Note from BW of Brazil: The purpose of the BW of Brazil blog is to bring much needed visibility to women of visible African ancestry in Brazil as well as discussing contemporary racial politics in Brazil that make such a blog necessary in the first place. Past articles have shown the invisibility and ongoing stereotypical representation of black Brazilian women in the way the media portrays them (yesterday’s article, for example), in sexual imagery, socially constructed images in televised and literary fiction as well as in real life. An article published last week serves as a perfect example. A black woman sought advice on how to style her natural hair for wedding day but found that Brazil’s bridal magazines, like teen, baby and women’s magazines, almost completely ignored the needs of black women. Which is the very reason for the blog featured in today’s post. The women of the blog Negras no Altar (Black Women at the Altar) felt subjected to the same exclusion experienced by the woman in the bridal magazine article. So they decided to do something about. They created the blog to offer advice for planning weddings simply because “black women get married too.”
“The very existence of the blog is already a response to the prejudice of our society,” says creator of the blog Negras no altar (Black women at the altar)
by Anderson Sotero of Portal Correio Nagô
In 2012, a conversation between two black female friends resulted in the idea of creating a blog. One of them was about to get married. The other wanted to help. Together, they set out on the the internet to find tips, but research ended up generating questions. Not on the decision to get married, but about black women and weddings.
“We set out on the internet in search of all the necessary tips and at the end, we wondered: do black women not get married? Why do black women hardly exist in these sites and blogs? I searched for websites about weddings that had black women as a reference and I didn’t find (any),” Rebeca Brito (of Salvador, Bahia), told the Portal Correio Nagô website.
This was why she decided to create Negras no altar (Black women at the altar), a blog about weddings. “I told my friend that I would create a blog about weddings to help all black women organize their weddings,” she recalls.
Right at the top of the blog page, Brito is careful to emphasize what motivated the creation: “Negras no altar because we also get married.” “The phrase is highlighted because I wanted to show mulheres negras (black women) that there is no problem in getting married, as long as they want to,” says Brito, who has a degree in Social Sciences.
For the blog’s creator, there is a lack of sites, blogs and publications specializing in marriage representing the black woman. “You will not find any other here in Brazil besides Negras no Altar that addresses this issue,” she guarantees and following up by defending her intention.
“Unfortunately, we were led to think that what is beautiful, what is good, is related to Eurocentric standards, so we need to reverse this, we need to be represented,” she emphasizes.
Brito also said that while the situation is not reversed, blogs like hers are increasingly needed to combat prejudice and racism. “I believe that the very existence of the blog, is already a response to the prejudice of our society. If we black men and women, we were more present in the spaces, in the great media (outlets), in high government positions, in large companies, etc., blogs like ours probably would not exist,” she adds.
She says that the creation of the blog was the way that she found to do “her part” against racism. “But while this reality does not change, we will continue putting our fingers on the wound to remember that in Brazil there is this paradise of racial diversity. I think every person who is committed to the cause needs to do their part, contribute in some way to change the game.”
Partnership – After months with the blog on the air, Brito says that she felt the necessity of others to help her in the task. Today, besides her, the blog has three collaborators who “make things happen.”
“First I met Annanda Baptista, then Laís Braz and Michelle Veríssimo who came to complete the team. Each lives in a state, we communicate by email, or Facebook and we’re planning everything,” she explains. Baptista has a degree in Archivology and lives in Rio de Janeiro. Braz and Veríssimo are journalists and live in Brasília and São Paulo, respectively.
According to Brito, each has autonomy to write their stories. “We only signal in the day that we post, in order not to coincide with everyone posting at the same time. We try to stay tuned to the demands of readers, what matters most to them and it’s like this that we develop the posts,” she adds.
Still according to her, the blog has been “very well received” and is receiving many positive messages. “It’s very gratifying to see our work recognized and valued by the people.” Requests that they receive the most are suggestions for wedding dresses, hairstyles and makeup tips and posts about DIY (“do it yourself” or “faça você mesma” in Portuguese).
Posts – On the blog, readers will find tips on makeup, hairstyles, decorations and dresses. “The tips are designed for black women. A tip for makeup for white women is no use for a black woman, obviously because the skin tones are different. You need to know how to find the ideal base tone and when it’s time to apply makeup because if you use a color that does not match your skin, the result will not be nice,” she explains.
The tips, according to Brito, also help women raise their self-esteem. “The same thing is in relation to the chosen hairstyle. Several readers have written to me saying how much they wanted to have known about the blog before, because they didn’t want to straighten their hair for their weddings and not having many references for hairstyles for black brides they ended up straightening (their hair) on the day (of the wedding). Today more and more women are accepting and wearing their cabelo crespo (kinky/curly hair) and they also want to get married with their beautiful, natural hair. If before this reference was missing, now we’re here to not allow this (to happen)”, she adds.
Brito says that the group has a list of “wonderful ideas”. They intend to turn the blog into a website, but are still relying on financial investments. They still intend to create videos for their You Tube channel and in the future create a magazine for black brides, as well as writing a book telling their experiences with the blog.
“During that year and a half, only one person questioned whether a blog for negras (black women) was not reverse racism. I think this kind of accusation only proves how racist our society is. While everything conforms to the standard people aren’t bothered, but it’s enough for us to just create our own spaces for them to accuse us of being radicals, reverse racists and say that everyone is equal, that everyone is Brazilian,” she opines.
In the course of the blog, the quartet still celebrates victories. “Seeing that the blog is growing and becoming a benchmark for others is a victory. I didn’t think it would work out so well, (but) each message I get saying that the proposal is interesting, that the idea of the blog is innovative, makes me very happy. Seeing other sites and blogs, people that I follow who speak well of the Negras no Altar is a victory. To be giving this interview is also a victory meaning our work is being seen and taken seriously,” she concludes.
Source: Portal Correio Nagô
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