Note from BW of Brazil: Interracial relationships. Yes, we’ve talked about them before, but the conversation has been expanding for a number of years. With the rise of black consciousness among Afro-Brazilians, more and more black women are questioning the reason why it seems that all the black men around them have white wives or girlfriends. Are these women exaggerating? Blowing the issue out of proportion? In reality one doesn’t have to do any deep research on this topic to get an idea. In numerous Afro-Brazilian oriented social networking communities the topic seems to come up every week. And even within these groups, the debate is generally divided between those who see a dangerous trend that threatens to end the existence of Brazilians of dark skin color and a a strong identification with whiteness within the black community and those who believe that race has no place in discussions of relationships or the cliche “love has no color”.
As we continue to explore this issue, we push aside accusations by some that anyone who supports the union of black men and black women must be some sort of Hitlerite racist who hates interracial couples. It’s often amazing how people who have that view often times will avoid the serious questions involved in the discussion, a fact that we will analyze in more depth in a future post. The Brazilian discourse that “we are all mixed” and “racism is not a problem” does not seem to want to analyze some of the very thought-provoking essays/articles written by black women who feel the brunt of an apparent preference of black Brazilian men for white women. For example, analyzing her lifelong loneliness, Caroline Louise wrote the following:
“Talking to a friend about our difficulties of fixed relationships, at one point she said ‘I know that as much as I study, create my independence, I will hardly get married, I realize I’ll never be as good as a white woman in those conditions.’ It was with great sadness that I heard those words, because in the end it seems that that’s right. I spent years of my life trying to understand what was wrong with me, questioning how other girls that were not even so pretty and not so interesting had such ease in having relationships.”
Interestingly, the actress Taís Araújo, who is considered one of the most beautiful black women (1) in Brazil, revealed that as a teen, she “never dated in school, and for me that was normal”. Considering these conversations and thoughts among many of Brazil’s black women, we cannot allow accusations of “wanting to create segregation in Brazil” deflate a growing debate. The numerous debates on the topic perhaps prove that this conversation will not be going away anytime soon. Contributing to the dialogue, one woman decided to delve into the topic by doing her own research to see what results would appear.
The solitude of the black woman and the everyday racism
by Cintia Farias
I was there in tranquility when I decided to seek (still more) examples close to a phenomenon that persists, is little discussed and perhaps stronger every day, which is the omission of the black woman. Or “racism without racists, section: woman” (feel free to name it in your own way).
It was a simple work, executable in ten or fifteen minutes without demanding much effort. Worthy of who tries to avoid fatigue, like me. The work consisted, basically, in opening my contact list on WhatsApp and quantifying my family and friends with known “marital status”. I found 21 committed men of which only three had black wives or girlfriends.
I inform you that my primary focus was black men – because I’ll bet a kidney how the chosen one will be white every time I see many of them committed – but I ended up expanding the observation and also accounting for white men and lesbians. Among men, I counted 9 blacks and 12 whites, already among lesbians (three), all were white, just like their girlfriends.
Maybe I was not satisfied with the result and went there to check out Instagram. I used the same criteria (do you have a girlfriend, wife or partner? How many, among them are black?). There I counted another 20 men (excluding those that are in common with the WhatsApp list), of whom only 2 had a black girlfriend/wife (2).
Maybe again I had not been satisfied with the result, and, realizing that I followed a few famous (people) on Instagram, I decided to take a brief stroll through the accounts of some “celebrities” for the sake of observation. This time just I observed only black men – pop singers, actors, athletes. I would like you take shot at the result of that search. I could have one, to close my downward curve right, but no. Ten out of ten black men surveyed are dating or are married to white women.
Talking to a friend about this, she wondered “could it be that none of these guys look to the sides in the group of friends and wonder,” ‘why is it that there are only white women here?” I think not. Not because, under its logic itself, all that are there are following a standard. My family and friends on Whatsapp and Instagram don’t let me lie. Could the color of the affective partner be a random choice? A thing only of the heart? Answer: no. It is NOT possible to credit only a personal choice for white wives and girlfriends.
My dears, I do not mean that you are not entitled to have personal taste.
I’m saying that even your personal and non-transferable preference is socially molded. I’m saying that if I ask you to close your eyes and imagine a woman, this woman formed in your mind will be white. If you see a beautiful white woman, she will just “pretty” but if you see is a beautiful black woman, so she will be a “beautiful black woman”. It’s that since childhood you have been accustomed to thinking of white as neutral.
The boy dolls, the girls dolls, the cartoon characters that you watched, hosts of your favorite shows (of all ages), the toy, car, margarine, milk, soap, shoes, beauty products (insert any suitable product to be hype object here) advertisements … Also remember your childhood sweetheart, remember the girls from the movies and novelas. And remember girlfriends who you presented to your parents. What I’m saying is ultimately to reduce your choice to a mere field of personal taste, ignoring the social construction that made you conceive the white as beautiful, is, to say the least, innocent. It’s forgetting this structural character that racism has.
(And before you come to list the prominent roles that black women are gaining in the media, have a look at the material that i) was produced for 30, 40 years; ii) has been produced recently and come back here so we can talk a little about humor, sexuality and the reinforcement of stereotypes)
I know I’m not saying anything new in this note.
Nevertheless, this is the exact point of the conversation in which they classify us as paranoid or say “everything now is racism.” This discourse of paranoia is emblematic and finds shelter in the peculiar mechanism of Brazilian racism, which is to turn the victim into the guilty. Because racism, in reality, would be in the mind of people that point it out, that conveying it as a problem to be faced. To say that “everything now is racism” is to demonstrate, at the least, disinterest by the fact that the history of this country is founded on racism, and it is precisely because there is nothing new in objectifying black women and treating them as second-class women that you cannot pretend it’s only paranoia.
Racist is not only the young white woman on TV calling a futebol player a monkey. Racists we are, every time we deny space to discussions like this for the argument that this is overcome, or is not important. I indeed wanted to be able to observe the day-to-day life of each one of those who stoned the house of the Grêmio fan, only to see them saying – in the comfort of their homes free of prejudice – a negrinho (little black boy) “made out good” seeing him walking with his white girlfriend, that that menina black power (girl with the afro) is very pretty but should comb her hair, that public policies of racial quotas are reverse racism, among other manifestations of racism in our every day to definitely prove the disseminating and structural nature of racial segregation in our country and turning over pockets of good people to find where it really is that it’s racism lurks.
Since I cannot even go there, I follow reminding them, even here, how hypocritical it is wearing your shirt that says “Say no to racism” and continuing to adopt the convenience of the “neutral” stance to make invisible all sorts of discrimination that happens around them – and that which they contribute to – just to understand how those racists, quite distant from us, beat up, curse or offer bananas.
Source: Lugar de Mulher
- This writer knows full well how the phrase “beautiful black woman” can be seen as proof of the idea of ‘she’s beautiful for a black woman’, but, as the previous writer expressed, in Brazil, there seems to be an unspoken belief that no matter how beautiful a black woman may be, she will never be on par with a beautiful, or even average looking white woman.
- It’s necessary to point out here that the writer’s research contributes to debunking the idea that it is only black men of elevated social status that seem to prefer white women. To the contrary, in many ways it seems to be a preference of Afro-Brazilian men in general regardless of their social status.