Black Women of Brazil

The site dedicated to Brazilian women of African descent

In Brazil, white women can even claim one of the few titles the society reserves for black women: Blond actress named ‘top mulata’ in contest


Nem mulatas do Gois e nem no 'interior' de Grazi Massafera

Actress Grazi Massafera named “Gois’s Mulata” of 2016

Note from BW of Brazil: You know, if you really think about, you can actually predict the next academic discourse that will be taught on the academic level in relation to race. We’ve already seen hints of it in phrases such as “we’re all Africans”, “we’re all equal” and “we’re all mixed” . What better way to systematically exploit, exclude and appropriate the culture and essence of Africa and its descendants than by indoctrinating everyone into believing that “race doesn’t exist”? Actually, it’s the perfect scheme for those naive enough to fall for such slogans. Following this formula, there can be no such thing as racial discrimination because, according to this discourse, “we’re all the same” with only negligible differences. 

Today’s story is actually from a few weeks ago during the heat of the Carnaval season, but as it is so pertinent to the discussions that we have on this blog, it doesn’t really matter when it happened. It’s also very timely to discuss this issue intertwined with a gem that former American President Bill Clinton recently uttered. In Tennessee a little over a week ago, speaking to crowd in support of his wife Hillary’s presidential campaign, Clinton said: “Unless your ancestors, every one of you, are 100%, 100% from sub-Saharan Africa, we are all mixed-race people.”

Bill Clinton - we're all mixed

Former US president Bill Clinton speaks in support of wife Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid

Absolutely amazing! So, going a little further according to this logic, there really is no difference in how beauty is judged, how intelligence is perceived and which race of people are stereotyped as the most dangerous. It just so happens that only those with a pinkish undertone in their skin are judged one way and those with brown/black skin are judged another way but this doesn’t mean we’re different and that people associate different concepts according to these differences, right? In reality, this latest attempt at trans-racialism and the undermining of the reality of race shouldn’t come as a surprise. I mean, we learned this with Rachel Dolezal, right? We’ve also learned that any white man could portray Michael Jackson or Brazil’s greatest writer of African descent, Machado de Assis, so what’s the problem? 

The problem is that white people can continue to appropriate aspects of black culture or blackness itself whenever they feel the urge but silently distance themselves from it when it doesn’t serve their purpose, such as when there’s a discussion on the fact that those of darker skin are much more likely to be killed by police , much less likely to hold political office or less likely to attain a certain job title even if they are more qualified. Because in such scenarios, those of pink skin who are quick to argue that “we’re all mixed” when it serves a certain purpose that doesn’t affect them won’t hesitate to accept the privileges they attain specifically because they are not in fact mixed at all.

But let’s take statements such as those of Grazi Massafera (who says she has a little bit of mulata in her) and Bill Clinton as if they weren’t absolutely absurd. Let’s assume “we’re all mixed” just for the sake of argument. In a world dominated by white supremacy, which supposedly “mixed race” group will usually come out on top of the social hierarchy where advantages and penalties are usually divided among lines of race? The “mixed” group with blond hair and pale skin that looks as if their ancestors come from Germany or the “mixed” group whose skin is literally black and whose ancestors look as if they come from the Sudan? Hmmm….

But I warn you, you’d better be careful. The way things are going, white actors will be portraying Michael Jordan and Pelé in future feature length bio flicks! 

Nem mulatas do Gois e nem no 'interior' de Grazi Massafera - Ancelmo Gois e as candidatas de 2010

Ancelmo Gois with candidates for “Mulata do Gois” of 2010

Just for a little background on the story below, for several years during Carnaval season journalist Ancelmo Gois has had a contest to choose the “Mulata do Gois”, one of many ‘mulata hunts’ that happens during this time of year. In a 2012 post analyzing sexual stereotypes associated with the bodies of black men and women, examples of some of these photos were featured on this blog. 

