What is Black Women of Brazil?

Black Women of Brazil is a photographic and informational blog featuring a diverse array of Brazilian Women of African descent. As much of the English speaking world is not familiar with the history of African descendants in Brazil, it also features news, essays, reports and interviews spanning an array of topics including race, racism, hair, affirmative action, police brutality, etc. intended to give a more complete view of  the experiences of black women in particular and black people in general in Brazil with a goal of provoking discussion through the lens of race.

Photos feature women who are models, singers, rappers, dancers, actresses as well as politicians, activists, journalists, athletes, etc.  and common everyday people from the República Federativa do Brasil (Federative Republic of Brazil). The women range the gamut of phenotypes in terms of skin color, hair texture and facial features.

74 Comments

  1. You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation
    but I find this matter to be really something that I think I would never understand.
    It seems too complicated and very broad for me.
    I’m looking forward for your next post, I will try to get the hang of it!

  2. I am a Black-American male and I find this site very interesting. I have wondered for a long time what the discussion in Brazil was about race and skin color. Having read two or three of the posts on this site I find that people in Brazil are struggling with some of the same issues of identity, skin color and hair texture that American blacks have been tortured by for many years. Bravo ladies, keep up the good work. It is a struggle!

    • Dear WB,

      if you would allow me to respectfully bring a perspective from a Brazilian point of view. Some brazilians may find it offensive (including me) to refer to people from the US as “we, the Americans”.
      We in Brazil also consider ourselves americans, because we name our continent America.
      So if you would care to considering saying on the next time “US blacks” (or similar), it would be very nice and respectful of our brazilian identities 🙂

      Thanks for your message and lets keep up w the work!

      • In fact, I agree with this point. Brazil is part of the Americas and as such Brazilians are also Americans. But there are three things I would point out.

        1) Most Brazilians I’ve discussed this with over the years DON’T see themselves as Americans. I have NEVER heard a Brazilian refer to himself or herself as an American. This identification seems to be restricted to the academic world.

        2) In Portuguese, in the academic world, sometimes citizens of the US are referred to as “estadunidenses” but in English this doesn’t work as there is no English translation for this term. Americans of the US don’t refer themselves as “United Statians”, for example.

        3) The blog is in fact targeted at the English-speaking world and in most countries, people still refer to Americans in relation to the US. Many Canadians, for example, soundly reject the idea of being labeled Americans perhaps because of the political/military history connected with the United States.

        The issue is complex and your view is respected on this topic. Perhaps when more Brazilians and non-Brazilians of Latin American start demanding this as well it will be a time for a change. But at this time, in the same sense that most “pardos” don’t actually identify as “negros”, it’s a complex topic.

      • Another point that makes this issue difficult is the following. 4) If we were to use the term “Brazilian-American” most people in the world would immediately think of Brazilian immigrants living in the United States.

        It’s not that you’re wrong on this issue, it’s simply complex to deal with in this moment in time when these terms mean different things to different people while the mainstream discourse remains thinking of US citizens as “Americans”.

      • I can see your point and I agree in many aspects. I think what bothers me the most (and other brazilians), it’s when people from the states say that they live in “America”, instead of the US. I find that to be a very imperialist point of view.
        Here in Brazil, and i’d say 98% of the population, would say that you live in the Estados Unidos, and that you are (as well as other countries from Latin America) in America.

      • People from the USA are Americans what’s the problem? His statement was black Americans where did you read “we the Americans”?

      • here “I find that people in Brazil are struggling with some of the same issues of identity, skin color and hair texture that American blacks have been tortured by for many years”.
        It seems that there’s a separation between Brazilian and Brazil w America.
        It’s ok if you dont agree or see that.
        Different cultures have different perspectives on this, and we feel it differently.

  3. It is good to see a site like this. Our blog aims to bring together of African/Black people from around the globe and air their views about the condition of Africans wherever they live. Perhaps we should share stories so that your stories can be read by our audiences and vice versa
    Well done sisters of Afrika

  4. Kaylene, knowing some of the history (of the Latin/S.American African diaspora), would help anyone put the purpose and desire for a site like this into proper perspective. If you haven’t lived within the society created by this history or otherwise found out about it, you will be a little at a loss. A Brazilian will help me here – but I read once that there are about 38 (?) different words in Brazilian Portuguese that are descriptive of non-white skin color…now, begin your journey.

