The first three parts of our series on the issue of black Brazilian men and an apparent preference for white women, specifically blondes, continues to attract the intrigue of readers here at BW of Brazil. In this, the fourth and final installment of our series, we peek in on a round table discussion of black Brazilians about this topic. The participants were the makers of Brazil’s only magazine representing the black Brazilian community, Raça Brasil, and a group of readers who sent a few of the hundreds of letters the magazine received from readers after the article, “Why do they prefer blondes?”, appeared in one of it’s issues.
The discussion is an open, honest dialogue with a primarily black female group speaking about a topic that has been the source of chatter in Brazil for years. As you read along, the discussion will surely remind you of similar discussions on this topic in black communities in other parts of the world such as Europe and the United States. Below is how the round table discussion was introduced in the magazine and in part 3 of our series, followed by the discussion. If you didn’t already read them, be sure to check out Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 also. And as always, your comments are appreciated.
The huge controversy caused by the article “Why do They Prefer Blondes”, in issue No. 26 of Raça Brasil, paid off. We selected among the hundreds of letters that came to our newsroom, those that synthesized the thinking of readers of the magazine. The authors, more women than men, were invited to a debate on the subject. Five of them agreed to participate and came to the Editora Símbolo headquarters. For nearly two hours, they discussed this issue in a frank, open manner. The results are what you will read in the following article.
Aroldo Macedo: Diretor
Maria Amélia Rocha Lopes: Editor-in-Chief
And the readers:
Tamara da Penha Oscar, teacher, 22
Carla Fontes dos Santos, nurse and surgical instrumentalist, 22
Cilene Aparecida Pereira, financial assistant, 24
Neide Aparecida Fonseca, banker, 47
Jorge Luiz Rafael da Silva, fiscal agent of revenue, 28
Aroldo: When you received the magazine and opened the page, what shocked you the most? The theme or the photo?
Tamara: The theme didn’t shock me, what struck me were the statements of the interviewees, the way they cut them themselves off with black women…They could even talk about their preferences for blondes, which to me is a prejudice, but it’s their taste. What they don’t have a right to do is to do away with our self-esteem.
Maria Amélia: But you don’t also think that people who have better resolved this issue may not even care about their opinion?
Tamara: If each one was to expose their views about everyone else, it would become chaos. Sometimes certain things you’d be better to omit, pass over to not create confusion.
Maria Amélia: Do you agree, Jorge?
Jorge Luiz – No. I think in a completely different way. I’m a realistic person. I think the truth must be faced, no matter who it hurts, understand? Many of the problems of the black Brazilian today exist precisely for this reason. Nothing that was put in the magazine was invented. When I bought the magazine, I expected to hear absurd things. What amazed me was the courage of the magazine to expose everything, because it’s a taboo in society, a wound in the black Brazilian … Once the wound is exposed, who knows, that the black man won’t become more conscious? Maybe that’s what white society doesn’t want.
Tamara: I know many men who hated what they said about the subject.
Jorge Luiz: Sometimes the guy hates from his mouth outward. I’m in a good situation, I can say I’m successful and have relatives and friends in a situation like mine. They say openly that they do not date black women and that they do not marry black women!
Tamara: But then I ask you: since when has there been this trend of dating blondes? Five, six years ago, when this wave of Pagode musicians exploded, I think.
Maria Amélia: Could it be that now it’s no longer more evident?
Jorge Luiz: The black man is now in style.
Carla: Now it’s more evident.
Jorge Luiz: When you turn on the TV, every time you see a group of Pagode singers, a soccer player…This evidence of the black man brought this problem of not relating to the black woman.
Jorge Luis – I agree. The media is essential for this lack of black self-esteem. The host is blonde, the dancer is blonde…he already grows up with what the media puts in the head of blacks since a young age that he is a second-class citizen. In adolescence, what is the standard of beauty that he has? It won’t be the little black girl that is his neighbor! The standard of beauty is blonde with green eyes.
Neide: I don’t condemn Raça Brasil magazine for having done this article, it didn’t even shock me. I date and I have dated white men, black men, I am well settled with that. I got upset when a guy said he sees in the black woman slavery…that guy has psychological problems that he has to deal with. I was shocked to know that the psychological level of the black man is as devastated as it is. Raça Brasil magazine, when it did this article, could have presented the other side. I see the magazine bringing blacks up, improving our self-esteem. Ah! Are the things that come out in Raça magazine expensive? I don’t want to know, it’s a magazine that brings my race up. What I want to know is where are our young people when they pick it up and read a story like this? The media standard of beauty is blonde, but the standard of beauty for our youth today are the black men, it is Salgadinho, Alexandre Pires, Jacaré, Ronaldo …
Jorge Luiz: Ronaldo is not anyone’s standard of beauty.
