The Brazilian mulata: black woman or something entirely different?

afro brazilian women
Soccer star Vagner Love surrounded by five mulatas
 
Last week I had a discussion about Brazil with an African-American graphic designer. He was putting together a flyer for an up-and-coming website about Afro-Brazilians so he wanted a little information. As we discussed what the flyer would look like, I shared with him a little history of Africans and blacks in Brazil. As what often happens when I have this discussion with black Americans, a look of shock came across his face when I told him that Brazil imported nearly 10 times more African slaves than the US and that today the country has the largest number of African descendants in the world after Nigeria. It’s often fascinating how little black Americans know about black Brazilians, but then, this is not surprising; little is taught in the American education system about even the history of African-Americans so why would it be expected that anyone would know the history of Afro-Brazilians or any other New World population that is descendant from African slaves? This is the void that this site sought to fill.
 
It is also fascinating to hear the things black Americans say when they think of Brazilians in general or black Brazilians in particular. Over the years, I think I’ve heard it all:
 
“Brazil has black people?” – Nope, it’s not just George W. Bush that asked this question.
“Don’t all of those people look like Mexicans?”
“They’re not black like us/They’re not really black.”
“There was slavery in Brazil too?”
 
There are the folks who know absolutely nothing about Brazil and then there are the folks who have only a few references like Pelé, Carnaval, Gisele Bündchen or Brazilian women in general. Speaking of Gisele Bündchen, I will never forget listening to the nationally syndicated radio program of the “Baddest Man on Radio, Michael Baisden” sometime in the spring of 2008. The discussion of the day was the infamous cover photo of Bündchen with basketball superstar LeBron James on the cover of Vogue magazine in which James was made to substitute King Kong to Bündchen’s “damsel in distress”. Although all sorts of people were sharing their opinions on the topic, it was one particular caller that grabbed my attention.
 
Left, LeBron James and Gisele Bündchen on the cover of Vogue; Right, King Kong 

Different from other callers, this guy seemed to have a little more knowledge about Brazil than the other callers; at least it seemed that way until he made one comment. As people had spoken about the interracial mingling of James and Bündchen on the cover, the guy dropped this line. I can’t quote exactly what he said, but it was something along the lines of: “Well, Michael, Gisele is from Brazil, a Latin American country, so technically, she is a woman of color.” My mouth dropped! I couldn’t believe what this man had just said. I tried frantically for ten minutes to challenge what the guy said but the phone line remained consistently busy. Although I didn’t have a chance to respond to that caller that day, let me just say this. Anyone who has seen Gisele Bündchen knows that this woman is as white or European looking as any woman in Germany. I guess this makes sense as Bündchen’s ancestry IS German! Simply out, Gisele is a Brazilian born woman of German ancestry.
 
In reality, this guy’s comment explained a lot about the American thought process in terms of race. Many average Americans have the idea that all persons born south of Texas are either Mexican or that they have some sort of look that is stereotypically thought to be Latino or racially indefinable. And then, if you throw in a Latino or Hispanic that “looks black”, many black Americans will get completely confused when this person starts to speak Spanish or Portuguese. Their eyes are telling them “black man/woman”, but also, “what kind of black person speaks Spanish?” I say Spanish because many people assume that Brazilians speak Spanish. Going back to the guy’s comments about Bündchen, it didn’t seem that this guy knew that Latin America had many phenotypes. There are those that “look white” due to European colonization, people who “look black” due to the importation of African slaves, people who look “Indian” as these were the people whose lands were stolen by Europeans. There are also Asians, Middle Eastern people and those people who don’t quite fit neatly into an easily classifiable category which I’ll just called “mestiços” or persons of “mixed race”. I want to also affirm that all of these terms are simply social constructions as “race” has been proven not to have any biological validity. Thus, if “race” doesn’t exist, neither does “black”, “white” or “mixed race”.
 
But speaking in accordance to terms accepted in the social world, in this piece I wanted to focus on one “mixed” group in particular: the mulatto, or more specifically, the mulata female. Exactly what is a “mulata” and what type of woman comes to mind when one hears the term “mulata”? I know that often times when an American thinks of a mulata, they automatically think of a very fair-skinned person of mixed African/European ancestry. But when speaking of the Brazilian context of mulata, this is not always the case. Similar to the American racial understanding of the term mulatto, the origin of many mulatas in Brazil was the rape, coercion and sexual exploitation of black women. Regardless of attempts of many Brazilian intellectuals to paint a less brutal picture of Brazil’s slavery era, the fact remains that the history of mestiçagem (race mixing) was predicated upon the unequal relationship between powerful slave owners and powerless slaves.  
 
