Black Women of Brazil

The site dedicated to Brazilian women of African descent

10 racist phrases that black women hear (either denouncing racism or being accused of whining)


Still from video: “Things that black women are tired of hearing”

Note from BW of Brazil: Of course, as black women can attest, racist comments and questions are plentiful in Brazil. But there are some that are so common that if you asked enough black women to name some racist comment they’ve heard, at least one of them would be part of the list compiled below by Viviana Santiago. In previous posts (see here, here and here), we’ve already seen how black Brazilians are reacting such comments, but as race relations have taken a course of centuries to develop into what it has been, it should come as no surprise that somewhere in the country, people continue to hear such comments that certainly no one (white) would conceive as having racist content. And of course we know that Brazilians “aren’t all equal”, but seriously, if you really believe this, what do you think people mean when they utter such phrases? Feel free to respond in the comments section if you can really explain the non-racist meanings of such phrases. Should be interesting, if not entertaining to know. 

Black Brazilian women have tired of hearing such phrases for some time and in recent years, a  number have taken to YouTube to express their opinions. The “COISAS QUE AS NEGRAS ESTÃO CANSADAS DE OUVIR” (things that black women are tired of hearing), a skit acted out in responses to such commments, courtesy of the DRelacionamentos YouTube and “COISAS QUE AS MULHERES NEGRAS ODEIAM ESCUTAR” (things that black women hate hearing) courtesy of the Coisas de Preta by Regianne Rosa page are just two excellent videos that express how fed up many black women are getting hearing such gems everyday. The first video I have made available at the bottom of this article with translated dialogue. So if you’re black, and a woman but have never been to Brazil, check out a few things youu might have to get accustomed to hearing if you ever decided to visit or live there. 

COISAS QUE AS MULHERES NEGRAS ODEIAM ESCUTAR

Still from video: “Things that black women hate hearing” – From the Coisas de Preta by Regianne Rosa YouTube channel

10 racist phrases that black women hear (either denouncing racism or being accused of whining)

By Viviana Santiago

Every day black women in the most varied places of life in society hear to things and deal with situations that are often explicit, sometimes disguised, with the intention of trying to fit them into a place of subordination, exotification and dehumanization, and the worst: expectation of the black women’s acceptance, silence and resignation: at the least attempt of reaction on the part of the women, the racist game begins to disqualify the criticism and to empty the arguments with the accusation of hypersensitivity and susceptibility;

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Still from video: “Things that black women are tired of hearing” – From the DRelacionamentos YouTube page

Let’s think about 10 of these statements that we hear and call racism, (because they are phrases that express racism) and we offer a challenge: Read to the end, identify racism and use your voice to confront it;

1- But you have such fine features, you don’t need to say that you’re negra (black). The first thing this observation reveals is a completely essentialized view of being black, stereotyped even though it confines the black being to a stereotype and an only way of being for this black body, the second that reveals is that in the sight of this person being black is something so terrible, that one only need to assume if it is really inevitable.

2-You are working/studying/reading … so much, why do you work so hard? It is incredible how the process of professional, academic and personal development of black women is criticized, in a society that demands intense specialization, have you ever stopped to wonder why it is only shocking, when it is the black women who experience this process? All people have a volume and delivery of work, readings, updates, but only when black women develop these practices comes the social censorship, which is actually the attempt to bar black women’s access to spaces that demand these experiences, the movement is of false concern because the intention is to prevent access to knowledge and opportunities for personal, academic and professional growth.

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Still from video: “Things that black women are tired of hearing”

3 – She is a very hard-working negra. All pessoas brancas (white people) are intelligent, but have you noticed that in speaking of the performance of black people they always use the word effort? As if intelligence, wisdom were not the natural characteristics of black people.

4 – Ela é negra mas é tao bonita (She’s black but she’s so pretty). This is said, right? The intense exposure and then the internalization of a padrão de beleza eurocêntrico (standard of Eurocentric beauty), means that the black face is not understood as a possibility of beauty, and if it is beautiful then it must not be black

5-But you’re black and don’t know how to sambar (dance the samba)? This is the place of black women in society, one can’t imagine another contribution of the African people to this society beyond samba, it also reveals that one does not understand the possibility of uniqueness, the individuality of each black person, racism denies this possibility.

