Thursday, January 14, 2016

Race In Brazil & Brazil's Rising Black Pride Movement (information & videos)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post provides excerpts from several articles about race in Brazil and Brazil's rising Black pride movement. Four videos on those subjects are also showcased in this post.

The content of this post is presented for cultural and sociological purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all those who are featured in these videos. Thanks also to all those who are quoted in this post and thanks to the publishers of these videos on YouTube.

From Dark-Skinned Or Black? How Afro-Brazilians Are Forging A Collective Identity, Updated August 14, 2015
"If you want to get a sense of how complex racial identity is in Brazil, you should meet sisters Francine and Fernanda Gravina. Both have the same mother and father. Francine, 28, is blond with green eyes and white skin. She wouldn't look out of place in Iceland. But Fernanda, 23, has milk chocolate skin with coffee colored eyes and hair. Francine describes herself as white, whereas Fernanda says she's morena, or brown-skinned.

"We'd always get questions like, 'How can you be so dark skinned and she's so fair?'" Fernanda says. In fact, the sisters have German, Italian, African and indigenous ancestry. But in Brazil, Fernanda explains, people describe themselves by color, not race, since nearly everyone here is mixed...

Criolla, an advocacy group for black women, says the goal of [a march by Black women in Rio de Janeiro] is to show that Brazil is a black nation, largely populated black and African Brazilians. "We need to fight racism and not to hide it,"[Jurema Werneck, a demonstrator who works for Criolla] says.

She's been participating in the black pride movement for over 15 years. And it seems to be working, she says, because the number of people self identifying as pardo or preto* surged in the latest census.

And more importantly, lawmakers are beginning to pay more attention to issues of inequality. Brazil now has an affirmative action program for higher education. Before the program launched, only seven percent of Afro-Brazilians went to college. Now it's about 15 percent, and the numbers are growing.

Werneck says the black pride movement is also lobbying to change the next census in 2020 to include the word black. Pardo and preto, she says, are euphemisms. Afro-Brazilians should take a cue from African-Americans, she says, and broadcast to society that they're black and proud.

All of that is to say, collecting demographic information in Brazil has been really tricky. The latest census, taken in 2010, found for the first time that Brazil has the most people of African descent outside Africa. No, this doesn't mean that Afro-Brazilian population suddenly, dramatically increased. Rather, the new figures reflect changing attitudes about race and skin color in Brazil.

Racial mixing came about early in Brazil's history. Brazil imported more enslaved people than anywhere else in the Americas — some four million — and slavery lasted longer there than anywhere else in the region. The white Portuguese colonizers were encouraged to "mingle" with the locals. Plainly speaking, this meant that they raped many African and indigenous women.

The result is a vast mixed-race population, which has been added to over the years with successive migrations from Japan and Europe.

Unlike the U.S., where slavery was followed by legal segregation, Brazil never had a formal system of apartheid, says Rosana Heringer, a sociologist at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro who studies race and the African diaspora. Still, there is a color hierarchy in Brazil, Heringer says. Consistent data shows that darker Brazilians are poorer, and they're more likely to be killed and live in slums, called favelas.

...the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics …organizes the national census every decade. These days there are five formal color categories in the census: indigenous, yellow, white, pardo (or brown) and preto, or dark-skinned, Petruccelli says. The word black doesn't appear anywhere in the list.

"There is a totally different system here than in the U.S., where one drop of black blood makes you black independent of appearance,"[ Luis Petruccelli, a former lead researcher for 20 years] says. In Brazil, it's about how you'd like to classify yourself, and how others see you. The problem, he says, is that Afro-Brazilians have no sense of collective identity, which makes it difficult to address the very real problem of racism and racial inequality in the country.

But lately, that's starting to change, and the black pride movement in Brazil is growing."
"Afro-Brazilians is a term used in the 21st century by some in Brazil to refer to Brazilian people with African ancestry. The term does not have widespread use in Brazil, where social constructs and classifications have been based on appearance. People with noticeable African features and skin color are generally referred to (and they identify) as negro or "preto" ("black"). Many members of another group of people, multiracial Brazilians, or pardos, also have a range of degree of African ancestry.[3][4]

Preto and pardo are among five color categories used by the Brazilian Census, along with branco ("white"), amarelo ("yellow", East Asian) and indígena (Amerindian).[5] In 2010, 7.6% of the Brazilian population, some 15 million people, identified as "preto," while 43% (86 million) identified as "pardo". Pretos tend to be predominantly African in ancestry, while pardos tend to have a lesser percentage of African ancestry. On average pardos are predominantly European, with African or Native American ancestries[6]"...
My sense is that some Brazilians of African descent would disagree with this definition of "pardo".

