“Kinky/curly hair must be exalted”: black Brazilian women discuss their struggles in a society that rejects natural black hair

Note from BBT: It’s been a while since I posted something that was directly tied to the politics of hair. For many years, the question of natural black hair, how it is ridiculed and rejected in Brazil was a topic that I discussed often. And for good reason. The first article that I posted on this blog that went viral back in 2012 was about a case of a young black woman being excluded from her school because of her hair.   

Needless to say, with so many reports of discriminatory acts because of hair texture, as well as the numerous texts written by black women detailing their experiences not only with embarrassing situations but also their developing to the self-confidence to wear natural cabelo crespo (kinky/curly hair) in a society that so strongly rejects it, I knew this was topic that I would need to cover extensively.

With a recent incident that went down on Brazil’s top reality show involving the issue of Brazilians making offensive comments towards people with natural natural kinky/curly hair textures and the feelings of black and brown Brazilians who no longer accept such treatment, we see that, even with a nationwide movement led by black and brown women for the right to be able to wear their natural hair without harrassment, we still see that this remains a major issue.

In the piece below, a few black Brazilian women express their opinions on the recente reality show episode as well as their own struggles for self-acceptance as well as acceotance from the society at large.

“Kinky/curly hair must be exalted”: black women support singer Ludmilla’s speech at BBB

By Nathália Geraldo

Ludmilla’s presentation at the BBB 21 party on Saturday, April 3, was not only a musical attraction to entertain the confined and the public, but also a message to those who still don’t respect the differences between people and make racist comments.

The funkeira performed the same day that participant João Luiz heard the sertaneja singer and also participant Rodolffo compare a caveman costume’s wig with the teacher’s hair. João was sad and annoyed by Rodolffo’s comment while his friend Camilla de Lucas consoled him.

Right after the first song, Ludmilla said: “Respect our funk, respect our color, respect our hair!”, showing support for João and sending a message to the racists.

Ludmilla’s statement became one of the main subjects on social media on that Saturday night and, on the program, moved Camilla de Lucas and João, who were thrilled with the singer’s position:

“Respect our funk, respect our color, respect our hair!” @joaoluizpedrosa? – Camilla de Lucas?? (@camilladelucas) April 4, 2021

Ludmilla, as well as several black women, has already been the subject of racist comments about her hair. She even sued socialite Val Marchiori for comparing her hair to the steel wool cleaning pad known as Bombril.

Because of wearing a straight lace, a wig-like accessory in her performance, the singer was criticized on the networks for her position. “The fact that I am wearing a lace doesn’t cancel out my roots, my hair is crespo (kinky/curly) and my place of speech about the racism that I suffer continues. Don’t be ignorant,” the singer posted on her Instagram.

Kamilla Albino talks about freedom of wearing kinky/curly hair and as a black woman she has the right to wear the hair she wants (Image: Instagram)

Her girlfriend, dancer Brunna Gonçalves, said that for the presentation at BBB she decided not to wear lace and go with her natural hair, also in support of João. “When I went through the transition, and I finally started to find myself and feeling beautiful with my hair, we were already in the pandemic and we didn’t have a show to do,” she explained in an Instagram post. “Being able to represent João, Camilla and thousands of people on the national network who have their hair mocked or compared to something “funny” every day, was incredible!”.

Sinhger Ludmilla’s wife, dancer Brunna Gonçalves, before and after her hair transition

Outside the house, João’s experience and Ludmilla’s message, which he sees as inspiration for other black people, as he said in an interview with Universa, reverberated with black women who already had their self-esteem shaken with comments like that of Rodolffo.

SILENCE that the RACISTS sent to warn that @Ludmilla can’t say RESPECT OUR HAIR, no, because she’s wearing lace.

Do you know shame? They have none. And when they get caught, they say that we have to “teach with affection”. For me it is

RESPECT! – Patrícia Rammos com DOIS “M” (@patriciarammos) April 4, 2021

João, I understand you! I have lived through very irritating situations like this, from coworkers saying that my hair was interfering with the framing of the camera… and I ALWAYS place myself in and I will always do it. You’re beautiful. Your hair is beautiful. The problem is NOT with you. # bbb21

– Jessica Ellen (@JessicaEllen) April 4, 2021

The people wanting to say that Ludmilla is a hypocrite for requesting respect for our hair and wearing a lacefront looks like a joke.

