Note from BW of Brazil: Well I must say that it is now getting interesting! What I’m speaking on is an increasing number of Afro-Brazilians, normally women, but increasingly men, who are questioning how romantic choices are made, what certain choices say about the black community as a whole and the effect on how Afro-Brazilians relate to each other. The issue goes far beyond the common question of how it seems some black men and women choose partners of another race and enters into the sphere of simply love, support and unity among black people. Is there a problem here or are people simply making a bigger deal out of this than is necessary? I ask this question as I am increasingly reading material online suggesting that there is a peaking fissure between black men and women in both Brazil and the United States. I’ve been thinking about this for many years and today I read a post by my friend Daniela whose shared a recent personal incident that touched on another angle of the lack of unity between black men and women.
Daniela is a black Brazilian woman but the incident took place in Austin, Texas, in the United States. Having grown up in the US, I can honestly say that just 10 years ago, most black men wouldn’t have sided with a white man over a black woman who felt offended by the actions of that white man. The incident has nothing to do with a romantic relationship but it does fit into the ongoing discussion because it approaches the issue of how black men see black women and begs some basic questions. Do we have each other’s backs? Are we in this together? Do we have any unity? Or are we slowly being conquered by a discourse that says “we’re all equal” in terms of race, color and solidarity? As I’ve argued before, Brazil has been there for years, but we are increasingly seeing this idea becoming stronger in the US. With that
said written, I must again ask, in what direction are we going black people?
Black Consciousness presupposes self-love; self-love presupposes reflecting on being passed over in relationships
Among so many themes we could write together, and they’re not few, we decided to revisit a thorny subject. Every time a new text appears on the issue of the black woman’s affective loneliness, the black side of the internet goes into a rampage. Black men, in their vast majority, run to say that black women are also palmiteiras, or else to reinforce that they are not palmiteiros. Not to mention the discourse that love has no color. But if it does not, if the diagnosis that black women experience loneliness in a brutal way is a fallacy, how could Ana Clara Pacheco even write a doctoral thesis addressing this topic?
By Winnie Bueno and Caio César
The social passing over of which black women are targets is not restricted to the labor market alone, they expand to all spheres of society, including in the affective sphere. We have already written about these issues relentlessly. But it’s little. The narratives about the deep feeling of loneliness among black women don’t diminish, on the contrary, it seems, although we are increasing our possibilities to recognize ourselves as subjects, distancing ourselves from the logic that Frantz Fanon explains in Pele Negra, Máscaras Brancas (Black Skin, White Masks) that approaches the connection of citizenship with the performances of whiteness on the part of the black population, even with the strengthening of the black racial identities, nevertheless, black women continue dealing with the feeling of insufficiency.
The idea of this text is to bring a hybrid approach, in which it is possible in a single writing to reflect on the consequences of affective loneliness for blackness in a broad way. It’s necessary to say that affective solitude is not restricted to the passing over of the black women in the affective relationships of the dating and marriage type. The socio-cultural aspect of this question goes beyond the private of the relationships. And that’s where we want to start this dialogue.
I believe that addressing the subject of loneliness is speaking directly, also, to black men. Talking about how much these men can love and be loved. And understand that this passes, first, through loving oneself, your culture, your people. It goes through understanding imposed masculinity, the stigmas and the stereotypes. Every masculinity that the world imposes on men falls even more heavily on black men. The necessity of being strong, hard, rigid all the time. Not showing emotions, or weakness or feelings. And this reflects also in loving relationships. On how treatment is given between men and women, especially black women. Add to this the construction of the black man’s image as a threat by international society.
Homens negros (black men) are the image of the enemy, that that is regarded as a voracious, uncontrollable animal, which, if not controlled by the coercive force of the state, can at any moment unleash their natural violence (see note one). The idea that these men need to be isolated from society so that it is protected is the projection of a discourse that has such an ideological force that even blackness is conditioned to perpetuate these ideas. Therefore, the deconstruction of this ideology between us is fundamental. Branquitude (whiteness), the media, the white social structure will not do this, it maintains itself from these assumptions and draws power from them. Of them there is not much to expect, but among us, it is possible to potentiate these reflections, talk about them and reduce their impacts on our social relations.