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Still from video: “Things that black women are tired of hearing”

6- Você passa um cafezinho pra gente? (Can you get us some coffee?) This is classic, it is always expected that black women will occupy this place, the domestic worker, the servant, even when these are not their formal occupations. There is no problem in these jobs, the problem is the racist thinking that prevents people from realizing that there are other places to be occupied by black women.

7- I love when you come with your hair tied down, it looks much more professional – The old theme of hair and that also gives us the reflection of the norm and the Eurocentric standard for everything that means superiority, beauty and here professionalism, it is understood that cabelo crespo (kinky/curly hair) is ugly, inappropriate and at best a “festive hair” that would not then be suitable for sophisticated professional practices. This is an excellent sample of what people think of black bodies and lives and professional practices, those other than the ones that wear white masks, are inadequate.

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Still from video: “Things that black women are tired of hearing”

8Ela é negra e mas é muito brava viu? e tem  uma insistência com essa questão racial (She is black but she is very angry, did you see this? and has an insistence on this racial issue). We live in a racist country, and that black women are the majority of people without jobs, have a lower income than white people, suffer more domestic violence, are the majority in cases of sexual violence and these are only a few aspects of a life that is always lived from half a citizenship, and yet, every time a black woman stands in search of social justice, one constructs the notion that she is in a frenzy of fury and inconsistent. A quick analysis of the life of the povo preto (black people) and especially of the black women makes explicit that there is no inconsistency or folly in the struggle for social justice.

9-But do you live, work, study here? Unless we are Tia da Limpeza (cleaning lady), Tia do café (coffee server), Tia da arrumação (service woman) (1), branquitude (whiteness) is always questioning the presence of the black women in the space, because it is understood and it is expected that the place of the black women are those that the racist society determines And creates efficient mechanisms to guarantee the allocation of this population in these smaller spaces.

10 – Ah, você é inteligente demais, nem imaginava (Oh, you’re so smart, I didn’t even imagine). What the person is actually saying is: Are you not you dumb as I imagined?

We black women hear this every day, they are phrases that express a racist thought that reduces us to stereotypes, which dehumanizes us and directs us towards a subordinate place. Reacting to these phrases, problematizing the content is not mimimi (whining), it is unwrapping the gift that is being delivered to each one of us and enabling each person the opportunity to truly deal with the perverse content that is being delivered to us and insurgent against these perverse representations. Reacting to these comments means using our voice, and the nuisance is this, a black woman who speaks unbalances the racist game because she takes control of the narrative and imposes on the racist people the movement of looking in the mirror and maybe not liking even a little the content that you’ll see….

Things that black women are tired of hearing

English translation

Wow, I love this type of hair. It’s soft. Is it really yours?
– Wow, I love your type of hair too. It’s like: A cow licked it, right? The oil gets on your hand. And you can see the couro cabeludo (scalp) from here.
People, did you know that there is racism against whites also, right? You know why? They always call me branquela (whitey).
– I imagine that you must have already lost various job interviews. Because the boss didn’t want a “bicho de goiaba” (very white person). 
Or they called you strange because you’re too white, right?
White people suffer, don’t they?
A lot!!
– Girl, I always wanted to have “samba in the foot” that not even your type of people have.
But I don’t know how to sambar (dance samba)
– But black people have to know how to sambar.
So, blond people have to be stupid?!
But how is that? Your boyfriend is white?
You knew that he was hiding something. Still it’s better that you warned me! (On phone) Love, how is it that you’re white and you didn’t tell me?
You know something? You’re not even that black, you know? You’re: morena clara.
You know one thing. You’re not such an idiot. You’re only slightly an asshole. Excuse me.
– They say that a black women is crazy in the bed. So you two…
This is true, you know?!  There are black women that have three tits. If you’re lucky you’ll find four.
Imagine, me..a racist? How absurd! I even have a black friend.
Congratulations! Now you’ve already filled the quota for blacks in your life. You can make any racist comment that’s already been nullified!
– Don’t get me wrong, but I’m not used to being with a girl like you. It’s a question of taste.
And don’t get me wrong, but I’m not used to being with racists like you. It’s also a question of taste.
– This thing of the lack of representation…It’s all balela (lies)….TV is full of roles for blacks. I see (this) on TV.
Of course. The maids on the novela are what? Black women! The roles of the crooks are played by who? Blacks! Friend, there should be quotas for white. In these roles. There should be.
-What’s up people?
–This is Aline.
Hi, how are you?
– Hi Aline, you’re quite exotic, huh?
Wow, I’m flattered. Generally people call exotic that which is a little weird, right? Including having a session in zoo called: exotic animals. There’s: a donkey, mule, jackass. Ya know?
– This business of racism doesn’t exist here in Brazil. Here: “We are all equal”.
Oh no? Really?
– I’m saying…
So, everything that we experience, our entire lives, it’s all a compliment, dear? How great that someone explained this to us today! Look, you’re right and we’re crazy! What are we doing here fighting for the black movement? How hysterical we are! Stop! Spare me. Let’s go? Let’s go because this party is too bad! 

