone to the trouble of finding photos and all I could about of all my ancestors, BOTH Black and White. What doesn’t get into your little American head is that someone might actually want to know about two heritages and not become someone who needs to ignore the white mother (like yo said yourself Obama did in your other post) or the black father to have an identity. Yes, many Brazilians with my racial-type make sure everything that is black is erased, which is extremely racist, but no more racist than ignoring the white parent because that is convenient. My two children are blond with green eyes and I make sure they know they have both people who were slaves and people who fought for Nazi Germany. Both are part of their history.

    “And I must note that “Mexican, Spanish,” etc. are nationalities – not races. All those people are suggesting is that the know you are not white”

    Yes sweetheart, but when people say this kind of things they actually have a racial opinion in mind, not a nationality. And not all Europeans can really tell I am not white, some are actually SURE I am and get surprised when I go to the trouble to clarify (which again, if I really wanted not to be associated with Blacks I would simply not do it). Americans of course need sometimes to ask if I’m black or white, since it seems too complicated to think both answers are wrong.

    “The fact that you have said this lets me know that you have a LOT to learn about what systemic racism is, and how it works. ”

    And the fact you didn’t get what I said makes me even more sure you still understand jack shit about Brazil. But hey, don’t believe me, I googled it for you (because I am a nice guy who wants to help confused American as yourself about my country) and find a countrymen of yours who can tell you all about it:

    http://newsone.com/3025677/afro-brazilian-racism/

    “We went to a bar, it was an upscale sports bar, and the guy at the door just was looking at us really crazy originally,” says Morris. “He said something in Portuguese to us, but then he said something in English, and we responded that we were here to watch the game. There were three bouncers…and they all had a real cold face, but when he turned and said, ‘American,’ they all were just like, ‘Oh, OK, you can come in.’ That kind of turned it on to us that if we were Brazilian guys, we probably weren’t getting in here.”

    “Also, you do not have nearly as many words to describe “degrees of whiteness” as you do to describe “degrees of Blackness”

    That is my mistake. I shouldn’t have assumed you could speak Portuguese, I realize you either speak very little or just don’t get it (don’t beat yourself up, you wouldn’t be the first). A mulatto is not someone who is denying his African past is someone is acknowledging having both African and European ancestry. A light-skinned black on the other hand seems to me someone who is actually trying to deny having European ancestry.

    • bamabrasileira
      October 31, 2014

      And what you must understand is that the issue of race in Brazil is not all about you and your personal experience. It is about acknowledging how these issue absolutely exist here and how, at the end of the day – regardless of if they are “pardo”, “mulatto”, “moreno” etc., esentially, they are still Black – even in Brazil, whether you are willing to acknowledge this or not. And I have lived in Europe as well, and noticed that the vast majority of Brazilians marrying Europeans were not “white” Brazilians – they were generally along the spectrum of “afrodescendente”. And it is EXTREMELY telling that the word “eurodescendente” is not a common part of the nomenclature generally used to discuss race in Brazil.

      And while you are the queen of parents who make sure your kids come from both Nazi’s AND slaves, PLEASE do not pretend that THE MAJORITY of mixed raced people in your country do not play up the “Nazi” part of the family, while playing down the “Slave” part, if the children can pass for completely European. And please do not behave as though children born to dark skinned people who are lighter skinned do not have a tendency to be valued more by their families and the society in general – even if they are technically mixed.

      I am crystal clear on Black denialism and racism in Brazil. It is, more often, Brazilians who are unclear that racism goes further and deeper than footballers being called monkey while they are playing a game, or a shop owner yelling an overtly racist thing to a dark-skinned customer. I have even seen Brazilians deny the overt racism hurled at them when they go to Europe – particularly to Portugal, spain, and Italy where it is assumed that ALL Brazilian women are prostitutes, and ALL Brazilian men are drug dealers – because it has been so deeply ingrained in them that Europe – all of it, including the shitty countries – is somehow “better” than Brazil.

      Also, African Americans do not deny the overt miscegenation that has clearly taken place in that country. It is white Americans who devised the coloring scheme of America, and who deny their African ancestry. Also, as I said before about the comments of Europeans to you, it is clear that the majority of them see you as someone most likely from a “fixed mulatto” (which is just code for “a race that had Black people in it somewhere along the line) race (which can be observed in Spain, Portugal, Italy, Romania, and Greece). But that’s beside the point.

      It is also clear to me that many darker skinned / clearly Afro-Brazilian women are going to Europe to marry because they are not as “Black” over there. I wonder if you are one of them 🙂 In Ireland, I rarely saw upperclass, white Brazilian women getting married to those guys. It was usually those “in the middle” sistas. This is not a good or bad thing – it’s just me calling a spade a spade.