  5. * I thank you so much for this insightful, informative and absolutely brilliant blog. I shall keep coming back for more and shall share your wealth with others.
    Keep up the good work! *

  6. I am an African American woman who has lived in São Paulo for the past year. I have struggled to find a salon or hairdresser who specialize in Black hair. I do relax my hair, but considering brading. Can anyone provide a referral? I am desperate!

    • Hello Mia!

      Av. São João, 439 – República, São Paulo – SP, 01035-000

      this address is the gallery of rock, but on the ground floor are shops of hip hip culture and beauty salons specialized in black beauty.

    • Yes! This is very late but go to Plaza Republica and ask any one for the African shopping center (not the official name ) it’s literally two blocks from the plaza Republica Park it’s about 5 stories high on the inside there are lots of African hair salon the place is like a mini Africa .

  7. Hello! I’m so happy to find this blog. I am an African American woman who has lived in São Paulo for a year. I have not been able to find a hairdresser who specializes in ethnic hair. Can anyone please provide a good referral. I am desperate!

    • Do you live and stay in Jardins and not go the outer neighborhoods?

      In any case ask a black maid that works in your building…they probably know a few that would even provide in home service and that would bring a manicurist.

      Beleza Natural a national black owned Brazilian chain also has several locations in Sao Paulo.

      http://belezanatural.com.br/en/categoria/enderecos/

  8. Thank-you for giving us this broad view scope of racial inequality in Brazil. The conversation has to continue and information as this needs to be present within every segment of the social levels. I find living in Bahia, the Afro-Brazilians are either very proud of their skin color or really don’t want to associate with the word black or blackness.
    Abrigado para esse licao!

  9. I am an African American male in the USA that was a victim of this crazy sense of black being inferior. Looking at the memorial services of Nelson Mandela shows that as people of Color we are a Majority and Eventually the World will come to this Reality Also. black is Beautiful! Embrace & Love Our Culture WORLDWIDE!!!

  10. Hey guys AfroBrazilian.com is looking for bloggers to contribute to their web page. AfroBrazilian.com is a U.S. based website focused on enriching Americans on the deep rooted influence of African culture in Brazil. With Brazil being in the limelight this year because of the World Cup help us get the word out. Check out AfroBrazilian.com
    Feel free to contact me at esveidesoriano@lagrant.com for more info.
    Thank you!

  11. Olá, sou designer de moda e adoro as modelos negras. Sou aparentemente branca e moro na Europa por muitos anos já. O que gostaria de enfatizar é que no exterior meu maior problema é convencer as pessoas que sou mesmo Brasileira e que há gente branca no nosso país e muita. Se eles pensam em nós como muito pobres, descuidadas e que só servimos para sexo isso é outro problema que nao há nada a ver com cor de pele.
    Eu adorei o site, vou acompanhá-los e dou a maior força, mas definitivamente o problema nao está no extrangeiro, aliás acho que deveriam criar um site para que o publico internacional saiba que existe populaçao branca no país, mas o maior problema está no publico nacional. Somos nós Brasileiros que nos deixamos ser manipulados e fingimos nao ver, reconhecer ou nao temos o menor interesse em preservar a herança Africana como deveríamos.
    Entao aqui deixo duas sugestoes e um pedido: a primeira é enfatizar os intelectuais Afro-brasileiros, principalmente as mulheres, para que quando encontramos com extranjeiros eles nao logo pensem que somos prostitutas ou mulheres com purpurina de carnaval [em geral, todas as raças]; a segunda sugestao é um artigo sobre a literatura Afro-brasileira que nao consegui encontrar por aqui. E o pedido é uma lista de outras páginas na internet sobre a consciencia negra mais direcionada ao público Brasileiro.
    Obrigada pelo site, um abraço.