One of the progenitors of the mythical Brazilian “racial democracy” ideology, anthropologist Gilberto Freyre himself wrote that “it was the bodies of the black girls, sometimes 10-year old girls…that freed white women from sexual assault.”(1) Moreover, the virginity and chastity of white women during the colonization of Brazil was protected through the prostitution of the black female slave. This exploitation of the black female body is a legacy that has continued today in a few ways.
 
For example, tourist agencies targeting European male tourists who come to Brazil in search of “ethnic” prostitution and sexual commerce would promote Brazil as a tropical paradise using flyers and catalogs featuring brown-skinned, sometimes semi-nude baianas* (2). Exploitation of the black body is also apparent every year, slightly before and during the month of February, when black women that are usually largely invisible from Brazil’s major television channels throughout the year suddenly become abundant on television programs, appearing semi-nude, gyrating their hips, legs and derrieres at lightning speeds in Carnaval parades and beauty contests. In general, these women are labeled mulatas.
 
Lest we still have confusion as to what type of women we are speaking of when we say mulata, consider this verbal exchange between an American journalist and a Brazilian taxi driver. Speaking of his experience in Brazil, Charles Martin was riding in a cab in Rio de Janeiro when the cab driver (who was white) asked him if he’d had the chance to know Brazil’s mulatas. Martin tells the story this way:
 
“As I had been asked so many times by so many people about the country’s mulatas, this time I answered differently. I told him that I did know some, but that I knew some in the U.S. as well. He said the two were different. I said that the essential distinction I saw was national culture, and that in either place, the women simply were black women. The driver insisted no. I asked: what is the mulata? She is not white. She is not dark black.
 
“Thus, she is like many black women in the U.S. (but here, they have not been seen as a particular sexual class since the old formal balls of New Orleans where quadroons and octoroons were gathered to become long- or short-term mistresses to white men of means).
 
“The driver, somewhat exasperated, insisted that there was a difference and that the Brazilian women were not black. I said that surely ‘mulata’ meant something far more specific than ‘non-white.’ He wasn’t talking about Japanese women, for example, was he? No, he was talking about women who were black.
 
“Disgusted, the driver conceded that, yes, black blood was the special ingredient that made the mulata. He went on to say that the difference between Americans and Brazilians is that Brazilians made use of a polite term, mulata, while Americans used gross ones, such as black.” (3)
 
Keep in mind that for many Brazilians, defining oneself or describing someone as black (negra or preta in Portuguese) is deemed an insult. In Brazilian ideology, if a woman of visible African ancestry is considered attractive, she cannot possibly be black; she is suddenly defined with some other ambiguous racial or color-coded term like mulata or the ever popular morena. It’s clear from the opinion of the cab driver that there is a certain repugnance associated with the terms negra or preta.
 
Brazilian painter Emiliano Di Cavalcanti gained famed for his portrayals of the mulata. In an interview he once explained his fascination with this type of woman:
 
“I’ve always had an immense passion for the mulatas. Her plasticity, the sensuality inherent in the black race and that sad look enchanted me.”(4)
 
Paintings of Emiliano Di Cavalcanti entitled
Mulata em rua vermelha, Mulata sentada na frente da mesa com pandeiro, Mulata com gato and Mulata

Thus, the term mulata is but a certain type of Afro-descendant woman. She is usually not as dark as say, Sudanese model Alek Wek, but her complexion can span from the light-brown color of actress Camila Pitanga to the medium brown complexion of singer Paula Lima. The key here is that she is considered to be sensuous and very attractive. As such, the term mulata carries a certain sexual connotation in its description of the “mixed race” or at least, not “pure” black woman: she is considered more attractive than the truly, indisputably black woman, but her status as a person of color, of African descent, marks her as  socially inferior to the white woman.

Hélio Santos, professor of Economics at the University of São Paulo explained that women of African descent have always been a male sexual “fantasy”, particularly for white men. He wrote:

“(…) how to materialize this fantasy can be considered more as a kind of sexual perversion. The negro-mestiças (mixed black woman) in Brazil were dubbed “mulata”, long a source of sick poetic inspiration. It’s true that such poetry was never able to promote them to full citizens on the same level of feminine whiteness. The mulata, in popular jargon, went on be the term for black descendant woman considered beautiful, regardless of having the lightest skin (the authentic) or darker.” (5)

Actress Camila Pitanga and singer Paula Lima
 
In some ways, the term mulata is similar to the term “brown sugar” that has been historically applied to African-American women. Millions of music fans are no doubt familiar with the infamous Rolling Stones song of the same name, which is an ode to slavery era sexual relations. The usage of this term caused a stir in a 2004 edition of Garry Trudeau’s Doonesbury comic strip in which then President George W. Bush was made to call Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice “brown sugar”, bringing to the fore “the painful stereotype of the black woman as a hot-blooded minx.” (6)
 
To give a simple American example of the difference between a mulata (mixed race, or not “pure” black) woman and a preta (“pure” black or very little racial admixture) woman, consider the 1970s CBS sitcom Good Times, in which actress Ester Rolle played Florida Evans (black/preta) while Bern Nadette Stanis played daughter Thelma and Ja’Net DuBois played neighbor Willona Woods (both mulatas). All of these women are of course black, but the skin color and facial features of Stanis and DuBois are considered more subtle than the more pronounced, stereotypically West African features of Rolle.
 
