AFRICANGLOBE – Well, it’s a conversation that many people don’t seem to want to have. Depending on where you live in Brazil, the title of today’s piece may seem absurd, ridiculous or an exaggeration. But really, is it? In all honesty this thought has crossed this writer’s mind often throughout the years during my travels across the country. Is it possible that the Black race in Brazil, descendants of the millions of Africans forcibly brought to the South American country to provide free labor in the construction of the nation, could be headed toward extinction? How could this be possible? Again, if one bases this question on Bahia, it may not be as easy to notice, although not as difficult as it appears. You see, Bahia is one of the three blackest states in Brazil, so the presence of persons of the darker skin tones of the Black race isn’t rare. But even so, if one spends any time with Black families throughout the state, one is sure to note how the skin color of numerous families has lightened over the generations with hair textures becoming progressively straighter.
If one ventures further south this pattern becomes even more obvious because of the fact that southern states such as Paraná, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul received millions of European immigrants between the years 1870 and 1940. This is also very clear in the southeastern and most populous Brazilian state, São Paulo. In the city of São Paulo, some days, it seems difficult to find Black couples among masses of white and mixed couples. This becomes even more challenging if one considered only Black couples of approximately the same skin tone. During travels, this writer has noted the same pattern in Paraná and, according to contacts, the situation is similar in Rio Grande do Sul. Many friends confirm the trend in the city of Rio although perhaps not as drastic as, percentage wise, the Black population is much larger there than in the aforementioned southern states.
Should this really be a surprise? Numerous writers of the material on this blog have voiced opinions that among Black men, there is a clear preference for white/blond women. This ideology of whiteness also affects Black women (see here and here). And while these views are often brushed off as the rants and raves of angry, Black female militants, if one enters any social network or comment sections of websites that discuss racial issues, they will note that all of these opinions can be attributed to only Black women, as we see in the following comment…
Antonio: “I work in a luxury hotel that promotes sports events mainly of São Paulofutebol clubs and until today I still haven’t seen a rich, Black futebol player with a Black woman at his side. It’s striking of the base and starting players, all of them are married or dating blonds with light eyes and after they complain of racism? Stop blaming whites for everything because you are ashamed of your own race, taking the garotas de programas (call girls) from the whorehouses (and) marrying them but not dating Black women. BLACKS ARE THE WORST RACISTS.” – (‘The Guardian fala sobre racismo no Brasil da Copa.’ July, 2014)
It would be absurd for someone to honestly believe the rates of mixed relationships in Brazil are simply love beyond borders of skin color. Why? The fact is that, as has been pointed in several previous pieces, Brazilian elites planned and socially engineered this trend with the objective of the extinction of the Black race. Having participated in numerous online debates on the topic, I find it a bit contradictory that so many Brazilians can point out the fact that the citizens of the US (that they consider to be blatantly racist because of the fact that interracial unions are far fewer there) are so racist nut don’t perceive how race has played out in their own backyard. Americans don’t mix that much because the history of that country was and still is based on segregation. In the same way, Brazil was set on a path of miscegenation with the clear objective of the disappearance of the “black stain” from the country and as such, this pattern also holds true today. True racial diversity would be a reality when ALL racial groups are accepted as they are rather that certain groups being made to feel ashamed of who they are and what they look like, thus, as an exit strategy, attempt to escape their racial characteristics by mixing with the very group that propagated these views within their community. Again, a number of blatantly honest articles on this blog expose how racism, racist jokes and feelings of inferiority have contributed heavily to these sentiments.
When we add to this the shocking rates of murders of Black youth throughout the country, less access to health care, sterilization and historic events such as the 19th century Guerra do Paraguai (War of Paraguay), we see numerous mechanisms that have led to massive deceases in the Afro-Brazilian population and a widespread lightening of the overall skin complexion of the average Brazilian. Orembranquecimento (whitening) as this process is known. Of course there will be those who will deny the facts, define this thought as reactionary of conspiratorial but, as we can see, there are people who are seeing it and calling it what it is.
It’s not utopia, it’s how humanity proceeds. And because this reality drives me crazy day and night, I couldn’t help but make my contribution to the topic.
Increasingly I am convinced of how hard the fight against racism is, how structural and raging the separatists methods are and especially how much we, Black men and women are individuals in the fights.
Here are our ancestral and contemporary dilemmas: Let’s classify the extinction recalling a bit of the past!
Previously, when Princess Isabel ceded to capitalism and its definitions thus passing the slave chain to the worker, she legitimized a Black and indigenous working class in Brazil, which even after the abolition found itself totally dependent. “Curiously” they are the lower and most marginalized classes by the society to the present.
