Black Women of Brazil

The site dedicated to Brazilian women of African descent

“Stop seeing your blackness as something negative”: Encrespa seminar in Piauí teaches empowerment through appreciation of black aesthetic


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Note from BW of Brazil: Needless to say, this is impressive to see. This blog has been covering the Encrespa movement for some time and I’ve watched as it’s grown to encompass more and more regions of Brazil. Of course it would be expected to region major Brazilian urban centers such as São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte, but when it reaches smaller states such as Piauí, located in the country’s northeast, we can say that the movement is truly having an impact! 

Encrespa, coming from the root word crespo, in reference to kinky/curly textures of hair, encourages women to accept the curl pattern that they were born with instead going through all sorts of hair straightening techniques that have led many a woman to see their hair fall out in clumps and patches. The encrespa movement is actually more than about just the acceptance of kinky/curly hair textures, because, as this these textures of hair are often the target of ridicule that helps to enforce and impose a straight hair texture as the only one that is beautiful or acceptable, this is also about the acceptance of an identity.

I’ve always said that after centuries of a Brazilian culture structured upon the inferiorization of its visibly African descendants, it would take an entire process of re-education to reconstruct these identities that have been so badly damaged since the first ship brought Africans to the land that would come to be known as BrazilLet the re-construction process continue! 

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Photo: Madú Rocha

Encrespa Piauí: empowerment and appreciation of the black esthetic

By Raquel Melo

Encrespa Piauí is a project that aims to strengthen self-esteem, self-acceptance and empowerment of people with cabelos crespos e cacheados (kinky/curly and curly hair), reinforcing the struggle for the valorization of black aesthetics and the right to autonomy of the body.

According to one of the organizers of Encrespa, Amara Brandão, the standard of beauty divulged by the media is a form of mutilation of beleza negra (black beauty). “For many years, mulheres negras (black women) have had to conform to pre-established Eurocentric standards, in the hope of being accepted into society. The market didn’t intend to invest in products for pele negra (black skin) or cabelo crespo e cacheado. Every product released for black women was intended to build an image that came closer to the standard of pessoas brancas (white people). The cabelo alisado (straightened hair) was seen as neat, thus embranquecendo (whitening) the characteristics of the corpo negro (black body),” she explains.

For Amara, mulheres negras are the ones who suffer most from prejudice because of the “padrão branco” (white standard). “Every woman suffers or has already suffered some kind of prejudice that, in some way, undermined her confidence. But for negras, we believe it to be worse, because of the “white standard” in which we live. They are the most injured because they try to adapt to this standard. The greatest example of this is hair straightening for black women to be accepted.”

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Photo: Madú Rocha

And to encourage self-acceptance of people with cabelos crespos e cacheado, an annual event that includes round tables of conversations and workshops of various themes is held during Encrespa. “The third edition, which takes place in March, will follow the same line as previous editions. We will have round table conversations and workshops, raffles and testimonials of the participants, as well as turban and makeup workshops. This year we will also have conversations with the themes: cultural appropriation, black aesthetics, empowerment of black women and capillary transition,” says Amara Brandão.

Amara says that the proposal went so well that other actions are carried out throughout the year, in addition to the event. “Encrespa was thought to be annual, but with the maturing of the idea and the growth of the public, we saw the need to do more actions. Already actions have been taken to donate food to an orphanage in Teresina, a Cine Debate with the theme “resistência negra” (black resistance), and the organizers are always involved in workshops, lectures and debates. Our desire for the future is the foundation of a collective.”

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Cine Debate/Launch of the 3rd edition of Encrespa Piauí. Photo: Madú Rocha

Encrespa Piauí also works with the valorization of black aesthetics as a form of resistance. “Our struggle is collective, it is never just for us individually. Empowerment is worked on through valuing black aesthetics as a form of resistance, thus redeeming identity and self-esteem. This appreciation is important so that girls and boys, women and men, stop seeing their blackness as something negative, accepting their identities through black references and the debates that occur during the events,” concludes Amara Brandão.

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Photo: Lucas Brandão

The 3rd edition of Encrespa Piauí will take place on March 12, at 4pm, at Parque da Cidadania.

Source: Entre Cultura

2 comments on ““Stop seeing your blackness as something negative”: Encrespa seminar in Piauí teaches empowerment through appreciation of black aesthetic

  1. Charles M.
    April 1, 2017

    Good to hear!! please keep it up…

  2. Brazille Musumba
    May 5, 2017

    I love this initiative and wish to be part of it in one way or another

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