Note from BBT: It’s a funny thing about blogging. Out of nowhere, an article that you posted a month ago, six months ago or even a year or more ago could suddenly become material that people are interested in for some reason. Usually this happens when someone shares one of your posts via their social network or the topic of your post have suddenly become a trending topic again. This happens on this blog from time to time and it happened again starting on Friday.
I’ve done a number of piece on the Afro-Brazilian ballerina Ingrid Silva since I first discovered her a few years ago. But a few days ago, I wondered why it that suddenly people were showing interest in my last article about her. On Friday and Saturday, my mid-September piece on Silva’s announcement of being pregnant with her first child was the hottest piece of the day. ‘Was’sup with?’, that I wondered.
Then, some time on Friday, a friend of mine who also follows ‘coisas do Brasil’ (Brazilian stuff), sent me a new image of Silva featured on the cover of the Brazilian edition of Vogue magazine. OK, now I get it. Silva was trending on Twitter and obviously seeing a black woman, a clearly black woman, on the cover on a top fashion magazine in a very Eurocentric Brazil is big news. I’ve approached the theme of the rarity of black women on covers of Brazilian women’s magazine in numerous previous posts. We’ve seen a slight improvement in the past few years, but not by much.
As I’ve pointed out, Brazil’s media has clearly participated in the promotion of the “Brazilian dream” of engineering its non-white population into whitening itself, as such, an important weapon in this manipulation is the media’s constant promotion of the white phenotype. For decades, most people, even black Brazilians just accepted this standard as black families often taught their children to “arrumar um branquinho/branquinha”, or try to get into a relationship with a white partner to “improve the family”.
So, seeing someone like Ingrid Silva, a dark-skinned black woman, goes totally against the grain of Brazil’s mainstream media. But then, one has to wonder….
Of course, it’s understandable that people who have been made invisible in the media for so long would want to celebrate someone like Silva on the cover of the fashion industry’s top magazine. But at the same time, I have to wonder if featuring famous or rich black Brazilians in the media can somehow be another manner of promoting the whiteness ideal as so many black Brazilians of prominence are in relationships with white partners.
I sometimes wonder if black Brazilians, even those on the path of “awakening”, know how deep this game of manipulation and social engineering goes. Yes, the question of “palmitagem” has been a hot topic within black Brazilian social networks, but not to the degree that the black population as a whole is ready to do a sudden about face on interracial unions.
African-Americans, even with rising unions across racial lines, still question this as do black people in other parts ofm the world. When I featured Silva’s announcement of her pregnancy, a reader quickly sent me a photo of her husband as if to say, “there goes another one”. As a matter of fact, the friend of mine who passed on Silva’s Vogue cover made a comment that many African-Americans have made when the topic is Afro-Brazilians and their white partners: “Too bad she doesn’t want any black babies”. I will reserve judgment on this situation because, even though it’s easy to make critical comments, none of us know any individual’s dating situation.
Silva’s case, like many others, could have several scenarios. She fell in love with a guy, who just happened to be white, who came along at the right time. She could have desired a relationship with a man with a skin color equal to hers, but that man never came along. Or, as many have argued, black Brazilians are ALL waiting on their shining white prince/princess to come along to brighten up their lives and whiten their children.
Whatever the case may be, I’ll still offer congratulations to Silva on her pregnancy and her covering Vogue. Both accomplishments to celebrate. But whereas I clap for her achievements, I would have given her a standing ovation if she had chosen to strike back against the sonho de embranquecimento (dream of whitening) with a baby whose skin would be equal to her beautiful chocolate brown.
Ingrid Silva: First black Brazilian ballerina featured on the cover of Vogue Brasil
Today is also a historic cover day at Vogue Brasil! While American Vogue for the first time had a man stamping the cover alone, with the Harry Styles edition, Vogue Brasil for the first time put a black and Brazilian dancer on the cover of an edition. The star in this historic moment was Ingrid Silva, who at 31 is a dancer at the Dance Theater of Harlem in New York.
Ingrid is from Rio de Janeiro and besides being a dancer, she is an activist. In her Instagram account he shared a text celebrating the cover: “Representativeness is very important, in every sense. This cover is that. “
Mipad 2020 listed Ingrid among the 100 black people under 40 who are most influential in the world. Ingrid heads up two social projects: EmpowHer New York, which is a platform that seeks to dialogue about living according to one’s own truth; Blacks In Ballet that highlights the work of black dancers around the world.
In a chat via Facetime with Vogue, Rio dancer Ingrid Silva, who at 31 was listed by ‘Mipad 2020’ among the 100 most influential black people under 40 in the world, spoke in detail about her pregnancy. She also talks about sexism during pregnancy, motherhood, representation, the Black Lives Matter movement and the fears of her profession.
Ingrid, who was interviewed by journalist Luanda Vieira, says that getting pregnant is not a priority for a dancer, but even so she always knew she would be a mother. “I was afraid at first, but my biggest incentive is to know that this child will be born in a completely different reality than mine was. She will be able to be anything she wants,” she said.
Ingrid also explains the issue of priority: it is simply because the life span of a dancer varies according to the response of her body, “although today, controlling food and doing parallel exercises, like yoga, we can work up to 50 years,” said the future mother of Laura.
Even with the pregnancy confirmed in April, the dancer tells Vogue that she made the revelation in the most special way, in September, in the first video directed by Taís Araújo. Who, by the way, had an idea of the format. Insecurity about the future of the profession; the desire to preserve the novelty among family members and closest friends, and wanting to build her own journey without comparing herself with other mothers were some of the phases that the dancer faced while preparing the revelation.
At the time of the announcement, Ingrid said she felt apprehensive. “When I posted the video, I was in Upstate (mountain region of New York) for our family weekend. I was so apprehensive about announcing that I published it, left my cell phone and went hiking. It was a surprise to receive so much love and affection from people that I’ve never seen or imagined.” So far, the publication has received 242 thousand likes, almost its total number of followers (there are 273 thousand).
1st black Brazilian dancer at the Dance Theater of Harlem
A dancer at the Dance Theater of Harlem, in New York, Ingrid built a new life in the city after earning a job in 2007, through the project Dançando para não dançar (‘Dancing to not dance’), an initiative that combats social exclusion and promotes the dissemination of culture to children of Rio de Janeiro communities.
Ingrid Silva@ingridsilva: “A day and a life to celebrate forever. This Vogue cover is powerful in every way”
The ballerina, who has her shoes in the collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, in the United States, gained a profile in Forbes magazine, did campaigns for Facebook, and runs two social projects such as’ EmpowHer NY’ and ‘Blacks in Ballet’, she confesses that there is nothing more powerful than telling her daughter about her achievements.
The photos for the story were taken by Henrique Gendre and the report is by Luanda Vieira.