The solidão da mulher negra (solitude/loneliness of the black woman inevitably passes through the way men see themselves within society and within relationships. All the imposed roles, the social rules, everything, everything counts on how we act next to a woman. Bringing a racial perspective, I have always observed how romanticism didn’t belong to black men. This was like showing weakness, being less of a man. I remember liking to write letters, I remember the other boys saying that this was not a coisa de homem (man thing). It was as if this was denied to me, love was denied me. I remember hearing countless times that “homens negros não são românticos” (black men are not romantic) and things like that. And that is one of the most rigid molds in the male world. Romanticism, the romantic lyric, is absolutely European. It doesn’t match the patterns of bestiality that these same Western standards relegate to black masculinity.
Caio remembers the letters he liked to write. Winnie remembers the letters she would like to have received and never received. While the meninas brancas (white girls), back in high school, were getting pretty notes, Winnie helped the boys demonstrate their interests. She wrote in the letters that were sent to her colleagues, that which she would like to read. The discovery of sexual and affective interests in school age, the narratives of mulheres negras (black women) about their being passed over in this environment, shows that from an early age we have the construction of an image about black women that fixes their social roles in sexual-affective relations. As servants, to serve in domestic activities, to serve fetishized sexual desires, but never to build solid relationships, after all, they are bodies without minds, in the words of bell hooks.
This idea, of a mindless body, is what underlies a series of patterns about relationships. And it is also what constitutes the phenomenon of palmitagem, these men who are constantly described as threats imprint on their unconscious that the affection of a white woman consensually destroys this paradigm. We know, therefore, that not only does it not eliminate it, it strengthens the contexts that represent black women as bodies-objects whose affection is not necessary. After all, if not even their equals are able to bond with these women, how will others do it?
When you add this to an imposed standard beauty, we may have the least notion of why black women are so abused. Black men taught that demonstrations of feeling are weaknesses; taught that relating to white women brings them a higher status in society, more value and respect among friends. Men, who for not seeing value in black women, deny themselves the demonstrations of feeling. Because loneliness is not only the absence of someone at your side, but also the devaluation of those who say they love us. It is also the one without the use of derogatory jokes, about hair, hips and moodiness. Homens negros que, ao odiarem mulheres negras, odeiam a si mesmos (black men who, hating black women, hate themselves). In this constant is that the social ascension of the black man connects itself with the choice of a white partner, even though of an inferior financial status. Obvious that this phenomenon in Brazil occurs in a mitigated way, the social ascent of black men is insignificant, it occurs almost exclusively from the same means. But to make invisible (the fact) that black men who achieve some social prestige, even if it is hypocritical, since whiteness does not recognize this prestige in a total way, whether in the midst of entertainment or in the academic world, give almost exclusive preference to relating to white women would be, at the least, dishonest.
The affectionate loneliness of the black woman expands. The permanent feeling of solitude is common for black women, to the point of being a constant. We know that we are meant for emotional solitude, yet we are at a time when strategies are being built among black women themselves to overcome the anguish of loneliness. Other forms of affection that are not based on these historical repetitions, but this is a conversation for another text.
The key here is to try, once again, insistently, to talk about the need for mutual recognition, for ways of achieving self-love between us and upon us. The full appreciation of your equal, the consolidation of forms of love that establish themselves from the possibility of affection by the feeling of affection, and only for that. An affection in which the appreciation of negritude is possible. Loving not for interest, not for being with someone who gives us, before society, a value that is empowering of our wills as subjects, of all of them. Love for love of ourselves. Love for self-love.
- Examples of this stereotype are numerous in Brazil as well as on a global level. For examples in terms of representations in Brazil’s media, see here, here and here.