Bern Nadette Stanis, Ester Rolle and Ja’Net DuBois of the TV series Good Times
 
Thus, as Martin pointed out in his taxi experience, there are millions of African-American women who regard themselves as black women who could be considered mulatas by Brazilian standards. In 1970s Brazilian advertisements, American singers Donna Summer and Diana Ross were often referred to as mulatas. (7) To be more specific, a mulata is an attractive woman of African descent possessing some physical markers of miscegenation, either immediate or distant. A mulata can have light to medium brown skin with shoulder length or longer hair.
 
The concept of hair texture and length is also an important attribute when defining whether a woman is black or mulata. Anthropologist Nilma Lino Gomes has done extensive research on the significance of hair in the construction of black identity in Brazil. She notes how a black woman can instantly become a mulata by simply changing her hairstyle. Hair weaves and extensions have become more and more popular amongst Afro-Brazilian women as the price becomes more affordable. Gomes herself notes that when she wears her own hair in its natural state or in braids, white and black men alike refer to her as crioula, negra or negona. When she wears a weave, men call her morena, morena linda (pretty brown-skinned girl) or mulata. (8)
 
Nilma Lino Gomes
 
In terms of the usage of the term mulata in the media and by Brazilians themselves, often times, the term is used interchangeably which suggests that women defined as mulatascan also be defined as black women (negras). In the first example below, one report defines actress Cris Vianna as a mulata while the other defines her as negra
 
Actress Cris Vianna defined as negra on the left and as mulata on the right
 
Actress Taís Araújo defining herself as negra and mulata
 

In another example, actress Taís Araújo defined herself in different articles as both negra and mulata. In the the top article she argues that a role she played in a novela could have played by any actress and not only her simply because “I am black (porque sou negra)”. In the other article, she speaks of the need for makeup that matches the skin tones of herself and other mulatas (“Nós mulatas precisamos de uma maquiagem que combine com nossa cor/We mulatas need a makeup that matches our skin”).

 
Actress Juliana Alves: “People tend to think that negras and mulatas are the same”

In the third example, actress Juliana Alves shares her belief that, in general, people see negras and mulatas as equal or the same: “As pessoas tendem a achar que negras e mulatas são iguais/People tend to think that black and mulata women are the same.”

What Brazil has witnessed over the past few decades, the result of tireless campaigns and organizing by entities of the Movimento Negro, is a rise in persons who might have defined themselves as mulatos, morenos and pardos only a few decades ago, proudly defining themselves as negros and negras. Actress Cris Vianna rejects being classified as a morenaAraújo recorded a commercial encouraging more Brazilians of color to define themselves as black in the 2010 census, and actress Camila Pitanga has voiced her frustration in people always questioning her identity as a black woman. But what images and stereotypes are connected to the term mulata that it should even matter? Now that we have explained the similarities and differences of the terms negra and mulata, let’s now take a look at some of the meanings of the term mulata.

To be continued…

Updated: February 9, 2013

Pâmella Gomes, princess of Tom Maior Samba School labeled morena on R7 website
Pâmella Gomes
 
Even after declaring herself negra, the press still refers to Vianna as morena
 

In reference to the site Sidney Rezende referring to Vianna as a “morena”, Almir da Silva Lima posted the following comment in reference to this term. 

 
Translation of blue highlighted area
 
“Before making my homage to the Queen of the Suingue (Swing) of Leopoldina, I don’t get tired of reaffirming this: This prestigious site specializing in Carnival is wrong, we say anthropologically speaking, when it comes to referring to the beautiful black woman, actress Cris Vianna, as morena.”