From this point we know who needs who and who deceives who for this. It is important to emphasize how much the story in general is blurred and superficial to address these issues. I speak of an era where one killed or arrested Blacks with any type of book in hand.
Since his imprisonment, the Black in Brazil, in general, had his intelligence underestimated and his past hidden, leaving to his ancestors a great curiosity in dealing with origins and an inferiority complex due to “ethnic belonging”. Many people find it hard to understand that the past has a strong influence on our present, what we do today structures the path of tomorrow, is the saying denominated “today, a reflection of yesterday”. To understand this text, it is essential to understand this image:
Every moment our heads are occupied with empty interests to even think of seeking or being curious of something that refers to origins. But it’s natural to want to know where it came from and where it’s going, right? This is pure philosophy. Within many this was another right denied and stolen, and we are conditioned by a Eurocentric culture to not think better when the subject is the past. Because indeed, the key identifies itself as ANCESTRY.
A healthy concern in continuing the Black doesn’t exist.
The Black community is bald knowing of the deaths in the morros (hills) of Rio, northeastern slums, in the impunity of the streets, feminicide, illegal abortion, crack, etc and still fight for the minimum right to know statistically how many of us were buried per day, but huh? How patient we are!
Increasingly, the death of young Black men, to which we point out in several measures to end this war, a fundamentalist wave that prioritizes capital and not who sustains it still permeates throughout the country. Here’s a question that really saddens me: How will we have a future if we have already died young? Well, looking to the past, the feeling is that they only the changed the names.
Another ethnic extermination method used in the past and that still reverberating today are the interracial relationships and the familiar sequence coming from such unions. A thorny issue, however necessary.
Interracial relationships also fit into this bias of extinction, with criteria elaborated by this system in an era where the free Black in Brazil could result in a majority population (XX century), and the concern of the sinhozinhos (slave masters) was obvious. Most of the time the Black and indigenous women attract in only one sense: the sexual.
In the past, raped by immigrants (who had free access to colonies in Brazil, facilitating the process of embranquecimento, whitening).
Today, we still reproduce some of these behaviors, as the writer Gilberto Freyre well addresses in his book Casa Grande e Senzala (The Masters and the Slaves), “branca para casa, mulata para foder, negra para trabalhar” (white woman for marriage, mulata for f*cking, Black woman for work). It’s important to emphasize that this saying was portrayed after a generation, less than a hundred years after abolition and it was also the first generation of miscegenation in the country. Coincidence? No! Strategy.
This saying originating from the 1930s is a legacy practiced (un)consciously even today.
The pawn was/is the Black man for the so criticized and at the same time praised miscegenation, entitled by many in that era as a “processo de pureza” (purifying process).
Black women are marginalized and associated with improper. For the Black man, a white woman is an invitation to live with dignity in this society, and this is really how they planned it. Thus, in this way, we don’t give continuity to our ancestry because of racist motives that persecute our self-esteem.
This process is classified by many as a genocidal measure because it was strategically designed for this purpose. And so silently that it seems harmless, it reminds me of “it seems harmless, but it dominated you” because this is what has resulted in Brazil; a loss of identity for ethnicity, an individual confusion of belonging where being Black is another political issue and affirmation of who is “confused” or “camouflaged” as white in society.
As this process of embranquecimento was implemented in society (better known as miscegenation), white patriarchal sexism was too.
Willy Lynch, a master of Caribbean slaves in the eighteenth century, was one of the most sought after by other masters and had his “psychological skills” propagated which was based upon separate, divide and conquer. Lynch used effective methods in which disunity among Blacks fortified the true relationship of slave and master, giving privileges to men (for being man), the younger (by their condition), to those that approximate a European beauty (for classifying this beauty as superior) and thus created a separatist and segregating culture among Black men and women of the time.
This whole process has resulted today in a large-scale conflicting and separatist culture, where the greatest villain of the whole movement and outside of it is the superiority and ignorance pertaining to differences.
The cult of Christianity brought us the sexist patriarchal culture and other customs until then unknown and re-enforcing what was already sown.
These examples and others not mentioned here, simplify the title of this text.
Our quilombola cultures, still alive because of several states (Asè), send us a dark message: that of the Black is the Black helping the other Black. Unity is still the main key to the whole problem. We don’t need to bring within our Black movement or homes the concerns of branquicistas (supporters of whitening), we don’t need racist criteria of their evaluation for treatment among ourselves, we will face it together.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to stop and wait for the conclusion of all this structural anger. Don’t let our ethnicity end.
By: Elisângela Lima