Note from BW of Brazil: Alright, so it’s getting hot! Past posts on the topic of so many prominent black Brazilian men in relationships or married to white women are often met with comments from readers making accusations of finger-pointing, not being fair or blaming black men for the phenomenon that Afro-Brazilian women activists have labeled the “solitude of the black woman”. This blog’s position has always been that, on this particular issue, black women are the one’s who are discussing the issue and taking the time to vent and share their personal feelings on the topic in blog posts. In previous posts, this blog has also hinted at the fact that an apparent preference for whiteness in fact can be noted among black Brazilian women as well (see here and here). This issue once again came to fore with readers when they saw the story “Ana Luísa Castro becomes the second black woman to be crowned Miss World Brazil” and noted that her husband was white (1). Interestingly enough, Castro’s husband actually posted a comment on that particular post!
This blog’s position has also been that, if and when, black Brazilian males wanted to discuss the issue in thought-provoking posts beyond simple, well-worn rebuttals that “love has no color” or comments on social network sites, the piece would be welcome on this blog. This was in evidence when the article “The blaming of the black man and the racism contained in the expression “Cirilo’s Syndrome” – The debate over black identity and interracial relations rages on” was posted in September of 2015. It was also in evidence when this blog posted the piece entitled “We need to recognize our ‘palmitagem’, the preference for white skin” just four days ago.
At this point, I would like to make it clear that as new voices continue to chime in on this topic in recognition of the fact that black Brazilians have long been taught to appreciate and desire whiteness, the vast majority of Brazilians continue to deny something that is becoming increasingly obvious for those willing to analyze the issue: romantic relationships are not formed simply based on the idea that people just fall in love. Color, class, education, financial interests, physical attraction, intelligence and so many more topics play essential roles in the formation of such unions. And whether people want to believe or deny it, the role of social engineering also cannot be excluded from the discussion. Below, we bring you a very thought-provoking essay on this issue that arose after photos of the new love of singer Ludmilla began circulating in social networks about a month ago.
What is stereotyped like the solitude of the black woman?
By Fabio Esteban
We are a kidnapped black PEOPLE. A black PEOPLE falling. An impoverished black PEOPLE. A black PEOPLE killing itself. An abandoned black PEOPLE. An alone black PEOPLE. What makes us believe that ruin in the relationships of a PEOPLE who had been enslaved concerns a gender issue?
Four months have passed for me to write about this. But I think now has come a good opportunity.
I grew up in the slums watching the same TV as the sisters, playing the same things as the sisters: Elástico (elastic game), quimado (dodge ball), alerta-cor (color alert), mamãe-na-rua (mother-in-the-street), futebol, pique-esconde (hide and seek), salada-mista (kissing game), (all children’s street games) etc. It was always very difficult for a brother to hook up with a preta (black girl). Why? Because they always preferred the branquinho (white boy) out there (we call “out there” locations outside of the favela (slum), usually on the main track, the asphalt in general). That is, just like the black man, the black woman also chooses.
The sisters often preferred the branquinho out there, or often the branquinho from the inside: The son of the sacolão (neighborhood fruit and vegetable market) owner, the son of the owner of the bar, the son of haberdashery owner, the son of the boss lady etc. We are tired of seeing the sisters, in adolescence, coming back taking a ride in the Biz (moped), in the car or on foot with the branquelo pálido (pale white boy) that left them in the village gate, alley or home. The sisters were keen to even flaunt them.
Before continuing, I would like to point out what I’m writing all this to warn: The black woman is AS MUCH a victim of racism and at the same time with their own assemblages AS the black man.
And this situation of the favelas often continued into adulthood. Well: I quoted the TV. We, homens negros (black men) learned on TV that the ideal type of woman is branca (white), loira (blonde), olhos claros (light-colored eyes). It’s on the TV, in the movies and newspapers. And the mulher negra (black woman)? Haven’t you learned the same thing since childhood? What is your Prince Charming like? Who are the protagonists of the novelas (soap operas) that they watch? Who are the muses of Malhação novela (soap opera)? What are the heroes that they learn to admire like? The women’s magazines like Capricho teach you to be attracted to what kind of man?
