Note from BW of Brazil: You see, this is an example of what I love about the Diaspora. Often times when we become interested in something or some place, often times there’s certain unknown familiarity that you need to discover. At least it works this way for me. When I discover a singer, musician or band that I like, I like to know who the influences were on them and then I’ll check out those artists and often times, I’ll find something, a link, that reminds me of the musician/group that led me to them.
In terms of places, it sort of works the same way. I can remember many years ago being required to study a foreign language in high school. Being all of about 15 years old at the time, I remember not having any particular interest in studying a foreign language. At that time, the United States was all I knew and I hadn’t developed an interest in other countries at that point in my life. French was always considered a sort of prestigious, sophisticated type of langauge so I chose it over Spanish. I managed to get through the class with a B grade, but as with any class/subject that you don’t have a lot of interest in, my little knowledge of French pretty much disappeared when that class ended.
My experience with that class taught me something that I would really only understand years later. The way a class is taught can have a huge influence on if the student connects with the topic or the material. And in many of my classes such as world history, social studies and foreign langauges, I was often bored to death. There was a connection that was missing. I mean, what did History have to do with me? What did French have to do with me? Well, I now know that perhaps if my teachers had taught me that there were millions of Africans and African descendants that spoke French, that might have sparked my interest. If my teachers had introduced me to studies of Africa and its people, and their places in History (pre-slavery), that probably would have interested me. If my teachers had shared with me alternative facts of History that never make it into the history textbooks, history would have made a lot more since to me.
Years later I would discover that I was right about this. For after discovering the history of Africans in Brazil, I suddenly had an interest in learning Portuguese. Having been become a teacher myself and being able to develop classes the way I wanted to, I soon had classes of students who were very interested in attending my classes. So, needless to say, today’s story about rapper/singer Karol Conka and her experiences of discovering a black population in a certain neighborhood in Paris, France, is a story I enjoyed reading. For any of us interested in the African Diaspora, discovering black people in other places outside of our own countries is like a shot of adrenaline. It’s like, “It’s good to meet you, but I feel like I already know you.” That feeling of “where have I known you before?”
So when Karol Conka explains what she felt when she arrived in Château D’Eau, I can honestly say that I know EXACTLY what she’s talking about.
Karol Conka indicates the place that all blacks should know
By Guilherme Soares
The answer is international: Château D’Eau, a neighborhood where there are many blacks in Paris
Singer and host Karol Conka uses her lyrics and interviews to enhance the beauty and pride of being a woman and being black. Guia Negro (interviewed her and asked: What place of cultura ou história negra (black culture or black history) do you think we should all know? The answer is international: Château D’Eau, a neighborhood where there are many blacks in Paris
“The orgulho negro (black pride) of the people there is different from the black pride of the Brazilians. There, you realize you have one more thing. The way they behave, (the way) they dress. Eles são pretos, pretos (They are black, black). Here we have the mixture, the miscegenation,” she says. Conka says that when she went to Paris he had a shock, because she thought that in France she would see many whites. “But there are a lot of blacks, there are places with only blacks. So you feel blacker when you go to a place like that. You see the os pretos e as pretas lindas (beautiful black men and black women),” she says.
Karol is the smiling type, she got excited and try to make friends with the people in the neighborhood. “I would pass by and praise ‘Oh, how beautiful!’ and them very serious, thinking ‘who are you?’. But everything is beautiful, their pride is beautiful,” she considers.
It’s a place to know in Brazil
After giving the hint of the Parisian neighborhood, without blinking, the singer remembers that not all people have the possibility of making international trips, and says that in Brazil this place of reference of black culture and history is Bahia. “I’m from Curitiba, a granddaughter of Bahia, but when I went to Bahia it was a shock, even being black. Because there were many black people there, very beautiful, very well resolved,” she says. Even with so many blacks and all their beauty, the singer recalls an unfortunate fact: “But there’s still racism in Bahia, it’s impressive, but there is,” she says.
In the singer’s hometown, Curitiba, she indicates Linha Preta, located in the city’s downtown, where there are dances and a tour that tells the história negra (black history) of the city, known only for the great European migration. “They had dances that I don’t know if still exist. Curitiba’s problem is that it has a lot of nice things for blacks, but it’s not frequented by many blacks,” she says.
Black in Curitiba, she always suffered to fit in spaces. “I never really fit in very well. I did a bit of everything. And to this day I think I don’t fit because I rap, but it’s not much rap, I do pop, but it’s not very pop,” she classifies. Conka recalls that since she was a little girl she performed choreographies imitating famous singers. “At age 13, I would do ballet and the teacher said that I couldn’t introduce myself to the other girls because my hair didn’t move. That’s when my mother told me to rehearse with my friends at the condo and introduce myself in the building. There, Karol Conka was born,” she said, adding that the purchase of a CD by singer Lauryn Hill inspired her to have the style she has today.
Karol recalls that she didn’t expect big companies to start discussing diversity, but believes that the agenda has become necessary for their survival. “The brands understand that the minorities are the majority, but you can’t help but think that the brands care about numbers, sales. This minority is a minority that buys, that sells. If you don’t talk to this audience, you don’t have these numerical results. So one hand washes the other. Either they open this vision for it or they’re going to end up failing,” she says.
Source: Carta Capital