“They really do go by skin color”: popular white singer/YouTuber perceives difference in how people treat her, her mother and her black father

Maisa Silva with her father
Maisa com o pai
Maisa Silva with her father

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-silva
Maisa Silva

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

About Marques Travae 3333 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

3 Comments

  1. Thank you for putting time and effort into your response. I appreciate you sharing the inflation of demographic statistics during the census due to mixed people identifying as black, because this is something I already believed.

    To answer your question, the woman in question is Caucasian because she is Caucasian. There is a global caste system that sustains the phenotype of Caucasians, no matter what nation. India, the Middle East (which is just North Africa), The AMericas, Hawaii (which used to be a nation of it’s own), China, Australia– literally everywhere there is a caste system based not on blood percentage, but on phenotype and birth in which most are largely classified on the race of the mother since she carries the egg and the father is mere the match that turns the light on in the egg.

    Racism stems from the actual word race, to compete, to seek to sustain, seek to conquer. ‘-ism’ refers to the practice of said race/competition. Racism quite literally means to sustain the survival and dominance of one classification of humans– the “whites”. In this “Racism” we get invert and overt systems that provide the most opportunities to anyone identifying as white or considered white. For example, Europeans usually sideline Italy when discussing the plight of Europe because Italy has a large blood percentage of African Moors, hence the plumper lips, curly hair, and more tanned skin. They aren’t largely considered white in Europe, but they are white everywhere else. Just like Caucasians in South America whose native tongue are European languages (Portuguese and Spanish) aren’t considered white in North America, yet they are the ruling white class in their native country.

    The woman in question’s father is not black, he is already mixed, which further dilutes the blood of his offspring. The woman is arguably 80% white, as is shown in her phenotype. She blends right in and will, as you stated, benefit from being more close in appearance to a Caucasian woman.

    So when you take India for example, they aren’t considered to be white. They are “Indians”. But within the nation of India, there are different classes within the caste based on the likeness to whiteness. And white happens to be the ruling class. This is the same EVERYWHERE. This is global white supremacy. Paler people from different “ethnic” nations have the tendency to say “I’m not white, I’m Saudi, I’m not white, I’m Israeli, I’m not white, I’m Samoan, I’m not white, I’m mixed,” when in fact in their home country they are considered superior due to their paler skin.

    Race is largely believed to be based on nationality and often conflated with ethnicity. But race is simply where a person stands on the skin color spectrum, and that is majority the determinant of how they will be treated. This is why we consider dark Indians to be black, or people like Jada Pinkett to be black, because that’s where they stand on the spectrum. They may not be negroid or fully racially African, but they are perceived within their societies as black in the caste system.

    Here is North America, us Aboriginals (or misnomered African-americans) have decided to not allow the mixed, biracial populations to claim to be black. This is dangerous as proved by the history of Moorish rulership in Europe during the Dark Ages and before then. The Moors were the ruling class, and intermixed with Caucasian population. The result was a mixed breed of people, who in turn dominated Moorish spaces like their government, schools, and religious rulers. We do not want our spaces dominated by mixed people in the same way. The whiting out of nations like Egypt, India, Australia, Hawaii, and the Americas was not *all* due to war and bloodshed. A lot of it simply came from the class of mixed race people infiltrating negro spaces and dominating it through the privilege they receive from their caucus side. This is why North Africans, Asians, and “Hispanics from South America” are classified as white when they come to the U.S., not because of nationality or blood, but because of appearance and their position in society in their home countries.

    This has already occurred in stuff like black girl beauty pageants, mixed people getting to be the face of the black revolution, and mixed women with loose curly hair getting to be the face of our natural hair movement. We’ve had enough, and often compare our situation to Brazil and how blacks there are now being subjugated more and more by mixed populations. Luckily here in North America, we have the option for people to classify as mixed or other. But unfortunately that’s on paper. In person however, mixed people will often linger in black spaces and parade around as black, calling themselves black, and being the most celebrated images in black spaces.

    I never said the woman in the article isn’t mixed. I asked why are mixed people called black in brazil. My assertion that she is caucasian is rooted in the reality that she is white-passing and benefits from it. Caucasians can say they are mixed with greek and Spanish and german (all of which have African ancestry) but outwardly, the African percentage is little to none and therefore they are Caucasians, because the global caste systems says “white = good, holy + black = bad, dirty”. Being mixed has nothing to do with being Caucasian.

    I hope I answered your question and gave enough background on my criteria upon which I classified the woman as Caucasian. Thank you for the dialog. I look forward to your response.

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