Note from BW of Brazil: Well it seems that Brazil’s ‘dirty little secret’ is becoming known by more and more citizens of other countries. And by ‘dirty little secret’, I speak here of how the nation treats and thinks of its black population and this population’s invisibility in so many areas of Brazilian life. Of course, this is not only the doing of a little blog like BW of Brazil, but also due to the entrance of many foreigners residing in the country for whatever reason. In the past, we’ve covered the experiences of African immigrants, Haitian immigrants, as well a few black foreigners from Europe or the United States. And while the experiences are not always exactly the same, each revelation informs us of the myriad of manners in which Brazilian racism re-produces itself. Below, a Russian photographer shares her experiences as well as uses her camera lens to share with the world the beauty of our favorite subject: the black Brazilian woman!
Russian photographer is surprised by racism in Brazil and decides to capture the beauty of black women
By Redação of Hypeness
Many people still think that there is no racism in Brazil. If you are part of this team, it’s probably because you don’t intimately with any black people. However, a Russian photographer living in Brazil for eight years decided to show the world the hypocrisy of Brazilians in not talking about this issue.
The photographer Alyona Gamm says that when she arrived here in 2007, she didn’t understand racism. But as she spent more time in the country and began dating a black guy, she realized how difficult it was to deal with prejudice.
“I’ve heard the conversation of a white Brazilian family saying that they wouldn’t be happy if their daughter dated a black guy. I asked them ‘what do you have against blacks?’ They replied that they had nothing against (them), they just prefer a white son-in-law…I was shocked that day. I think it was the day I realized that there is racism in Brazil,” she says, in a conversation with Hypeness.
Alyona adds that she has witnessed many racist scenes alongside her boyfriend. “When he was younger, a teenager, he was stopped at the pharmacy, security thought he was an assailant…” she recalls.
But this was when she heard the story of five black boys who had been killed by police in Rio de Janeiro that she decided she could also fight against prejudice in her own way: using photography.
It wasn’t long before Alyona decided to do a photo shoot to exalt the beauty of the mulher negra (black women) and their cabelos afros (natural afro-textured hair). “Most mulheres negras in Brazil straighten their hair, because cabelo negro (black hair) is considered ‘feio’ (ugly).
Someone will suddenly think it’s only a matter of beauty, but I think this is more serious – as negras negam sua identidade (black women deny their identity), their natural beauty, their cabelos afro, because for some reason cabelo afro is considered ugly in Brazil,” says she that also publishes her photos through Instagram.
Alyona suggests that one of the best ways to combat prejudice is to put your hand in the conscience; will it be that you’ve never had any racist thoughts? Have you never judged anyone by skin color or appearance? Accepting the problem and talking openly about the issue seems simple, but it’s one of the ways we have to debunk every prejudice in our society.
The pictures below are the way she found to raise the dialogue on the topic to show the beauty of mulheres negras (black women). Check ‘em out!