“It’s curious to say the least that an empowered black woman is with a white man”: Actress Erika Januza faces backlash over her new love (Part 2)

Erika Januza and her boyfriend Victor Evangelista, on a recent trip to the United States
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Erika Januza and her boyfriend Victor Evangelista, on a recent trip to the United States

“It’s curious to say the least that an empowered black woman is with a white man”: Actress Erika Januza faces backlash over her new love

This is a follow-up to a report on this same topic in an April 25th post.

I’ve previously shared the fact that I sometimes don’t jump on a story  immediately after it is released and for various reasons. Sometimes, the initial reports are not always clear or are a bit cloudy. One source may say one thing and another may report something completely different. There are also times when, as a story is hot and the media is all over it, I’d rather let all of the facts and reports come out, pick and choose the best sources, and then summarize in one post. In this way, I don’t have to make several posts about the same topic. These reasons played a role in why I didn’t jump on this story back in December when I first learned about. I hinted at this on a December 8th post entitled, “On the swirling tendencies of black women: Justifying their interracial relationships without being shamed like black men”. In that post I wrote: 

“…for several months I’ve had my eyes on a particular black actress who has been slowly making a name for herself since her debut in a television series several years ago. I’ve always thought of the woman as one of the most beautiful in Brazil, black or white. In my opinion, the girl is an absolute stunner. But there’s one thing I’ve noticed about her since I first became familiar with her. In the time that she’s been a somewhat well-known public figure, I note that whenever she’s dating someone or rumored to be dating someone, he is always white. She’s been single for some time now and I was curious as to what the next guy she would hook up with might look like. To be honest, considering her pattern, I already knew. Well, recently said actress acknowledged having entered into another relationship. Guess what he looks like…”  

Well, to be clear, I was talking about actress Erika Januza. Back in December, the actress had done an interview with Quem magazine in which she posed with several different hairstyles. In one, she has a fluffy afro and in others, flowing curls. Again, I thought to myself, this girl is a dime! One particular part of the interview caught my eye. Below is the question posed by Quem, with Januza’s response afterward.

Quem: You are a model of beauty and inspiration for many women, how do you see this?

Januza: It makes me very happy because I had questions with my self-esteem. Questions with my hair have already messed with me a lot. Today I really like myself as I am. I didn’t put myself in this place (of inspiration), but I’m happy because I didn’t have many people to inspire me. So, when women and girls ask me for tips, praise me, I am happy to do the best I can and represent them and show that we are beautiful and different black women, including among ourselves.

In this comment, Januza places herself in the position of millions of black girls and women in Brazil. As Brazilian society has consistently promoted brancura, or whiteness, as the standard for beauty, intelligence, wealth, etc., it is difficult to grow up in Brazil when all of the role models of such attributes look nothing like you. I totally get this. African descendants around the world live under a global system of white supremacy that constantly instills a feeling of inferiority in those who don’t fit into the European standard.

In one of her comments in the interview, she seems to want to pass on the idea that she has de-programmed herself or overcome these issues of self-esteem because, as she says, “Today, I like myself very much as I am.” But one really does have to wonder how far this de-programming really goes in re-storing the completeness of the African descendant that centuries of anti-black trauma has taken away, replacing it with a deep adoration of whiteness in the souls, beings and essences.

It is not a question that I can answer. Only the person who is under the “spell” can do a self-evaluation and come to the conclusion as to whether they have adequately deprogrammed themselves or not. But isn’t it intriguing how so many of these artists go public with their allegiance to the struggle against racism, their pride in blackness and full acceptance of the physical attributes they may have hated once upon time, but make romantic choices that seem to declare that they have no desire to reproduce offspring that takes on the very attributes they later claim to be proud of?

In my view, Erika Januza is one of the most beautiful women in Brazil, period, black or white. But if her choice in a partner, assuming the relationship becomes long-term, leads to marriage and/or children, almost guarantees that she will not produce an equal form of black beauty that she personifies.