  12. I must say I’m pleased to have found this site. I am an American of African descent and my mother in law is Brazilian. She is slightly lighter than your soccer player, Nayer. But her in America most people think that she is Mexican and far from “branco”. So I would assume that this is why I’ve never heard her explain this phenomenon. And, my father in law is a dark skinned kinky haired man from Trinidad and he also has failed to explain this.

    I’m saying this to say I’m well aware of your struggle as a brown skinned women with negro features. I can not recall ever having seen a picture of women representing Brazil that look so much like the picture of the women attending the mall demonstration. What I’ve learned as an AA is that until we of African descent recognize who we are, what we contribute (before slavery) and what we are within ourselves, as a race of people, outsiders will never acknowledge who we are.

  13. I am Mexican American, but I like your site because there is a lot of news and information I would never hear about just reading US news. The only thing I hear about in South America is drug smugglers and soccer(futbol). Recently the earthquake was in the news but it was not reported that temblers were felt in Brazil. I have friends in Minas Gerais who were concerned about the aftershocks and I heard from them about this. Now as to the racism they will not speak of it so I read your site so I can understand what they are going through.

  14. Hello, I am conducting a research paper on this on going issue in Brazil. I believe this amazing culture isn’t represented in Brazil as much as it should. Brazil is usually represented as one story and I believe this would complete the image the world has of Brazil. Is it possible to conduct an interview via Skype or some form of video chat, or even back and forth email chat on this issue? It is for a school assignment and I chose this topic. If yes, please send me a message via Facebook or email. My email is: Clarimar.capellan@gmail.com. Thank You. I would even appreciate conducting and interview with an African American woman in America? I would like to distinguish and find the similarities within both.

  15. I am being deliberately brief with this post.
    Currently we at Chicago State University are exploring exchange options with
    universities in Brazil that have a critical mass of Afro-Brazilian students. We are a primarily Black and Latino serving institution.

    Our goal is to create exchange (faculty and student) and increase cross-cultural dialogue.

    Contact information is below if you could provide some direction in this matter. Thank you!

    In service,

    Yan Dominic Searcy, Ph.D.
    Associate Professor
    Interim Associate Dean
    College of Arts and Sciences
    Chicago State University
    9501 S. King Drive
    Chicago, IL 60628
    773.995.5015
    ysearcy@csu.edu
    Twitter – @ArtNSci
    http://www.csu.edu/collegeofartsandsciences/

  16. One of the things that I liked about living in Brazil and being married to a Brazilian is that the people there are not so segregated into “their” colour like in the States, he’s white, she’s black and they’re mexican etc etc.. The majority of the black women/men of Brazil are mixed race, they are beautiful because of their mixture, white genes/black genes with other interesting mixes thrown in there eg native Indian… from my pov we should embrace all elements that form the make up of regular Brazilain people, all colours and all races.

    • Thank you for your comment, but also let me say that I can only partially support this view. This ideology of “we’re all mixed”, “we’re all equal” is one of the principal reasons that it is so difficult to fight racism in Brazil. Whether persons are light or darker-skinned, they continue to be treated differently from those who appear to look more European. If this were purely a humanistic perspective in which all are truly treated as equal, this “utopia” wouldn’t be a problem as there wouldn’t be a social/racial hierarchy. But from a political standpoint it doesn’t work, as so many people believe that having “mixed blood” eases the problem. As such, the minority group doesn’t have the force it could have because a large percentage of its would be supporters don’t identify with the struggle.

      • Agree with you 100%. The Brazilian non-racial democracy is a myth. The problem exist. Only saving grace for Brazil is that it is not as bad as other Latin American countries.

  17. Bonjour,
    Je suis française et j’ai été tres surprise de voir lors de ma première visite au Brésil
    que la réalité n’était pas ce que j’ai pu constaté.En effet en France nous pensons que le Brésil est un exemple de melting pot mais quand on y regarde de plus prés on s’aperçoit que les noirs ne sont pas trés présents aux postes les plus élevés de la société que ces derniers se retrouvent souvent dans une grande précarité .De retour dans mon pays je me demande comment faire pour aider car ici meme si les choses ne sont pas toujours faciles , en tant que femme noire mes droits sont respectés et mon niveau de vie est correct .

