Note from BW of Brazil: I have to admit, I had never even heard of Maisa Silva. But that’s no biggie. In the vast world in which we exist, there are many different mini worlds that exist within the bigger one. I also wouldn’t expect to know the things that children aged 4, 5 or 6 years old would be into. In this same light, I’m into things that I know the majority of others probably aren’t. I know, for example, that the vast majority of African-Americans aren’t into what goes on in Brazil on a daily basis. I also know that the recent release of deluxe edition of musician Prince’s 1982 album 1999 will probably not be setting the world on fire. But that’s what’s so cool about segmentation. As I’ve seen in a recent Facebook campaign, whatever you’re interested in, there’s probably a Facebook group out there that matches your interest. I’m not huge Facebook user, but it is cool to log in occasionally and find people posting things that I’m interested in.
Before today, I didn’t know who Maisa Silva was, probably because she wasn’t part of the worlds that spark my interest in terms of Brazil. I now know that she’s a popular YouTuber, a host, actress and singer. Only 17 years old, she’s been doing her thing since about 2005, which would have made her about 3 years old at the time. I won’t dig too much into who Maisa is, but I will get into what sparked my interest in doing an article about her today.
You see, Maisa is another of millions of Brazilians who have a at least one black parent but that you wouldn’t automatically perceive it. If you haven’t figured it out by now, it is not at all strange in Brazil that someone could have a black parent but still be considered white. And if you’ve checked in to this blog for any amount of time, you can probably guess that the issue of race is the reason I’m talking about Maisa today. Recently, the singer/actress/host touched on how the issue of race affects her, albeit in an indirect manner. Let’s get to it…
Maisa vents about racism suffered by her father: “He always the security guard”
The actress used her Twitter to talk about it with followers
By Izabel Gimenez
Maisa is one of those celebs who always take the time to talk to fans on Twitter, despite making a lot of jokes, she also talks about serious issues like what happened on Tuesday (12/3). The host vented about the racism that her father, who is black, suffers and the difference in how he is treated when he is with his daughter and wife.
It all started after a Tweet in which Maisa said her father was not white and a follower asked if she considered herself parda (brown/mixed) because of her family history. “Hi, I don’t know, I’m kind of ignorant about this, lol. Am I?” asked Maisa. One fan said no and still showed empathy for what her family goes through.”Dear, you’re white, and I’m sorry for your father, this society is ill.”
Unfortunately, although she does not suffer directly from racism, she is very upset by the way her father is treated. “Because I really perceive the difference in the way people treat him compared to me and my mother…He is always the security guard, the driver etc… I never suffered any prejudice because of the tone of my skin,” she said.
She also explained that she always considered herself white, but that most of her father’s family members are black. “It’s racism, we’ve been through a lot since we moved to an ‘upper crust’ neighborhood. And, you see, it’s not the clothes, it’s not how the person talks, they really go by skin color,” she said.
Note from BW of Brazil: Of course, I probably wouldn’t know Maisa if she was on the same subway train with me, but that doesn’t even matter. What I get from her and the millions of “white” Brazilians like her is that, even having a black father, she probably knows very little about being black. Well, she may get a slight sense of it because of the treatment that her father receives in comparison to her (white) mother and herself. Whenever I meet Brazilians whose physical features may or may not denote African ancestry, I always get this strange feeling about how they deal with blackness. I’ve occasionally written about those types of Brazilians who, when the topic of blackness comes up, they deal with from a sort of distance. That typical, “Oh, my grandfather/mother was black”, as if to say, “I’m glad I’m not.”
Of course, I’m not going to generalize, because I’ve met plenty of Brazilians who will also openly discuss the knowledge of African roots in their ancestry, whether recent, or in the distant past, and not have definitive clarity about their own racial identity. But I also come across those who talk about their black ancestors in a sort of, “Oh, black, that was back in the old days”, as if it was some nostalgic 1950’s Rock and Roll singer/song. Like, “it’s cool to remember the past, but we’re in the modern age, thank god.”
But then, isn’t that what the process of embranquecimento, or whitening, through miscegenation, was/is all about? Relegating blackness to a thing of the past? Brazil’s leaders of the early part of the 20th century predicted that all remnants of the black race in Brazil would eventually fade into distant memory and Brazil would have a population as white as the old continent (Europe). I’m not necessarily saying that Maisa sees her connection to blackness in that manner because I can’t say with any certainty. But I do wonder what people like her think when she walks the streets with her mother and people may have no clue that her father was a black man. As with so many parents, it’s possible that he planned it that way so that his daughter wouldn’t have to be mistaken for the doorman, the driver, security guard or face humiliating situations that they go through simply for being black. Perhaps he’s proud of his contribution to the disappearance of blackness from his family tree. Who knows?
As I’ve frequently explored these issues at length, I often wonder if the black partner in these relationships married and had children with their white partners out of simple love and compatibility (which we already know isn’t as simple as that) or if the union came about out of a deep-seated desire to whiten themselves and their offspring. More than a decade ago, when I used to say this, people would simply label me as the racist American who doesn’t understand Brazil. But nowadays, with so many black Brazilians understanding the concept of eugenics and Brazil’s policy to whiten its population through mixed unions, I’m no longer the “out-of-touch American”.
In that sense, maybe its not so far-fetched for me to wonder how many Brazilians, behind this façade of, “Oh, race doesn’t matter, we’re all just human beings”, are really thinking, “Race doesn’t matter…as long as you’re white.”
With information courtesy of Capricho