Anyway, in order for the publication not to be long, what I have to say is that the black woman is a victim in this whole story (I’m not removing her from her own diligence). The mulher preta (black woman) does not seek the white man because she is abandoned by the black man. She searches for the homem branco (white man) because she was taught by the media, the school and the family. She grows up personally and seeing on TV the black man connected to negative examples or of low perspective.
“But black men ascend socially and …” And what? Is every black man a singer? Is every black man a jogador de futebol (soccer player)? Has the exception became the rule now? If we had this whole myth of ascended black men, was it not for a minority to continue poor then? The population of black woman is SUPERIOR to black men.
It is mathematically impossible for the black woman being abandoned (I am not disparaging experiences, case-by-case. This is another 500. What I mean is: Enter a favela tomorrow to find out what the very IBGE has proven: most black men are in relationships with black women.)
If they were to take the case-by-case to push the bar here, I appeal for: LET WHOEVER DOESN’T KNOW A BLACK WOMAN WHO SAYS: “IT’S ALREADY ENOUGH THAT I’M BLACK”, CAST THE FIRST STONE.
What I mean by this post is not a contradiction that: “Jeez, Renato! You said last week not to criticize our own, because whites don’t do this.” No. I’m not criticizing Ludmilla. For me she is a victim and is using her own agency in choosing the white man. Ludmilla has a complete condition of choosing a black man. Retinto (dark-skinned). But as much by that “Hoje” videoclip (we pointed the stick at Nego do Borel last week) (2) and now in love, she chooses white men.
She suffers from racism in all forms: She wears contact lenses. Straightens her hair. She had a nose job. And she’s with a pálido (pale face). She wouldn’t do any of this if it weren’t for racism. So the post is not to criticize her or sisters who also palmitam (prefer whites). But to call attention that this is another WHITE strategy of segregating. To postpone our unity. To postpone the racial debate. It is not surprising that just black people have so many trivialities, while for brancas (white women) it’s all just right?
‘There is no’ Solidão da Mulher Negra (Loneliness of the Black Woman). What exists is self-hatred. What exists is a range of black women in college who do not realize they are the extreme majority in relation to the small population of black men in college, who often don’t even complete the courses. Most brothers are still on the grind, in exploratory work, outside the college environment. Go to the favela and see who generally has stable employment. Who usually has the highest salary. It’s totally different from the asphalt.
The ones who have more conditions to enter college are sisters. And many of these, unfortunately, victims of self-hate, prefer to claim abandonment, to going up the hill after some of the thousands of black single men who are there. Because a black man who is not academic, isn’t good enough. Am I’m lying?
We also slip up! With so many mina preta (black girls) in college, we don’t even go to the slum to choose a sister. You will smell the white woman’s ass. There is self-hatred, brothers, listen up. Why don’t we discuss these futilities? Because we don’t know our own history.
The Japanese suffered abuse, but didn’t lose their own history. Jews suffered abuse, but didn’t lose their own history. All this confusion in which Black people find themselves is simply because our history was torn from us.
And as long as we don’t go in search of it, of our self-knowledge, we will continue banging our heads, making sub-agendas and sub-sub-agendas to remain in the misunderstanding among ourselves. We are a lost people because we don’t know our true history. In the same moral. We prefer to be with those who enslaved us. In the same moral.
I repeat: The favela is full of single brothers. Have a good week.
Edit: The title refers to what is reduced to the debate of the loneliness of the black woman: Abandonment or refusal of the black man. There are many more black women than black men in Brazil, and black men are addicted to cachaça, in jail or being killed every day.
It is mathematically impossible for this gap to be balanced. Criticism of the post is for the aims and misconceptions that are made in this discussion, whose theme has everything to do with racism, with the discussion of racism, extermination, eugenics. And not with gender.
