“You kissed a white guy at the party, so you’re a swirler!”: Popular YouTuber Spartakus Santiago weighs in on the raging “palmitagem” debate
Note from BW of Brazil: The debate and conversation continues. I know that there are countless blogs, sites and social network pages dedicated to interracial dating, marriage and relationships, but most that I have seen, particularly in the United States, are a little along the lines of “why can’t we all just get along?” or benefits of the development of a “melting pot”. But as most of these posts deal with growing interracial relations in the US, we must acknowledge that dealing with the topic in Brazil is slightly different.
Interracial unions have always existed in Brazil, the difference is that, nowadays, more people are questioning the motives for such high rates of these unions. More questions are being asked as to why it seems that among prominent black Brazilians, it is basically the rule that they will marry white, while on the other hand, you don’t find many prominent white Brazilians who are married to clearly black people.
I make a question of defining “clearly black people” for a few reasons. One, in the shift in my view of what constitutes black, I don’t include those pardos (brown or mixed-race people) who you would need a magnifying glass to confirm that they are of African descent. President Jair Bolsonaro, for example, has often used the fact that his wife Michelle’s father, who he refers to as Paulo Negão, is black to deflect accusations that he is racist. But what does this Paulo Negão look like? When I finally saw a photo of the guy, I saw that he was clearly a pardo who, depending on the phenotype of the woman he married, could easily produce a child that was white or something close to white.
If we were to use the United States “one-drop” standard, and Michelle had grown up in the US in a black community, she could be classified as black, but just based on her looks, she’s clearly a Latina and not one that should be defined as Afro-Latina. In fact, if we were to include all women that look something like Michelle Bolsonaro and count them as black, then interracial unions in Brazil could arguably be the majority of marriages rather than the reported 31% of all unions.
The second reason I make an issue of “clearly black people”, and this includes the pardo-preto, meaning the brown or mixed race person whose African features are clearly visible, is the controversial and common problem with clearly white people who are identifying themselves as preto or pardo in order to enter universities through the affirmative action quota system, another case of which was recently exposed.
Before I go any further, I must make it clear that most black Brazilians continue to proclaim the idea that “love has no color” and support the idea that politics should have nothing to do with one’s romantic choices. But in the historical context of a Brazil where miscegenation came to be seen as a method to erase or at least significantly diminish the black population, isn’t the adaption of the idea that “love has no color” simply a means of co-signing on the eventual demise of pretos and pardos? This even after so many people have come to accept a black identity in a country that indoctrinates its people to avoid this “stigma”.
With this in mind, let’s consider thoughts on the issue of palmitagem as considered by a YouTuber and social influencer, Spartakus Santiago, who has gained quite a following in recent years. The piece is taken from a YouTube video and, after it was posted, caused a tidal wave of comments in social networks. Check out the post below and I’ll weigh in on it afterwards.
Exposing palmitagem: interracial relationships and miscegenation
By Spartakus Santiago
Then the black guy who rejected me came up to me calling me a palmiteiro!
Today is the day to expose what I think about palmitagem. Today I am going to tell you what is the view I have about interracial relationships.
First of all, what is palmitagem?
There are people who use this term to refer to black people who only get with white people, especially black men who ascend socially and therefore always end up with a white blonde. And there are people who consider any affective gesture towards a white person a form of palmitagem. You kissed a white guy at the party, so you’re a palmiteiro, you palmitou (swirled).
Before I say what I think about it, I think we have to analyze the bigger context, right. Why is there this discussion about palmitagem? Because today there is a discussion about a racist context in society that privileges white people in all areas, including the affective sphere.
Structural racism in society makes us learn that black people are less valuable. And they have less value to be able to be actors, to be able to be intellectuals, to be promoted in companies and also to be our affective partners. Unconsciously, our standard of beauty is shaped to prefer white people. The galã (heartthrob) of the novela (soap opera) is almost always white. The hot girl in advertisement is almost always white. Most porn actors are white.
Because white is constructed as the object of desire in society. The beautiful person, right. We have a Eurocentric beauty standard and we cannot forget that Brazil has undergone a process of eugenics, that is, the government encouraged the coming of white people through immigration and also provided all financial support, lands, for the purpose of whitening the Brazilian population because blacks were seen as inferior, less intelligent, less developed.
