How I (re)discovered myself as black: Columnist tells how she grew up “in a white world”

Como me (re)descobri - DUDA

Note from BW of Brazil: A little over a week ago I posted a story on how Brazil’s black population continues to grow. In fact, according to a report, in recent years, it’s grown by 32%! In the article, one of the researchers collecting data for the study could not exactly explain why the black population had grown by nearly one-third in only six years. My conclusion is based on stories such as the one I present today. 

It’s not simply a question of black people having more children, but rather that more of the “would be’ black people are beginning to define themselves as such. A I’ve explained for a number of years, there has always been a discrepancy in knowing exactly how many black people reside in Brazil because there are probably millions of “would be” black people that define themselves “pardos”, meaning mixed race or brown, rather than specifically “pretos”or “negros”, meaning black. In the archives of this blog, you will find a number of articles of people defining their journey of a transition into assuming a black identity

In a Brazil that teaches its population that one should avoid defining him/herself as black, this ideology still has a huge influence in the minds of the people, even those who may have darker skin and more clearly black phenotype. But with the rise of blogs, sites, YouTube channels, black theater and so many other outlets devoted to the issue of race and blackness, there has been an awakening that reached millions of people and led people come to understand how the world sees them and how such classifications can have a huge influence on their lives. Below, Duda Buchmann talks about her transition into blackness. 

How I (re)discovered myself as black

Columnist tells how she grew up “in a white world”

By Duda Buchmann

I was “lucky” to realize that I was black due to living with peers during college, and that came naturally. I was 19 years old and I stopped referring to myself as parda (brown/mixed) in any life questionnaire in order to declare myself negra (black). And that wasn’t just a change in my vocabulary, it completely transformed me.

I grew up in a mundo branco (white world) and didn’t realize the difference at almost any moment of life, which would be an ideal society, wouldn’t it? After all, the amount of melanin in people’s skin does not define the behavior of each of them.

Living among those who had no such pigmentation left me outside of the understanding of the identidade negra (black identity) during my childhood and adolescence. I knew little about history and felt out of place in the face of black discourses. I was associated with a “typical Brazilian” while some said that I had an “exotic beauty,” and I didn’t know what that meant.

My process of “enegrecimento” (blackening) began when I decided I did not want to have my hair straightened any more. I stopped using chemicals and went through the hair transition (period of abandonment of chemical processes that transforms the structure of the strands). It changed my life!

Besides living with black colleagues, with incredible stories from the  comunidade negra (black community) of Porto Alegre, assuming my natural hair was a fundamental part of this whole process. Because now, yes, I was completely the way I was meant to be.

In fact, we live in a time when girls and women are assuming their cachos (curls), their crespos (kinky/curly hair) and although it may initially be something aesthetic, many end up (re)knowing themselves as black as well.

When I say that I was “lucky” to recognize myself without any pressure, it’s because I know that with others it was not so simple. Some are born knowing, others only perceive when they suffer some kind of racism and then there are still those who reject themselves and are afraid to face what lies ahead.

Being good with what you see in the mirror is a process, it may take time, but it is liberating. The moment we recognize our image, our skin, we realize that we play a role in society. The one of breaking down the barriers imposed by the color of our skin.

Today I am happy and honored to show black beauty and strength to thousands of people daily. Receiving feedback that I am helping some of them is what most motivates me to continue in this work.

If you don’t know, I invite you to check out my Instagram, full of beautiful images of black and strong women: @negraecrespa.

Duda Buchmann is a blogger who likes to talk about the feminine world, especially the black woman, and inspirations that raise their self-esteem. She writes weekly at revistadonna.com. 

Source: Gaúcha ZH

About Marques Travae 3091 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

2 Comments

  1. Well, good for her. I am surprised she wasn’t told by her parents at an early age it just would have been obvious looking in the mirror. I think within the coming years the population numbers will increase for blacks in Brazil as they become more self identified.

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