Source: Palavra de Preta

Note

  1. In Brazil, it’s common that women who provide varying types of services are affectionately called “tia”, meaning aunt, although they are usually not related to the person to whom they are providing the particular service.

9 comments on “10 racist phrases that black women hear (either denouncing racism or being accused of whining)

  1. ABIGAIL S MUTUMBA
    June 6, 2017

    as long as we are breathing we should never stop fighting for our people, and i think black women are the only beatiful women i have both outside and inside.

  2. Thiago Gregorio.
    June 8, 2017

    What a bunch of crap!!!!! You can’t go to work with a black power, unless you’re a model. But you can’t ‘sambar’, when I first met a Chinese man a asked him, don’t you know kung fu? I work on a cruise ship lines, the question I get the most is: can you play football, once I tell them im from Brazil. You work to hard, seriously?! The content in this question is racist?! You need to grow the fuck up and stop whining .
    I met this guy from South Africa, who is over 30 and lived there during apartheid , that was real racism.
    Who told you to straight your hair?
    Usually its a friend.
    Most of the racism cases is about the fucking hair, give me a break!!
    The people who believe this bullshits written in this blog, will never succeed in life.

    • gatasnegrasbrasileiras
      June 8, 2017

      Well, I’ll let the readers be judges of this. As I’ve read these types of stories from numerous other countries, I think you’re fooling yourself. But, again, you’re free to see it however you like.

    • gatasnegrasbrasileiras
      June 8, 2017

      “You can’t go to work with a black power, unless you’re a model.”

      And just out of curiosity, why is that?

    • stylesdan
      June 13, 2017

      Thiago, you are ignoring whats underneath the comments. Regarding hair, it is the assumption that having afro-textured hair somehow means that you are incapable of being professional. I actually CAN and DO go to work with my hair in its natural state (a black power). And I am still effective/efficient while wearing a suit in my office. And the comment about “working too hard” is sensitive because blacks have unfortunately been stereotyped as lazy ever since they resisted being forced to work without wages (slavery). As long as you refuse to acknowledge the history, it will continue to repeat itself.

  3. Thiago Gregorio.
    June 8, 2017

    Oh please, I was referring to the ‘black power’, hair style; one is not allowed to go to work with that kind of hair. Don’t get me wrong , im a black man and I do love the black hair style. But there’s rules when it comes to work place, such as uniform and else. Unless the work place is proper to that ‘type of hair’. That’s whining right there.

    • stylesdan
      June 13, 2017

      But you haven’t acknowledged WHY the rules state that a “black power” is unprofessional?

  4. Thiago Gregorio.
    June 8, 2017

    Some of the stuff in the article is true, i don’t mean the way I see it..Im talking facts.

  5. Thiago Gregorio.
    June 13, 2017

    What rules? Who states what? It’s like shout racism but don’t point who the racist is. I believe that giving more importance than it need to be, makes the stereotyping stronger. People will always judge, despite skin color, hair or else. If ‘you’re’ too skinny, or chubby not to say ‘fat’ cause people freak out when someone uses this term. I do know the story of my country and slavery, but we need to ignore these so called nowadays ‘microagressions’. I’ve been through a lot, like many blacks, and im thankful, it tastes better, when some whites find out I can speak three foreign languages fluently, and; that I am the kung fu student who holds the higher degree ‘belt’ at the gym where I practice. Once I was able to overcome ‘small issues’ I realized how amazing it is to prove ‘white’ people wrong.

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This entry was posted on June 6, 2017 by in Afro Brazilians, Uncategorized and tagged , , .
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