Note from BW of Brazil: As we all know, black representation in any genre is an ongoing struggle. Even more so if we consider only black women. As an example of how minuscule this representation really is, one report found that Afro-Brazilian women represent only 4.4% of characters in Brazilian film. In Brazilian literature, the result is similar with black females representing only 2.7% of all characters. Also, when these women are presented, they often are presented as sexualized ‘mulatas’ or maids. Add to this same invisibility and stereotyping in television and is it any wonder why black women are imagined to represent the base of the social pyramid. With this bleak picture, as we have pointed out in previous posts, one solution to this lack of representation is for more talented writers, producers, actors, etc. doing for self as we have seen in a recent film, independent literature, creative YouTube product commercials and a number of stage productions. Today we feature the work of a writer whose work appears on this blog from time to time as she tells the story of Dandara, a real-life Afro-Brazilian female freedom fighter.
(In the clip below, taken from the 1984 film Quilombo, about Palmares, the greatest quilombo (maroon society) that ever existed in Brazil. At the 5:50 mark, see famed actress Zezé Motta in her portrayal of Dandara)
The book As Lendas de Dandara (The Legends of Dandara) is a celebration of black and women’s literature
From the newsroom of Correio Nagô. With information from Capitolina magazine.
Do you know who Dandara of Palmares was? What does she represent? If you are a black woman, a feminist, you should know her. And do you know how many times she was represented in some work? There is an emptying of this information. This invisibility of black women’s participation in the history of freedom of blacks in the country was what drove the Pernambuco writer, Jarid Arraes, to write the book As Lendas de Dandara (The Legends of Dandara). A work that mixes the true story of the struggle of quilombolas (maroon community inhabitants) in Brazil and legends about the existence of the black warrior, better known as the wife of Zumbi, the principal leader of Quilombo of Palmares, as historiography does not have very precise information about it. Published independently by Liro Editora Livre, the artistic contribution was from the writer and illustrator, Aline Valek.
In the book are the impressions from Jarid about the life of Dandara since her birth. Explaining her origin, that even happens in a curious way: the warrior was generated to free the slaves by Iansã, a yabá – a term referring to female deities in the Candomblé (religion) – connected to winds and battles.
“It’s hard to find books that have black women as protagonists. It’s also difficult to get published after the work is ready,” says the author about the difficulty that black literature encounters in the Brazilian market. Jarid is a citizen who fights against sexism, racism, gordofobia (fat phobia)and prejudice against northeasterns, producing content targeted directly to activism and the feminist perception of the world.
It’s important to reiterate the impact of one of the contents produced by Jarid, the text ‘E Dandara dos Palmares, você sabe quem foi?’ (And Dandara of Palmares, do you know who she was?) published by the author in the column of the journal Questão de Gênero of Fórum magazine, spurred her to write the book. Below the text, comments denied the existence of the warrior, saying Dandara dos Palmares was only a legend, challenged Jarid to write ten stories with a lot of adventure, suspense, supernatural events and even a little romance.
“I think that without Feminism, especially without the recognition and support of other women, I might not have become a writer because I would not have broken through the barriers that the lack of representation, sexism and racism have created,” says Jarid.
Below, Jarid Arraes reads an excerpt from her book set to Speed Painting animation.
Source: Correio Nagô