Neide: But he is. I have an 18-year old daughter, our youth have all these boys as a parameter of beauty.
Tamara: Thank God, Netinho (who is dating Taís Araújo) was an exception.
Singer/TV host Netinho de Paula and former girlfriend Taís Araújo
Netinho and wife Meiri
Maria Amélia: Could it be that our youth are wondering why are they doing this?
Neide: My daughter always asks that.
Aroldo: To what do you attribute this preference for blondes?
Tamara: I think it’s money. First and foremost. Everyone says you have three chances to get rich: either you are born rich, you won the lottery, or you marry a rich man…They are using more than ever, this third option.
Maria Amélia: But could it be that they go after them because they really like them?
Tamara: I think that it could even be this.
Neide: I think that we can bless the black man. It’s the same thing as what’s said about the mulata on the Internet…here comes “millions” wanting to chat with you. I have five good applicants (laughs).
Aroldo: Carla Perez is not exactly hard. So what do you think happens in the case of Alexandre Pires with her?
Tamara: She’s rich now.
Jorge Luiz: We can’t go over the exceptions, let’s play by the rules: soccer players, the Pagode singers, how many of them are married to women who are infinitely below them in socioeconomic terms? I guarantee you that 90% of these are women using the player as a social springboard. That’s the truth. When I pass by in a car, the blonde who stands at the bus stop is looking at me, flirting with me. When I pass by a blonde with a car just like mine, she doesn’t even look at me. Why is it that when she has a car equal to mine she doesn’t look at me? Why is it that when she’s standing at the bus stop, she’s looking at me?
Singer Alexandre Pires and former girlfriend, dancer Carla Perez
Neide: If you were at the São Mateus bus terminal (outskirts of São Paulo), she wouldn’t look (laughs).
Jorge Luiz: In the time that I rode the bus no blonde looked at me.
Neide: If they want blondes, if they want white women, that’s their problem, but the black man’s money has to keep coming back to the community, right?
Jorge Luiz: Sometimes we don’t pay attention to that side. I was the first of my family to get a college degree, since the last slave took a whipping took in 1888 (2). It took more than a century for someone in my family to go to college, my sister was the second…
Neide: So far, I’m the only one from my family.
Jorge Luiz: Imagine if after all this time, instead of that beautiful black woman here (Carla sitting next to him), I was with a blonde! It would be work thrown in the trash, my children would not consider themselves black anymore…
Neide: But there is this business of feelings too, because when the person likes (someone), (the person) really likes (someone).
Jorge Luiz : When you like (someone), okay. The problem is rejecting the black woman.
Aroldo: Prejudice in Brazil, is it racial or social?
Jorge Luiz: Both.
Aroldo: I’ll add fuel to the fire. Many people say that blacks themselves are prejudiced against blacks. Do you agree with that?
Tamara: I totally agree.
Neide: No. I think it’s a trap white.
Jorge Luiz: The black policeman himself treats a white citizen one way and a black citizen a completely different way.
Neide: Who has the power? The whites, so they exercise racism, prejudice, and the black is trained, because he is a political being like anyone.
Jorge Luiz: But how is he trained in this way? If I were police officer I would never give different treatment.
Neide: But you’re an exception. There are centuries long problems that have been placed in the head of blacks.
Jorge Luiz: I’m tired of seeing cases where sometimes the author of racism is the black man himself. When she the grandson of Chico Buarque was born, Carlinhos Brown’s son, a black radio host said that Chico’s monkey grandson had been born (3).
Aroldo: When we started to make Raça Brasil magazine, there were three “truths” in the market: blacks on the cover of a magazine do not sell, blacks don’t have pride in being black and blacks have no purchasing power. Three years later, you can’t say that blacks are not proud of being black!
Jorge Luiz: The majority do not. My friends, seeing me read this magazine, came to the absurdity of saying that it was racist. Then I said: my son, since you were born you’ve seen magazines with only whites on the cover, you never thought it was racist and you bought the magazine. And now, with a magazine with people just like you, you think it’s racism! Of course, today it’s better improved and this magazine also gave a major boost of self-esteem to blacks. There are many people that before this magazine didn’t have the self-esteem that they have today.