To be clear, I ask these questions not to point a judgmental finger at Januza as an individual, but because it is the standard, the rule, not the exception among black Brazilians who are public figures. It also seems to be the norm that when black women “palmita” (prefer whites for serious relationships), they are allowed a certain “pass” because the discourse would have us believe that the choice of black women for white men is always a reaction to their being passed over by black men. As I have stated previously, I believe this is sometimes, maybe even the main reason for these choices, but it is NOT the only reason. Under a system of global white supremacy, how is it that we can legitimately think that black men are affected by its influence, but black women, who live under the same system, are not also affected?

So why I am bringing all of this up now? Well, as I wrote above, in December, I wrote an article in which I spoke of Januza without mentioning her name. I chose, at that time, not to even discuss the topic of, “there goes another one”. But as it turns out, Erika herself recently posted a photo of herself and her new love enjoying themselves on vacation in Orlando, Florida, in the United States. I’m sure that Januza couldn’t have expected the strong reactions on the part of some of her followers. Upon seeing the photo she posted in the arms of her new flame, Victor Evangelista, the never ending debate was fired up once again. Clearly disappointed in Januza’s choice of a new partner, some of the comments went as follows:

“Palmitou” (chose a white man for a relationship)

“Que vergonha namorar um branco!” (What a shame dating a white man!)

“Será que é medo de sua filha vir com traços de preto?” (Is it fear of your daughter coming out with black features?)

“Palmiteira sim” (Yes, a black woman that prefers white men)

“É no mínimo curioso o fato de uma negra empoderada estar com um branquelo” (“It’s curious to say the least that an empowered black woman is with a white boy)

“Com certeza tinha uma fila de negros. Assim como para a Sheron Menezes, Iza, Juliana Alves, Mariana Rios, Aline Dias, Lucy Ram9os… essas foram as que lembrei. No geral só a Manu Coutinho e Thaís Araújo com são exceção; Tem certeza mesmo que não tinha uma fila de ngros atrás dessas negras” (“Surely there was a line of black men. Just like Sheron Menezes, Iza, Juliana Alves, Mariana Rios, Aline Dias, Lucy Ramos… these were the ones that I remembered. Overall, only women such as Maju Coutinho and Taís Araújo are the exceptions; Are you sure you didn’t have a line of black men after those black women?) (see note one)

This last comment was in reference to the fact that, it appears that the vast majority of black women who are in the public spotlight have white men as partners, being that only famous black women in relationships/married with black men that come to mind are journalists Maju Coutinho and Joyce Ribeiro, actress Taís Araújo and singer Paula Lima.

As I’ve mentioned in recent posts, it is always intriguing when some issue is a hot topic within the black community in the United States and the same conversation is happening simultaneously in Brazil. This was again the case a few years back when many African-Americans took issue with the fact that tennis superstar Serena Williams was dating and pregnant by a white man. Around that same time, a hot topic in one Afro-Brazilian Facebook community was the fact that three black Brazilian women were dating/pregnant by white men at the same time: Actresses Aline Dias, Sheron Menezes and Juliana Alves. 

Juliana Alves, Sheron Menezes, Aline Dias
Actresses Juliana Alves, Sheron Menezes and Aline Dias were all pregnant around the same time

Before the above comments give the appearance that people were unanimous in their disappointment with Januza’s choice in men, let me clarify that, in general, most black Brazilians continue to voice the opinion that there is absolutely nothing wrong with interracial unions, evidenced by the responses of support that questioned the taking of issue with Januza’s new love. A few of those comments went as follows:

“Eu namoro homens, não a cor da pele deles” (I date men, not their skin color).

“Amor não tem corSeja feliz” (Be happy. Love has no color)

“Sério que tem gente polemizando o fato de ela estar namorando um homem branco e não um negro?” (Are there seriously people arguing that she’s dating a white man, not a black man?)

“Pessoas ignorantes” (Ignorant people)

“Tem contrato para namorar a pessoa da mesma raça, cor? Povo chato.” (Is there a contract to date a person of the same race, color? Irritating people)

“As pessoas namoram quem quiser, com quem se identificam. Parem com isso, gente” (People love who they want, who they identify with. Stop it, people).

I have and will continue to present the issue because interracial unions are one of the most important planks that Brazilians will resort to when defending the idea that Brazil doesn’t have racial problems. In fact, according to most people, the high rate of interracial unions is what proves that Brazil is less racist than the United States. Of course, when making this point, NO ONE will mention THE FACT that one key factor in the relatively high rate of interracial unions was that it was an agenda promoted by the Brazilian officials themselves as a means of eventually making the black stain population totally disappear from the population.