I only remember the music of Chico César:

“If I want pixaim (nappy hair) LET ME, if I want curly LET ME, if I want to color it LET ME, if I want to show it off LET ME LET ME”

RESPECT DAMMIT

– Ashley Malia (@ashleymlia) April 4, 2021

For many, taking on natural hair and having a better relationship with it, including the freedom to change their appearance by putting in lace or braids, is a path full of obstacles and painful. Next, three women tell Universa how the valorization of afro hair has changed the way they see themselves.

Kamilla Albino: “I used my freedom to live and exalt my crespo”

“Self-love within the black community is revolutionary”

“Having natural hair, for me, represents an achievement! We black people spend a lot of time hating ourselves because of racism. É por isso que o autoamor dentro da da comunidade preta é tão revolucionário (That’s why self-love within the black community is so revolutionary). When I started wearing my natural hair, uncomfortable situations became frequent. In addition to prejudiced looks and comments, I suffered exclusion and pejorative comparisons, as João heard on BBB these past few days…

I went through many situations of racism, like touching my hair without permission. Society objectifies us too much and that is a way of dehumanizing. You don’t touch someone’s body part without permission, for example. And even when asked, it’s uncomfortable. This comes from every question of standard that excludes us.

As for what they say about Ludmilla wearing straight hair, everything is a matter of process. And it’s important to humanize her. She has her processes, which I don’t know about. But she is free to wear the hair she wants.

I used my freedom to live and exalt my crespo. That’s not to say that she doesn’t. Besides, as someone who encourages black people to wear their natural hair, I must remember that I don’t support any dictatorship in this regard. And to think that a black person should wear cabelo crespo is, yes, to want to dictate how they should live.

Kamilla Albino, 30, is a content producer for social networks and became known around the world by having a hair video shared by actress Viola Davis.

Psychologist reveals that racism has prevented her from wearing natural hair for many years

“Society imposes the straight hair model; for them, ‘black’ is strange”

“Although I grew up in a home where I was also strengthened in relation to my hair, not only my skin and my features, for me it was more difficult to see the possibility of natural hair. I had my hair straightened for a long time and then I started braiding. It was the action of structural racism itself, of society that imposes on us this model of straight hair and that the natural hair of blacks, the black power (hairstyle, afro), is strange.

I thought it was beautiful on others, but it said that I needed courage. Look how bizarre, right? It takes courage to have your hair the way it is. In my family, the hair was never said to be “ruim” (bad). But there were jokes. And when I was younger, there was the question of cabelo liso (straight hair) being what seemed to be the most well-done.

When it was braided, several people asked me how I washed my hair, touched it without asking or made compliments like ‘Wow, I love black braided hair, it’s so exotic’.

The time it took me to make the transition was more due to the structure, which wants us not to put our hair on the street as it is. What encouraged me was to see other people making the transition, my sister had done it a while ago, and supporting me by saying that I was going to be wonderful. For me, leaving natural hair was a process of freedom.”

Mariana Luz, 37, is a clinical psychologist and has been through the transition for almost two years

The journalist says that her hair was the subject of racist comments in childhood, and that the fight is so that black children don’t go through the same thing now

“Curly hair is the strongest feature of our blackness and needs to be exalted”

“I’m shocked and find it sad that, in 2021, our cabelo crespo is still taboo and a target for people to make comments that are beyond prejudiced. We are left without a reaction.

We, black men and black women, were so shocked when we received comments like that on a daily basis that we couldn’t even react immediately.

Anyone who was a child in the 90s, like me, knows that for many years we were led to believe that the texture of our hair was a defect. And before the transition, I thought my cabelo crespo was a defect. So I spent years and years held hostage by chemicals, flat iron, dryer.

The memories of the bullying that we suffered are ghosts that follow us today and have very serious consequences on our self-esteem. That’s why I understand João a lot. When we hear something pejorative and playful in our hair, this flashback from childhood comes back, including comments from family members.

What relieves me is that, thanks to God, the support network and the movements that we have, of Black is Beautiful, are much bigger. This makes us recognize ourselves and rescue our self-esteem. And to let us know that our hair is versatile, wonderful. I am very proud to have it.

Respect our hair, our history, our ancestry. Hair is the strongest trait of our blackness and it has to be exalted and assumed, yes. And our fight is for the children to have this conscious. Let us work with them on the idea that cabelo crespo is beautiful the way God made it.”

Elys Santiago, 34, is a journalist and made a capillary transition during the pandemic. Just over a month ago, she went through the big chop, cutting her hair to get the chemicals out.

Source: Universa

About Marques Travae 3625 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

2 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.