Maria Amélia: Gilberto Gil (4) said that the black is becoming a natural landscape, or in other words, you’re seeing blacks on the newsstand, you see them as beautiful you on the street, at the dances, on television, in the CDs, successful in sports…
Jorge Luiz – When I was a kid, younger, I only saw blacks on television when they were the criminal. In thenovela (soap opera), they were only maids, janitors, housekeepers…People who had no family. In my childhood it was like this. Now, no. Brazil today is better for black children than in my time.
Neide: But there was a movimento negro (black movement).
Aroldo: Are you a militant of the Movimento Negro?
Neide: I am. This whole struggle that we are digging is increasing the self-esteem of black people, but there are still cases like these poor things, these sick people that spoke in the magazine…
Maria Amélia: It could it be that it’s not the case, since we are striving to increase self-esteem, to give a boost, we expose our difficulties, our wounds. It hurts, but could it be that the next step is not the healing and a better start?
Neide: I’ll speak from the heart, I think that Raça magazine didn’t have to do this right now because it keeps growing and the report brought many people down.
Tamara: But whites would not have the courage to write about this.
Jorge Luis: That is true.
Maria Amélia: Why we should not talk about this subject?
Jorge Luiz: People linked to movements like the Movimento Negro don’t like to face reality.
Neide: But I face reality, I am a trade unionist.
Jorge Luiz: But you do not like to face this reality, because it hurts, it hurts and nobody likes it, it’s uncomfortable.
Neide – You’re mistaken. I just think that it was not the Raça Brasil’s time to touch on this topic.
Jorge Luiz: It’s time. The time already passed.
Aroldo: Carla, what do you think?
Carla: I think the black man has no self-esteem, he doesn’t like black women.
Aroldo: There is another side. Many black men say that black women don’t give them a chance, they don’t look at their faces. What do you think of this?
Carla: I think this is also true.
Neide: Let me just say one thing: it’s not that I disagreed with what was written, no. I think you’re right. Raça should not have touched this subject in the way it was handled. It’s true that the black woman has problems with the black man. When a woman already has a college degree, she want to look for a guy to chat with on the same level and then she doesn’t find a black man because he, that could be on the same level, is with the blonde. Then she ends up going to white man. I hear this alot at my job.
Aroldo: We found the problem. From what I understood, as the black man ascends socially, he loses his identity, the relationship with ethnicity.
Tamara: I agree. Many times we go certain places and see a black man trying for the entire night to ger a white woman, and nothing…Then, at the very end of the party, he looks at you and thinks you’re beautiful! Of course you won’t even look in his face.
Aroldo – Cilene, what are you thinking of all this?
Cilene: I was hurt with the report because what am I? My father is black, my mother is white and I was born with white skin, curly hair and light-colored eyes and I’m discriminated against on both sides…Thirty years ago, my parents were married; my white mother (with) straight, long hair, my father, a black man who was not even successful.
Tamara: In real life, the mixed couple is a normal thing. But if you see the soccer players, you can count on your fingers who are married to a black woman. Clearly this is interest.
Neide: Her white mother married a black man thirty years ago, my white father married my black mother 47 years ago. Do they prefer blondes? No, it was for love. When you read in the magazine the depreciated guy with the black woman, it gives the impression that this here is the rule and it’s not the rule.
Jorge Luiz: Neide, it is the rule.
Neide : It’s not the rule, because you’re here with your black wife.
Jorge Luiz: I am the exception, because I am a naval official. Now I am a tax agent, but until last year I was in the Navy, I went to the Naval Academy, in the elite circle in Rio de Janeiro. Joining me in a class of 200, 240, there were eight blacks, more or less 3%. These black men, I assure you that I am the only one who married a black woman. I’m tired of hearing blacks and mulattos saying: “I don’t date black women, I’m already black enough!” I heard this from a mulatto. My father has told me: “I married your mother for you to be born with this lighter color, you have to find a white women to lighten it even more!”
Neide: This magazine was fulfilling a role in our community, it has a role.
Jorge Luiz : One of the roles is to expose the truth.
Aroldo: Tamara raised an interesting fact. She said that the self-esteem of the black man is very low.
Tamara: It is very low. I think the woman has already decided this. For her, the important thing is love and not to dismiss race. I think the man is the one with this business in his head of being with a blond to get his space! He has to deal with himself, to review himself internally, because he is not comfortable with himself.
Jorge Luiz: The great problem of the man is that he cares much for beauty and the standard of beauty.
Maria Amélia: Do men also care much for what another man thinks?
Jorge Luis: A man dates a woman exactly so that his friends could say, “Wow! Did you see that babe such and such is with?” So, for men, the beauty counts, and alot. Often the man marries a woman who is not worth anything, he’s unfaithful, but the standard of beauty is white.