  12. gatasnegrasbrasileiras
    October 30, 2014

    You know, I am thoroughly enjoying this debate/discussion! My opinion is perhaps somewhere in the middle of the opinions expressed by “bamabrasileira” and “Brazilian”. I can see both sides here but I would like to clarify a few things.

    @Brazilian: You should not necessarily come to the conclusion that Americans “don’t get it on race”. There are points of agreement on both sides. You should also not assume that simply because Brazilians are accustomed to using 130 terms to express color means it is a completely different system of race. Antonio Guimaraes, a professor at USP, for example, studied these 130 terms used by Brazilians on the 1976 census and basically narrowed all of those terms down to six of the most popular terms and variations accounting for something like 90% of all of the terms. For example, “moreno claro”, “moreno escuro”, etc. are simply variations of the term “moreno”.

    Another thing is, like you pointed out, many “pardos” define themselves as “brancos” and many “pretos” define themselves as “pardos”, so how many “brancos” really exist in Brazil? I ask because, as I asked in an article, can Brazil simply see itself as different from other nations and then experience how race in seen in the world of whites and still continue to live in a bubble? As numerous examples of racism on the futebol pitch have shown, when non-Brazilians (and Brazilians for that matter) refer to Brazilian “mulatos” and “pardos” as “macacos” it is directly linked to their African ancestry as “bama” mentioned. If the mixture with African descendant people didn’t exist, these people would be white.

    On your other points:

    “Yes, we do accept Obama is black, but that is mostly because he is a foreigner who declares himself this way – most people in Brazil would NOT identify a common Brazilian person with Obama’s looks as black – for us this would be a “mulatto”.”

    OK, that’s fair to say. But at the same time, I have documented a number of Brazilian social scientists who have studied race for years and they come to the same conclusion: In Brazil, the mulato is negro. Now, whether or not he accepts this identity is another story altogether. We include these articles on this blog I like to acknowledge both. Most pardos/mulatos don’t identify as negros, but it doesn’t mean they won’t be treated this way. As such, this is why all of the social statistics show that “pretos” and “pardos” are identical because they are generally treated the same when racism happens.

    But also, if you haven’t noticed, there are a number of light-skinned “pardas/mulatas” who come to define themselves as “negras” after spending a long time learning how the matrix of race is purposely made confusing. When they come to see that the subtle discriminatory comments that Brazilians make about their color, hair, facial features, etc. signify that they are not seen as “branca”, they often shift into “negras”.

    “Also, we have different words to degrees of blackness as much as for degree of whiteness – what you fail to understand is that a mixed race person has degrees of both and the words reflect as much one as the other. You, as an American, feel these are reflecting degrees of blackness because that is how YOU see the world.”

    Again, I agree but disagree, It depends on who you talk to. I know a number of black Brazilians who see most pardos as negros and this is based on their experiences in Brazil which has nothing to do with the US. The Frente Negra Brasileira and the Movimento Negro both defined their ideologies of including the “pardo” as “negro” based on a reality that is in fact Brazilian. Simply because most Brazilians acknowledge these degrees of blackness and whiteness doesn’t negate the fact that there are those who DO in fact see the country as essentially divided into negro and branco. We can no longer diminish the opinions of the those who may have the minority opinion. A minority opinion doesn’t make someone wrong. It simply means they have the minority opinion.

    “This is mainly due to the same mistake as you – foreigners want to simplify and see everything as black or white. That is nice for you, who is black, but that is not my experience. I will not pretend to know what is to be black, but don’t pretend to know you understand how a mixed person experience life as well – you don’t.”

    What I see is that there are many Brazilians who are hard to define. But this difficulty is not as difficult as one might imagine. For me, those persons, whether light or dark-skinned, who have clearly African influences are “negros”; those who really are difficult to define are the true mestiços; but again, this is not to say they see themselves as such.

    “But don’t forget – in Brazil, as an American – you are essentially a white person – you are black only until you open your mouth”

    I completely disagree. In fact, I know the guy who wrote the article you cited. Let’s analyze what he wrote….

    News One article: “There were three bouncers…and they all had a real cold face, but when he turned and said, ‘American,’ they all were just like, ‘Oh, OK, you can come in.’ That kind of turned it on to us that if we were Brazilian guys, we probably weren’t getting in here.”

    You will note that until they spoke, they were ignored because they were seen as simply negros brasileiros. It was only when he opened his mouth that he received a “pass” as an American. I know a number of black Americans who can also confirm this. Negro is treated as negro until something “special” is discovered. I have an amiga from Rio who experienced the same treatment in Georgia in the US. As a black Brazilian, her professors and college friends treated her as “better” or not like “those blacks”, in other words, the African-Americans.