From African-oriented market is growing despite the economic crisis By Maíra Azevedo
The ‘mercado negro’ (black market) has proven to be quite lucrative. No, the statement does not refer to any illicit practice. It is that the sale of products and services for the Afro-oriented community is among the segments that continue to grow despite the crisis.

“There is a redemption of the meaning of being black. One doesn’t wait anymore for standardization, but the appreciation of differences. Blacks, historically excluded, want to be seen. They consume and are entrepreneurs,” says sociologist Felipe Rocha.

Owner of a swimwear brand for 4 years, Cynthia Paixão, 30, says she is keen to put something on the pieces to reaffirm the identity of black women, whether in the cuts, that appreciate shapes, or in ethnic prints...

For the economist George Oliveira, because of racism, blacks are used to creating alternatives for survival. “Services and beauty products for blacks are up,” he attests.

Besides being a businesswoman, Cynthia Paixão carries on her head a crown. She was the Deusa do Ébano (Ebony Goddess) of Ilê Aiyê, in 2014, and says that this greatly influenced her choices.
“When I was rainha (queen) of Ilê, I could broaden my vision. I learned how to position myself on a cruel and judgmental society. I was the first gordinha (chubby) candidate and it broke many barriers. Today, I’m a reference for many women and I am happy to represent all,” says the businesswoman.

Bracelets, turbans, earrings, necklaces. If you have something that reaffirms the beauty of being negão (big, black man), then it will be one of the most popular objects of Najara Souza’s store, better known as Najara Black. Her brand – N’Black – became a reference for those seeking to buy accessories and clothing attesting to racial pride.”...

Black Power in Brazil Means Natural Hair By: Dion Rabouin
Posted: June 26 2014

"The pride in blackness that migrated from African Americans in the U.S. brought big Afros and a natural style that has become a movement in Brazil

Black power is big in Brazil.

In the United States, black power is most associated with raised fists, social revolution and political demands. When Americans think “black power,” they generally think about the movement named and popularized in the 1960s by Southern Christian Leadership Conference founder and Black Panther Stokely Carmichael.

The concept of black power spread through the music of James Brown and Curtis Mayfield, the trial of Angela Davis, the speeches of Malcolm X and the food drives hosted by the Panthers. The movement was able to transcend boundaries. The music, culture and pride that were emanating from African Americans also began to gain popularity with young black Brazilians.

But when Brazilians saw African Americans taking pride in their blackness, owning it and wearing it with gusto, what they most identified with about the culture was the hair that many of the men and women wore: Afros.

Today in Brazil, when folks talk about black power, their symbol is their hair—natural hair. For Afro-Brazilians in general but black women especially, to wear an Afro or to wear their hair naturally is to wear black power.

“Many women [who wear] black power are adhering to the culture, others for political attitude, but there are also those who wear it simply because it is stylish and on point,” says Danielle Cipriane."...

A number of other groups have sprouted a challenge to Brazil’s preponderance of straight hair and are advocating for a quarantine on chemicals. One of the best-known is Meninas Black Power, or Afro Girls, a group founded by Elida Aquino to empower young girls to embrace their natural hair. Aquino started Meninas Black Power while she was a student studying nursing and midwifery in Rio de Janeiro. The name is “a mix of femininity and the strength that we extracted from our ancestry,” she says.

“Meninas Black Power was created to bring together Afro-Brazilian women with different backgrounds who understand that naturally curly hair is also a weapon of political positioning,” says Aquino.

Hair as political positioning or protest is nothing new for Brazil’s black population. American black power and black soul came to impact much of the country’s culture in the 1970s and 1980s, despite the existence of a military dictatorship until 1985. In Rio de Janeiro’s historically poor North Zone, young people started throwing parties with protest themes straight from Oakland or Los Angeles in California or Harlem in New York, which led to the importing of black music, literature and style from the U.S."...

These videos are presented in chronological order based on their publishing date on YouTube with the oldest dated video given first.

A number of commenters in some of these videos' discussion thread object to narrators' terminology about "slave ancestors" instead of "African ancestors" or "enslaved African ancestors. I agree with this objection.

Examples #1: The Revival of Brazil's African Culture

Journeyman Pictures, Uploaded on Aug 28, 2007

Black Brazil (2006): It's a religious festival like no other, featuring skimpy bikinis and non-stop drinking and dancing. But for black Brazilians, the festival of Yemanja is as much about spirituality as partying.

