Note from BW of Brazil: It’s about that time again! Every year, we can always tell when Carnaval season is right around the corner. One sign and when he hear the raucous sounds of Carnaval samba schools and blocos rehearsing. Another sing is when the Globo TV network begins airing its latest edition of their yearly Globeleza commercial. As we touched upon previously, Globo’s new commercial received a number of positive reviews from black women who no longer wanted to see a samba dancing black woman shimmying naked for millions of viewers throughout Brazil. A third sign that tells us Carnaval is coming is Ilê Aiyê’s crowning of the Ebony Goddess. As we saw just a few years ago, skin color plays an important role in how the beauty of a black woman is judged, and former Globeleza girl Nayara Justino learned this the hard way a few years ago after she was stripped of her role because she was deemed “too dark”. Ilê Aiyê, on the other hand, gives darker-skinned black women the possibility to shine and show that ALL shades of black are in fact beautiful! And as I’ve presented to readers since 2012, again, BW of Brazil is proud to bring you the 15 contestants for 2017 and the winner who was crowned last Saturday. Check out the photos below…If you were a judge, which of these sistas would you choose?
38th Night of the Black Beauty of Ilê Aiyê – 2017 Candidates
Meet the 15 candidates who competed for the title of Ebony Goddess last Saturday (04)
Night of the Black Beauty has performances by Denise Correia, Juliana Ribeiro and Balé do Ilê. The performances are interspersed with Aiyê Band show
By Tailane Muniz, photos by André Frutuôso
It was Carnaval of 2009 when, accompanied by her father, the aestheticist Larissa Oliveira, 23, saw the bloco afro Ilê Aiyê pass through. 16 at the time, she was enchanted by the black woman that represented Ilê at the highest point of the trio elétrico. Little did she know that, seven years later, in 2016, she would be elected the Goddess of Ebony.
“It’s a love that comes from father, mother and grandmother,” says the current goddess. Today, she is the inspiration for the 15 young women who will compete for the title of Goddess of Ebony tonight at the 38th edition of the event, held at the Senzala do Barro Preto in Curuzu. In all there were 60 signed up.
Those who live in Curuzu know that every year the Senzala do Barro Preto prepares to elect their new queen. However, breaking the neighborhood’s barriers, girls from different parts of the city participated in the selections.
From Itapuã to Fazenda Garcia, there’s a woman that wants to become rainha (queen). Like Larissa, other competitors understand that the title is something that brings the family together in cheerleading and inspiration.
Elaine Cristina Silva, 28, says she was influenced by her parents and since she was a little girl, she has dreamed of being the Goddess of Ebony. Juciara do Espírito Santo, 35, who is the niece of a composer, has always been connected to Afro music.
“My uncle is not known, but he wrote songs for Ilê, that’s where it all began,” recalls she, who has tried to be a goddess eight times. Gisele Santos Soares, 24, compares the bloco to maternity. “Two things I love very much: Ilê and being a mother”.
Competing for the second time for the title, Camila Cruz, 25, argues that the contest represents the rise and empowerment of the black suburban woman. “My desire is to show the world the people who are overshadowed by racism,” says the resident of São João do Cabrito, in Plataforma.
Daiane Souza, 24, born and raised in Itapuã, the birthplace of Malê Debalê, was a goddess in 2013, is studying Pedagogy, but she really likes to dance samba. For the fourth consecutive year, she is trying the win the title of Goddess of Ebony. “It is a moment that is ours, in which we prove that it is possible”.
Another devotee of the samba is Ana Paula, 25. Although she seems shy, just play a samba to get her feet off the ground. With a broad smile, he shares her passion for Ilê Aiyê with her parents, who have been members of the group for 30 years. “I want to show that a black woman can also occupy a prominent place in society.”
Director of Ilê Aiyê, Arany Santana explains that the contest is an affirmative action policy made for the mulher preta (black woman). “It emerged in the dictatorship, when it was the absurd of the absurd to see a mulher preta in the position of queen. There were only contests within of that padrão branco (white standard). The hip, waist, eye color and quantity of hair,” he recalls.
For him, the Night of Black Beauty is the materialization of resistance. “It’s a legacy. We teach the black people who our heroes and heroines are, something historiography never did.”
Cibele da Silva, 28, is an afro-entrepreneur, works with turbans, make-up and cooking focused on black culture and attributes her consciência negra (black consciousness) to Ilê Aiyê. Firmly in her voice, she says that the woman has to stand up. “To be an Ebony Goddess, you have to love and respect yourself as a woman.”
Another that learned from the “most beautiful of the beautiful” was the student Thuane Vitória, 19. She says Ilê Aiyê taught her everything about black consciousness and respect for the next one. “I am the adopted daughter of a couple of women, which involves a difficulty of acceptance. I found here the support and the defense that I need,” she points out.
According to the president of Ilê, Antônio Carlos dos Santos, known as Vovô, the desire to do something that was directed only at black women emerged along with the bloco. “It’s that recognition thing that never existed.”
The baiana de acarajé Viviane Lopes, 26, says that the desire to be a goddess came from seeing, eight years ago, the parade of the bloco ” O arrepio foi súbito” (The shudder was sudden). The student of Nursing Suane Emile Góis, 24, always wanted to participate, but was ashamed of her body. “I have been with the bloco for 15 years, but I have always been ashamed to apply,” she recalls.
Participating for the first time, Honara Santos da Paixão, 20, says her greatest inspiration for Ilê came from her mother. “She has always paraded and passed on the love to me.” Among the newcomers, there are persistent candidates like Daniele Noble, 31, who is trying the title for the 8th year – in 2008 she was 3rd, in 2013 with the 2nd, and in 2016 she hit the beam again, conquering second place.
Gisele Santos Soares is the new ‘Goddess of Ebony’ of Ilê Aiyê
Gisele is a teacher and resident of the Itapuã neighborhood
Yesterday, the 38th edition of the Night of the Black Beauty contest, of Ilê Aiyê, chose the new Ebony Goddess in Senzala do Barro Preto, at the headquarters of the bloco afro, located in the neighborhood of Liberdade.
The name of the new Goddess of Ebony is Gisele Santos Soares, 24, who was chosen from 15 contestants for the title. She now has the mission of representing the group in the struggle for the appreciation of the historical wealth of Afro-Brazilian culture around the world. A resident of de Itapuã, Gisele is a dance teacher and participated in the contest for the first time.
The judges evaluated the finalists in requirements such as beauty, attitude, aptitude for African dance and knowledge about the history of the ‘mais belo dos belos’ (most beautiful of the beautiful) and the povo negro (black people) of Bahia. Supported by the State Government, through Bahiatursa and the Secretariats of Tourism (Setur) and Promotion of Racial Equality (Sepromi), the Ilê Aiyê Night of the Black Beauty is the largest beauty and exaltation contest for black women in Brazil, being held since 1975.