    Anyway, a good debate…

    • bamabrasileira
      October 30, 2014

      @Gatas – thank you, as always, for your insight into this – admittedly – complex issue. It is exactly why this blog is so necessary. I think that many non-American Black people tend to oversimplify the issue of race in America, and I can see that it is a perplexing and often painful process for Black/Afrodescendant Brazilians to fully acknowledge and ACCEPT their Black heritage – beyond the “see, here is a picture of your dark-skinned grandmother” diatribe. I appreciate your contribution to the discussion.

    • mandumeyandemufayo
      November 24, 2014

      As I’ve mentioned earlier, I don’t view racially mixed people as African (I really do not like the term “black”, because it doesn’t really denote ancestry/heritage. “black” is an adjective, it doesn’t describe who we are or where we came from) for obvious reasons. That being said, I’m aware of the fact that African peoples do not have the socio-economic power to enforce this in a proper manner as of yet (hence why racially mixed (like Dani Alves & Neymar etc) people still tend to be treated just the same as Africans) . The only reason why mixed-people are subject to the same racism as Africans is because whites want to keep their wealth & privileges in the possession of whites. Racism is an ECONOMIC system, designed to keep the power, wealth & influence in the hands of a select ethnic group, in this case, it remains with the people who call themselves white. Regarding the whole Obama thing, here in Norway, he was referred to as “the first black president of USA”, even though everybody KNEW his mother was white. Most people with visible African ancestry are referred to as being “black” in Europe. It’s not because they (whites) are stupid in the sense that they’re oblivious to the multi-ethnic composition of a person, but because they (as a group) are interested in keeping their generational wealth.. We must understand that ECONOMICS is the only way they can ENFORCE their bigoted beliefs & actions.

      But all things considered, I think it’s imperative that those who are clearly African (i.every little degree of outside admixture) exclude those who are mixed from the usage of the term “black/african”. There can never be any unity if people keep believing in this “black people come in all shades & hair-textures” doctrine.

      • gatasnegrasbrasileiras
        November 24, 2014

        This is a discussion that will continue. The world of anthropology is spreading the idea that “race doesn’t exist” but yet there are groups who DO want to be seen as being “different” from others and DNA also show differences.

        There are those who believe that light-skinned or mixed people should not be considered black as well as those who see blackness in terms of visible physical features denoting African ancestry and those who believe only darker-skinned black folks should be considered black.

        There are those who reject the term “black” and prefer African to define ALL people of African descent. Both terms are necessary because 1) there ARE in fact white people who live in Africa. 2) Persons who face discrimination experience this due to their African ancestry.

        As you yourself wrote, white people in Norway and Europe see any person of African ancestry as black. And as it is the European system that maintains this system, it represents the ideology of “race” itself based on privileges and penalties.

        Personally, this blog adheres to how concepts of blackness have been theorized in Brazil according to social scientists and persons of a range of skin colors and hair textures who identify as black. There are articles on this blog that clearly say our defining persons as black doesn’t necessarily mean that the persons in question identify themselves as such. Politically, it doesn’t work as history shows us that “mulatos” are often worst enemies of black populations than whites.

        Thanks for your comment!

  13. Brazilian
    October 31, 2014

    “And what you must understand is that the issue of race in Brazil is not all about you and your personal experience. It is about acknowledging how these issue absolutely exist here and how, at the end of the day – regardless of if they are “pardo”, “mulatto”, “moreno” etc., esentially, they are still Black – even in Brazil, whether you are willing to acknowledge this or not.”

    It is not based on my experience, but sure as hell is also not based on yours. To also answer to what “gatas” was saying, I don’t think Brazil needs to be in a bubble.. but I disagree with the notion that someone’s race is defined by how one is treated or the amount of discrimination one suffers. Even if “pretos” and “pardos” are treated identically I still think they are not identical groups. We might have too many terms to define degrees or whiteness and blackness in pardos, but doesn’t change the fact they are pardos, not “negros”. I understand people who are shifting from seeing themselves as pardos to negros, based on their life experience, that makes total sense, but in doing this we are also giving free pass for white-looking people with African ancestry to deny their African roots, since, if you are treated as white, than you are white. I say this because by far and large I am seen and treated as white in Brazil and I never denied my African roots because of it.

    Also, contrary to what you believe, I fully accept my African heritage, but I also don’t deny my European one. Showing photos of ancestors to my children gives a true human face to real people that make part of their history. As I said, my children look white (to the point some people in Brazil often think they are foreigners….), so for me it is really important they understand they are not as white as they look. Not too many generations ago some of their great great parents were slaves. So, I had to dig in really hard into my family history to find ONE photo of an ancestor who I could see was really black and I was very happy one I found it. How is this denying African ancestry, compared to many that find it simply convenient not to talk about it?

