Note from BW of Brazil: It is an indisputable fact that black women have been giving birth to children in Brazil for hundreds of years. And they’ve had these children under various circumstances.They’ve given birth to children after having been, as what they endured for three and a half centuries of the slave regime. They’ve had children as partners in happy marriages. They’ve had children, only to be abandoned by the men who helped them create these children. And there are still other situations in which black women have given birth and raised their children.
So, of course, it goes without saying that black mothers have been a very important part of Brazilian History as a whole. The “Mãe Preta” (black mother) has been a historical figure as well as a stereotype similar to the American “Mammy” or “Aunt Jemima”. Her image has been immortalized as part of São Paulo’s cultural landscape since 1955 in the form of a statue located in the Largo do Paissandu, in the city’s downtown, next to the Igreja Nossa Senhora do Rosário dos Homens Pretos (Our Lady of the Rosary of the Black Men Church) and has been seen by tens of millions over the years.
With such a presence, why would it even be necessary to speak of the presence of the Black Mother? After all, her presence is obvious, right? Well, it is but it isn’t, because, in a racist society, black women are also not seen as the ideal representation of motherhood. Most mothers worthy of adoration portrayed in the media and advertising usually have white skin while black mothers, in many ways, are seen as sort of a thing of the past that is slowly disappearing into Brazilian History books. This is obvious everytime someone with light skin says their grandmother was black. It is obvious in the infamous 1895 painting ‘A Redenção de Cam‘ depicting the disappearance of the black race after three generations of miscegenation. In today’s Brazil, the black mother is still the most likely to die during childbirth and is more likely to die in a violent fashion, as we were painfully reminded of in the deaths of women like Cláudia Silva Ferreira and Marisa de Carvalho Nóbrega. Black women are also more likely to have to bury their children due to a violent incident.
Yes, besides often fulfilling the task of taking care of white households so that white women can pursue their careers, these mothers have their own stories to tell, as these stories of maternity are clearly not seen with the same reverence as when the skin is white, as recent events have shown and as a white woman herself had to recently admit. These are just a few of the reasons that the blog Nana Maternidade Preta (Nana Black Maternity) has emerged in the blog-o-sphere. For more on this, keep reading.
Nana Black Motherhood
There are many stereotypes attributed to black women when they become mothers. “Stereotypes” are ways of generalizing a whole group, not respecting the pluralities and experiences of each being.
By Mayara Assunção
And it is these stereotypes that label black women as “strong”, “excelentes parideiras” (excellent breeders), “good for milk” and thus start the exercise of a maternity laden with racism and often solitary.
Black women suffer the most from obstetric violence in Brazil. Institutionalized racism appears during pregnancy (from prenatal to childbirth) and will follow with the life of this child and this mother (in medical consultations, in school life) and often lack access to information that includes mães e famílias negras (black mothers and families).
What one experiences in the real world is easily perceived in the virtual world. Groups of mothers, maternity and related things are always occupied by mulheres brancas (white women). And much of the information shared is for crianças brancas (white children). It is as if the issues and experiences of black women and black children don’t exist.
And in the face of this reality, many individual initiatives have been emerging and gaining ground. They are mothers who share their experiences and realities before this racist society, to strengthen other black mothers and to strengthen themselves.
And this week, the first initiative of blogging collective was born to the universe of the NANA MATERNIDADE PRETA (Black Maternity). NANA MATERNIDADE PRETA presents a set of testimonies, photos, articles and texts made “de mães pretas para mães pretas” (from black mothers to black mothers) as described by Carla Cavallieri, one of the many mothers behind this initiative.
The project is an unprecedented initiative and has several collaborators. They are mothers from different states, professions, family formations and many stories to share, many things to do and to learn.
Nana is present in several social networks (Blog, Facebook, Instagram), exactly to contemplate the plurality and to reach the maximum of possible mothers. It is more than giving voice, is to build a network that can share and create more and more healthy processes of the experiences of black mothers, creating bonds and strengthening our processes in this society.
** This article is written by employees of the Geledés Portal and does not represent ideas or opinions of the vehicle.