So, to develop the country meant to whiten the country. And this eugenics is real. It was really reflected in Brazilian families. In other generations it was very common to say that “oh, so and so will marry someone white in order to melhorar a raça (improve the race)”.
People who were happy because someone white will be in a relationship with someone in the family and the child will be born with “better” hair, cabelo “bom” (“good” hair), that is, it is basically a whole system of prejudice against black people in relationships and the result of that prejudice is the loneliness of black people.
Today we talk a lot about the loneliness of the black woman, the loneliness of the black gay, because they are people who are less chosen in relationships and that is why they often end their lives without having been in a relationship, without ever having a boyfriend, without ever getting married. They are people who die in depression.
So, there is in fact a racist problem in our society that privileges white people in romantic relationships. This is a fact. And we need to deconstruct this problem. Black people have to start questioning their tastes. Begin to understand, if I am only attracted to white people, there is a problem there. How can I not be attracted to people like me? This is a form of self-hatred! And so, I’ve been through this.
There are videos here on my channel where I say that.
When I was younger, when I was less deconstructed, I enjoyed being with white guys and I thought it was my taste. You know? “Ah, my taste is to be a white guy” and I didn’t understand that this taste was socially constructed. Because it was the white guy I saw in porn, it was the white guy I saw in the clips and it will be the white guy I saw in the movies and the black guys I saw on the news when they went to talk about the criminals.
I saw it on the news when they were talking about someone being killed in the shooting. And for me it was a very important and liberating process to deconstruct this taste to see that black people are also incredible, they are wonderful, they have a lot of affection to give.
ONLY THAT…The discussion of the palmitagem that I see today on social networks, it leads to the inversion of the problem, and not to the solution. There is a famous phrase by Paulo Freire that says: “When education is not liberating, the dream of the oppressed is to be the oppressor.”
And that is what I see today in the discussions. People think that today, to solve this problem, you used to prefer white people, now you will prefer black people. However, this continues to maintain a racial component in the affective choice.
And the problem is this racial preference. We have to stop using race as a component in order to choose our affective partner. This does not mean choosing the oppressed race over the dominant race. It is to end the importance of racial weight in our love, in our affection. It’s seeing people as they are, just people!
I think this speech of palmitagem has several problems, first, why does it blame the black person for racism, why do we only use the term palmiteiro to be able to criticize black people who reject other black people? And do we normalize whites doing this without question? Because Leonardo DiCaprio, for example, who is a guy who only had white and blond girlfriends all his life, no one criticizes, because he is a white guy.
Now, if a black guy does this, do we come up to him with 4 stones in hand? What two weights and two measures are these? In addition, there is a social structure that makes black people less desired. Because we are outside of the standard of beauty, we are seen as poor, we are seen as less intelligent and such and then, black people have fewer options for affective partners. And then we have to deprive ourselves of half of those options as a political act.
In other words, the black woman, who is already rejected by black and white men, has to deprive herself of the possibility of receiving affection from a white person just to please others. Like, dude. This doesn’t make sense! And then I see a process where black people who are already the biggest victims of racism who are already very much mentally ill people, people who are so rejected, when they finally get into a relationship that happens to be with a white person they are criticized by other blacks!
For example, it happened to me last year, I was at a party, and then I saw a black guy who was handsome and then I went there, up to him and I tried to get with him, it didn’t happen. Then I said, okay. Thank U, Next. As Ariana Grande said. And then I went looking for someone else and then I found another guy there who happened to be white. I started rubbing up against him. Then the black guy who rejected me came up to me calling me a palmiteiro! So, the correct gesture would have been to be alone?
I think that this discussion of the palmiteiro is very good for us to deconstruct this racist notion that only white people are emotionally interesting, but at the same time, it is a very unfair logic because, in an interracial relationship, there is a black and a white, black gets stoned, seen as a palmiteiro, as a person who has betrayed his own group and the white leaves as deconstructed, as someone who is with someone outside of the standard, an anti-racist person, that is, again it is a system that privileges white people and oppresses black people, and in those cases I see that certain forms of activism sickens people. Certain forms of activism generate more wounds than it heals.
I still see more radical speeches today that are against these interracial relationships to prevent the whitening of the family. Because they see mixed people, mestiços, like me, as a problem. We are inferior because we have no racial purity, be it white or black. I don’t know if you remember, but racial purity ended in genocide in the last century. Racial purity is a racist and meaningless speech because I am sorry to inform you, the only race that exists, scientifically, is the human race.