    • Salut! Ca va Jocelyne? Je suis Afro bresilienne, j’ai habiteaux États-Unis et voudrais parler plus de mon expérience personnelle. Je parle mieux français que j’écris. je m’appele Kenia.

  18. I will be quite honest here. I have become quite disappointed and a bit maybe angry that it seems that Brazilian of African decent are standing the staggering racism which is rampant in Brazil. But as a person who does not live in Brazil having never visited the country either I can’t be so judgmental. And seeing your website and your efforts and your work in highlighting and not sugarcoating the “rainbow of Brazil’s democracy” is comforting. Thank you for speaking out and bringing to the open sphere that which is much too suppressed. Greetings and solidarity from Washington, D.C.

  19. I would like to know if you have a direct contact email address as well as phone number. I’m located in the US and would like to collaborate on a few projects. Please contact me as soon as possible.

  20. Good day ladies! A Facebook friend shared a post from this site about two weeks ago and I’ve been poking my nose around in here since! The views and perspectives shared here are highly valued to Black American women like myself who struggle with the same issues – and coming from our African brothers and sisters in Brazil make it that much more important. You aren’t struggling alone! The Diaspora as a whole deals with these issues and I will make a more conscious effort to create more awareness on your behalf! My African sisters, I stand with and support you 150% ! Keep it up!

    • I am a black man born and partly raised on the mother continent, also the USA and spent some time in England. I love and enjoy this blog/education and will continue to send the site to as many contacts as I have everywhere. Having studied a bit of urban ethnology as a development planner I would like to point out that Dr W E B Du Bois’ diagnosis of “ the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color-line” is everywhere in and outside the black people’s minds on every continent that we reside. Dr C G Woodson’s prognosis of the condition of the Mis-Education of the Negro is also every where we reside. It may be the intensity that differs. It reminds me of the saying that the difference between African Americans north to south, the Jamaican, the Guyanese and everyone else in the Diaspora is where the boat stopped.

      I am tempted to say:The only difference between usall is who the boat left behind and where it dropped the ones it picked up. Weather we like it or not Africa must look and will have to continue to look for solutions from all of its children wherever they are just as much as all Africa’s children will find themselves in Africa.

      I suggest we make it an all inclusive discourse but through the African Brazilian Eye if that makes sense. In Southern Africa we say women are the rock of a society and without them there cannot be a home. Of course we men have lost the plot in the course of history.
      May the ancestors look after all of you wherever you may be and continue with the education.

  21. I simply wanted to say that I am always searching for a deeper understanding of humanity, particularly the experience of humans in the Afrikan diaspora, and I am thankful for finding this site. Brazil/Brasil is on my list of places I look forward to meeting face to face in my future.

  22. I so wish that those of us in the Diaspora throughout the Americas – from Brazil, to Spanish-speaking Latin America, to the Caribbean, to the US and Canada, would make more of an effort to unite together, even so far as to educate our estranged brothers and sisters in Africa. Our common history and experiences outweigh our differences, and we can learn, grow from, and strengthen each other. We desperately need to unite and invest in each other. No one else will do this for us. No one else will affirm us. What are we waiting for?

    • This is a talk my sister and I often have, but where do we start?. We speak on the fact despite what some may think being African American leaves us very isolated. Many times I’ve found myself having to tell other Black people that there are Latin people of African decent.

  23. I just learned of your website and started visiting it. How informative and inspirational. I’m originally from Guyana but currently reside in the United States. I love what you’re doing in raising people’s awareness and consciousness regarding a variety or social issues, notably race-related. And, of course, celebrating our beautiful black/African sisters in Brazil. THANK YOU!
    -Alvin

  24. Just wanted to say that i love this blog and i came across it by accident while doing some research on racism in Brazil. I am a African American male living in the United States and I think that it’s important for all of African descent in this western hemisphere to come together and unite against the main thing we have in common. This discriminator, this oppressor, This exploiter. Whether in Brasilia or New York City its the same man. Black Nationalism is the way. The struggle continues……………

  25. I am an African American woman and am so excited to have found this sight as I seek to know and learn the different and similar experiences from my Black sister’s of different nationalities.

