Note from BW of Brazil: From the time this writer became aware of singer Luciane Dom, I wanted to know more. Her sound, her voice and particularly her music video for the song “Seu Bem” intrigued me and made me want to know more about the development and thoughts of the woman, particularly in terms of the racial question. Normally, in Brazilian Popular Music, as in Brazil’s media productions in general, it’s quite normal to see black artists paired with white partners. It’s almost as if Brazil has a problem with the existence of couples that feature a black man and a black woman. Afro-Brazilian entrepreneur Humberto Baltar sensed this when he and his black girlfriend would dine in fine restaurants of Rio de Janeiro. With Brazil’s long historical goal of embranquecimento (whitening) of its population through miscegenationmiscegenation, this makes perfect sense. As Florestan Fernandes andothers have pointed out, the black population is often a willing participant in this objective.
In A integração do negro na sociedade de classes, vol. 2 (1964), Fernandes writes:
“the consensus of the two ‘racial’ stocks, the marriage of the “black” man with a “white” woman and vice versa, of the “black” woman” with the “white” man is an irrefutable evidence of the referred “improvement”. The “benefitting” spouse would be the “black” and he himself thinks he is contributing to “purifying the race” and engaging in moral advantages (apparently of estamental nature), arising from the social condition of the “white” race.”
With this in mind, it’s very fitting that Afro-Brazilians are often paired with white partners in films, novelas, videos, commercials, etc. to ‘de-negrify’ the image and give the pair more widespread acceptance. As Baltar mentioned, it seems that white and mixed couples are accepted in chic establishments while black couples are frowned upon. So when I saw Luciane Dom’s video with the black couple playing out a situation in a relationship through chereographed steps, I had an instant curiosity about Dom, who apparently wanted to extend the black aesthetic to a romantic setting, which goes against the grain of most couples presented in Brazil’s media. After reading the interview below, it only made more sense.
Mulheres Pretas (Black Women) on the move: interview with singer Luciane Dom
by Karina Vieira
Luciane Dom impresses when she begins to sing. With a strong voice, she is one of those pleasant surprises, that when we listen we don’t want to stop. She’s just released her first video, this in an incredible sequence plan and of rare beauty.
MBP – Who are you?
Luciane Dom – I am Luciane Dom, a very inquisitive and argumentative woman.
MBP – How did you discover your negritude?
LD – I discovered my negritude as a child. My parents were always preoccupied in talking to me about identity, although at the time I didn’t understand any of it. I had black dolls, I always wore braids, the music we heard was American gospel music, so I grew up listening to those black choirs and felt represented. I studied at a private school in my childhood and the majority of the students were white; My nickname was “apagão” (blackout) and “peste negra” (black plague) (1)… So every week I denounced my classmates. My parents were always very active in the school, attending meetings of parents and teachers to talk about racism and taught me how to defend myself with arguments.
MBP – What led you to choose your profession?
LD – I’m graduating in History at UERJ (State University of Rio de Janeiro), but I don’t intend to work in this area. I want to do what I’ve loved to do since I was a child, which is singing. I was taking history because I liked to argue and criticize a lot, I have been a questioner since I was a child, so I left Paraíba do Sul (in the state of Rio de Janeiro) to come to study. Here in Rio de Janeiro decided I would risk working only with music, since besides singing I also compose. I am troubled by the question of race in Brazil and this is a topic that I worked on since college, so I end up making music in this theme. I want to be recognized as a singer and continue doing this work for appreciation of identidade negra (black identity). It is essential that we be seen positively in society. Next month I finish my CD called Liberte esse Banzo, in which I talk about empowerment and daily struggle as a mulher negra (black woman).
MBP – How was the path of your graduation?
LD – It was very complex…I took many strikes, discouraging professors, but I managed to have a good basic training because I was part of the Laboratório de Políticas Publicas da UERJ (Laboratory of Public Policies of the State University of Rio de Janeiro), and there I read quite a bit and had good tutors.
MBP – Who are the pretas e pretos (black women and black men) that inspire you?
LD – Ahh, several! I’m inspired by Gilberto Gil, Itamar Assunção, Johnny Alf (I’m in love with his music), Carolina Maria de Jesus, my great-grandmother – who I had the good fortune of living with until 15 – Altiva Cabral, Elza Soares, Solange Knowles, Erykah Badu…
MBP – Who is that black woman you know and want the world to know too?
LD – Mahmundi.
MBP – In your professional trajectory how much have we advanced and how far do we still have to go?
LD – Ihh, it’s still a long road, but we have already made some progress…I have seen several black women empowered and opening paths through music, arts in general, but we still need to advance dissemination and propagation of our work. I think we’re still very attached to a white media that ends up silencing our voice.
MBP – How do you deal with your estética negra (black aesthetic)?
LD – I take care of my skin quite a bit, I use little makeup, I use sunscreen, I do scrubs and moisturizing frequently. I take care of my hair quite a bit also, every week I hydrate it, do umectação (moisturizing). For skin I like Mary Kay cleansing products..For hair, I have used Capicilin gel that shapes the curls. I’m totally happy with my appearance!
MBP – What is representation for you?
LD – Representativeness is seeing yourself in the other. You feel identified or represent something for someone. Black representation is being seen not only in the same social places that they imposed on us since slavery, but to show that we can have access to the place we want whenever we want! #representatividadeimporta (representationmatters) #representatividadepretaimporta (blackrepresentationmatters) #liberteessebanzo
Discover the music of Luciane Dom:
Source: Meninas Black Power
- Luciane’s recollections in the school environment presents yet another example of racism within the Brazilian school experience.