Of course, no one speaks on how people seek to whiten their families when there are mixed unions but pray that the process doesn’t reverse into blackness. NO ONE mentions how many light-skinned mestiços (persons of mixed race) speak of their black grandmothers or grandfathers as if they were a thing of the past that they have fortunately evolved from.

The point here is that, more and more black Brazilians are beginning to question why so many descendants of Africans seek/find love in the arms of the very race that they point to as the source of the overall lowly social position of the black community and waking up from the Brazilian dream of an eventual white or at least whitened population that is happening in front of their very eyes.

They are beginning to note the contradiction of speaking of “black representation”, “black pride” or the concept of “black money” when, generation after generation, you see this gradual disappearance of black skin. What would be the point of celebrating black identity, the challenge of “becoming black” when such of large percentage of those that eventually come to adapt a black identity as well as those who still don’t see themselves as such, continuously produce lighter and lighter skinned offspring?

Militants - palmitagem
Comments on social network site back in November of last year.

Translation of above comments

Patrícia – November 11, 2018 – Black girls (I’m sorry, but it’s just between us)… I’m curious…When you go to an event, or watch on TV, or on the Internet, a black man actively talking about the racial cause, demonstrating awareness, engagement, positioning…you wonder, in case you’re straight, if the individual’s partner is black…also?

P.s.: editing the post after hours of publication and some threats: I’m not pointing my finger at anyone’s relationship, I’m not saying what’s right, nor is it “defamation” for those who have interracial relationships. I only called the black women here to comment on what I have observed and the number of black women who demonstrated proves many things. Think about it! Read the book by Claudete Alves: Virou Regra? (Did it become a rule?), analyze the statistics of the IBGE…Just that.

Ale: Paty, I always thought about it, not only the black man, but also the black woman! I know many who fight for the cause and are married to whites! Different from the USA in which blacks value themselves, here in Brazil the black, most of the time, they marry a white.

I’m not judging anyone’s feelings (that’s what I always hear when I talk about it), but I think it’s funny that people talk about the appreciation of the black and CHOOSE to relate to a white! I find it contradictory! Of course not all have this choice, since historically the black man has a preference for the white woman, but we know that there are several black women who claim not to go out with black men, even if he wants to! Honestly, I can’t understand this contradiction!

We know that in Brazil, many folks who consider themselves to be brancos/brancas (white men/white women) have some degree of African ancestry. How do we suppose that African DNA got there? Slavery in Brazil ended in 1888, but in the last 131 years since abolition, much of the miscegenation that has occurred in the country has been voluntary, at least to the degree that many black people continue seeing interracial unions that produce lighter-skinned children as a way of their offspring attaining a better life in a pigmentocratic society such as Brazil.

I cannot and will not conclude the factors of what brought Ms. Januza and her current beau together. If their union happened as it does with most couples, one of them probably felt an attraction for the other and decided to act on the impulse. According to the actress herself, it was a chance meeting that happened at an airport and was “love at first sight”. As Januza tells it, her current love, Victor Evangelista, didn’t even know she was actress when he first approached her. There’s nothing at all surprising about how the couple got together. Does Erika prefer white men? Does Evangelista prefer black women? Is it possible that Erika in fact doesn’t have a long line of black men seeking her affections, as one comment above suggested? Former Miss Brasil Raissa Santana also suggested this when discussing her current relationship. I must also acknowledge the many black women who have told me personally or expressed online the idea that they often receive treatment from white men that black men have never bestowed upon them.

In the ongoing discussion over “palmitagem”, countless black women have expressed the viewpoint that black men consistently pass them over for white women. Only Erika knows the answers to these questions. But one thing is certain. There DOES seem to be some sort of force that impedes black men and women from getting together in long-term relationships, especially in the entertainment business.  

Now, one might question, “How do you figure that? 69% of all married couples in Brazil choose couples of the same color.” That is true according to statistics. But statistics on race in Brazil don’t necessarily give us a clear understanding of marriages according to color/race. It is also true that, given the premium placed on white men and women, simply because people of color do marry each other, this doesn’t mean that another person of color was necessarily that person’s first choice. We often see this play out when certain black people come into large sums of money and suddenly the black partner they were with is replaced with a more European model.

