Black Women of Brazil

The site dedicated to Brazilian women of African descent

Lack of social references harms black children: under-representation of ethnic diversity in childhood influences the construction of adult identity

Yasmin, 13, relies on the example of self-affirmation of her mother, Miria Alves, 34

Yasmin, 13, has the example of self-assertion of her mother Miria Alves, 34 – (Photo: Adilton Venegeroles)

Note from BW of BrazilArticles such as the one below supports what has been my view for several years now when the inevitable question comes up: Between the US and Brazil, which country is more racist? For decades, while images of black people being sprayed with water hoses, attacked by police dogs, legal segregation and race riots in the US were broadcast around the world, Brazil kept treatment its black population out of the media, even going as far as to flat out deny that racism even existed. This even as a number of Brazilian, American and European social scientists were conclusively showing that Brazil indeed had a race problem.

But the fact is that today, in many ways, the two countries practice both the subtle forms of racist behavior as well as the more brutal, blatant forms. But what becomes evident for me is that while racism is racism and as such it doesn’t really matter if one is worst than the other, what I see is that Brazil’s sophisticated brand of racism is more effective than that that one sees in the US, and there are a number of reasons why I believe this to be true. You see, in the US, black people may still live in de facto regions of segregation, this segregation, while not fully successful, DOES shield the black population a little more from the complete effects of white supremacy in the fact that African-Americans, even still under-represented in many ways, still have many forms of representation that simply doesn’t exist in Brazil and that in only recent years, has become a huge issue for black Brazilians. 


Having a doll that looks like the child favors his/her development and strengthens self-esteem.

Lack of social references harms black children

By Itana Silva and Ana Cely Lopes

“My greatest difficulty has always been to make her see herself in a doll,” the statement is by architect Soraia Almeida, 35, the mother of little Sarah, 6. Soraia’s restlessness represents a large part of black families, who have difficulty finding aesthetic references in children’s articles.

The psychologist Verena Souza explains that childhood is the first instance in the construction of personality. “It is at this stage that we seek social references. If the child does not see himself in a toy, for example, he/she grows up with distorted vision of itself. With the view that he/she is not suitable for places, because of their physical characteristics or their cultural nuances,” she points out.

Mother of Mariah, 4, the publicist Andrea Chaves, 30, is aware of this: “I’m looking for toys that respect our culture, because I want to insert into the life of my little girl the autoafirmação enquanto negra (self-affirmation as black). I try to preserve the cultura negra (black culture) in our lives. “

According to the sociologist Márcio Chammas, the lack of representation of ethnic diversity in childhood influences the construction of adult identity.

“The hierarchy of ethnic privileges tends to over-value padrões eurocêntricos (Eurocentric standards) – branco, loiro e olhos azuis (white, blond and blue eyes) – and this reflects in toys and, soon, in the children. If there is no diversity for those who are at the beginning of the conception of life, the tendency is to dominate a hegemonia branca (white hegemony), at the expense of people who do not recognize themselves in the world,” Chammas analyzes.

The student Yasmin Vitório, 13, does not feel represented in the media nor in the toys. She says that what helped in the acceptance of her racial identity was the active participation of her mother, Miria Alves, 34, and her father, Dottha Fritz, 42.  “They never let me alisar o cabelo (straighten my hair), and today I like it,” she says.

For the young woman, the presence of blacks in the media is important. “Even if it’s in a candy, pasta or supermarket commercial, it’s cool to see people like me on television,” she says.

To raise Yasmin’s self-esteem, her parents invested in the example at home.  “It’s no use having a discourse of acceptance if the actions don’t match the speech. The child observes, the reference is the mother and the father, in the visual and in life,” warns Miria.


Study showed that only 3% of the dolls available for purchase in toy stores is black


A survey carried out by the soteropolitana (Salvador, Bahia based) NGO Avante between April and July of this year shows that on average 3% of the dolls available for purchase are black.

To reach the data, Avante analyzed the sales sites of the 31 largest toy manufacturers listed by the Associação Brasileira dos Fabricantes de Brinquedos (Abrinq or Brazilian Association of Toy Manufacturers). Only 16 out of 31 produce bonecas negras (black dolls). In all, 1,945 different models were found. Of these, only 131 are black.

For Avante’s strategy coordinator, Ana Marcílio, there is inconsistency in industrial production. “The number of black dolls produced is a contrast, if we evaluate the characteristics of our population. It is noticeable that we have a backward industry in the discussion of social movements,” she points out.

In the expectation of creating a network to strengthen the purchase demand and encourage the production of these toys, Avante created, in April, the campaign “Cadê nossa boneca?” (Where is our doll?”).

“The idea is to transform the look of the shelves, so we can buy toys that represent our children,” says Ana Marcílio.

Source: A Tarde

2 comments on “Lack of social references harms black children: under-representation of ethnic diversity in childhood influences the construction of adult identity

  1. brownmemoirs
    June 30, 2018
  2. charles merriweather
    July 1, 2018

    Black Brazilians are taking the right approach by creating their own images that will influence the next generation. That’s right do not depend on someone else to give you motivation.

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