It is not a gender issue this gap of black men and black women. It is extermination. And White Supremacy proves once again that its plan is always fulfilled: Here we are in combat. When we say that the black woman is in solitude even when married to the black man, are we not therefore talking about a loneliness that is of both, thus creating the solitude of a BLACK PEOPLE, not a gender? What is lacking in realizing that we are ignoring, COMPLETELY, all of our process of Historic Colonization, Kidnapping and Enslavement?
This reductionism to loving relationships hinders the very discussion of what such solitude would be.
Note: I am taking into consideration lesbian and gay brothers and sisters.
Note from BW of Brazil: It goes without saying that Fabio Estebam touched on a number of important issues in his essay. I am not certain how well this piece circulated on social networks but I knew as soon it was sent to me that it needed to be posted on this blog. Now that we have material coming forth written by black men chiming in on this topic, there are more questions that should be addressed in the future. But there are a few things I would like to point out in regards to the piece above.
One. Many black men point out the fact that numerically, the majority of black Brazilian men (considered the combination of pretos and pardos/black and brown men) are in fact married to black women (considered the combination of pretas and pardas/black and brown women). Overall this remains true, but this this is mostly due to the fact pardo men, a group about six times larger than preto men, are mostly married to parda women. In the case of black men (homens pretos), 26.4% are married to white women (brancas), only 39.9% are married to black women (pretas) and 32.1% are married to brown women (pardas). This stat demonstrates that 58% of black men have wives that have lighter skin than they.
Two. As a whole, as of 2010, 69% of Brazilians are married to partners of the same color. But this number has continuously decreased in the last 25 years or so and a large number of those same color unions include couples who have been married for several decades. If we break down the numbers by age groups, we will surely see an explosion of interracial unions in the age brackets of, say, 21-35 and 36-45. These younger couples are perhaps where black women are seeing increasing numbers of black men choosing to have relationships with non-black women.
Three. I’m not completely convinced by simple stats that show that the majority of black men are married to black women. Why? Not negating the fact that people DO fall in love with each other, sometimes (often times?) people marry people that they most likely have a chance of courting. Let’s be real: what chance does a poor, black man sweeping the streets have at courting and marrying a white woman of a middle to upper class background? I make this point also thinking about the numerous cases we’ve all seen of black futebol players who dated a black woman all the while they were poor but the moment they came into that huge contract, they immediately traded her for a bleach blond.
But be that as it may, we can clearly see that Estebam’s view that black women also have a ‘thing’ for white men may be just as debate-worthy of such accusations leveled against black men. Some will argue that the women posted in the photos above represent just women from the entertainment world. But I would argue that 1) women in the entertainment world often come from the everyday world and simply carry their beliefs and preferences into the world of entertainment and 2) like actresses and singers, I could also point out a number of black women social activists who are also married to white men. The question at that point would be a) do black Brazilian women date/marry white men because they have been rejected by black men? b) do they also choose love regardless of color (but sometimes subconsciously favor whiteness) and just happen to ‘click’ with a man who happens to be white? c) do they have preferences for white men? or d) after having dated various black men and having been consistently mistreated, they sought love with men of other races?
These questions must in all fairness must asked of black women who point the finger of abandonment at black men. But the question that is perhaps the most important for black women who write about the ‘solitude of the black woman’ is: if white men were to fill the void apparently left by black men, would the question of solitude be over and done with? In other words, if more white men were marrying black women, would there be no concern for black people constructing relationships and families among themselves? If the answer were to be ‘yes’, then black women would be just as guilty in the ongoing process of the embranquecimento (whitening) of the black population as black men.
The final point I would bring out here is that no ones knows for sure what drives these relationships and even if one were to ask these people point blank, with certainty, we would most likely hear a variation of the ‘love has no color’ response, ie, ‘I don’t choose people because of color’ and that while this may sometimes be true, as I’ve asked before, if Brazil had never openly stated its goal of encouraging black Brazilians to whiten themselves through interracial unions, would there be so interracial unions in the country and especially among famous blacks? One doesn’t see an equal number of famous/rich white Brazilians married to black Brazilians. In fact, in page after page of entertainment-based magazines, we see that this parcel of the population overwhelmingly marries other white people.
