Identity, exposure and representation: Encrespa Geral expo in Belo Horizonte demonstrates why we need events specifically for black audiences



Note from BW of Brazil: The title of the article pretty much says it all! As Afro-Brazilians are so under-represented in the mainstream, alternative methods of representation, presenting views and aesthetics outside of this mainstream, are vitally important. And for about two decades we’ve seen a steady rise in black representation being led by black Brazilians themselves. And it goes without saying that this is a very excitement development! Encrespa Geral events have been springing up not only across Brazil, but even in other countries! And with the continued success of other events such as Feira Preta, the rise of Cinema Negro, black theater, Afro-Brazilian centered You Tube channels (see here, here and here, for just a few examples), black entrepreneurs, producers, directors and entertainers have decided to stop waiting on the mainstream and making things happen on their own! An interesting development is that as these black events, movements and organizations continue making noise and attracting attention on social networks, the mainstream will HAVE TO start taking note or losing an audience…and the media IS start to pay attention and for good reason! 


Encrespa Geral: Why do we need events for a black audience?

Beauty, empowerment, representation and celebration – Besides a political act, meetings and large events such as the Encrespa Geral, have important reasons to exist. These events spread throughout the country and the Encrespa Geral has shown itself the largest and most promising of all, particularly for  being present in various capitals of Brazil and in other countries.


But, what is even the necessity for such events, focused only for the black public? We will use Encrespa Geral of Belo Horizonte to present some of the reasons they exist and why they are successful.


By Sandrinha Flávia, courtesy of Todos Negros do Mundo

Empowerment and representation, these words define Encrespa Geral in Belo Horizonte held last Sunday at Centro Cultural Padre Eustáquio (Padre Eustáquio Cultural Center) in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais. With the motto, Não é Só por Cabelo (it‘s not just for hair), the encounter provided a good opportunity for reflection on self-acceptance, identity, sexism, afroempreendedorismo (Afro-entrepreneurialism), literature, etc.


The combination was perfect, to the sound of DJ Mester Lau, specializing in Black Music, the diverse and colorful environment revealed a strong black identity in the form of braids, dreads, black power (afros), cachos e crespos coloridos (colorful kinky/curly hair) or not, that mingled amongst themselves, and formed a sea of self-esteem and empowerment.


The turban workshop was put on by the philosopher and turbanteira Rhenata Santana who surprised the audience by appearing dressed as Queen Nefertiti, in order to show the strength of women. Following the speaker, Luana Tolentino spoke about empowerment and representation, a rotating theme of Encrespa Geral discussed in every city of the network.

Luana Tolentino

Luana stressed that Encrespa is part of a tradition of struggles for recognition and the role of the comunidade negra (black community). “Encrespa is beauty, it’s empowerment, it’s celebration. But we can’t forget that it’s also a political act. When we meet, we are saying that we no longer accept the stereotypes aimed at disqualifying black children, men and women.


We say that we don’t accept the discourse of racial democracy. We say still  that we are aware that racism is a key factor for the state of exclusion and segregation in which the população negra (black population) of this country still lives,” said the speaker.


Through an artistic intervention, “Corpo Fala”, dancer Suellen Sampaio brought a reflection of the importance that the corpo negro (black body) has had throughout its historical trajectory. The journalist Etienne Martins presented literature tips for those interested going deeper in the black theme.

One of the most exciting moments of Encrespa, was BC (Grande Corte meaning Big Chop). The chosen model Taciane Cristina chose to shave off all of her hair live.

Taciane’s story thrilled the audience, “I wore my natural hair for 6 years, one day I went to my mother’s house and decided to moisturize my hair with her products. I put the product (in my hair) and put on a cap was forty minutes with the product on the hair, when I took it off, I found that the mask was mixed with a product to straighten, my hair rotted,” said Luana. On stage, she was cheered and provoked many tears from the audience.


Encrespa is also the place to talk about LGBT agendas and struggles against sexism. Actor Evandro Nunes talked about the ways in which sexism is manifested in our society and drew attention to songs of our daily lives that reinforce sexism. The couple Rosane and Iara Pires Viana showed a short excerpt of the documentary Encontro das Águas (Meeting of the Waters). The film shows the journey of these two black women belo horizontinas (natives of Belo Horizonte) black during their wedding preparations. The documentary raises an important debate on gender, race, sexuality and religiosity of African origin.


In the rooms of the Centro Cultural two workshops were held. Encrespa Kids brought together about 20 children who watched the spectacular, “Nossas Histórias, um pote de Ouro” (Our Stories, a Pot of Gold) with actors João Lucas, Raisla Maria and Denilson Tourinho. Blogger Maressa Sousa gathered about 15 women for the workshop, “Estética Negra, Saberes e Oralidades” (Black Aesthetics, Knowledge and Oralities).


The two musical acts were by Milena Torres who took all of her ancestralidade e identidade negra (black ancestry and identity) to the stage and Master Drago who closed the event with the authorial show titled Sonhos (dreams).


The afternoon proceeded to the feira afroempreendedora (Afro Entrepreneur Fair) that received 30 exhibitors, besides the beauty space Todo Black é Power (Every afro is power) with braids, eyebrow design, makeup, foot massage the feet and a L’Oreal stand highlighting the release of Hidra Poo of the Garnier Fructs line.


Encrespa Geral received a tuned in, curious and participatory public. College students, academics, researchers, caravans from the cities of Divinópolis, Esmeraldas, Ibirité and Governador Valadares, and participants from Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. We also received representatives of Haiti, Angola, Mozambique, Guinea Bissau, and teens who fulfilled educational measures accompanied by psychologists and socio-educational agents.

Learn about Instituto Encrespa Geral

Blogger Eliane Serafim, creator of Encrespa Geral

It all started in 2013 when the blogger Eliane Serafim, project creator, decided to personally meet her followers. Publicizing the event, people from other cities found the idea interesting and asked for permission to also put them on in their cities and quickly the movement spread throughout Brazil as Seraphim explained, “The organization of this movement, from social networks, has enabled a very big and fast growth. Discussing, displaying and enhancing our African cultural roots, Afro-Brazilian aesthetics and the position of blacks in society are our main goals. With the motto, “Não é só por cabelo,” we want a more inclusive and tolerant society that accepts itself and the other,” said Serafim.


In 2015 the project became the Instituto de Promoção Humana, Desenvolvimento Social e Cultural Encrespa Geral (Encrespa Geral Institute for Human Promotion, Social and Cultural Development) and operates in 17 Brazilian cities and 5 countries. The aim is to further expand this project, which is a cultural, historical and social revival. In Belo Horizonte the event organizers are the afroempreendedoras Dandara Elias, Danny Sousa and Sandrinha Flávia.


If the text is not enough for you to understand the necessity of having such events held throughout Brazil, maybe the photos throughout this article will convince you.

We’re all looking forward to 2017!!

Source: Todos Negros do Mundo

About Marques Travae 3747 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

1 Comment

  1. This is a great thing and I’m proud of these beautiful black women for creating an event like this that empowers Black people and makes them proud to be who they are. Keep up the good work my Afro-Brazilian sisters!!!

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