Note from BW of Brazil: Today’s article is actually kinda funny because it touches on the reality of race from another angle that the “we are all equal” discourse doesn’t allow Brazilians to be admit is true. This blog has actually touched on this issue in a number of previous posts, but let’s get to today’s story before I weigh in on what’s really going on here…
Black civil police officer with athlete’s body doesn’t understand why he was never called “hot” on the internet
A story by Sensacionalista
A Civil Police officer for five years, “Jorge Queiroz”*, 34, felt invisible every time a new ‘gato’ (literally meaning ‘cat’ but slang for ‘hot’) character appeared in the media. Since the emergence of the ‘Mendigato’ (hot beggar guy) from the city of Curitiba, the Sapateiro Gato (hot shoemaker) from Tijuca (north zone Rio de Janeiro) to the Gari Gato (hot street sweeper), the dedicated police officer was bothered by the sudden fame of these characters reaching sub-celebrity status.
But it was the media appearance of the Hipster da Federal (Federal Hipster) that became a celebrity in a few hours during the arrest of former Deputado (Congressman) Eduardo Cunha, who stirred the feelings of the Rio-based policeman Queiroz. A decorated policeman, he is very much dedicated to caring for his body, eats healthy, is always well dressed, and therefore doesn’t understand why he was never called ‘gato’ on Facebook or received any flirtations in his Instagram account, which in fact, has few followers.
“I won’t deny it. All this messes with my dignity and my self-esteem is low. I keep asking myself what I did wrong not to please society in general. I take very good care of myself, I’m always neat and have never been called a ‘gato’ in social networks,” sighs the policeman, who also holds a degree in Letters and Political Science from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.
When not working or taking care of his body in the gym five times a week, the policeman is also dedicated to reading his favorite authors: Lima Barreto (his book O Triste Fim de Policarpo Quaresma is his favorite) and Machado de Assis (both famous Afro-Brazilian authors).
“They are incredible writers who certainly faced self-esteem problems at some point in their lives. I’ve read all the books of both. The staff at work calls me ‘policial intelectual’ (‘intellectual cop’). It gives me a certain pride, yes,” he says.
But the police really dreams of a chance of fate to perhaps finally be recognized also for his other qualities. “If I have the good fortune to hold a top hotshot position in Rio maybe I’ll also get my space, be recognized as a policial negro gato (hot black policeman) or policial gato de Copacabana (hot policeman from Copacabana), who knows…,” he concludes, Queiroz, who has won the title of Policial Simpatia (genial policeman) of Copacabana, an election done in the neighborhood.
Note from BW of Brazil: Now before we get into analyzing this piece, we must first inform you that the above article is fictitious! HAHA! Yes, it is a work of fiction, but even so, it touches yet another aspect of Brazil’s clear aesthetic preference for whiteness. Over the past few years, we’ve covered numerous articles on how a European physical appearance bestows numerous privileges in Brazil. In the selected article below, we’ll show how whether the above article was real or not, it still begs the question as to why all of the so-called Brazilian internet “gatos” always seem to have something in common physically. First, take a look at the photos from a few screen saves of recent posts on various websites and see if you notice he pattern…
Just to delve a little further into this, I will use ore photos from the post above entitled “Conheça os gatos que ficaram famosos pela internet” just to present more evidence of an obvious standard.
Now just to take this yet another step beyond, I remembered a story from June of this year that announced the “Mais belos do Brasil serão escolhidos no fim de semana em Florianópolis”, meaning ‘the most handsome men of Brazil will be chosen on the weekend in Florianópolis, capital city of the state of Santa Catarina). I actually wanted to do a piece on when I saw it but never got around to it. Since we’re on this topic, it’s the perfect opportunity to feature this article today. The piece was about, basically, a beauty contest for men from all over the country that was to take place in southern Brazil.
What did those men look like you might ask? Check ’em out!
So tell me, do all of these men have anything in common? Well, of course, many females who may be attracted to men regardless of race or color may say that they’re ‘hot’. But, besides that, did you notice anything else? Did you just happen to notice that they’re all either white, tanned or light-skinned? You didn’t? Well, go back and take another look. In fact, look at ALL of the photos besides the one of “Jorge Queiroz”. I mean, maybe if you didn’t notice it at first glance, it wouldn’t be so unbelievable as to why “Queiroz” also didn’t know why he has never been seen as a ‘gato’ by female audiences online. I put “Queiroz” in quotes because, as I informed you, his story is fictitious.