    “PLEASE do not pretend that THE MAJORITY of mixed raced people in your country do not play up the “Nazi” part of the family, while playing down the “Slave” part, if the children can pass for completely European. And please do not behave as though children born to dark skinned people who are lighter skinned do not have a tendency to be valued more by their families and the society in general – even if they are technically mixed”

    I don’t deny any of this, it does happen for sure. It is shameful that is so, so I try to give a different example to my children.

    “It is also clear to me that many darker skinned / clearly Afro-Brazilian women are going to Europe to marry because they are not as “Black” over there. I wonder if you are one of them”

    Haha…! sorry to disappoint you, but I am a guy… I am one of the “white” Brazilians you seem to dislike (I am not even sure you would actually guess I have African ancestry, if you saw me, – I was in the US once and nobody even suspected). My wife is Norwegian and even people on her family couldn’t tell at first (they of course knew I was not Norwegian…) .

    “African Americans do not deny the overt miscegenation that has clearly taken place in that country. It is white Americans who devised the coloring scheme of America, and who deny their African ancestry.”

    Well, that is not what African Americans pass to the rest of the world. And all you said in this discussion reinforced this idea severely. It seems to me African Americans indeed deny their European roots – perhaps not as much as white Americans deny their black ancestry, I can’t tell, but the denial on both sides is very latent. I understand however, that the Black denial is for a very different reason, it seems to be required by the rest of the Black community in order to be accepted as a full member – so it comes to little surprise that Obama needs to do the “fuck my white mother”.

    • bamabrasileira
      October 31, 2014

      “It is not based on my experience, but sure as hell is also not based on yours”

      Then whose experience is it based on?

      “but in doing this we are also giving free pass for white-looking people with African ancestry to deny their African roots”

      Personally knowing your roots and systemic racism are 2 different things. You can “know your roots! till the cows come home – it still will not shield you from racism if your skin is too dark, just as not fully understanding racism will not sheild you from it. It is one of the things that a lot of people here do not seem to fully understand.

      “. So, I had to dig in really hard into my family history to find ONE photo of an ancestor who I could see was really black and I was very happy one I found it”

      Out of curiosity, did you have to dig as hard to find pictures of your white ancestors? Be honest 🙂 Was it even important for them to see their Europrean ancestors, since they are white and will be raised around a bunch of Norweigan white people?

      “Haha…! sorry to disappoint you, but I am a guy… I am one of the “white” Brazilians you seem to dislike ”

      I do not dislike all white Brazilians/Americans/Europeans equally – just the clueless ones. If you are not a clueless one, then there is no reason for me to dislike you.

      “My wife is Norwegian”

      Yes, several of my male students have described white people as “gods” – particularly if they have blond hair and blue, green, are grey eyes. I also know that Europeans who are surrounded by white people all day have an equal fetish for those who do not have those traits.

      “I am not even sure you would actually guess I have African ancestry, if you saw me”

      If you live in Brazil or I know that you are from Brazil, I could pretty much guess that you have African ancestry (hence my previous assertion that a higher percentage of Brazilians are “Afro descendente” or what I call “Black”).

      “Well, that is not what African Americans pass to the rest of the world. And all you said in this discussion reinforced this idea severely. It seems to me African Americans indeed deny their European roots ”

      We do not deny our roots. Rather, we amplify and take pride in our Blackness – but not all of us. There are a lot of discussions happening amongst African Americans about our identity. There are some, like Raven Symone and Pharrell, who have stated that they are the “New Black”, or Black people who are, essentially, trying to move away from the social burden of Blackness and what it “means”. Also, we have the same colorism among Blacks and “good hair vs bad hair” etc. that you have in Brazil, all of which have their roots in the caste sytem that exosted during slavery in both countries.

      Brazilians transmit the image of hypersexuality and all around debauchery to the rest of the world, but we all know that this is not true too. Should I simply tell you that if you don’t want that misconception as a nation, then you need to try harder, or is it my responsibility to look harder? Are you a Brazilian man who is “proud” to be Brazilian as long as he does not live here? Or are you one of the ones trying to distance himself as far as possible from the country, du to the “complexo de vira lata”? These are all rhetorical questions, by the way.

      There is an unconscious tendancy for SOME Brazilians to see White America as the “real” America, and for them to consider African Americans as some strange group of people who refuse to assimilate, as if most of us are immigrants who chose to go there. And if you do not have an underlying knowledge of American history (even deeper than the shit you read one day about the Klu Klux Klan and the Civil Rights Movement) then you will view Black Americans as a bunch of people who are separating themselves from everyone else (as opposed to the systemic and lawful segregation of Black people through gerrymandering of districts, gentrification, and white flight from neighborhoods that Black people move into, etc.). And, unfortunately, the American media ONLY tells stories of the worst parts of the lives of Black people, rather than the stories of those of us who are simple, middle class, or wealthy individuals, because that is how sytemic racism works. You will rarely hear about how an American Black man invented the traffic light or revolutionized Blood collection, or completed the first open heart surgery on a live patient – not unless you go digging for the info. It also allows white men to commit mass shootings and be serial killers, and rape children in churches worldwide and in high schools (did you know most of them were white) without ever having their race called into question.

