In Brazil today, one can never be certain of how a person will define him or herself. But in the past few decades, due at least partially to the tireless work of the Movimento Negro in encouraging more people to identify with their African ancestry, more persons are likely to define themselves as black or at least brown than ever before. Tourism student, Vanessa Jesus Souza (photo at top of page) is no doubt one of those people. With her skin and light-colored eyes, it would be easy to see how Vanessa could define herself as white. But when provoked to discuss the statement of Ronaldo and how she defined herself, she had this to say:
“Skin color does not interfere with your race. I have fair skin, but my maternal and paternal grandparents are black, so I say that I’m black. My family came from the Northeast*, my light eyes maybe a legacy of the Dutch heritage.
Four years ago I recognized myself as black, for my features, curly hair, my nose is not so thin, because I like black culture, because I frequent black places where 99% of the people are black. In the program Netinho [Domingo da Gente]**, in the contest of the most beautiful black girl, I saw light-skinned girls with curly hair. So I said to my mother, “then I’m black, I can position myself as black.” She said to stop because I was white. Many people play with me and call me neguinha (little black girl) but I really assume myself as black.
The person who lives in a predominantly white society ends up feeling white and forgetting their origins. I think Ronaldo sees himself as white because others don’t see him as black.
I would fight for quotas (affirmative action) not only by me but for other blacks with darker skin than mine. Society doesn’t see me as black. I think like this: I am in college, I am privileged, I managed to get there. But I have no doubt that I would fight to give opportunities to others.”