In terms of the “69% of all married couples consisting of couples of the same color” stat, I contest that percentage. In a recent post, I declared that I can no longer accept the Movimento Negro ideology that all pardos/brown/mixed race people should be considered black, because within that pardo/brown/mixed category, there are millions of people who look almost white.

Militants of the black identity crowd have contradicted themselves numerous times on this issue. On the one hand, they often argue that pretos (blacks) and pardos combined make up Brazil’s black population, which is often promoted as “the largest black population outside of Nigeria/Africa”. But this “all pardos are black” idea goes out the window when some of these almost white looking pardos apply to enter universities under the affirmative action program. This “all pardos are black” idea goes out the window when they see their favorite black male singer/rapper cuddled up with a woman who is a very light-skinned, almost white pardo.

What I’m saying here is that, we can’t trust the stat saying that 69% of all Brazilians are married to people of the same color anymore than we can trust that Brazil is 54% black. What one person sees as a pardo, could be a branco (white) in someone else’s judgment. As such, it is possible that in Brazil, there could be far more interracial marriages than the 31% that official stats tell us.

What I see in modern day Brazil is that, whatever the reason that so many prominent, as well as  common, everyday black men and women marry or have long-term relationships with non-black partners, what we are seeing is a voluntary fulfillment of the Brazil’s own eugenics project: the slow evaporation of the black population through the process of embranquecimento (whitening).

Depending on what city and state in Brazil one gets to know, this assessment could come across as slightly pessimistic. Certainly, if you visit some cities in the northeast, you may come to a different conclusion than if your experience were in, say, São Paulo. But even in states such as “Black Bahia”, if you visit some cities located in the interior of the state  you’ll come across a lot of families in which the darker, obviously black appearance of families just two generations ago is often times completely replaced by the light-skinned mestiço who, while still not quite white, is much closer to the white phenotype than the black.  

With certainty, I know there are people reading this text who will conclude that my analysis of the situation in Brazil is pure prejudice, but when I lay out a very simple argument, which I’ve done with numerous people, there is simply no way to deny the facts: You cannot advance the struggle for your people when everything you’ve managed to earn, be it money, education or knowledge, within a few generations, is handed back to the very community that you complain is the source of your rejection of self and oppression. Better yet, for those who disagree with this analysis, I challenge you to disconnect your personal view and explain how widespread interracial unions benefits the black race considering that, consistently, after a few generations, their offspring can nearly pass for European and any resources they have earned will belong to the same nearly white children and grandchildren? I’ll be waiting for that response.  

Note

  1. Here I need to interject a few things. 1) The person making this comment included singer Iza in the group of black women who have married white men. Iza’s husband Sérgio Santos isn’t white. Also, as many of the comments that were hurled at Januza after she released a photo with her new man came from black men, I needed to respond to two comments made in a previous post. One line from that previous post came from the writer of the post, Ana Carolina Pinheiro,  which read: “…when a black woman is questioned for dating a white man, while the black man usually goes unscathed”, while another comment read “When it’s (singer) Léo Santana with the white dancer, nobody says anything.” Both of those comments are misleading because it has been black women who have long been raising the issue of black men passing over relationships with black women to date and marry white women. There have been literally hundreds of articles and comments written by black women on this topic. Black women in fact coined the terms “paltiteiro/palmitagem”, so how it is that she can claim that black men go unscathed? The same goes for the comment on Bahian singer Léo Santana. Not only has Santana’s relationship with a white woman been criticized, but his followers were also quick to call him out for the lack of black women featured in one of his Carnaval promo videos.

 

About Marques Travae 3225 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

1 Comment

  1. This was a great article Marques and you really broke down how interracial relationships are viewed and function in Brazil. I completely agree with you that a black person cannot claim to love themselves but are married/have children with someone who is not Black. In my honest opinion i think Black women like Erika only love the AESTHETICS of looking Black and the not the deeper meaning of being Black. I also think Erika views her White man as a higher status symbol because most Black/Brown men in are meant to represent poverty and crime and she seems to have bought into that narrative.

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