      ” I am one of the “white” Brazilians ”

      Yes, you have made that abundantly clear 🙂

      • Brazilian
        October 31, 2014

        “Then whose experience is it based on?”

        Brazilians, in general, mine is only one experience among many.

        “Personally knowing your roots and systemic racism are 2 different things. ”

        Sure, I agree with it. What I said was that independent of this, race should not be defined by discrimination, but on heritage.

        “Out of curiosity, did you have to dig as hard to find pictures of your white ancestors? ”

        No, no at all, but that is the whole point. Many Brazilian families and mine being not exception, went out of their ways to burn/bury the African heritage. I believe that if all Brazilians did what I do with my children racism in Brazil could actually diminish (well, I know this may sound naive, but.. baby steps). “Educate the children and you won’t need to punish the men.”

        “Was it even important for them to see their Europrean ancestors, since they are white and will be raised around a bunch of Norweigan white people?”

        Yes, it was. I taught my children to be proud of ALL their ancestry, so yes, the European side (Norwegian/German) is equally important to them.

        “Yes, several of my male students have described white people as “gods”

        I’m glad I’m not one of your students. I just said my wife was Norwegian (well, she is my goddess of course, but that is because she is mine, not because she is white 🙂 ).

        “We do not deny our roots. Rather, we amplify and take pride in our Blackness – but not all of us.”

        OK.. sounds a very polite way of denying European roots, but you are the expert here, so I’ll take your word for it.

        “There is an unconscious tendancy for SOME Brazilians to see White America as the “real” America”

        Yes, this stupidity really is among us. But I guess after Obama this is changing, slowly, but it is.

        “Yes, you have made that abundantly clear ”

        Just as you made abundantly clear that you are BLACK 😀

  14. gatasnegrasbrasileiras
    October 31, 2014

    One other things here….Just wanted to share another story…

    In reality, this example I will give happens with more “mulatos/pardos” than one would like to admit…

    I used this true example in a post about the futebolista HULK. My friend “Marcelo” told me this story. And there are other stories like this on the blog: http://wp.me/p1XDuf-5xj

    The point here is, he was a “moreno” when the girl’s mother liked him. When she didn’t like him anymore, she called him “negro”.

    “Marcelo” is has light brown skin and a very loose type of curl hair texture. My argument here is that many Brazilians DO subscribe to a negro/branco polar ideology. But as long as the social environment is tranquil, people are allowed to believe that “well, you’re not negro, you’re a pardo/moreno”. But when a more heated situation occurs, people tell other people how they really feel.

    I’ve also read studies about Brazilians in Portugal. White Brazilians, in order not to face the discrimination that all Brazilians face, often try to define themselves as white but then point out that their darker Brazilian brothers are not.

    In other words, there is much evidence to show that how people claim to see race and how they truly see it changes depending on the moment and situation.

    • Brazilian
      October 31, 2014

      I totally agree. I am perhaps a romantic to believe people should see their ancestry based on what actually is. BUT, I am sucker for the human race, so I think we can do better than this…

    • bamabrasileira
      October 31, 2014

      Yes, I have seen situations like these as well, here in Brazil. From my perspective, it seems that, because Brazil does not have a long history of acknowledging this kind of unconscious and systemic racism, a lot of people do not know the complex ways in which it can present itself in their lives. I also think that, just as we have in America, many of the people here think that if they just don’t acknowledge the issue, it will just dissappear, or they think they can escape it somehow – usually by moving to Europe and marrying a white person.

      • Brazilian
        October 31, 2014

        “usually by moving to Europe and marrying a white person.”

        Bastards! 😀

    • Brazilian
      October 31, 2014

      Hi Gatas,

      Thanks for your question.

      OK, to put things into context. My appearance: I look white in terms of skin (I’m more white than any Portuguese or Spanish person I have encountered) and my face features are completely European, but if my hair grows too much, if you are an African descendent person you could probably tell or guess, because I am Brazilian, that it comes from my African ancestry. It’s much harder for Europeans to tell, because they don’t have the same eye, and because there are indeed people in Europe with less straight hair – so normally they assume I am from some part of non-Germanic Europe but still European (also, because I am becoming partially bold I have to now shave my hair, so the African trace is totally gone now, unfortunately). So, I look white in the sense of what was being defined (that I disagree but we had a lot of this discussion already…) – white enough to pass as white and not suffer discrimination (although I also attribute this partially to luck, since I heard of Brazilian colleagues who look as white as the footballer Kaka that were discriminated in Europe. so…)

      “who look white claiming a “mixed race” identity doesn’t really do anything for the anti-racist struggle. The same with clearly black individuals who say nothing about racism”

      OK, I actually agree with this point. And if I’ve learned something about my discussion with Bama was that pointing out my roots is irrelevant to the point. We still disagree about definition of race, but one step at the time.