  26. This blog is OUTSTANDING! I am an African-American woman who currently studies Portuguese and Spanish. I wish my Portuguese were more advanced,
    so that I could dialogue with more Afro-Brazilian sisters! But it’s marvelous that this blog is in English for all of us who are linguistically “Portuguese-challenged”.:-)
    Muite obrigada and blessings to all…

  27. Hello! Hola! Bom Dia! My name is John; I’m a 67-year-old white Englishman from a fairly traditionally conservative (but not, I would say, intolerant) rural farming background in the South-West of England, working in the Gulf state of Oman, teaching at a university college for Omani women.

    My wife is a black Brazilian (father was African-Brazilian, mother half Brazilian Indian (please forgive me if that is not quite the correct term these days, but it is how she explained it to me) and half European, probably Portuguese. Her father was born in 1900. We know nothing about his father (my wife’s grandfather), but if he was over 30 when my wife’s father was conceived in 1900, then my wife’s paternal grandfather was born a slave. Brazil finally abolished slavery in 1888, and passed a law in 1870 to the effect that any child born to a slave from then on would be a free person — hence the ‘if he was over 30’.

    My wife’s father ran a small building company even after he went blind; her mother was an incredibly hard-working maid (not a day off in 20 years) who never learnt to read or write. My wife remembers her carrying her as an infant walking some 12 kilometres to work cleaning a house (no buses available); my wife insisted on walking from an early age to take the burden off her mother. She still loves walking.

    My wife is a dentist; her brother is a lawyer. She’s a very good dentist (she once descaled my teeth using just a kitchen knife!), and works for a state-financed charity in Rio de Janeiro treating poor and homeless street people. As you may imagine, this is a demanding and at times stressful job, as some of the people she treats are not easy characters. But she is brilliant at dealing with ‘difficult’ people, and I have seen at first hand their often emotional appreciation for what she has done for them.

    My wife has been a huge hit with my neighbours in Devon, a very white monoracial part of England — they all love her to bits — and they chipped in with generous contributions of food and flowers for our wedding back in 2006.

    At present my wife and I have a long-distance relationship; we visit each other every year (you can now fly direct from the Gulf to Brazil), but we are looking forward to the time soon when we are both retired and can be together both in England and Brazil. She lives in Gamboa, the historic but slightly run-down area near the port. Recent archaeology has uncovered the remains nearby not of a slaves’ cemetery, but a slaves’ trash heap, where the bodies of slaves who died in the ‘reception areas’ were dumped like so much rubbish.

    Maria has not experienced much in the way of what you might call hard, vicious racism, from what she tells me, but unthinking assumptions, such as being handed their coats by guests at a party who assume she must be the maid. But being often the only black person in a profession dominated by white people brings its own more subtle stresses and strains.

    There was a famous Elizabethan sailor, Sir John Hawkins, the contemporary of Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Ralegh, all local heroes in my part of the world, who is sometimes called the Father of the English Navy and known for his probity in stamping out corruption. He was also in effect the Father of the English Slave Trade (the Spanish and the Portuguese were the first Europeans, I believe), and so little embarrassed by this that his coat of arms included ‘a Moor (like Othello) in chains’.

    My wife is a wonderful lady; to know her is to love her, and I do, very much!

    One day we would love to try a sort of DNA search to find out where her ancestors came from (maybe Angola?).

    Do you know the famous USA Supreme Court case in the mid-1960s
    ‘Loving versus the State of Virginia’?
    What a wonderfully symbolic name!
    It’s the case which struck down all state laws in the USA against mixed marriages (and there were a lot of these laws — would you believe in South Dakota?).

    I am NOT indulging in ‘whataboutery’ or any attempt at moral equivalence (the numbers involved were absolutely tiny by comparison), but it is not widely known that the southern coasts of Devon and Cornwall, also of Ireland, and on one occasion even Iceland (!), were the subjects of periodic raids over the centuries by Barbary pirates from North Africa who carried off sometimes whole villages into slavery. To complicate matters still further, some of these pirates were Europeans who in the parlance of the time had ‘turned Turk’.

    Do you know the Sherlock Holmes short story “The Yellow Face”?