Nem mulatas do Gois e nem no 'interior' de Grazi Massafera (3)

Google image search of “Mulata do Gois”

Note here that our position on this issue is not so much fighting for the right to be a “mulata”, a stereotype of black women that has existed in Brazil for centuries, but rather a critique of the fact that the roles of “Globeleza” and passistas (Carnaval dancers), both connected with Carnaval, are the only roles in which black women are allowed to play a prominent role or be recognized as beautiful (and that lasts for only about a week, after which they go back to being invisible). But as we have seen, it appears that in recent years, white women, who dominate most every role secured by women in society, are slowly moving into this territory as well

Online comments criticize as much the title as the actress’s declaration that she has a mulata within her

Courtesy of Pure People

After enjoying a Carnaval bloco in Rio de Janeiro, actress Grazi Massafera was elected the “Mulata do Gois” (Gois’s Mulata) by the columnist Ancelmo Gois of the O Globo newspaper. The column explained that “mulata” doesn’t refer to skin color, meanwhile, some internet users criticized the choice of this year for the title and also Grazi’s declaration: “I have a mulata within me, there’s no way I can’t have. I think that almost every Brazilian woman has. In some, it is more inhibited. Mine is more exhibited,” said the blond that has already revealed that she’s hot in bed.

Nem mulatas do Gois e nem no 'interior' de Grazi Massafera (4)

Actress Grazi Massafera chosen “Mulata do Gois 2016”

From there, social network users flooded her with criticism. “Mulata do Gois is Grazi Massafera. I give up understanding,” said one. “Mulata Grazi, this is good!”, as another pointed out the irony.” “I don’t know what’s worse: Grazi’s comment or her being elected miss “mulata”. Today is a beautiful day for the apocalypse.”

The actress dressed in tigress costume to go to a dance put on in the Botafogo mansion in Rio’s south zone on Wednesday (4th). The costume, in reality was a mixture between a tigress and a jaguar by the stylist Fernando Cozendey looking like a type of painting.

In this year’s Carnaval, Grazi also went to some blocos in Rio. On February 1st, she was among the revelers with a friend and also actress Aninha Lima.

Neither mulatas of Gois nor on the “inside” of Grazi Massafera

It gets to be ridiculous the obsession of wanting to show that one is not racist. Instead of positioning one’s self, they throw words to the wind that nothing change

Nem mulatas do Gois e nem no 'interior' de Grazi Massafera (2)

Actress Grazi Massafera

by Djamila Ribeiro

It’s easy for Grazi be black inside. Because if she were outside, she would only play stereotypical roles.

We are in 2016 and columnists of major media outlets still feel they have the right to treat black women as things. Ancelmo Gois, of the O Globo newspaper, is known as an “appreciator of mulatas” and in his column “As mulatas do Gois” (the mulatas of Gois) he continues objectifying humans.

Nem mulatas do Gois e nem no 'interior' de Grazi Massafera (6)

“Mulatas sub-20”, ‘mulatas under 20’

In one of them he gave space to a man to choose young women for their show of macho horrors. This person came to use phrases like “new crop of mulatas,” “mulata under 20”, “species”. And I thought that black women belonged to the human species.

Even if it wasn’t directly Ancelmo who wrote the column, it is his and continuously, Carnival after Carnival, he has been using these racist practices as if black women only serve for this. Do they realize the violence in this? We can enjoy wine, cheese and not a group of human beings as if they were the same thing. A human being can be treated as a harvest?

Earlier this month, along with activist Stephanie Ribeiro, I wrote to a major newspaper a manifesto for the end of stereotypes such as the Globeleza. In this article we criticize the term mulata and because its use is offensive: “To start the debate on this character, we need to identify the problem contained in the term “mulata “. Besides being a word naturalized by Brazilian society, it is captive presence in the vocabulary of the hosts, journalists and reporters from the Globo (TV) broadcaster.

The word of Spanish origin comes from “mula” or “mulo” (mule): that which is a hybrid originating from a cross between species. Mules are animals born from crossing donkeys with mares or horses with donkeys. In another sense, they are the result of the mating of the animal considered noble (equus caballus) with the animal judged as second class (donkey).

Therefore, it is a derogatory word indicating mestiçagem (mixture or crossbreeding), impurity. Improper mixing that should not exist. Employed since the colonial period, the term was used to refer to lighter-skinned blacks, the fruits of the rape of slaves by masters. Such a nomenclature has a sexist and racist nature and was transferred to the Globeleza character, naturalized. The adjective “mulata” is a sad memory of the 354 years (1534-1888) of black slavery in Brazil.

Nem mulatas do Gois e nem no 'interior' de Grazi Massafera (9)

Note: Translation of above text

“Congratulations for what? Have you ever stopped to think, rather than being chosen a black person, they chose a white woman to honor as a black woman? I’m sorry, Grazi, but when you say to you have a mulata interior it really is interior, because on the exterior you’re white,”  criticized a follower on Grazi’s Instagram. 