      “If your kids truly look Scandinavian, who is going to define them as “mixed race”?”

      First of all me, their father, and in the future, I hope, themselves. Also, they have a clearly African descendent grandfather (my father) and so, despite what they look like because of genetics (they could have been born a bit less white, but they didn’t ). I truly believe they are mixed.

      “what is your reaction when you see more clearly pretos and pardos facing racism. Do you say nothing? Do you say, do you step into the situation and reject the racist?”

      I am outraged and reject the racist – depending where I am and on the severity of the insult, I call the police. And I tell you why. When I was a kid I saw my father being discriminated against more than once. From things like kids at school asking if “is that your driver?” from more explicit racist rampages during traffic discussions. So, no, I do not go own with my life, because for me this is not some theoretical distant issue.

      Now, the way I was always treated in Brazil and abroad because I inherited most of my German mother’s features should make me a white person if I am to use the definition of personal discrimination (against me). I believe one’s history count too, so my father’s and all African ancestors suffering counts for me too.

      So, my children will never face racism and will be treated as white by the rest of the world but does that make them white? It’s a difficult question, but I still believe the answer is no. Which is why I believe both me and them are mixed race persons. Tully white persons, such as the ones I meet in Norway, are completely immune to this reality and if they heard about it, was probably in a movie or documentary. Not my case.

      Now, one could also say that I am Black (using the one drop rule), but I find this notion to be perverse also. I didn’t suffer in my own skin 0.001% of what truly Black people suffer, so although I agree it does not help to scream about my roots, I also don’t think it helps if I start calling myself Black either. I come from a upper middle class neighborhood where I was treated as white – if I’m Black I should have had the right in affirmative action, which is when this kind of discussion stop being theoretical and becomes practical. I believe it would have been ridiculous for me to do this.

      By the way, thanks for this GREAT blog. I m really impressed by the quality of the texts (just how many people work at it?), professionalism and in the very democratic and friendly moderation you promote.

  15. bamabrasileira
    October 31, 2014

    @Brazillian:

    ‘independent of this, race should not be defined by discrimination, but on heritage”

    ;LOL! I can see your Brazilian “classism” coming into play here (as many of you like to say “it’s not race that’s important! It’s class!). Again, for dark skinned people and descendants of Africans all over the world, race IS defined by discrimination as well as heritage (hence lighter skin and straighter hair being considered “better). If we are gonna go the “should” route, then there “shouldn’t” be any differences between people, regardless of skin color…There! Problem solved!

    “I believe that if all Brazilians did what I do with my children racism in Brazil could actually diminish ”

    You mean marry a white person and move far away to Norway and have white kids that aren’t really Black (according to your definition of Blackness)? Yes! I agree that racism in Brazil would diminish if everyone did that! (that one was just a joke
    :-D)

    “but you are the expert here, so I’ll take your word for it.”

    Thank you.

    “OK.. sounds a very polite way of denying European roots,”

    This is an indication that you do not have a deep understanding of racism, as it is not my European roots that cause the discrimination – it is the African roots that cause it. We crazy African Americans have learned that pretending that we aren’t REALLY Black or that some slave rape means that we have European ancestry doesn’t magically make racism go away 😀 It just means that we technically have European roots….

    “Just as you made abundantly clear that you are BLACK”

    A Black woman commenting on a sight called BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, whose sole purpose for existing is to discuss the topic of race and white supremacy!! I thought that my Blackness would have been implicitly understood, unless I – like you and that dude from Sweden – felt the need to say “I’m white, but here is my opinion anyway…”

    “Bastards!”

    Oh I do not think they are bastards. I kinda feel sorry for some of them, cuz I saw the reality of Brazilians trying to have relationships with white people in England,Ireland, Portugal, Italy, and Spain..Perhaps Norway is different. And if you are like most of the Brazilians I know, who are trying to escape Brazil, you will spend your life making videos about how they have sidewalks and snow! (ok, that last part was a joke too :-D)

    • Brazilian
      October 31, 2014

      OK, one last example I thought of. I swear to leave the site free only for black women of Brazil and North America after that.. 😉

      How is your gender defined? Are you a woman because you are a woman or is your gender defined by how much discriminated as a woman you are? If you, or other women (including white) get discriminated than, yes, it could be based on the fact that you are women, but do you really want to define the woman gender as the one who gets discriminated against? And that is a dangerous definition since in places like Scandinavia, where gender equality has gone mad, you could very well get discriminated for being a man (and because of it, a man would actually become a woman, since that is the definition). Personally I believe women are women and men are men no matter what, but that’s me.

