Note from BW of Brazil: Racism is a frequent topic on this blog for a number of reasons. 1) The image of Brazil for millions of people outside of Brazil is the image of a “racial democracy” where all races get along in harmony. 2) The general worldwide media doesn’t focus much on the question of race/racism in Brazil focusing instead on politics, culture, economics and travel. 3) The insistence of many Brazilians (white but also black) who continue to see the problem of racism as a thing of the United States and not a global system of oppression that is woven into the social structures of many countries, including Brazil. 4) For those who believe non-Brazilians are importing the issue of racism into Brazil. It is for these reasons that nearly ALL of the articles on this blog are written BY BRAZILIANS. These writers are exposing the truth about how race is experienced in Brazil, both by those who are conscious of its effects and those who are oblivious to them. The essays and short pieces give a very personal perspective on the topic as only a Brazilian can. Today’s feature is no different. It is a searing indictment, acknowledgement and vow to fight against this dreaded social disease that so often emotionally and psychologically debilitates black and “would be” black Brazilians.
The pain of racism
by Lorena Morais
Racism shut me up for years. It stopped me through shyness, low esteem, straightened hair or the hair iron on the edge of the stove, it shut me up through clothes, white dolls with pink mouths and blonde barbies (1). It shut up my intelligence, my courage and my desires. Racism did not let me see my beauty for years, it hid my smile, it didn’t let me be a doctor or an actress or a model, I did not want to try to go to benches or make the news reports, it made me believe that I am incapable, or “dumb” and ugly. For years racism made me see bad hair, it made me cry, hate my skin and my nose, it made me hide in the back of the classroom, not want to date, run away from the men and believe that “that look was not for me” or that I would be for marrying. Racism made me believe that I’ll never manage and that that stage didn’t belong to me. Racism has brought me so much pain, so many tears that are now transformed into a single word: RESISTANCE!
Upon waking up I face cruel racism at work, in the street and at school. I face racism of the look, the verbal, the imagery and disguised. I face racism in a black city that carries a culture of prejudice, of straight hair, of the sexuality of the negra (black woman), “in style” clothes and a city that says “Your place is not here, sua neguinha (little blackie) and Candomblé (2) is a thing of the devil.”
I am black, a journalist, a community health agent, from Salvador and Cachoeira (in Bahia), I love my cabelo crespo (kinky/curly hair), my nose, I’m beautiful and I love how I dress, I love turbans, samba (3), capoeira (4) and for me ser negra (to be black) is much more than a skin issue. We are all equal, but only one who is negro/negra (black man/black woman) feels the pain of the whip on their backs. Crying does not relieve the pain. Wipe those tears, get up and let’s fight!
RESIST BLACK MAN, RESIST BLACK WOMAN!!!
* – Lorena Morais: Student of Social Communication with a license in Journalism from the Federal University of Bahia Reconcavo (UFRB). “Words are my fuel. Journalism is my life.”
Source: Meu Presente Imperfeito
* * – Photo taken from the book NEM PRETO NEM BRANCO MUITO PELO CONTRÁRIO – Cor e raça na sociabilidade brasileira (Neither black nor white, much to the contrary: Color and Race in Brazilian Socialibility) by Lilia Moritz Schwarcz. Claro Enigma, 2013
1. Due to aesthetic dominance and power, whiteness and blond hair are also commonly discussed topics on this blog. See here.
2. Candomblé is an African-originated or Afro-Brazilian religion, practiced mainly in Brazil by the “povo do santo” (people of the saint). It originated in the cities of Salvador, the capital of Bahia, and Cachoeira, at the time one of the main commercial crossroads for the distribution of products and slave trade to other parts of Bahia state in Brazil. Although Candomblé is practiced primarily in Brazil, it is also practiced in other countries in the Americas, including Uruguay, Argentina, Venezuela, Colombia, Panama; and in Europe in Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain.The religion is based in the anima (soul) of the natural environment, and is therefore a kind of Animism. It was developed in Brazil with the knowledge of African Priests who were enslaved and brought to Brazil, together with their mythology, their culture and language, between 1549 and 1888. Source
3. Samba is a Brazilian dance and musical genre originating in Bahia, Brazil, and with its roots in Rio de Janeiro and Africa via the West African slave trade and African religious traditions. It is recognized around the world as a symbol of Brazil and the Brazilian Carnival. Considered one of the most popular Brazilian cultural expressions, samba has become an icon of Brazilian national identity. The Bahian Samba de Roda (dance circle), which became a UNESCO Heritage of Humanity in 2005, is the main root of the samba carioca, the samba that is played and danced in Rio de Janeiro.
4. Capoeira is a Brazilian martial art that combines elements of dance, acrobatics and music, and is sometimes referred to as a game. It was developed in Brazil mainly by African descendants with native Brazilian influences, probably beginning in the 16th century. It is known by quick and complex moves, using mainly power, speed, and leverage for leg sweeps. Source