Note from BW of Brazil: When I came across this story it was actually a little funny to me. Literally funny and funny in an ironic way as well. Why? Well, one, this blog has published two stories in the past few months of black Brazilians being accused of attempting to kidnap little white children. In one of the cases, the black woman was actually the mother of the child. The thing that gets me is that there hundreds of thousands, or maybe millions of black families that have become white or almost white over the years, and Brazilians know this, so why would it be shocking to see black parents with their white sons and daughters?
Remember, Brazil is one of the Latin American countries that promoted interracial unions as a means of making its black population eventually disappear. In many ways, it’s working. When I walk the streets of cities like São Paulo, Rio or Londrina and I see so many black parents with children who are much lighter than they and sometimes white, I have to wonder how of these people truly just fell in love with someone with white/light skin or because subconsciously, or even consciously they desire whiteness so much that they choose their partners precisely BECAUSE they are white. I have an opinion about that, but anyway, on to today’s story…The guy in the story was featured in a recent post about black fatherhood.
‘Black man, father of a white girl’: father reports on everyday racism
Courtesy of Catraquinha
Experiencing racism is not always linked to a concrete experience. It seems complex, but in fact this logic is more integrated into our daily life than we imagine. This is because prejudice is so rooted in society that for a pessoa negra (black person), social and racial discrimination even comes when the aggressor does not verbalize or concretize intolerance.
The paulista (native of São Paulo) Helio Gomes is black and the father of a menina branca (white girl), with light hair and blue eyes, and experiences this question up close. In a text published on the site Paizinho, vírgula (Daddy, comma), entitled “Preto, pai de branca” (black man, father of a white girl), he tells how he feels naturally discriminated against when he circulates in public with his daughter for the simple fact that the two have different skin colors.
According to him, prejudice is intrinsic to the mentality of people, and is visible when he hears his daughter is beautiful, and they don’t understand how he can be her father.
Helio with his daughter, Elis. “We need to take the debate on diversity from the elite circuits.”
The report starts from a banal situation: a father walking with his daughter in a bookstore. Everything changes when the little girl starts calling for her mother, who is not there. So far, nothing extraordinary, just a child verbalizing what he/she knows.
However, because the father in question is black, racism is materialized by the fearful glances Helio receives from those around him.
“The father, whose sling is hanging from his body and backpack of the baby, with her ID, is on his shoulders, he can only think of one thing: Dirão que estou sequestrando essa criança branca de olhos azuis” (They will say that I am kidnapping this blue-eyed white child).
The text highlights several fundamental points when it comes to reflecting on racism and how it materializes in everyday situations. And, especially, it reinforces a crucial point in the reflection on prejudice: if we want an egalitarian society, racism is, yes, a problem for white families as well, as activist Luciana Bento said in an interview with Catraquinha.
Read some excerpts:
“We could talk here about the difficulties of a father who tries to overthrow the machista thinking of that only women should take care of the children. But we have to put this issue to the test. Add to this difficulty the fear of going out with your own daughter only because of her having the color of your skin different from his. “
“When it’s just my daughter and I, I run the risk of being approached, judged (before any attempt to explain) and convicted (by the same jury that kills a black man who stole some cell phone on Copacabana beach)”
“How would you act seeing a child being kidnapped in front of you?” Now tell me the chance that you will not confuse me with a child abductor, the guy who is stereotyped in the popular unconscious as the figure of the marginal delinquent carrying a ‘beautiful, doll-faced girl’, calling for her mother simply to be testing her new communication skills?”
“Many of those who preach diversity have their children locked up in a school, that even if it has a humanized pedagogical orientation, they don’t have black or poor students, that is not to show and/or experience diversity. We need to understand that to dialogue about diversity it is first necessary to take the debate from elite circles.”