      The analogy is of course not perfect (there are, biologically, no degrees of “womaness” or “menness”), but you get the point. I was not yet discriminated in Norway for not having Scandinavian looks (or if I was I didn’t notice since Norwegians will be polite even if you spit on their faces), but one day that could very well happen, we read stories on newspapers of such things happening with immigrants all the time. I don’t think I would feel magically Black because of it, but I can come back and tell you all about if it happens :-). And by the way, I am “white” only according to your definition of race, I began this discussion saying that myself as well as my Scandinavian-looking children are mixed-raced. Since for you this is just a technicality…

      • gatasnegrasbrasileiras
        October 31, 2014

        Brazilian:

        I am curious about your ideology of race. In the US, as many Brazilians have always contrasted themselves, there was a long time idea of “one drop” of black blood making one black, the opposite of Brazil which defines race according to appearance. As such, in Brazil, if one appears white, they are white. As I don’t know what you look like, I’m curious about this point. If your kids truly look Scandinavian, who is going to define them as “mixed race”?

        Also, again, not knowing what you look like, the issue of persons who look white claiming a “mixed race” identity doesn’t really do anything for the anti-racist struggle. The same with clearly black individuals who say nothing about racism. Pele and Michael Jordan are examples of this.

        If you are a person who “looks white” I wonder what is your reaction when you see more clearly pretos and pardos facing racism. Do you say nothing? Do you say, do you step into the situation and reject the racist? Or do you simply continue your life because, as you’re not black (at least not black enough to face racism), it doesn’t affect you?

        My questions are not an attack or disrespect, but simply trying to understand your view.

  16. Brazilian
    October 31, 2014

    ““it’s not race that’s important! It’s class!)” I never said that.

    “race IS defined by discrimination”

    OK, we will just won’t agree here.

    “that one was just a joke”

    Was it? I do believe teaching children about heritage, specially African, can have an impact. What I personally did in my life is another thing. You also left the US for Brazil, didn’t you?

    “doesn’t magically make racism go away”

    OK, the problem is circulating around the same point over and over now. Your argument is that race is defined by discrimination because… because it is, I get it.

    “A Black woman commenting on a sight called BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, whose sole purpose for existing is to discuss the topic of race and white supremacy!! I thought that my Blackness would have been implicitly understood, unless I – like you and that dude from Sweden – felt the need to say “I’m white, but here is my opinion anyway…”

    I felt the need to say who I was just as much as you. The site is black women of Brazil but I see several interesting topics addressed and I don’t think they are of interest only of “black women of Brazil”. But if so, than we should both get out, since I am a man and you are an American, even if living in Brazil.

    “And if you are like most of the Brazilians I know, who are trying to escape Brazil,”

    No, I am not. And no videos of snow, I don’t even own a camera 🙂

    It’s been an interesting discussion… I’m out now.

    • Brazilian
      October 31, 2014

      @Gatas – I answered your question above – I’m having trouble finding direct “reply” links to one’s posts.

  17. bamabrasileira
    October 31, 2014

    “How is your gender defined? Are you a woman because you are a woman or is your gender defined by how much discriminated as a woman you are?”

    Women who were born with vaginas represent the dominant gender society of women. But to make this analogy work, you would have to consider people who feel that they were physically born in a man’s body, but are spiritual women (this is why transgender people get surgery to change their sex organs, if they can afford it. If they cannot, many simply live as a transvestite woman who keeps the male organs).

    These people are discriminated against just about everywhere, because the society has a problem accepting them as a traditional “man” or “woman”. It is my personal view to accept them according to their definition of who they are. But I also know that my liberal views on this issue are not the dominant view, and that these people will continue to face discrimination unless they speak up for themselves – just as Black Americans and Brazilians have done and are continuing to do.

    “I began this discussion saying that myself as well as my Scandinavian-looking children are mixed-raced. Since for you this is just a technicality…”

    I have defined Black in more definitive terms, because the discussion is not about your personal technical heritage. It is about race-based discrimination based upon your skin color and how much your physical features show that you are something other than “white”, or how close to “white” you are. It has been important to clarify that racism is usually not based on your heritage alone.

    “I felt the need to say who I was just as much as you. The site is black women of Brazil but I see several interesting topics addressed and I don’t think they are of interest only of “black women of Brazil”.

