Afrodengo: Relationships of Black Men and Women Against Racism
Note from BW of Brazil: If you really look at a few of the articles posted here over the past week and then take a look at today’s subject, you might conclude that they could be seen as a series. First, there was actress Érika Januza discussing, besides her decision to cut and wear her natural hair, her her opinion on how the solidão da mulher negra, or loneliness of the black woman, affects her, her last relationship with a white man and the criticism she received because of it. Then there was yesterday’s piece in which the writer, Levi Kaique Ferreira, discussed how black Brazilian men and women are born and raised so that we don’t want to marry each other.
Today, I re-visit the social network/app known as Afrodengo which was created precisely to bring black men and black women together to heal and address the (not so) hidden forces in Brazilian society have sought to destroy the black family and thus the black community by promoting the idea that choosing white partners would be ideal for black men and women with the ultimate goal of promoting an eventual whitening of the population.
If one were to look at such an app from the perspective of the black community in the United States, seeing such an initiative wouldn’t be such a big deal. In a society that was constructed upon the segregation of races, black men and women together coming as natural as drinking water for African-Americans. But in Brazil, this could be considered a revolutionary idea. You see, since at least the last third of the 19th century, Afro-Brazilians have been “programmed” to prefer long-term relationships with white or whiter partners. As one black woman revealed in an online article, the black man she was dating openly told her that in order to get ahead in life, he had to have a white person at his side, not a black person like himself.
In this evolution of thought, in less than a decade, a percentage of the black Brazilian population has gone from defining anyone who calls for an increase in black couples and black love as “reverse racists” and a promotion of segregation such as what exist in the United States, to questioning the absence of prominent black couples to understanding Brazil’s own promotion of a eugenics project to calling for amor preto (black love). When we look at it this way, a social network seeking to bring black men and women together is simply the next step in evolution. Clearly, still today, there are far more black Brazilians who would see such an effort as somehow racist, but, oh well, things don’t change overnight.
Now beyond the idea of simply an underground idea that only “radicals” could believe in, the social network/app was recently featured in a report on the nation’s top television network, Rede Globo TV.
Afrodengo: Social network brings together black men and black women for relationships and strengthening of the black community against racism
Courtesy of Jornal da Manhã
It was a personal and very common complaint among friends that the idea of a network of flirting or aimed only at black people emerged.
“As I am in a city like Salvador (Bahia)in which I go out, there are black people on every corner and 80% of the population is black and I don’t find someone special on the app,” says Lorena Ifé, a Bahian journalist and creator of the Afrodengo social network/app.
The idea is not to make a business profitable and make money, but rather to bring people closer and strengthen black self-esteem. The name itself refers to ancestry. Dengo is a word of Bantu origin and means warmth, sweetness. Today there are more than 50 thousand people connected and not only in Brazil. There are also people from Angola, Mozambique, and the United States.
The creator says that the profile of users is very diverse.
“60% of the people in the group are women, you know. So we have a very large number
of black women in which the intention of these women is initially to seek an affective relationship. Generally, most of these people are straight women, right. But we also have an LGBT audience that is part of Afrodengo.”
Cris has been part of the group since she has lived in Rio de Janeiro. She says that in addition to being a place to flirt, the network has become a space for discussion on racial issues.
“Nobody better than blacks themselves to talk about their pains and also talk about what is important to them. And I think that Afrodengo, it has this merit of bringing together people who, in theory, are all there to talk about this aspect.”
For researcher Lívia Natália, the need to create networks like Afrodengo demonstrates the racism that still exists in the country.
“When we say that racism is structuring our society, that is to say that it means what Neusa Santos Souza says; she is a black psychoanalyst, who unfortunately already died but who established in her book Tornar-se Negra (Becoming Black) that discussion. She says that black people since the moment of their conception in the mother’s belly, since they were very young they are educated as bodies unworthy of love.”
“We are not thought of as beautiful, we are not thought of as interesting people, as intelligent people, until then, we were all the time thought of as lesser bodies. As women who are not pretty, right. We are women who have to be available all the time for a dimension that is sexual but not affective.”
We took to the streets to hear people’s opinions about Afrodengo.
What do you think of a social network of black people used to relate only to black people?
‘Oxe! It’s very good, great. Does it already exist?
It already exists. Would you use it?
“Of course I would”
Why do you think a network like this is important?
“It joins forces. This is very good. I didn’t know.”
”I think there should be a mixture, not white with only white, nor black with only blacks.
“Salvador is far behind in relation to the virtual relationship. You don’t think you’re black you don’t think you’re Afro-descendant and whoever likes African descendants he likes black as it is.”
Is it a social network that you would use?
“No. I believe that regardless of race, color, religion. If you want to have a relationship that doesn’t matter.”
“I think it’s a little bit segregating, right. I think it really shouldn’t have happened, but if it’s happening it must be an attempt to try correct historical errors that we have, I believe that’s it.”
Denise and Valmir have been together for almost 40 years. The relationship of love, partnership and understanding gave rise to a family that was increasingly united. They met in 1985 during a home party. From then to now, a couple of children and now a granddaughter, the union has never come undone.
“Marriage we celebrate, we remember when we started dating, there is the date May 23, then we will always do something different, then go out to dinner.”
“So I think that we pass it on to our children because it’s not because we’ve been married for 35 years that we don’t celebrate anything anymore.”
For them, the love relationship between black people does have an important social role.
”We were… we were always militants before racist, you know. I have been an activist in the black movement since ’78, so my education even as an individual in this struggle, pre-disposes me to have a relationship with black people which is a process of black consciousness, right, a process of empowerment of the ideas that was that.. and also lead
to companions and friends for the debates for the seminars… for the formation process.”
”Love learning. We learn to love certain affective models, that thing that love is born in my heart. People, the heart is something that pumps blood. Love is a brain learning, love is a social conditioning. So if I’m constantly arguing from my militancy how racism kills me how racism kills mine, I also have to understand that form of symbolic death. An affective choice is a political choice as well.”
Source: Jornal da Manhã