* – A baiana is a woman from the northeastern state of Bahia where 75% of inhabitants are Afro-Brazilian

References

1. Westphalen, Cecília Maria. “A Mulher no Universo de Casa-Grande & Senzala.” http://nmnt.fgf.org.br/ artigos/a_ mulher.html

2. Dias Filho, Antonio Jonas. “As Mulatas que não estão no Mapa.” Cadernos Pagu (6/7), Núcleo de Estudos de Gênero – Pagu/Unicamp, 1996

3. Martin, Charles. “Brazil: Such Nightmares, Such Dreams”. Black Renaissance. December 31, 1998. Vol. 2, Issue 1

4. City News de São Paulo from November 7, 1971, as quoted in Queiroz Júnior, Teófilo de. Preconceito de Cor e a Mulata na Literature Brasileira. Editora Ática, São Paulo. 1982
5. Santos, Hélio. A Busca de um Caminho Para o Brasil: a Trilha do Círculo Vicioso. Senac 2001

6. Bernard, Michelle D. “Brown Sugar – Its not so sweet”. Independent Women’s Forum. April 30, 2004. [Available online June 2, 2006].

7. Daniel, G. Reginald. Race and Multiraciality in Brazil and the United States: Converging Paths? 2006 Penn State University Press.

8. Gomes, Nilma Lino. Sem perder a raiz: Corpo e cabelo como símbolos da identidade negra. Autêntica Editora, 2006.

About Marques Travae 3023 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

32 Comments

  1. DIVIDE TO CONQUER. AFTER READING THIS I AM NOT SURPRISED BY THE FACT THAT THE SITUATION OF BLACK BRAZILIANS IS VERY DIFFERENT FROM AFRICAN AMERICANS. THE USE OF THE TERM "MULATA" IS A GOOD TRICK TO MAKE FEEL A BLACK PERSON BEAUTIFUL ( in general opinion a mixed race person is more beautiful than a full black person) AND OF COURSE SUPERIOR TO A "BLACK" ONE BECAUSE "YOU MAY HAVE SOME WHITE ON YOU" SO "WE WHITE THE SUPERIOR AND POWERFUL" WE WILL ACCEPT YOU.THAT'S WHY THE ATTITUDE OF CRIS VIANNA IS TO BE APPLAUDED BECAUSE MOST OF PEOPLE WILL BE FLATTERED WITHOUT THINKING THAT BY DOING THIS YOU REINFORCE THE RACIAL INJUSTICE/ ATTITUDE ALREADY IN PLACE. GOOD TO HER AND TO THE MOVIMENTO NEGRO.GOD BLESS.

  2. Great blog and very insightful. As a gradute of an HBCU (Howard University), I understand where you are coming from. I thoroughly enjoyed your knowledge and plan to continue to read more from you. Keep up the good work.

  3. I have to thank you for this blog. I had read only a little about the Black experience in Brazil before I started training jiu jitsu. Now, being closer to Brazilian culture in general, I am reading and learning a lot more, as opposed to just taking the word of a few Brazilian friends. Before reading this I only knew of the connotation of the word mulatta in US and Latino cultures and had no idea of the implications of beauty and attractiveness on the use of a racial term. Thanks as always for your posts.

  4. the exact same thing goes on in the u.s. – among blacks, the terms 'light-skinned', 'redbone', 'yellow (or yella/yaller if using slang)' is used to distinguish more desired beauty among black women (and some men).the bottom line is that no one will admit it, and even get defensive if called on it and say things like, 'it's a tired issue–get over it', 'why do we have to discuss this again?' people will even tell the person discussing it, if she's a dark-skinned woman, that she suffers from low self esteem issues and that the extant colorism is all in her head and thus, her fault for "attracting" abuse about her skin color.for proof, look at all the black models, magazines, movies, music videos (of all genres) and the women they choose to represent as beautiful and worthy of being respectable wives and girlfriends. see for yourself what skin color they predominantly are and look closely at their hair texture and length and the degree of african facial features that they possess.

  5. The legacy of slavery is still affecting the descendants of the former slaves. We are no longer physical slaves, but we are mentally enslaved. Our male ancestors' manhood was almost totally destroyed by our former slave masters. They had no ability to protect their wives or children. Some of our female ancestors willing had sex with Caucasian males as a strategy to protect themselves and their children. They knew that there was safety and protection in being with any Caucasian male rather than a male from their own ethnic group. Also another major tool for keeping our ancestors under control was/is the psychological enslavement that came from worshipping an image that was supposed to be the Creators' son (sic) that was/is in the image of a Caucasian male. Now look at how our women have been aping Caucasian women for over 100 years. It has become a normal thing to see the majority of our women wearing hair weave, chemically straightening their hair, and dyeing their hair yellow, red, brown in imitating Caucasian women’s hair. A great African American religious man once said that "our women don't belong to us, they belong to Caucasian men." The beauty standard that was set by Caucasian males for their women is being imitated by our women. They are not trying to please us by what they are doing to their hair but subconsciously they are really trying to please Caucasian men. Many times I have heard our women complain about "black" men chasing after "white" women. This has happened because our young men from an early age has seen his mother, sisters, aunts and every other "black" women imitating the beauty standard of Caucasian women. So when he comes of age why shouldn't he strive to get one of the women that the women of his race have wasted so much money trying to imitate. Sisters please give us an image of yourselves that we can be proud of. Not an image of a woman trying to see how close she can look and behave like a Caucasian woman

  6. So G. Bundchen is white now? I thought she was LATINA! Are you really calling LeBron James a monkey? this is the most racist blog ever! I will denounce this site because Brazilian laws dont allow racism. This site needs to be removed from Brazil. RACIST!