“For me, it’s just taking the place of a true mulata, and this happens every day in jobs, university vagancies and many other opportunities that we will see a white take the place of a black. What a shame!” , wrote a follower, disgusted

In other words, this term should not even be used. Rarely do we see black women being invited to write articles, be hosts, actress protagonists, but in this time of year they want to confine us to this type of place.

It is unacceptable that in the XXI century, Ancelmo Gois feels himself in the right to portray us in such a  subhuman way. What is the space the columnist opens for discussion on racism in society?

The criticism is by no means to the women who were “mulatas of Gois”, how can one penalize them in a society that does not give opportunities to black women? We have to push for the need for the creation of other possibilities. And if the black girl wants to be a newspaper columnist? Is there is room for her?

It’s always good to emphasize that I have no problem with sensuality, with the position of passista (Carnaval dancer), quite to the contrary. The problem is always confining us in these places, treating these girls as if they were pieces of meat ready to be devoured.

To crown the cluelessness, in recent days the former BBB (participant of the reality show Big Brother Brasil) Grazi Massafera was named one of the mulatas of this columnist and said, “I have a mulata inside of me, there’s no way of not having. I think that almost every Brazilian has. In some, it is a little more inhibited. Mine is more exhibited.”

It is the height of disrespect. First for the term that we have already explained, second for placing black women as if they were the same thing, a homogeneous category, thus, objects. What black woman lives inside of her? Taís Araújo or Viola Davis? Do they realize how black women are different, distinct beings, with different personalities and not things. Second, because Grazi is blonde and is always doing novelas (soap operas) and TV series. It’s easy to be black on the inside, isn’t it? Because if she were on the outside she would only be the “mulata of Gois” once a year or play stereotypical roles. It gets to be ridiculous this obsession that white people have to want to show that they are not racist. Rather than actually taking a stand against racism, they throw words to the wind that change nothing.

Grazi has continued to star in advertising campaigns and gain prominent roles even “having a mulata inside of her.” Other than that, saying that there is a mulata inside of oneself, within the context in which we live, means saying that all we know how to sambar (dance samba) and do the same things. We are predestined to only one path. I am absolutely against the objectification of women, white women are also, but not like black women.

What would it mean for me to say that there is a blonde inside of me? Nothing. No one assumes that a blonde woman is only one thing. They might think that I speak of an actress, model or nuclear engineer. The stigma is not the same. The fact that blonde women also being objectified does not exclude the fact that they are also protagonist actresses, stamped on the covers of magazines and major advertising campaigns and hosting programs.

To them, there are several possibilities, even being a “mulata of Gois” for a day and starring in a novela during the year. Therefore, one cannot essentialize a whole group of people, such as black women, as if they were all the same, a crop of tomatoes.

Brazil is the country of the ready-made unfunny joke, specially regarding racism. They naturalize the violence we suffer, deny us opportunities and try to penalize us for showing these situations.

These people have access to information and should read the various academic studies, research, articles on the issue to avoid embarrassment.

There is a lack of interest for the average white in Brazil to deepen these issues that should be required so that we reach a civilizatory milestone. But they prefer to treat us as things, inferiors, objects. To say that a mulata lives inside her, Grazi is denying our humanity.

The black woman is not part of a crop and is not a “species” for the sexist and racist man’s delight. We are people and we demand respect.

Source: Carta Capital, Pure People, TV e Famosos

4 comments on “In Brazil, white women can even claim one of the few titles the society reserves for black women: Blond actress named ‘top mulata’ in contest

  1. Mike
    February 24, 2016

    This is White Privilege plain and simple.

    This is BULLSHIT what this guy did to these women. He knew from the beginning he wasn’t going to pick a Black woman. He maliciously lead them on and made them think they had a fair change at winning when they didn’t. I bet he and his white friends are somewhere laughing at these black women like its a sick joke.
    The white woman who won the contest is even more full of shit. She isn’t one bit black and she knows it. She won because she has WHITE PRIVILEGE like most white people worldwide do.

    To White Brazilians(especially men), Black Brazilian women are nothing more than sexual objects and fetishes which is very sick. This mentally is nothing more than an after effect of 354 years of slavery. I DEFINITELY think Black Brazilians have it worse than Black Americans.

    • Kushite Prince
      February 24, 2016

      I agree with you! This is 100% pure racism!

    • studio54
      February 25, 2016

      Hear Hear! Preach Mike, i totally agree with you.

  2. PTR
    February 24, 2016

    Hahaha, only in Brazil…

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This entry was posted on February 24, 2016 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , .
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