Note from BW of Brazil: It’s wonderful to see a group of black women coming together to enjoy their togetherness, community and sisterhood through a common thread: hair! Was that a pun? It wasn’t meant to be…The organization known as the Meninas Black Power have been doing great things for the past few years. They’ve appeared on talk shows, organized events and helped young black women to love their hair in a society that teaches them to hate it. We take on a lot of serious issues here on this blog and so it’s cool to take it down a notch and enjoy life, in this case, experienced through a group who have found a fun way to discuss a topic that often plays an influential role in the self-perceptions of many women. Rock, rock on MBP!!
O Dia (newspaper) with the Meninas Black Power
by Taina Almeida
Politics, beauty, sisterhood, friendship, black community. I think those were the keywords of the day in which we were interviewed by Carmen Lúcia, a journalist of the newspaper O Dia. A sister who knew about our project and thought it was worth reverberate our information and our event, Encrespando. The event passed and now, in terms of access to the photos, we saw that our action on that day was not only to talk about the event and our black community. We talk about many subjects that are closely linked to images. But the images also reflect moments that were not spoken.
We can see at various times in our blog such serious and important issues that they can confuse our readers and viewers. Yes, we speak of black militancy. We are women who talk about hair and racism, we share our pain, but we must agree that we bring in our smiles beauty, joy and understanding of being a black woman. And on that day, we felt firsthand what it is to be black woman in a tourist spot. About this, Maria Fernanda says. “I felt that they were even watching my uterus, but I didn’t leave emotionally shaken. They watched the film Vénus Noire (1). That’s how they looked.” She adds: “(this movie) shows the beauty of the exotic, eroticism of exotic, curiosity in studying the exotic to the death of the exotic. Translated to the present, the beauty of the mulata, appropriation of Candomblé by Pierre Verger (2), a study of anthropology….”
We talked of militancy and the black aesthetic, always like one thread of another. Amid several comments about what society expected of a black woman, always catching ourselves thinking of the size of our black (afro) and many girls still think about the dissatisfaction of this size. Speaking of this, this photo emerged, that is a growing movement in our Collective. We always say: “The shrinkage factor doesn’t kill, it teaches how to live (happy)!” The shrinkage factor is what plagues the majority of the girls with hair of smaller curls, “of the size of the diameter of a crochet hook”, as Bárbara, of the blog Blacks Bárbaros says. In the Collective this type of hair can be represented by me and Jaciana.
Long ago, I defined the touch in my hair with what I imagined to be a cloud, then I imagined that if I played in a cotton flower, the touch would be the same. I don’t know, this didn’t leave my mind. Jaciana says: “They seemed like little balls of sago! Today it’s already a very different sensation…It makes many little curls…They seem like yarn…Hundreds of soft little strings…!.”. One is very mistaken whoever thinks that this shrinkage is present only in the kinkiest types. In those I used as an example, shrinkage is a characteristic of our hair, astonishingly, 75% of the original size of the strand. They expect that our strands are big and we rock enormous black powers (afros) through the city streets, but our growth is not seen as that of the majority, and for us, that’s fine. We learn to live with our features.
Speaking of the black aesthetic is also saying that we are not made in molds. When we talk about natural crespo (kinky/curly) strands we are thinking about their structure and in the respect of which we have this structure. Again, using our Collective as an example, I, Tainá, that has already had the opportunity to lay my hands on the strands of each one of the Rio team, say with propriety: there is no equal hair. Do all we need to pursue this ideal curl? Is it that abandoning straightening and relaxing we will not abandon the ‘ideals of beautiful hair’? This is still an undeveloped and talked about matter among ourselves, crespas (kinky/curly haired girls). But we need to verbalize and reflect on how we define what beautiful is and in what respect with the structure of our strands.
Speaking of black militancy, black fashion, black event and black education are our goals. Occupying the steps of Selarón and not allowing that we to treat ourselves as part of the tourist spot was an act of resistance. Thanks to Carmén Lucia for the opportunity and Márcio Mercante for the incredible photographic work. The article can be read here.
Source: Meninas Black Power
1. Black Venus (French: Vénus noire) is a 2010 French drama film directed by Abdellatif Kechiche. It is based on the life of Sarah Baartman, a Khoikhoi woman who in the early 19th century was exhibited in Europe under the name “Hottentot Venus”. The film was nominated for the Golden Lion at the 67th Venice International Film Festival, where it was awarded the Equal Opportunity Award. Source
2. Pierre Edouard Leopold Verger, alias Fatumbi or Fátúmbí (4 November 1902, in Paris – 11 February 1996, in Salvador, Brazil) was a photographer, self-taught ethnographer, and babalawo (Yoruba priest of Ifa) who devoted most of his life to the study of the African diaspora — the slave trade, the African-based religions of the new world, and the resulting cultural and economical flows from and to Africa. After studying the Yoruba culture and its influences in Brazil, Verger became an initiated of the Candomblé religion, and officiated at its rituals. Source
You ladies are beautiful! I am in the United States and ran across your photo. Just wanted to shout to my beautiful african brazilian sisters.