  7. Marc: First: If you continue to post aggressive comments on this blog, I will remove them. We have nothing against debate here, but aggressive, disrespectful comments WILL NOT BE TOLERATED!Also, I don't think you understand the point of the article. BW of Brazil DID NOT call LeBron James a monkey. The article is simply pointing out that VOGUE magazine played off a very popular, racist image of African descendants by creating a magazine cover using Mr. James in the same manner that the famous King Kong image with the white woman was used. If you read the many posts on this blog where black Brazilian are CONSISTENTLY called "macacos/macacas", you will note that the association of black people with monkeys is common in Brazil also. In regards to Gisele. While many Americans would classify her as a Latina culturally because she is from a Latin American country, she is clearly a white woman. Her last name is "Bündchen" and she is of German descent. Millions of Germans, Italians, Portuguese and Spanish people, etc have migrated to Brazil, so clearly there are millions of white people in Brazil. The difference is the confusion between "race", "ethnicity" and "nationality." Lastly, the racism posted on the blog comes DIRECTLY from Brazilian news sources. So, really, who are you accusing of racism?

  8. Great article, too…As a black woman with roots in Latin America, I found myself many times expressing to people, mostly other black americans that there are black people everywhere & nationality doesn't determine a persons race…I had people tell me my grandfather can't be Latino because he's obviously black, just has "good" hair…but then I can't get mad at them because if I hadn't had the family I have I probably wouldn't know either…We can't help what where not taught, right….a/w great article…

  9. Ok.I am an Italian man married to what can be considered a "Mulata" brazillian woman. I have been living in Brazil for several years now and speak Portuguese fluently.Now. I asked my wife after reading this article what are the differences in her opinion between negra (literally Black), multa, morena and other skin tones. Her reply was that while in the US they define people generally as white or black (often black being a defined as anything not clrealy white) here in Brazil there are about 20-25 levels or "shades" of colour, but really some of the distinction has to do with hair and eye colour and facial features.So according to her, Negra or Preta is someone with dark skin tone, curly african type hair, brown-black eyes and clear african facial features (such as big lips and other classic features of african descent), what was surprising to me is that she said even if a woman is not of black skin colour but is mixed more towards white skin colour but still has strong african facial features including african style hair and lips she is still negra. So the skin colour is less important then the actual african facial features and type of hair.When I proposed an opposite scenerio of a very dark skin woman, black skin, but with natural smooth streight hair and without strong african facial features she said she is not considered negra or preta but mulata or even morena escura (dark brown). So according to her Negra or Preta has to do MORE with african facial features and type of hair then with actual skin colour. Therefore the difference between Negra/Preta and Mulata or even Morena is more about racial facial features and hair then skin, all of these can have various degrees of dark skin ranging from very strong black tone to medium brown skin but what makes the distinction between Preta and mulata is facial features and type of hair.Acoording to her there are this occurs even among white people in Brazil. How so? if a person is obviously of white descent one needs to look at their hair and eye colour to determine which type of white they are. Yes sure you can generally call them all Brancos (Whites) but if one has blond hair or blue eyes or very streight hair he is Galego which I guess can be translated as super white. As I am of italian descent althoug my skin is very white and I have dark green eyes and curly-wavy hair I am generally classified as white, but I am not Galego which is pure white. If I was to be judged purely on skin yes I would be considered in the whitest category ut because my hair is somewhat curly and my eyes are "just" dark green and not blue I am not in the "purest" Galego category.So there you have it . there are about 20 sub levels of racial distinctions in Brazil and really skin tone is NOT the most important to make the distinction, the general skin tone puts you in the general category of white or black, but inside that meta category there are sub categories which have LESS to do with skin tone and more with facial features, hair type, eye colour.Hope this helps to clarify things.Daniel

  10. I see you popping off all over. Marc, you're a paranoid white who refuses to accept that you hate Blacks. There is no such thing as latino/latina; you're not a Roman citizen. Using verbal threats against this wonderful site will be irrelevant. And Blacks worldwide will crush your type, its just a matter of time.

