Note from BW of Brazil: Today’s piece simply re-enforces the analysis and focus of this blog in providing insight into the pulse of Brazil’s black community. Over the past few years, we’ve seen a number of marches, protests and events that show us some of the concerns, demands and cultural expressions of Afro-Brazilians. And we can see these events taking place all over Brazil. Today, we bring you a march that recently happened in the capital city of the northeastern state of Pernambuco. The issues at the fore that made this event happen are the same. They concern the acceptance of one’s physical attributes, racial identity and history. As the testimonies of numerous pieces on this blog show, Brazil’s sophisticated brand of racism made it so that millions of persons of visible African ancestry attempt to deny or avoid assuming an identidade negra (black identity) and living with the idea that afro-textured hair is somehow ‘ruim’, meaning bad. You will note these ideas and yet another example of the rise in black consciousness among Afro-Brazilians in the piece below.
Black Empowerment March calls for end of prejudice in Recife
Discussion about racism and acceptance of society guided the march.
There were also discussions and presentations of maracatu and coco de roda.
By Thays Estarque
Men, women and children gathered on Sunday afternoon (13) in the Praça do Derby, in downtown Recife, to discuss and ask for the end of gender and racial prejudice on the Marcha do Empoderamento Negro (Black Empowerment March). According to one of the event organizers, Nathalia Rocha, 25, the goal is to educate the black population and those who are interested to discussing racism.
“We are different, each one has their particularity. It’s contradictory this discourse that we live in a social and racial democracy,” she said. With performances of maracatu (1) and coco de roda (2), the march proceeded to Marco Zero in the bairro (neighborhood) of Recife.
The socio-educative agent Gisele Labislau, 32, took her three children to the gathering. “They’ll grow up knowing how to express themselves. When I left home I talked to them saying we were not going for another ride, but will be part of history,” she said surrounded by Lemam, age 8, Miguel, 6, and Dandara, 4.
Gisele also reported that she would have liked to have grown up in a domestic environment that would provide this consciousness. “I’m black and my sisters are black, but my mother, who was also black, straightened my hair, squeezing the cartilage of my nose to taper it and said that my color was canela (cinnamon). Today, only I accept who I am,” she added.
Still small, but already having a history of bullying, Lemam recalled that he was assaulted at school. “My colleagues had prejudices against me, they beat me up just because I’m black and am of the Candomblé. People think they are hurting me, but actually they are hurting themselves by hurting someone similar to them.” At one point, the shy boy stood up and spoke about the importance of self-affirmation. “We have rights and we must know what they are,” leading many present to tears.
March Empowerment Recife
One of who was excited, Joeb Andrade, 20, student, said that children should learn how to defend themselves against any kind of prejudice. “They are very young and sometimes don’t know how to behave or respond to an offense. I am black and gay, lived with this for years without accepting myself and seeing myself as such. The society demanded the stigma of the virile black man,” he declared.
Eight months ago Rayza Oliveira, 23, decided to sell beauty products for black women on social networks. She revealed that the demand for this segment has grown in the last two years, but only recently have cosmetic companies began to monitor this market. “When I changed my look eight years ago, letting my cabelo crespo (kinky/curly hair) grow and putting on a turban, this was almost nonexistent. Now we begin to understand who we are and where we come from,” she said.
Following this culture of appreciating the black aesthetic, vendor Nathalia Santos, 25, said she is a vain authentic and that she took time to accept her features. “Prejudice begins in ourselves. I straightened my hair until the day it began to break. Because of that I decided to wear it an African (style). What began as an imposition, today is who I am,” she reported, adding that she always trying to follow the trends of the black fashion world. “I love going into a store and buying several beautiful fabrics and tying them in different ways,” she added.
- Maracatu is a term common to two distinct performance genres found in Pernambuco state in northeastern Brazil: maracatu de nação (nation-style maracatu) and maracatu rural (rural-style maracatu). A third style, maracatu cearense (Ceará-style maracatu), is found in Fortaleza, in the northeastern state of Ceará. Maracatu also designates the music style that accompanies these performances. Source: Wiki. A number of articles on this blog make references to maracatu. See here.
2. Coco is a typical rhythm of the northeastern region of Brazil. There is controversy about the state in which it originated, with the states of Pernambuco, Paraíba and Alagoas being cited. The name also refers to the dances to this rhythm. “Coco” means cabeça, or head, from where the songs with simple lyrics come from. With African and Indian influence, it’s a dança de roda (dance in a circle) in a accompanied by dancing and singing performed in pairs, rows or circles during popular festivals of the coast and the northeastern hinterland. It receives several different nomenclatures such as pagode, zambê, coco de usina, coco de roda, coco de embolada, coco de praia, coco do sertão, coco de umbigad, and still others nominated with the most characteristic instrument of the region in which it is developed such as coco de ganzá e coco de zambê. Each group recreates the dance and transforms it into the taste of local people. The characteristic sound of the coco comes from four instruments (ganzá, surdo or bass drum, pandeiro or tambourine e triânguloor triangle), but what really marks the cadence of this rhythm is the accelerated to pace of the tamancos (wooden shoes). The wooden sandal is almost like a fifth instrument, perhaps the most important of them. Furthermore, the sound is supplemented by the handclaps. There is a hypothesis that the emergence of the coco was due to the need to finish the floor of the houses in the interior, which were formerly made of clay. There are also chances that the dance emerged in mills or in the communities of coconut pickers. Source: Wiki
I’m so glad to see that black Brazilians – in all their varied skin tones – have awakened to racism in their country.