Note from BW of Brazil: It is a question that this blog has approached before. It is a question for which this very blog exists. “O que é ser negra no Brasil?” What is it to be a black woman in Brazil? What is it to be black in Brazil? Numerous posts, stats and essays on this blog offer more insight and analysis of this question. This question could and has filled up numerous books and dissertations, but below Karine Lima (as well as Gabriela Vallim in a video) sums up her thoughts in a short text.
What is it to be a mulher negra (black woman) in Brazil?
By Karine Lima
Being a black woman in Brazil is to be reborn every second, because the only thing we are sure of in our day is that a twisted look will certainly penetrate you, if you’re “lucky”. And I say get lucky because the abuse is so great that it makes us think that the look, compared to other forms of racism, passes by people with less pain. We don’t realize, however, that our unconscious is there and these marks are being well registered by it.
No matter how strong we are it is not easy to swallow a look or a comment without it reaching you. Traumas are becoming “stored” and what we do with it in the future we don’t know. We may have the ability to reframe, but I am not so optimistic. Not that I don’t believe that this “miracle” happens, but if it really happens, for sure it has a very low percentage.
Being a black woman in Brazil is to be attached to the period era in which the black woman was intended and associated only to the care of the casa grande (big house/master’s home) and sex. After abolition with no other job options the woman was forced to return to the family home, with the only difference being that they were no longer slaves, however ill-treatment accompanied by humiliation and indignity remained and remains to this day. Moreover, the stereotype associated with sex and the sensualization of the image lingers, it’s enough to turn on the television during Carnival times to see that the ass is worth much more than the mind.
O que é ser negra no Brasil? Gabriela Vallim
The very existence is already a challenge because each new place and each new person requires new acceptance strategies. Yes, it’s very sad to say this, but really that’s what happens. In a work environment, the looks and the demands will always be focused on you, ready to laugh at the first slip up, ready to say the famous phrase: “tinha que ser preta” (it had to be a black), hardly knowing that we really did have to be, and we are happy to be.
Finally, being a black woman is to transgress standards, to be original, to resist to exist, to have force, and above all it’s to fight against the system.
“(…) The system can even turn me into a maid, But you cannot make me think like a maid; While conventional women struggle against sexism, Black women duel to defeat sexism, prejudice, racism; Fighting to reverse the annihilation process, That imprisons African descendants in cubicles in the prison; There is no Maria Penha Law that protects us, From the violence of subjugating us to cleaning positions; From reading in the bathrooms of Hitlerite colleges, “Get out you monkey quota students” – Yzalú – “Mulheres Negras”
Source: Alma Preta