  11. This was a great article. I'm an American Black woman living in Senegal, West Africa. If you look black, your persuasion is black. Period. All of these categories are miserable and are there to undermine the blackness and African culture inherent in all of these people. Here in Africa and in Senegal in particular, the Portugese, along with the French were the most prolific slavers in the world. How they treated the black person before they even boarded the slave ships was inhumane. If black people really knew who they were, they wouldn't want to be anyone else or labeled as such. The distortions and lies that've been perpetuated against us for centuries are being revealed. Our great culture and lineage has been under siege and we are reclaiming who we are. The oldest beings on the planet. The white race is a created race not indigenous to the earth. The slave minded adhere to racial classifications, the proud do not.

  12. To LotusDoll,I am white. I am the same Italian man who wrote the previous reply to yours. I am married to a woman of Brazilian-African origins and we live here in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.Why would you say that white is a "created" race? not indigenous to the earth? I am a Pharmacist, I studied human anatomy and how different chemical agents affect the human body and I can assure you white and black are the same type of being, with only superficial differences which are skin-deep.So saying that my beautiful wife is from the earth and I am "created" is total rubish and shows ignorance and racism on your part. BTW, what does that make our 5 years old daughter and 2 years old son? if I am "created" and alien to this earth and their mom is "native" to this earth?Do you realize we all have the exact same genes with only extremely slight variations? exact same physiology? exact same blood? organs? that we are exactly the same with only tiny superficial differences which are less then 0.0001% of our DNA?So, arent you being racist here by calling me "created"? unatural? alien to this earth just because I am white? Arent you descending to the the level of ignorant white racists by trying to dehumanize whites? Those white racists are saying black people are not really human, arent you just taking their ignorant words and exchanging white for black?Well, that just shows YOUR racism and ignorance, and is counterproductive to any type of peace and unity for the human race. Sure, be proud of your African heretige, no shame in that, but dont extract your pride by trying to shame me for being white. You really dont need to put white people down just to elavate black people, you have a lot to be proud of even without trying to step over me and white people trying to feel pride in who you are. You dont need to try to make white people feel bad of who they are just so you can feel good of who you are.If you say that I am inhuman and a "created" fake human, then how are you different then white racists who do the same and say the exact same words about black people? you would just be taking their words of hatred and racism and ignorance and switching the words black and white to suit YOUR needs. And think well – is this what will resolve the problems of the human race or will it worsen them? Dont you want to move forward and resolve problems instead of perpetuating stereotypes and dehumanizing others? because thats what racists do, on both sides of the issue. I am white and I am not "created" or alien or "not of this earth" just becase I am white, and neither are you. We are just 2 of the expressions (phenotypes) of humanity. I learned that well when I studied Pharmacy for 7 years at university (I am a doctor of Pharmacy), we are all the same under our skins, all medicines affects us in the same way, all poisons kill us in the same way, we all have the same genes.So LotusDoll. Are you going to hate me because I am white? I dont hate you because you are black. And just because there are white racist idiots our there, no reason for you to be a black racist. Dont you see that it will just be descending to their level of ignorance and racism if you adopt their rhetorics?. Dont you see that? Dont you want a better future for your children and mine?I am a human being just like you. Let the racists fight with the racists, on both sides. Let the dirt play with the dirt if it pleases the dirt. Let us sane compassionate people just be humans. Before we are black or white we are first and formost HUMANS.Daniel

  13. I agree, Daniel. Thanks for what you said and for saving me the trouble of saying it myself. I am also a Caucasian man, who appreciates the beauty of “African diaspora” women. I am interested in many of the topics posted in this forum, but I don’t appreciate racist comments, including against Caucasians. Unfortunately, too often these topics attract racist comments, which is a shame, because it spoils what could otherwise be a more positive discussion.

  14. I am American. Although we don’t have terms like “Preta” or “Morena” in the United States, the standards are similar to what your wife described; that is, if someone has evident African facial features and/or hair, most of the time, they are considered “black” even if they have white or near-white skin color. On the other hand, someone from India can be darker than most Africans, but not considered black. Thus, light-skinned Vanessa L. Williams and Tisha Campbell are considered black or African American (the latter term makes much more sense than “black”), mainly because of their evident (albeit “diluted”) African features rather than skin color.