    I would agree on that. My point was that there is a tendency for people who do not self identify as Black to muddy the topic – which is overt and covert racism against Black and Brown people – with their personal experiences and technicalities based upon how they self identify. For some reason, they try to make it into a technical conversation about the different heritages that technically run through their veins, rather than the very real and present color based discrimination that exists in the world. Changing the conversation about acceptance of the aspect of onesself that has been discriminated against and treated as vile historically and in the the white-obssessed media, into a conversation about how most people are technically mixed, does not really add any insight to the issue of race/color-based discrimination. It is what we call “derailing” the conversation. Again, many people confuse “teaching kids/people about their heritage” with “worldwide systemic racism and discrimination”. To simplify, I can know about my European blood and be proud of it all day. It has nothing to do with color-based racism.

    “No, I am not. And no videos of snow, I don’t even own a camera”

    Oh thank GOD! 😀 (And thanks to Gatas, for allowing us to have these heated discussions on her website!)

    Later dude!

    • Brazilian
      October 31, 2014

      @Gatas:

      Hi Gatas,

      Thanks for your question.

      OK, to put things into context. My appearance: I look white in terms of skin (I’m more white than any Portuguese or Spanish person I have encountered) and my face features are completely European, but if my hair grows too much, if you are an African descendent person you could probably tell or guess, because I am Brazilian, that it comes from my African ancestry. It’s much harder for Europeans to tell, because they don’t have the same eye, and because there are indeed people in Europe with less straight hair – so normally they assume I am from some part of non-Germanic Europe but still European (also, because I am becoming partially bold I have to now shave my hair, so the African trace is totally gone now, unfortunately). So, I look white in the sense of what was being defined (that I disagree but we had a lot of this discussion already…) – white enough to pass as white and not suffer discrimination (although I also attribute this partially to luck, since I heard of Brazilian colleagues who look as white as the footballer Kaka that were discriminated in Europe. so…)

      “who look white claiming a “mixed race” identity doesn’t really do anything for the anti-racist struggle. The same with clearly black individuals who say nothing about racism”

      OK, I actually agree with this point. And if I’ve learned something about my discussion with Bama was that pointing out my roots is irrelevant to the point. We still disagree about definition of race, but one step at the time.

      “If your kids truly look Scandinavian, who is going to define them as “mixed race”?”

      First of all me, their father, and in the future, I hope, themselves. Also, they have a clearly African descendent grandfather (my father) and so, despite what they look like because of genetics (they could have been born a bit less white, but they didn’t ). I truly believe they are mixed.

      “what is your reaction when you see more clearly pretos and pardos facing racism. Do you say nothing? Do you say, do you step into the situation and reject the racist?”

      I am outraged and reject the racist – depending where I am and on the severity of the insult, I call the police. And I tell you why. When I was a kid I saw my father being discriminated against more than once. From things like kids at school asking if “is that your driver?” from more explicit racist rampages during traffic discussions. So, no, I do not go own with my life, because for me this is not some theoretical distant issue.

      Now, the way I was always treated in Brazil and abroad because I inherited most of my German mother’s features should make me a white person if I am to use the definition of personal discrimination (against me). I believe one’s history count too, so my father’s and all African ancestors suffering counts for me too.

      So, my children will never face racism and will be treated as white by the rest of the world but does that make them white? It’s a difficult question, but I still believe the answer is no. Which is why I believe both me and them are mixed race persons. Tully white persons, such as the ones I meet in Norway, are completely immune to this reality and if they heard about it, was probably in a movie or documentary. Not my case.

      Now, one could also say that I am Black (using the one drop rule), but I find this notion to be perverse also. I didn’t suffer in my own skin 0.001% of what truly Black people suffer, so although I agree it does not help to scream about my roots, I also don’t think it helps if I start calling myself Black either. I come from a upper middle class neighborhood where I was treated as white – if I’m Black I should have had the right in affirmative action, which is when this kind of discussion stop being theoretical and becomes practical. I believe it would have been ridiculous for me to do this.

      By the way, thanks for this GREAT blog. I m really impressed by the quality of the texts (just how many people work at it?), professionalism and in the very democratic and friendly moderation you promote.

  18. juleej1111
    January 15, 2017

    Wow, quite the discourse here. What stands out to me is the notion that your appearance defines your race. Seems logical but anyone knows that mixed race couples can produce children who look more like one race than the other. So within one family you say I am white but my brother is black…or moreno, or whatever crazy list of descriptions Brazilians use? How odd. I find it hard to believe this happens in reality.

    I am of Caribbean heritage living in Canada. When I visit Jamaica I notice the use of similar descriptions of colour (though not to this degree) and I find it highly annoying and small minded. It’s not something I think much about when I’m in Toronto where black people represent a range of complections under the umbrella of identifying as black. We are a minority that doesn’t have the luxury of stratifying skin tone, which clearly is a blessing.

    By the way, I live in a neighbourhood with a large Portuguese population. These Portuguese people are not considered white in comparison to the majority Anglo Saxon, protestant population. So it’s all relative.

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