Black Women of Brazil

The site dedicated to Brazilian women of African descent

Black consciousness, human consciousness or lack of consciousness? Eleven reasons to discredit the myth of racial democracy


Consciência negra, consciência humana ou falta de consciência-Q

Note from BW of Brazil: Over the years of this blog’s existence, we often receive messages from many readers (both here and in social networking sites) from new readers who express surprise at the profound levels of everyday, individual, institutional, subtle and blatant racism that exists in Brazilian society. As the old saying goes, it’s a tough job but someone has to do it! It is also quite amazing how many Brazilians continue to deny the many facets of racial discrimination that occur in the country on a daily basis. This also frequently attracts quite ugly, verbally violent comments that define the information featured on this blog as being racist (against whites) or black supremacist in its message. Oh well, these types of baseless comments are to expected when people are forced to deal with the mythologies they continue to believe in. There is a very simple for solution for those who have a problem with this blog’s content: go to another site! For those interested in reading opinions about one of the cruel realities of Brazilian society, read on. Below, we present a piece that sums up why the long-held belief that Brazil is a ‘racial democracy’ should be laid to rest. It’s a great little summary of numerous topics that have been discussed over the past four plus years. 

Black consciousness, human consciousness or lack of consciousness? Eleven reasons to discredit the myth of racial democracy

November: the month when many misinformed, lazy thinking people with an absence of empathy will share a flurry of questionable content on black consciousness, or better human. Because somos todos iguais (we are all equal), only we’re not.

It is a fact that black people, in recent years, have become more conscious of their rights. Whoever is a militant feels increasingly empowered and are, even if not as fast as they should, winning voice and space. And for this reason, it is unacceptable to accept the lie propagated in society that racial prejudice no longer exists. As said brilliantly by (rapper) Gabriel o Pensador (the thinker): racism is stupid, but the stupidest isn’t the racist. It’s the one who thinks that racism does not exist.

The 20th is near. Nothing more appropriate then than to list eleven reasons why, yes, it is necessary not only on one day, but a lot of consciousness and reflection on the subject. For slavery is over but the stigma remains.

1) The disparity in the labor market: we hardly see blacks working in brand name events and stores. In contrast, in functions of low education they are the majority. Behind requirements such as boa aparência (good appearance) (in which recruiters establish a body, hair and eye color type, for example) there is a masked prejudice;

2) Black women are more likely to involuntary celibacy (aka bachelorhood). Our macho culture positions them as exotic fruits for mere enjoyment. They are objectified and animalistic. They are the women to fuck, but for marrying are those with Eurocentric features. And to make matters worse, many black men, ascending socially, opt for lighter-skinned partners. The number of married futebol players with blonde women is a good example. It is as if the woman were a trophy and a way to affirm themselves socially, especially among elite;

3) The lack of representation in the media: one hardly sees black characters on TV (newspapers, novelas – soap operas, TV series and the like). And when there are, they usually occupy roles of laborers or caricatured characters. Children grow up without any model of representation to admire, which directly affects their self-esteem;

4) We are a minority in public spaces, especially the “elitizied”: except in positions where we are simply serving others, it’s noticeable almost no black people in shopping malls, expensive restaurants and clubs in general. And people are used to this invisibility. Almost no one looks around and wonders: here there aren’t any blacks, wow! Despite being more than 50% of the population, most of us can not afford access to leisure and entertainment;

5) Oppressive and stupid humor: with the wave of “politically incorrect”, all minorities have become the target of discriminatory jokes. Of course, blacks couldn’t remain outside of this. More than once there were cases of humorists humiliating and embarrassing blacks on the Internet. Worse than that: some of them subject themselves to a ridiculous role and tell jokes that offend their peers, reinforcing stereotypes;

6) Affirmative actions are a laughingstock for much of the population: some of these actions, such as racial and social quotas in universities, aim to reduce the gap between the poor black and the institution. What many people do not understand is that this is not a privilege, but rather a way to expand access to whoever didn’t even had the perspective of social improvement. Higher education is still elitist and there’s a lot to improve. Less than 3% of graduates in Medicine are black, and there are still people who think they want to steal someone’s vacancy;

7) We are disrespected as consumers: whoever here is black and was never mistreated, followed around in a mall or ceased to be attended by salespersons in stores raise your hand. Blacks, unfortunately, are associated with poverty, theft, lack of (financial) conditions. I once went to a more expensive shoe store and was totally ignored by salespersons, while others who arrived were promptly met. I had to call the manager so that he would ask one of the saleswomen to fulfill their duties. Needless to say how bad this service was;

8) We are the greatest victims of police violence: it’s noticeable that black people are addressed more often than whites in police pat downs, and killed twice as much by them. They are the first suspects, judged by their clothes and their color. The black prison population in Brazil is around 66%, and most of the prisoners didn’t complete primary school.

9) We have many problems of self-image: from early on we’re conditioned to think that there is something wrong with us, and we have to correct this through self-mutilation. Our hair (nicknamed ruin/bad, duro/hard) are subjected to degrading chemicals and some even carcinogenic, our skin is “lightened”, women use makeup to disguise their natural traits and make them more “fine” (read: like a white person), among many other examples of violence to our naturalness. All to match to a Eurocentric model of beauty. And often this quest for perfection similar to white beauty brings a lot of emotional harm to blacks;

10) We are 71.6% of the country’s illiterates: beyond this data, school dropout rates are much higher among black children and youth. Because of poverty, many of them need to work to help support their homes. When work is too strenuous, uninterrupted, with abusive working hours (usually operational functions, such as cleaning, gardening or other heavy duties), many don’t resist and drop out of school;

11) African-based religions are major targets of religious intolerance: This problem, in my view, would be alleviated if there was an improvement in education. Law 10.639/03 establishes that themes related to Afro-Brazilian culture, including religion should be taught in schools. As this practice doesn’t happen and the ignorance of people has no limits, practitioners are demonized and seen as dangerous, which results in many violent actions.

There are numerous other reasons that show how present this racism is in our society, but to quote all would make the text too long, or even a book. It is inconceivable that even if the second largest black population of the world – which proves that as “minority” we have nothing – we are still so subdued as if we were inferior to others.

While we are stereotyped and connected only with samba, pagode, easy sex, banditry, ignorance and lack of education the scenario will not change. The struggle is long. And representation and respect are essential.

To close, I quote a phrase I read on the Internet, of unknown authorship, but very valid for this moment: “ALL CONSCIOUSNESS WILL BE NECESARRY WHILE HUMAN CONSCIOUSNESS IS PREJUDICED AND RACIST.”

Source: Aline Xavier

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