Note from BW of Brazil: The development of black identity is a topic that we can never focus too much on. The numerous posts featured on this blog that approach this topic are a testament to the fact that, growing up as a person of African descent in Brazil, all sorts of obstacles are placed in front of one’s path so that the individual avoids defining him or herself as negro, or black, at all costs. In a Brazil that decided in the 19th century to promote miscegenation within the black population as a means to eventually lead to a white (or at least whitened) Brazil. And because of negative ideologies associated with blackness (see for recent examples yesterday’s first and second posts), most would be black people end up defining themselves with more racially ambiguous terms such as moreno/morena or pardo/parda.
But what we’ve seen over the past few decades is a rising consciousness among Brazil’s afrodescendentes (persons of African descent) that, through a process of consciousness raising, are proudly claiming an identity that Brazil has long taught them should be a source of shame. The freedom of the internet, access to information as well independent media are a few of the primary tools that are turning this construction of identity process into a slow building revolution among pretos, pardos, mulatos and morenos who want the world to know that they are not ashamed of defining themselves as negros/blacks!
Being a woman and black is beautiful. And I am
By Ana Beatriz Sacramento Felizardo* – Courtesy of Blogueiras Negras – photos courtesy of Soul Negra 2015 and the trailer Negra Sou
Negra Sou (A black woman I am) was a project that was born from the experience and exchange of experiences and reflections I am participated in with my sisters from Núcleo Universitário Negro (Black University Student Nucleus), NUN of UFRRJ (Rural Federal University of Rio de Janeiro), about us, mulheres negras (black women).
My first contact with the race issue and with empowerment became possible when I had the opportunity to attend a public university and participate in organized groups of Rural. Since we believe that formation is not only an achievement in the classroom.
And since I began to participate in the NUN meetings, I put the guidelines of the racial question in my work, not only the documentary, as in other works as well. To achieve not only my own formation on the subject, but also to expand to others.
Because we know that it’s no use if we train only blacks and only black people understand what racism is and fight against racism if we fail to pass this debate on in order for other people to be able to understand too.
The question of constructing the black, the pride of being black in a racist country like ours, also takes place through the issue of representativeness, otherness and empowerment, one of the issues in which the Movimento Negro (black movement) has inserted itself in social debates.
With Negra Sou in the phase of production, I invited women who were part of NUN to help me make the documentary. Since they were the first inspirations that helped me with the empowerment process and to see how I was beautiful and didn’t need to be ashamed of my color, from our conversations, the sharing of experiences up to following their acts of militancy and in their professional lives as well. I believed that we could spread this feeling of power of speech. It was an afternoon of exciting interviews with a lot of feeling involved.
The actresses of K’bela, a short film that talks about the hair transition of black woman, Dandara Raimundo and Isabel Zua added so much, I already knew the work of K’bela through the disclosure in social networks. It addresses an issue that has to be spoken about and that can be a manifest and denunciation, but with an artistic and elegant touch.
During the interviews, I asked questions like: como era se tornar uma mulher negra (what was it like to become a black woman), what were their main inspirations, how did they see themselves represented by media outlets and at the end we came together and sang jongo to also give a subtle artistic touch to the documentary. For the actresses of K’bela, I asked what it was like to be part of the project and what the importance of it was.
WHEN we ARE YOUNGER WE DON’T UNDERSTAND THE VIOLENCE THAT IS IMPOSED, WE QUESTION THE SIZE OF OUR HIPS, OUR LIPS, WE STRAIGHTEN OUR HAIR. BUT DECONSTRUCTING THE STEREOTYPE OF CABELO CRESPO (kinky/curly hair) AS RUIM (bad) IS STILL A DIFFICULT TASK, BECAUSE THERE IS A LOT OF INSECURITY.
Whoever cherishes a society of equal rights knows how much we, mulheres negras, are affected by this system that deters our speech and that lowers our self-esteem. I created Negra Sou in order to contribute to the extent of political consciousness-raising, that has as a symbol cabelo crespo. May several and several other black women empower themselves.
For the right not to be judged or depreciated for the color of our skin or our hair. I seek to take empathy for other people in relation to our struggle, because we didn’t win a struggle alone. I hope to connect with other women who watch the documentary, I sought to make reflections, take pride and happiness about our identity. For a happy black woman is a revolutionary attitude.
Negra Sou trailer
* Ana Beatriz Sacramento Felizardo: A Social Communication student with specialization in Journalism at the Rural Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. Works in the Union of Federal Public Servants in the State of Rio de Janeiro. I am a member of the Coletivo de Mulheres Negras (Collective of Black Women) – Alice Bruno da Rural and was already a member of the Núcleo Universitário Negro of UFRRJ.