“Blacks have to assume their identity,” says woman who overcame prejudices

Juliane says her ex-mother-in-law always praised the light eyes of her former daughter-in-law
 
Juliane and her 3-year old daughter
 
When she was 20 some years old, Juliane Barros from the northeastern state of Pernambuco, was dating a young man from a well-to-do family. They were in love, she says. But the mother -in-law was the problem. One day, she commented on how beautiful her son’s ex-girlfriend’s light-colored eyes were. Jealousy, of course, set in. But an worse feeling flourished: she felt “degraded”. The fact was that her boyfriend was white and she was black. Other similar comments were made, and Juliane began to feel that he was not welcome in the family. For this and other reasons, she ended the relationship.
 
Cases of racism happen all the time in Brazil and abroad, as in the case of the 17-year-old girl thatwas beaten by her family for dating a black guy in the UK. She challenged her parents, who are currently imprisoned, and moved in with the young man.
 
Juliane Barros, now 33, works in the the City Hall of the Pernambuco capital city of Recife and says he has never been physically attacked because of racism, but ensures that this belief has already suffered from this backward belief. “It presents itself in a subjective way. You feel different looks, people treat you differently, but I’ll never be able to report something that is abstract,” she says.
 
She says that dating as a teenager marked her life. “At first, everything was going well, but over time, a year or so, I felt that my presence was not welcome in some places. Today, I see that they were afraid that a black child would be born in the family, since everything was getting serious. I know this because of comments that my ex-mother-in-law made. In front of me she would praise her granddaughter’s straight hair, and the light eye color of her son’s ex-girlfriend. The relationship didn’t end just because of that, but the relationship with his family contributed to it”, she says.
 
Juliane’s past experience with interracial dating is a reminder of how the underlying persistence of Eurocentric values permeates the psyche of the Brazilian population. Blatant and subtle evidence of racism exists side by side as does the existence of color/race-based discrimination alongside the existence of interracial relationships. In a recent post, another black woman participating in an online social networking site was told by a young white male in not so many words that he was better than her because he had “white skin, straight hair and green eyes“, while she was “nothing more that a dark-eyed, nappy-haired black.”
 
In Juliane’s case, the memory remains, but without the trauma. For ten years now, Juliane has had a white Argentine boyfriend Argentine who is a descendant of Indians and who is the father of her 3-year old daughter. She says in the university where he studied law she was challenged by friends when she started dating a foreigner. “They asked how a black woman can get with an Argentine, people who have a reputation for racism. It was as if I was not proud of my color. I am not in favor of segregation, people must unite”, she says.
 
Afro Brazilian women
Juliane has been with Emilio for 10 years
 
Juliane think that some people may confuse the kind of relationship she has with the Argentine Emilio Caballero, but she doesn’t give any importance to this. She affirms that she is super-happy with him. However, she notices the low presence of blacks in the places she frequents. “I’m always the only black in the area or in cinemas, bars, or airplane trips. I’m keep noticing this. I think the black population has not gained purchasing power to go certain places. The issue of quotas, for example, is very delicate. It is important as a policy of affirmative action to promote social and economic equality, but it is only a palliative that doesn’t end prejudice, which is a feeling.”
 
In adolescence, she remembers that she had some disappointments in love because of her color. “I had stopped flirting [with white men] for fear of going out, as a matter of defense, not to feel discriminated against. This creates even certain traumas. People say that your hair is ugly, the guy won’t want you, that they have a preference for white women. Our color is very much related to black power, to rebellion.”
 
She believes that information is lacking for the black population, mainly in Pernambuco. “Here, [racism] is still very serious. Recife is very provincial. There are closed groups and families. Although we live in the monoculture of sugarcane, like 500 years ago. And black people are afraid to assume their identity.”
 
Conquering space
 
For the psychologist Patricia Amazonas, in general, it is the person themselves who is prejudiced against their condition. “[The person] thinks that nobody will want to get involved because they are different and will not accept them. So they can defend themselves [from interracial relationships] to avoid frustration. This feeling is the result of a social construction, which ends up highlighting the differences, but family dynamics as much as the individual construction has psychological repercussions that can affect how one handles it in a tranquil manner, like Juliane,” she explains.
 
The psychologist gives a tip for anyone considering a relationship with someone from a different ethnic group. “It’s no use trying to meet the desires of others. If you want to, love the person, you have to take things on and conquer space, respect others, with dialogue, knowing that you will face some risks. You have to show for those who have the prejudice that the person that you love is more than a color.”
 
Source: 90% of this article was translated from an article at G1
About Marques Travae 2897 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

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