In the African-American community, particularly in the late 1980s during a quasi-revisiting of the late 60s, early 70s black consciousness era, if you wanted to start a debate or an argument and a succession of neck rolls and teeth sucking amongst African-American women, all you had to do was been seen in public with a white woman. Perhaps the most well known example of this attitude was depcited in a scene from director Spike Lee’s 1991 film that explored interracial relationships, Jungle Fever. In a pivotal scene of the film, a room full of black women took turns taking shots at black men who dated white women and the white women that they dated or married. It was a pretty intense scene. At that point in the film, Drew (Lonette McKee) had come to the realization that her husband Flipper (Wesley Snipes) had had an affair with a white woman he had met at work.
|Scene from Spike Lee’s Jungle Fever|
In this scene of 10-15 minutes, Drew and her support group of black women summarized and vented all of the feelings of rage, despair, sadness, betrayal and frustration that many black American women felt in regards to successful African-American men apparently leaving them behind and “marrying up” by dating and marrying white women. In reality, the scene was a bit of an over-generalization. Or was it? I mean, was it true as one woman claimed that ALL of the “good” and “successful” black men were marrying white women?
Well, if I were to judge this statement by the wives of black NFL and NBA players, I would say this was a bit of an over exaggeration. I mean, yes, there are quite a few black male athletes married to white or non-black women, but the trend that I notice much more is that most black athletes seem to marry light-skinned black women. I’m not claiming to be the expert here; I don’t watch sports nearly as much as I did only 10-15 years ago. But still, this is what stands out in my mind when I see the majority of black athletes’ wives. Even so, is there any validity in the accusations that successful black men disproportionately marry non-black women? Well consider this quote from an article entitled “Unequal Love Across The Color Line” by Linda Young.
“When income was factored into a 2000 study, the authors found that as black male income increased, interracial marriages increased proportionally until at the highest income level ($100,000 and above) nearly 50% of black men were married to non-black women. The same study found (after statistically controlling other factors) that in metropolitan areas in which larger percentages of black men were married to non-black women, black women were less likely to be married than in other cities.”
Hmmm. Maybe black women aren’t imagining things after all!
|Retired soccer star Romário with ex, Camila|
Be that as it may, from what I’ve seen of Afro-Brazilian soccer stars, there is still no comparison. As some have argued in Brazil, there seems to be unwritten rule that every black male entertainer or athlete will marry a white woman. Although I don’t claim to be an authority figure on this topic and I don’t have statistics to back up this statement, I will say that it is extremely rare to see rich black Brazilian men married to black women. From what I’ve noted over the years, it would not be an exaggeration to estimate that 90-95% of rich and famous Brazilian men of African descent are married to white women. I offer as proof the hundreds of online comments and debates I’ve read pertaining to this issue on Brazilian websites and social networking sites. Some of the comments I’m read written by Afro-Brazilian women are every bit as hot as anything I’ve read written by African-American women.
So what are experts and everyday people saying about this trend or unwritten rule in Brazil?
This is a continuation of a 1998 article from the Afro-Brazilian magazine Raça Brasil from October of 1998 entitled “Por que os negros preferem as loiras (Why do black men prefer blondes)?”
“Por que os negros preferem as loiras (Why do black men prefer blondes)?”
Tânia Regina Pinto
Anthropologist Ana Lúcia Valente, in her book Ser Negro no Brasil Hoje (Being Black in Brazil Today), from the publisher Editora Moderna, remembers a time when she talking with friends in a bar, when she saw a couple in the bar, the man, black, and the woman, a blonde: “Immediately there was an awkward silence in the bar. All eyes were on this couple. At the first moment I heard comments from nearby tables:
‘He must be rich! Otherwise, he couldn’t go out with a blonde like that!’
‘What interest could a blonde have in a black guy? She must not be able to get anyone else … ‘
‘This guy must be very good in bed …'”.
|Ser Negro no Brasil Hoje|
With 30 years of going to the beach, as he says, and 46 years of age, Antônio Campos also has no doubt about the negative visibility that the white woman gives to the black man: “When you have a white woman at your side, everyone wants to know what she saw in you.”
In general, the black man is not usually selective in choosing the white woman: she can be poor, ugly and falling apart. “I have a friend who picks up after the woman. He makes a sucker out of himself for her I think that he accepts everything only because she’s white. This is inadmissible. There’s a guy that got the whole package: a child, debt, family…All just to have a white woman at his side.”
Many black men don’t see any need to “sweeten” the pill in order to justify their preference for blonde women. Historian Joel Rufino dos Santos, for example, in the book Atrás do Muro da Noite – Dinâmica das Culturas Afro-brasileiras (Behind the Wall of the Night: Dynamics of Afro-Brazilian Cultures), of the Palmares Foundation, in the last chapter, had not the slightest qualms of turning every woman in the world into things, objects of greater or lesser value. And all this to clarify why successful black men go after white women, preferably blond.
He wrote: “The most obvious explanation is that the white woman is more beautiful than the black woman, and whoever prospers automatically trades in his car. Whoever knew me driving a Volkswagen Beetle and now sees me in a Monza can be sure that I am no longer a broke-ass: the car, like the woman is a sign.”
The comparison, though cruel and inhumane, is a fact. “In a sexist society, women are seen as an object of consumption. And consumer goods confer status and power to whoever acquires them,” confirms the historian Maria Aparecida da Silva of the black women’s NGO, Geledés.
In the Brazilian social and economic structure, the black man is below the white woman when the topic is salaried employment. So for him, the possible path of ascension is the conquest of an “object” of value to the white man.
End of Part 2….To be continued…
See Part three here
Source: Raça Brasil, Issue #26, 1998, Black Women of Brazil