“I want a black man and I want to have three daughters with him”: Can only a black man understand what a black woman goes through in a racist society?

"Kiss your black woman in a public square" - Cover image of a 1991 issue of the Movimento Negro Unificado journal, 'Jornal do MNU'
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“Kiss your black woman in a public square” – Cover image of a 1991 issue of the Movimento Negro Unificado journal, ‘Jornal do MNU’

NoteIt’s intriguing to see black people who don’t necessarily buy the “let’s all mix” propaganda that’s been spread in Brazil for so long. I saw the writing on the wall long ago. What I have noted through both personal experiences and as well as those experienced by others is that, under a system of white supremacy, the whole “we are the world” mentality is a sham. And as I have repeatedly written, the vast majority of black Brazilians seem to continue to “drink the Kool Aid”, but little by little, people are popping up who have doubts about love across racial lines bringing more equality and harmony between different groups as well as the reasons why so many black Brazilians seek such unions. 

We’ve already seen where people admit to experiencing racism in their own multi-racial families (here and here). We’ve seen examples of white Brazilians who, even after miscegenation being such a strong attribute of Brazilians society for centuries, continue to harbor a sense of white superiority (here and here). We’ve seen how persons of mixed race who have more identifiable black physical features are less valued than siblings who look whiter. And we’ve seen black men who are willing to admit that the idea of palmitagem, the preference of blacks preferring relationships with white partners, was/is a widespread ideology in low income communities.

In today’s piece, a journalist speaks on her grandmother’s desire to marry a black man possibly because she felt that only a black man could understand her plight. Although the author didn’t understand this as a child, through her own failed marriage with a white male, she suspected why her grandmother might have felt this way. It seems that her grandmother would have seen eye to eye with activist/psychologist Umar Johnson, at least on this issue.  

Hmmm….It’s the second time I’ve referred to Johnson’s interview on the need for black couples that was translated into Portuguese and shared in social networks. It seems that more and more black Brazilians are beginning to believe this as well. 

I want a black man, a widower and I want to have three daughters with him

By Rachel Quintiliano

Rachel Quintiliano
Rachel Quintiliano

SINCE I WAS LITTLE, I WOULD HEAR MY MATERNAL GRANDMOTHER TELLING THE STORY OF HOW MY GRANDFATHER ENTERED HER LIFE. SHE SAID IT WAS THIS, THE MAN – BLACK AND A WIDOWER, THAT SHE HAD REQUESTED FROM GOD, ON ANY AFTERNOON AS SHE WALKED THROUGH JARDIM DA LUZ, A VERY POPULAR SQUARE LOCATED IN DOWNTOWN SÃO PAULO.

The faith was so great that grace was immediately granted upon her. After her prayer, my grandfather sat next to her and they lived together until he died, just before I was born, more than 40 years ago. More than once, I heard her say that we have to know how to ask. “Ask for anything and anything comes,” she would say as she laughed during our conversations.

I never had the opportunity to ask him about the story. I didn’t know him. But the few photos show that he was handsome, tall and elegant. He didn’t go without his suit and hat. I learned that he had a good job as a cook at Palácio Bandeirantes, headquarters of the Government of the State of São Paulo. Good enough that he could leave the cortiços (tenements) of the Bexiga (neighborhood in the downtown region the city) and move with his new family to the north, to a house of his own, constructed little by little.

Nor did I ask my grandmother, why she would ask for a black man and a widower. She also died and I was left without an answer. I venture to say that perhaps a black man, a widower in the 1940s, was one of the few to accept a young woman, poor, illiterate, northeastern and with no relatives nearby. Someone who, because of a dream of freedom or for any other reason, left practically escaping from her hometown of Canhotinho, Pernambuco, to venture into the immensity of São Paulo. Hard times, no doubt, even for a white woman.

Did she think that only someone who knew what it was to be disrespected and discriminated against would accept her?

I always think about it and how to maintain relationships, without having to explain every week why your son, nephew or godson simply didn’t get the dreamy compliment from his teacher, why despite your hard work, it never seemed to be enough to get a promotion, or why you came home from happy hour completely annoyed because your colleagues just didn’t believe you didn’t know how to samba, even though you were a black woman. In other words, recognizing racism at every hour of the day.

Could it be that for some time she thought that being with someone who suffers racism could be more understanding, since she suffered other forms of discrimination?

I got married once, he was not a black man and often times, I was just plain tired of explaining, so I decided to keep quiet. Not out of love, just out of fatigue. The marriage is over, and the experience makes me wonder whether a lasting relationship with a black man would spare me such an explanation or whether it would throw me into other dilemmas. All bets are on. What do you think?

What are the challenges for amor negro (black love)? I venture to say that the first is to find him, the second is that, in my opinion, it is a political act – and a political act requires a lot of energy and resilience. Proof of this was the legendary campaign of the Movimento Negro Unificado (MNU or Unified Black Movement), which had called on the comunidade negra (black community) to kiss in a public square. It was a political act, an act of confronting racism and the celebration of love.

Kiss whoever you want, depending on the desire, the reciprocity and the patience that you have. Beije seu preto e sua preta na rua (Kiss your black man and your black woman on the street).

Source: Raça Brasil #208

About Marques Travae 3171 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

1 Comment

  1. This is once again another compelling article, posted on the website. The curiosity expressed by Rachel Quintiliano in wondering why a black woman would pray for a black husband is testament to the cultural disassociation of affection between black people. Other groups may not articulate a desire to be coupled with people from their group, but it seems as though they do tend to couple within their group. Not apparently so within numerous black communities.
    Rachel’s supposition that one of the motivations for marrying in group is the short circuit of communication, not having to answer the implicit questions of ‘what’s it like?’ or ‘how does it feel?’ seems to refer to the utilitarian aspect of black/black relationships, whilst the assertion that marrying black is a political act, lthough potent, both overlooks and undermines the hostility and distrust that is commonplace in interactions amongst many black communities. What the movimento negro sought to do in encouraging black people to publicly express affection to each other was to address the issue of hostility within the group, but from without; to make declarations of love regardless of whether or not they felt the love. The greater challenge, it seems to me, is to learn to love each other in and for its own sake and rewards

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