    My email is johnhecase@yahoo.com
    If anyone reads this and would like to make any comment, please feel free to contact me.

    Muito Obrigado!
    Beijos!
    John

  28. I am a US born Black Man who has lived in St. Croix, V.I. for 20+yrs. Since my re-location to the caribbean, I have come to appreciate the purity of a black womans natural beauty, no caucasion can compare to the beauty of blackness. It truly troubles me that most Americanised black men, do not recognize the importance of his black woman, and rise to a level of ethnic purity and dedication to her. I have seen too many black men that measure their manhood by how effective they are in keeping a black down, they themselves lack the moral strength of true leadership, as defined by, Jesus Christ, so this deficiency is transferred onto how they interact with the black woman. I am looking for that one Brazillian Black Woman, who can fill a lifelong void. It’s my hopes that one of you beautiful Brazillians will take me as close to your heavenly bosom as humanly possible.

    PS. I can understand how someone would find this article complicated, if they never had to suffer the disappointment’s and frustrations of trying to have a truly black experience under the brainwashing of a Caucasians dominated Americana Society.

  29. Hello, can you do a post on Ines Brasil. I think she is a comedic entertainer, but I don’t know much else about her.

  30. Olá, sou produtor da NPR no Brasil e gostaria de entrar em contato telefônico com alguém do blackwomennofbrazil para uma matéria. Vocês poderiam me enviar por email? Super obrigado!

  31. How… How have I never heard about this blog? It’s so good!
    E ainda na dúvida se devo comentar em português ou inglês rsrs
    Parabéns a todos vocês!

  32. USA here. Don’t know why but when I try to look up ‘A Redenção de Cam’ on the english version of Wikipedia, it does not exist.

    • Hello Rebecca! The term in English would be “redemption of ham” or “Ham’s Redemption” based on the old Bible narrative in which descendants of Ham would be cursed. If you search under this title you’ll find a number of articles including a link to a WIKI page about the painter of the painting, Modesto Brocos y Gómez.

  33. Hi,I’m an African from Nigeria.I came to this site through my Google search because of a statement I heard from a friend about racial discrimination happening in Brazil,I never knew such thing is going on in Brazil! Going through your site has confirmed my curiosity.But I will want to know more.I will keep coming to this site for more,until I’m able to figure out how to help.We blacks are beautiful creation of God,I don’t see any reason why anyonenin his or her right sense should continue to discriminate against us.Please,if there are other sites or blogs where I can informations about the plights of my brothers and sisters in Brazil let me know.

  34. Greetings Sisters,
    Earnestly seeking our sisters and brothers, that have been scattered to the four corners of the earth, that are seeking our Elohim. We have 30 months (according to the gentile calendar) of our captivity left. We are reaching out to our family in an unified effort to come together for the Day of Repentance!

    If you are searching, please feel free to contact us @ theyehudahproject@gmail.com or view our website: noymonarch.us

    Discrimination..we understand. We are discriminated against all around the world, because of us not obeying OUR God according to Deuteronomy 28. In 30 months, OUR God is going to lift the curse and face us again as a NATION!

    Where will you be?

    Please feel free to contact us @ theyehudahproject@gmail.com or view our website: noymonarch.us.

    One Nation! One Goal!

  35. I have accidentally stumbled into this website. I have a habit of perusing the Internet for any thing that would connect me to my people( black people of African descent) around the world. Specifically black people in South America ex. Brazil and Spanish speaking countries ex. Columbia, Dominican Republic. With regard to Black Women of Brazil , I think I have struck gold. To see and learn of my people being conscious of the African Identity has made me feel so proud and even more conscious than I already was. The stories you share of private and personal struggles to define or identity is heat warming. At the same time its heart breaking to see how my people are treated. This makes me love you and myself even more, …the resistance. I pray that one day, people of African descent can consolidate our politics, culture and economics. I admire your conciouness and strength keep BWofB . I wss born in Barbados, grew up in Nyc and I find to a certain degree you are more conscious than a lot of black women in the US. I’m ready to move to Brazil to find my African wife. I will continue to read and stay informed of happenings in Brazil. I love you all. Red, Black and Green. One aim one god one destiny

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