In other words, as much as we would like to believe that the ‘handsome, white Prince Charming’ doesn’t play a role in the romantic choices of black Brazilian women, as I chose the names of the women whose photos I posted above, I thought to myself, ‘I wouldn’t be surprised if her partner were white’. All of the women featured in the above photos are women who have been featured in posts on this blog, and in searching for them, I discovered that at least a few of them had been in various relationships with white men. The photos are by no means meant to be an accurate representation of their current relationship status; some of them may in fact have broken up or moved on to other partners while others are long-term. I say this to say, again, the adoration of whiteness cannot be strictly placed upon the shoulders of black Brazilian men.
Going even further on this topic, in Brazil (past and present) one will note a very obvious appreciation for foreign things. Foreign perfumes. Foreign clothes. Foreign food. If one speaks fluent English, not only do they have an advantage in the job market, but they are seen as being slightly above other Brazilians socially, especially if they’ve traveled outside of the country. As such, it should come as no surprise that in the photos above, some of the men are not only white, but of foreign origin. In a previous post, Flávia Simas opined how, in Brazil, “the European gringo is more celebrated than foreigners from other parts of the world.” This premium also applies to white American men. We saw a bit of this idea of the foreigner being “better” when singer Ludmilla went public with her relationship with her new love as many websites published the fact that he was an ‘americano’ in their headlines. It is yet another example of the so-called “complexo do vira-lata”, which writer Nelson Rodrigues described as the inferiority complex that Brazilians feel in comparison to peoples of other countries.
For some, this inferiority complex was rooted in simply a perceived ignorance of the Brazilian people, while others connected it to the country being located in the tropics. But still other social scientists of the 1920s and 1930s connected this inferiority directly to the issue of race, seeing the Brazilian people, a mixture of the three original races, as being forever genetically inferior to the ‘superior’ white race (3). Applying this complex to the ideas of nationality and race, we can further imagine that there are those white Brazilians who never quite feel secure in their whiteness on a global level as it is estimated that nearly 90% of the Brazilian population carries at least a few drops of African and/or indigenous blood in their veins. But yet and still, these white Brazilians are still the standard for which all Brazilians are measured.
So if it is true that all Brazilians are victims of the “complexo do vira-lata”, imagine the stigma attached to blackness in the hierarchy. And even more, as we live in a sexist society, imagine the place of the black woman. As generations of black families have been indoctrinated with the idea of “improving the race” through miscegenation and by whitening their offspring, this desired degree of whiteness also has a hierarchy. As such, if mating and procreating with a white Brazilian man is considered an accomplishment, with the “complexo do vira-lata” at play, imagine the value placed upon the securing of a white European or American man.
With all of this in mind, I find it fitting to conclude with the fictitious belief among millions of Brazilians that “we are all equal”. A belief that I would say the majority knows isn’t true, but in maintaining the ‘racial democracy’ myth, we must at least pretend to believe it is true (and possibly fool others into believing it). In considering the fact that black men and black women of Brazil were and are equally immersed in the idea of white supremacy, there is no use in pointing the finger at only the black man who pursues the white woman; for the myth that is white supremacy has indoctrinated us all and as such, we are palmiteiros (4). All of us.
Post in original Portuguese
- Similar comments were made about dancer/actress Nayara Justino upon discovery that her husband was white. (See comment here). Back in February, in a conversation with a contact in the advertising industry, after watching the short documentary about Nayara by The Guardian, one man (who considers himself negro or black), revealed that he was shocked after seeing everything Justino went through with racism and still ended up marrying a white guy.
- Black singer who was heavily criticized for using a white model in his upcoming music video and referring to her as “minha pretinha” (my little black girl).
- Among numerous other works detailing this sentiment, see See Giarola, Flávio Raimundo. “Racismo e teorias raciais no século XIX: Principais noções e balanço historiográfico”. História e História. August, 2010
- A black person who prefers white people for romantic relationships