Even s0, this topic has been covered on a numbers of previous posts including many in which black Brazilians questioned why it always seemed that they were passed over in relationships or even in job positions by persons with white/r skin and how this often puzzled them, so this shouldn’t be shocking or even surprising. Whiteness as the superior aesthetic is so widely accepted in Brazil that one hardly even notices and this applies equally to women, men, business, politics, media, etc. And the rule even applies in the world of those who are down and out. We saw it when the homeless beggar in southern Brazil became an internet sensation because, even as a bum, women still judged him to be a ‘gato’. We saw it when the model descended into crack addiction but was still dusted off, cleaned up and presented to a TV audience. We saw it by simply doing a Google image search with certain key-words. We saw it in the disappointment when followers discovered that a popular white YouTuber presented her boyfriend to her audience and he wasn’t the (white) Prince Charming they expected.
Now before anyone should come with the point that at least a few of these men are not exactly white, I would argue that it doesn’t matter because even if a few of these men have traces of non-European ancestry, their light skin doesn’t really escape the standard aesthetic as can be noted in the saying “tall, dark and handsome”. In other words, a tan or skin darker than the average Englishman or German remains within the standard and is even desirable as long as the man in question isn’t “too dark”.
Some have accused this blog of supporting the infamous “one drop rule” that applies to racial classification in the United States. I will state again, just for clarity, I have NEVER supported the “one drop rule”. If a person looks white, it would be utterly ridiculous to classify them as black because they may have a few drops of African ancestry. In the above photos, besides the few men who one can note are not exactly white, due to Brazil’s long history of miscegenation, any one of these men could have African ancestry but, again, this doesn’t change the fact that most of them look as if they came straight from Europe.
One may argue that this blog has stood steadfast in classifying pretos (blacks) and pardos (browns) into a single group as representative of Brazil’s black population, and, as such, wouldn’t acknowledging that a few of these men are not exactly white contradict this idea? No, because this is Brazil: the country where persons of mixed race can be accepted as ‘socially white’ and where darker-skinned blacks can define themselves as pardos and morenos (brown/mixed). The fact is that, even if one were to classify the men in the photos as not exactly white, this still wouldn’t undermine the standard of whiteness. Why? Think about it this way…
Let’s imagine that in Brazil there were no darker-skinned blacks or very pale skinned whites. Imagine the whole country being completely mixed. Even in this situation, there will be darker-skinned persons of mixed race and lighter-skinned persons of mixed race. If white supremacy still reigned supreme, the lighter-skinned persons of mixed race would still have the upper hand over their darker counterparts. If we considered a few of the men in the above photos as mixed or non-white, we would still have to ask why there are no darker-skinned persons of mixed race.
In the end, I’m sure many black Brazilian men have pondered the reason why it seems that men who are judged to be “gatos” by thousands of women, even though the answer should be pretty obvious. Due to the European standard of beauty that dominates in so many countries around the world, the general reality is that a black person can be intelligent, qualified, good in bed and even pretty/handsome “for a black”, but in comparison to even average whites, they remain black. And if you’re still not clear about this, Brazil also participates in this ideal.
The last thing I would like to address about the fictitious article is the affect that white dominance in the media can have on the self-esteem and dignity of people who don’t fit into this standard. In numerous past articles, many black women have also admitted how Brazil’s standards of beauty have made them feel unattractive and how men, both black and white, have treated them as mere bodies for sexual enjoyment and not much more. This reality is yet another reason why Brazil’s particular brand of racism is so powerful. Because Afro-Brazilians have been denied the opportunity to establish their own separate standards of beauty away from the depreciating comparisons of/with Eurocentrism, the struggle for self-esteem, value and pride has been a very slow process in development, and as long as these standards prevail, this deep low sense of value will continue as persons affected by it continuously seek acceptance and recognition from a white world that has never truly accepted them.
This is why projects such as yesterday’s feature AfroTranscendence, films such as K-Bela, events such as Feira Preta and independent black literature are so vitally important. On a global scale, black people living under systems of white supremacy have not learned/been taught to truly love themselves or see themselves in the same fantasy-driven ways in which we have been trained to see whites (see here and here, for examples). This is a lesson that needs to be learned before any black man can begin to understand why he will probably never be the latest ‘gato’ in social networks. After all, these are the everyday benefits of whiteness that millions of black Brazilians suffer from everyday.
* Fictitious character