I’m going to go deeper into this topic here in other videos of the channel because I think it is very important for us to remember this today. That race was constructed socially by racism. And this book here, Armadilha da identidade (meaning Identity Trap, by Asad Haider, translated by Leo Vinicius Liberato) helped me a lot to remember this. Let’s get into this: black race, white race, indigenous race doesn’t exist scientifically. There is no black gene. There is no major genetic difference between whites and blacks. The idea of black and white was created in slavery. Before slavery, European peoples didn’t see themselves as a white unit. So much so that there were whites who genocided other whites.
Here in Brazil, we call anyone with fair skin white, but there the European people saw themselves as Aryans, as Jews, as Irish. There, they were oppressed! They enslaved themselves, they discriminated and killed each other! Because there was no such idea of white unity. At the same time, the peoples of Africa before colonization, before slavery, didn’t see themselves as black either. There was no such notion that we are all the same people with the same identity and the same ancestry. They saw themselves as different ethnic groups fighting against each other. This notion of unique identity for people with black skin and people with white skin was created by racism.
The idea that humans are separated into races where one race is more intelligent than the other, one race is more beautiful than the other, one race is more capable than the other was created by racism, that is, this notion that interracial relationships have to be avoided in order to preserve purebred people, whether white or black, comes from an absurd idea that pure breeds exist! There is no such thing as a pure race because the idea of different races between human beings does not exist scientifically. This is an aberration that was created to be able to dominate people in order to justify slavery because of a need of capitalism to exploit labor.
And so, one thing is documents that prove that there were governmental people who wanted to import white people into Brazil in order to whiten the population with an admittedly racist idea of decimating black people. Another thing is an interracial couple who love each other. You saying that this couple who love each other and who want to build a story together and who want to have a child, that this couple is doing something horrible, that this couple is causing eugenics in the Brazilian population, is an act of violence.
In other words, race is a perverse creation that is in our unconscious today, making people prefer white people when they go to see a movie, when they go on Instagram, and when they will lovingly relate to each other. The solution to this is not to reverse this logic. And to make us now prefer black people in all of this. The solution is to destroy this logic so that the racial component is not decisive in our relations. Look at the people you care about. Look at your exes, your crushes, your contacts, is there a racial standard there?
If so, I think it’s worthwhile to look at these tastes of ours and assess if they don’t have a racist and exclusionary component. If I, for example, speak like this, “As a political act, I will just get black guys. Only other black fags.” I will be excluding indigenous people, Asian people. And then each one will just take a mirror of himself and then instead of exchanging affection, will only be consuming representation! Your partner turns into a product!
Guys, love is care. Love is affection. And all people, regardless of their physical characteristics are able to love. To be happy together. In other words, I find it very problematic to use this discussion of the palmiteiro to blame black people, but at the same time it is up to us blacks to deconstruct this racist taste that was created in our head!
For example, black men who rise socially and always end up with a blonde is the famous case of the jogador de futebol (football/soccer player). I think these guys have to deconstruct themselves, understand if their preference is not condemning several black women to loneliness, but at the same time, we have to understand that structurally that black man is dehumanized, he suffers racism, he is excluded from spaces, he is seen as a criminal and when he associates with a white woman, it is often an unconscious attempt to show that he has value for society.
I say more: in a macho logic, where the woman is seen as an object, that blonde and white woman is a trophy, it is something that the guy often uses to be able to show off to his friends to say “look what I got, look how cool I am.” So, before we just say that now the guy has to use a black trophy to show off saying that now he has a relacionamento afrocentrado (Afro-centric relationship), look at how he’s better than the others, look how incredible he is.
I think we have to go through a more structural process of discussing why women are still objectified, including racially in relationships. Because our relationships are often based on a logic of consumption. Of objectification. Because we keep preventing ourselves from looking at real people and keep seeing only the social labels that were given to them.
I, Spartakus, am a guy who gets with black people, with brown people, with white people, with people, regardless of their color, their physical features. Anyway, this is my vision. Maybe I am wrong.
And I kindly ask you to leave here in the comments what you think. If you liked it, don’t forget to subscribe to the channel to activate the bell so you can receive notifications from me. Follow me on Instagram. Just look for Spartakus there if you want to keep exchanging ideas with me. And that’s it. See you in the next video.