  15. Dear LotusDoll,Its Daniel again, I want to give you some more food for thught.In nature, what defines a group of beings as a "race" is an inability of members of that group to reproduce with members of other groups, they can only create children within that same group. That is what makes them a different "race". Think about that.The fact that people all over the world can and DO reproduce with one another despite so called "racial" differences shows we are really all the same race – HUMANS. otherwise we wouldnt be able to reproduce one with another. If I as a white person was a "race" not indigenous to the earth, as you claim, you would not have the same DNA as me and you would certainly not be able to reproduce with someone like me. But the FACTS are against your theory because we have 99.9999% equal DNA and all interracial couples have children. WE ARE NOT A DIFFERENT RACE LOTUSDOLL. WE ARE EXACTLY THE SAME WITH ONLY SUPERFICIAL TINY DIFFERENCES WHICH ARE ONLY SKIN DEEP.You should face the facts of life and not create a phantasy alternate reality just because you dont like the facts of life. A phantasy world in which people of African origins have a "secret" identity, all blacks have a "secret" identity of being good earth original humans and whites are some sort of "secret" fake humans trying to manipulate you. Doesnt that sound to you like paranoid dellusion? Or perhaps your reasoning is just a painful counter-response to white racists claiming blacks are not human, so black racist like you use the same rhetorics and arguments of white racists and say well if thats the case maybe white racists are right and we are different from them, a different race, but because I know myself to be good and I am original therefore by logic whites must be the fake inhumans beings in this equation. Perhaps thats your logic. I have no idea really but I seriously urge you to look at reality and the facts.We should have compassion for each other, as I said in my earlier post, let the racists fight with the racists on both sides, good people on both sides should not fall into the errors and hatred of the racists of both sides.I urge you to look at the facts LotusDoll, not sink into a phantasy make-believe universe. I am exactly like you, we are the same race – HUMAN.Respectfully,Daniel

    • So called “whites” are type 2 albinos. They have lost skin color because of the gene “oculocutaneous albinism II”. However,racism created to destroy people with skin color has distorted whites to believe they are superior. Also “so called whites” have distorted reality to convince the 90% people with skin color that their phenotype is superior. While envying the dark black phenotype. So called “whites” are human but they coalesced into a people group around 20,000 years ago. When the Egyptian Sphinx was built 54,000 years ago there were not any so called “white” people on the planet!

    • So called “whites” are type 2 albinos. They have lost skin color because of the gene “oculocutaneous albinism II”. However,racism created to destroy people with skin color has distorted whites to believe they are superior. Also “so called whites” have distorted reality to convince the 90% people with skin color that their phenotype is superior. While envying the dark black phenotype. So called “whites” are human but they coalesced into a people group around 20,000 years ago. When the Egyptian Sphinx was built 54,000 years ago there were not any so called “white” people on the planet!

  16. Information is power. Whether African-American or African-Brazil, it is the power of this knowledge that will lead to all of us accepting our true beauty as Black people. There has been a lot of pain within our varied but similar ancestral histories, as well as the continuous "confusion" challenging us today. But in the end, the best option is to continue disseminating the knowledge that decreases such confusion. Great, informative article!

  17. I love this blog. I am also Afro-Latino(Afro-Cuban) and I am very miseducated on the issues of Black Brazilians. Being a Black Cuban in the US, Americans(often whites) are so confused by being a Black person whose heritage is Latino(which if you ask me, has so many dominant roots to Africa), to make things easier, they’ll put me in a box of either Black or Latino. Black Americans tend to adapt the “white” way of thinking and follow suit, and while I’ll say if I had to choose, i’d choose to identify as Black, I am times wish I could just identify with both. We can wrap our senses around a Black Briton, a Black Canadian, a Black African, a Black Trinidadian, but somehow when spanish is involved it is an issue.

    Most people are unaware of Equatorial Guinea,which is a place in Africa that speaks Spanish as a first language. And they are Black Africans(I honestly feel the need to correct myself at times, because Africa is also becoming a diverse country, so I feel the need to mention blackness). Blacks speak all languages. We are universally the universal race of progression. I wish more people appreciated this!

  18. Wow, I really enjoy this article. But I want to remind you although in brazil gisele is white skin, in USA she is a Latino as she has accent. But for sure her babies will be a white Americans only.

    I say this because sometimes prejudice against Latino is regardless of their skin colour. I understand as you wanted to defend a point in your article.

    Thank you for this words.

    I still wonder if does have a problem in call mulato not black….

    For me it is like the N word which cannot be said in USA and uk and in most of anglophonic cultures.

    I wish this political construction against one word didn’t exist. And I assume may be it is your wish the social construction of the word mulato wouldn’t exist.

    I love Dr Helio Santos he is for me the most important thinker of African descendants struggle in Brazil.

    Please look for his books. He is amazing.

    • I was just reflecting here…

      Why irritates the African movement the words morena, mulato or Pardo?

      As I understand the argument is because disengage with black politics ….it is perceived as anti-blackness.