For downloads and more information visit

"Today the party is for Yemanja, Queen of the Ocean", explains Carlinhos Brown. Candomble, the worship of African Gods, is at the centre of a revival of Afro-Brazilian culture. It aims at recognising the contribution slaves made to modern Brazil and restoring black pride in a city where most black people live in abject poverty...
Here's information about Yemanya from
"Yemaya is the Yorùbá Orisha or Goddess of the living Ocean, considered the mother of all. She is the source of all the waters, including the rivers of western Africa, especially the River Ogun. Her name is a contraction of Yey Omo Eja, which means "Mother Whose Children are the Fish." As all life is thought to have begun in the sea, all life is held to have begun with Yemaya. She is motherly and strongly protective, and cares deeply for all Her children, comforting them and cleansing them of sorrow. She is said to be able to cure infertility in women, and cowrie shells represent Her wealth. She does not easily lose Her temper, but when angered She can be quite destructive and violent, as the sea in a storm.

Yemaya was brought to the New World with the African diaspora and She is now worshipped in many cultures besides Her original Africa. In Brazilian Candomblé, where She is known as Yemanja or Imanje, She is the Sea Mother who brings fish to the fishermen, and the crescent moon is Her sign. As Yemanja Afodo, also of Brazil, She protects boats travelling on the sea and grants safe passage"...

Example #2: Brazil's Battle Against An Unofficial Apartheid

Journeyman Pictures, Uploaded on Oct 17, 2007

Black Pride (1996): Watch as people sway to the drumbeats of Carnival, marching on a wave of music through the streets of Brazil.

Example #3: Brazilian black and mixed-race people discriminated

FRANCE 24 English, Uploaded on Dec 8, 2008

REPORTAGE : Brazil is one of the most racially-mixed countries on the planet: half the population has African origins. Yet black and mixed-race people suffer discrimination. Many are fighting for better recognition of this "invisible majority".

Example #4: CULTNE - Miss Blackpower Brazil Contest 2014

Cultne Acervo, Published on Dec 19, 2014

Maria Priscila was elected Miss Black Power / 2014 on November 8, 2014, in the Lapa neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro. With inicitaiva Di Black Market, the Cultne Collection recorded the event with images and interviews of Filo Filho and Pedro Oliveira.

Were elected Elaine Serafim, Third Princess Black Power; Jaciene Silva the Second Princess Black Power; and Mary Priscilla as Miss Blackpower 2014. The contest held by the Third Edition of Black Di Market (african - entrepreneurial connection from various parts of Brazil), was designed by Paula jet and Isabel Freitas, Salvador .

The Miss Black Power, says Paula jet, "does not want a single beauty standard - women of all heights, weights and shapes must fit - and neither sees the competition itself , but aims to exalt black using natural hair , breaking the model of a European social standard that does not value the natural traits of black women and force them to transform their hair aesthetics in exchange for acceptance in various social spaces, such as market work. The 1 Miss Black's Brazil is a place of affirmation of identities and strengthening our ethnic and racial diversity. Created as an opportune time for protesting in a different way, bringing an appeal through aesthetics against the abuses we suffer iariamente with racism for being black women and we assume our hair. "

Among the 12 finalists candidates from various parts of Brazil, Maria Priscila, 31, Bahia de Feira de Santana and resident in Rio de Janeiro, teacher and pedagogue, passed by a vote over the Internet, the scrutiny of the emblematic juror, paraded, danced, and had to prove beyond gorgeous black power has knowledge about their African roots in answering the questions of the judges!

So that's it, my people, we now have a Miss Black Power and two princesses, the order MARIA PRISCILA (Feira de Santana / Ba), JACIENE SILVA (Salvador / Ba) and ELAINE SERAFIM (Belo Horizonte / MG ). Who wants to know more about the reign of them by 2015 just follow the page of Mercado di Preta and Movimento e Mídia, on facebook.

Before, with all affection, I note here the participation of our dear Griot, Vanda Ferreira, who blessed all the candidates at the opening of the competition and the jury who donated some of their respective trajectories with much generosity and commitment making this contest one historic and very lovemaking . Our applause to:
1- Alessandra Mattos (Rio de Janeiro - RJ) | Developer Blog Black & Gorda.
2. Asfilófio de Oliveira Filho ( Rio de Janeiro - RJ) | Cultural Producer
3. Cassia Marino (Rio de Janeiro - RJ | Entrepreneur and Owner of Salon Beauties Black Iporinchê
4 . Monica Francisco (Rio de Janeiro - RJ) | Columnist Journal of Brazil and consultant in ASPLANDE NGOs
5. Naymare Azevedo (Natal - RN) | Management in Public Policy and Cultural Production
6. Prof. Dr. Helio Santos (Belo Horizonte - MG) | Author, Intellectual and President of the Baobab Tree Fund
8. Veluma Nunes (Rio de Janeiro - RJ) | Model and Actress .
9. Anna Davies (Rio de Janeiro - RJ) | Journalist

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