OK, so obviously Spartakus put a lot of thought into developing the video addressing this issue and I applaud him for this. And it must be acknowledged that race also plays a factor in world of LGBT, it cannot be denied as I come across numerous posts detailing racism within that community. A few weeks ago, I briefly discussed how palmitagem also affects choices of mates within the black LGBT community. I think this does in factor bring another necessity piece to the discussion. With all that said, I still mtake a number of issues with the views of Spartakus in this piece. Let’s get into. In addressing his comments, I will cite parts from his video in quotations and then respond.
“People think that today, to solve this problem, you used to prefer white people, now you will prefer black people. However, this continues to maintain a racial component in the affective choice.”
My thing is, the race factor will ALWAYS play a role when you cross racial lines, in this piece he exposes this himself so it’s no use promoting the belief that this will suddenly come to an end. People don’t give up privileges and would be foolish to think this will happen unless major money, investment and the sharing of capital and assets happens and that ain’t gonna happen.
“We have to stop using race as a component in order to choose our affective partner. This does not mean choosing the oppressed race over the dominant race. It is to end the importance of racial weight in our love, in our affection. It’s seeing people as they are, just people!”
Unfortunately, black people have been waiting centuries for this happen, yet in Brazil, every day, you have people calling black people “monkeys”, “dirty blacks” and all sort of other derogatory expressions. I have made my piece with that. It is what it is. Let us stop hoping for something that simply isn’t gonna happen. This is not to say people can’t change, but I don’t see the MAJORITY changing.
“why do we only use the term palmiteiro to be able to criticize black people who reject other black people? And do we normalize whites doing this without question? Because Leonardo DiCaprio, for example, who is a guy who only had white and blond girlfriends all his life, no one criticizes, because he is a white guy.”
I had to listen to this two or three times to make sure I heard it right because it dounds ridiculous. Why is comparing two completely different scenarios here? Why would he compare a white male choosing women of his own group with men who consistently choose women outside of their group? Leonardo DiCaprio is a multi-millionaire white male who will most likely have children with women from his own race, guaranteeing that the future of his descendants is taken care of for generations to come. In a country where generational miscegenation happens, we consistently black males and females who set the path for a transfer of wealth right back to the white community. What kind of argument is this? Wouldn’t it be better to ask, why can’t black Brazilians be taught to follow the example set by actors Denzel Washington or Lázaro Ramos? This argument makes no sense.
“black people have fewer options for affective partners. And then we have to deprive ourselves of half of those options as a political act.”
I actually agree with this to a certain degree. I’ve experienced difficulty finding the right partner, but in the case of Brazil, there are still options. Rarely do I see black Brazilians in São Paulo dating the African and Haitian immigrants living in their city. Also, the internet has made finding a mate in other countries a viable option, that is if one seeks a black partner. Also, dating, marriage and reproduction IS a political act regardless of whether you like it or not. Our romantic choices are influenced by a number of factors and we cannot ignore the political ramifications in these choices.
“In other words, the black woman, who is already rejected by black and white men, has to deprive herself of the possibility of receiving affection from a white person just to please others.”
Romantic choices should have nothing to do with pleasing others. When I was dating across racial lines years ago, it was a shift in my own identity that was the only factor in my deciding to date only black women. When I was happy dating non-black women, none of the hate and shade I got from other black men and black women stopped me from dating who I wanted to date. This change came from within.
“when they finally get into a relationship that happens to be with a white person they are criticized by other blacks!”
But after everything he explained about the construction of Eurocentric standards and acknowledged the eugenics program behind the choices of many black Brazilians for non-blacks, he should be able to understand where this frustration comes from as so many are awakening to the indoctrination.
“Then the black guy who rejected me came up to me calling me a palmiteiro! So, the correct gesture would have been to be alone?”
That’s for every individual to decide. But just because one black guy rejects you doesn’t mean the next will also. The issue here is educating enough black folks to the eugenics project and making them confront the preferences that have been constructed. This process won’t happen overnight but it’s necessary.
“black gets stoned, seen as a palmiteiro, as a person who has betrayed his own group and the white leaves as deconstructed, as someone who is with someone outside of the standard, an anti-racist person, that is, again it is a system that privileges white people and oppresses black people, and in those cases I see that certain forms of activism sickens people.”