Maria Amélia: What I wanted to know is when would be the ideal time to bring it up to Raça magazine?
Neide: I think you keep missing what I said earlier, an analysis.
Aroldo: The position of the magazine?
Neide: No. When you deal with business like this, it lowers the self-esteem of those who already have low self-esteem and it disgusts those who have black consciousness. It didn’t disgust Jorge Luiz because he thought it was exactly like that.
Jorge Luiz: I’m realistic. Do you think there was something invented there?
Neide: I didn’t say this in any moment. The role that Raça has been playing is to raise our self-esteem. And if this is the role, it cannot, not at this time nor at any time to put out any material that minimizes the role it has been fulfilling.
Maria Amélia – But could it be is that a magazine has this kind of role? Could it be that a magazine does not have to have good reports, information, ethics, credibility?
Neide: It has that role. They say things that come out in Raça are expensive. So what? The role of the magazine is not political. The people of the Movimento Negro don’t like Raça Brasil because they feel it’s depoliticized. I already like it because I think it has this role: to raise the self-esteem of blacks, and that it is already doing better than any other.
Maria Amélia: I insist. Could it be that the role is not to inform, discuss, have fun?
Neide: I’ve read much of your material here, they both inform and raise self-esteem, and that’s what I find positive in Raça, cause of this, I keep my subscription. Then I see all those kids in the backyard where I live, my son that likes the (Brazilian Hip Hop group) Racionais MCs, my daughter who is 18 years old: “Mom, let me read it”; and everyone “got into Raça”. They love to read it, see it and read it again, and they feel good. It may be that in a couple or three years you have a different level, but this level that you’ve accomplished now, you can’t switch up, for God’s sake!
Maria Amélia: I think it would be interesting considering everything we’ve discussed, to draw some conclusions: should we have touched on this issue or not?
Tamara: I think the time was ideal because it showed that blacks are appreciating themselves, they cared about the material, they contested it. Some time ago, they would pretend that they didn’t read it. Black women are not an object for men to think that white women are better.
Cilene: The report came at the right time and, incidentally, had a sensational effect everywhere. It was the right time and it caught everyone.
Maria Amélia: Do you think the magazine should touch (upon) wounds?
Maria Amélia: What do you think, Neide?
Neide: I think you should play in wounds with a method, not to make it bleed a lot, because otherwise you displace the whole building we’ve been constructing with our race for a long time.
Carla: I never thought that a magazine was touching on this subject. I agree with everything that was said, I think that it was said in the right tone at the right time. I think there could be more topics like this, so that blacks wake up to this sort of thing …
Aroldo: That causes controversy?
Carla: That causes controversy. I thought a black man would never be able to say this about a black woman, but then I saw it was true.
Jorge Luiz: I really liked the article, the only thing that struck me was the courage to talk about it in Raça. People are often used to dealing with things when there are many euphemisms, by rationalizing. It really was really exposing a wound, now it’s now trying to help heal it. Why do black Brazilian men act like this? Is it the black man himself or white society that imposes this behavior on him?
Jorge Luiz: Did they burn the magazine at the end of the debate? (Laughs)
Neide: We tried to make an analysis and it was awesome. There were more than two hours of debate.
Maria Amélia: Look at that beautiful thing you all managed to do…you already justified us having done the report!
Tamara: No one felt beat up because of this, it was an article that got to the core with everyone. I also think that after this article many black people who only go out with white women will start to change their attitude.
Tamara: With remorse.
Jorge Luiz: That’s a shame. I think that even the black man that has no conscience must have been impressed reading this. It was shocking, but sometimes you have to use the shock treatment.
Source: Raça Brasil
1. Long time television host recently passed away on September 29, 2012
2. Slavery was abolished in Brazil in 1888 with the signing of A Lei Áurea (the Golden Law).
3. Chico Buarque and Carlinhos Brown are both well-known popular Brazilian singer/musicians. Brown, who is black, was married to Buarque’s daughter, Helena Buarque de Holanda (both white) and they have four children together. The marriage ended in 2011.
4. Popular black musician who was also the Minister of Culture during President Lula da Silva’s presidency (2003-2010).
5. São Paulo-based Hip Hop group sometimes described as a mixture of American groups NWA and Public Enemy. The group is known for its politically charged lyrics that discuss poverty and blackness in Brazil. For more see here.
6. Brazilian political party that is the party of former President Lula da Silva and current President Dilma Rouseff. See more here.