      In Brazil we had three formal words to refer of mixed people. One is the famous mulato ( black and white), other is mameluco ( indigineous and white) and other was cafuso ( black and indigineous. With time those categorisations became Pardo.

      Why it is a problem if you feel mixed to described yourself as such. Why it is so important to be locked in blackness when most of us is mixed race.

      Isn’t the Brazilian problematic the lack of politics and not the lower number of people calling them selves black?

      Brazil has no idea what feminism movement is and brazil has no idea of white supremacy is.

      How can you engage in feminism agenda with a nation who think themselves as the most gorgeous /sexy women in the world?

      How can you engage in discuss white supremacy when Brazilian national identity is we are mixed race nation?

      I think those two questions perhaps are more important Than the calling themselves morena, mulata or whatever.

      I think an anglophonic audience can not even understand why a “black” Brazilian would not refer to herself as such…..I think it is the same difficult we have to see so many Pardos Americans defining themselves as black….

      Perhaps we could share with each other, Americans and anglophonic cultures could tolerate people from more and more mixing ack ground just being, without label, perhaps the only label appropriated would be i am 100% non white.

      We Brazilians could learn how to be political regarding the oppression against the non white women and against the white supremacy oppression.

      • I agree that oppressed African people under the world wide system of racism and white terrorism should focus on destroying the racist system because African women are not being oppressed because they are women. They are oppressed because they are African. Our phenotype is what offend the racist. Our genetic ability to destroy their phenotype. The fear of phenotype destruction is why they hate us.

  19. No, I do not think that this article reflects a solid understanding.

    brance, morena, mulata – but the mulata has something special. There are beautiful white brasilian women, but they do not have the quality of mulatas; there are very beautiful morenas, but neither do they have the quality of mulatas.

    Then there are mulatas – they are negras – no doubt, but that term does not have a racial implication – a fact that may be difficult to understand for a native US citizen, easier to understand for a European, it is a color description, not offensive at all.

    The mulata has something else – and it is again different also from the West African women.

    Most Africans in Brasil are Yuroba, thus from Nigerian decent. Often tall, proud and muscular people. A huge tribe. That is part of the mulata quality for sure.

    But Yuroba are not mulata either.

    The best way to explain what a mulata is, is: go to Brazil, when you see one, you know hat you have seen one – you will be thinking about her for days. There is no other explanation except that experience, to fully understand mulata.

    Compare it with football/soccer – there is no real football/soccer outside Brazil; there is no samba outside Brazil, and there are no mulata outside Brazil.

    Why would you bring slavery and racism into this debate ? That has no place in your thoughts when you dream about mulatas.

    When you talk about mulatas, romantic passion takes over; a celebration of the deep guttural beauty of mankind.

    I doubt that you can understand mulata from a US cultural standpoint.

    In short: the mulata is the dream that makes you – this time, and for the first and only time,: – a real man ?
    Because that is what you feel in the presence of a mulata, just by looking at her, you know: I am a real man ?

    Can you say that about the presence of any other woman, maybe US ? Whimp !? 🙂

    That is a mulata.

    PS: the political side of things is naturally all about money. Europe does not have racism, rather xenophobia; US has it; Brasil has an utter racism based on economics, the rich are brutal down there.

    • I was going to post my own reply but then I read your comment and it blew me away. You say that the article isn’t a solid understanding of the term “mulata” but then go on to describe “guttural beauty” and “romantic passion”, both aspects of the article that the author determines (rightfully so) as being misogynistic and disrespectful. I can understand that in your mind it might not be wrong based on your cultural experience but you basically prove the author’s argument with your comment.

  20. This make no sense considering people are trying to get mixed and black people to be the same socially, how is it that they get treated differently by white people based on ‘beauty’ but black women should overlook this because white people are also racist towards mixed women, when they get the short end of the stick anyway?

    Another inconsistency and hypocrisy, how can you complain about miscegenation and the removal of black Brazilians via it but want the results of miscegenation (mulattoes, morenos and pardos) to claim to be black or ‘negro’. How is miscegenation getting rid of black people if you want mixed people to be considered black?

    Mixed people are not black and never have been, the fact you base race on what white people say means you can’t ever win, they will change the rules and regulations when it benefits them. Pardo isn’t even a term for a specific admixture you have mulattoes, people 1/8th black, mestizos and zambos claiming pardo, how the hell can anyone organise any type of group power and collective goals for a group so genetically different and identity disorientated? This is essentially making black a throwaway category in Brazil.

  21. I agree that mixed people are not black, even though in America people view them as such. I would say in the US to my thinking all black people born in the US are African-American, but not all African-Americans are black. Being African-American is being of African descent with forebears who were slaves. For instance, Halle Berry is African-American but biracial not black.ls

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