First of all, we need to eliminate the idea that simply because a person of another lays with you means they automatically not a racist. I’m not saying Spartakus doesn’t understand this, but I see a lot of black women claiming their white partners are suddenly “deconstructed”. In the end, white people have the best of both worlds. If they don’t find partners within their own dominant group, they can then choose among the best of the people in the oppressed groups.
“I still see more radical speeches today that are against these interracial relationships to prevent the whitening of the family.”
What is the problem with people suddenly wanting to stop the whitening of their families? I’ve said this before. If black Brazilians don’t want to stop the whitening process, this whole struggle against racism/white supremacy doesn’t matter as there will be no black people left to struggle for.
“There is no major genetic difference between whites and blacks”
I’m kind of tired of this argument. Science has shown us that chimps and bonobos have only 1% DNA difference from humans and gorillas have only 2% difference. On the other hand, 6% of differences between blacks and whites have been linked to race. As such, would we also argue that there are no differences between chimps and humans as the percentage of difference is so small? Why are we afraid to acknowledge differences? Is Spartakus going down the “We Are the World” trail again?
“There was no such notion that we are all the same people with the same identity and the same ancestry”
Unfortunately, today, we are indeed divided across these lines and as I wrote above, when you have one side that has nearly ALL of the resources and the other that has nearly none, it would be foolish to believe that one side will be willingly share what they have with the other side whose exclusion they benefit from.
“And so, one thing is documents that prove that there were governmental people who wanted to import white people into Brazil in order to whiten the population with an admittedly racist idea of decimating black people. Another thing is an interracial couple who love each other….that this couple is causing eugenics in the Brazilian population”
I actually partially agree with this point, but, as he has argued, black Brazilians have been indoctrinated to prefer white. Until the person involved in such a relationship can do some self-analysis and understand what influences their romantic choices, the problem continues. And in the case of Brazil, we KNOW that it is not simply love that brings these couples together.
I was recently discussing this with a black Brazilian male who told me that a college professor once spoke on how white families in Brazil think of future generations, success, wealth and progress when choosing partners. There are even families that marry within their own family to pass on assets. The same guy also presented examples of well-to-do white families with traditional European names who have decades of wealth in the family. These families prefer to marry white, but will marry a non-white if they have resources, as is the case with numerous black entertainers and athletes who are the first in their families to come into wealth.
In this example, they are willing to marry non-white because it is understood as the non-white partner chose a white partner, they will have no consciousness to educate the mixed child of that union to marry black, lest they be accused of “reverse racism”. Thus, after maybe two generations, this wealth that was just acquired by the black partner will revert back to the white side, probably within two generations.
“The solution to this is not to reverse this logic. And to make us now prefer black people in all of this. The solution is to destroy this logic so that the racial component is not decisive in our relations.”
This is NOT the solution. The race factor is the principle reason for the division of wealth and power and thinking that we will somehow end this structure is equivalent to believing in Santa Claus. The solution is educating black families to understand how the power structure works and that they must support their own.
“he is seen as a criminal and when he associates with a white woman, it is often an unconscious attempt to show that he has value for society.”
Again, I agree, but we must deal with this issue first, before thinking we can think of trying to deconstruct racism, which I don’t see as possible. On the other hand, developing a sense of value of our own people will directly address this issue.
“that blonde and white woman is a trophy, it is something that the guy often uses to be able to show off to his friends to say ‘look what I got, look how cool I am.’ So, before we just say that now the guy has to use a black trophy to show off saying that now he has a relacionamento afrocentrado (Afro-centric relationship), look at how he’s better than the others, look how incredible he is.”
The idea is not to even view a woman as a trophy in the first place. And as I just pointed out, if black people have a sense of value of themselves, the ‘trophy’ mentality doesn’t even play a factor because the black woman/man will be seen as equal to any other female or male.
After reading all of this, it seems to me that, even after his so-called “deconstruction”, even after the reconstruction of identity process, Spartakus still sees the world through a quasi “We Are the World” lens. He clearly gets how white supremacy influences everything, but the fact that he doesn’t see the necessity of developing black self-empowerment, to me, it means he’s come full circle just to end up in the same place where he started.
He’s conscious of the problem, but still wants to participate in it. I don’t suggest that people be forced to choose within their own race for a partner, let me clear about that as I know people are quick to make that accusation. But what I AM saying is that, as long as you aren’t willing to re-educate the people so that people know what is at stake and what needs to be done to address the cycle of oppression, you are not trying to solve the problem as much as trying to sweeten the process of domination.