Note from BW of Brazil: Have you ever heard the phrase, “you just can’t make this stuff up”? Well, I got another story that this phrase definitely applies to but let me set this up first.
There probably isn’t a Brazilian alive over the age of 10 who doesn’t know who multi-millionaire television host Xuxa Meneghel is. The 5’10” former model is one of Brazil’s most famous and wealthiest women. Xuxa built her career on a string of popular children’s variety shows, many of which had her name in the title. From the mid 80s to the second decade of the 21st century, we’ve seen Xuxa e Seus Amigos, Xou da Xuxa, Xuxa, Xuxa Park. Xuxa Hits, Planeta Xuxa, TV Xuxa and several other programs. At the height of Xuxamania in the 1990s, there wasn’t a girl alive who didn’t dream of being a part of Xuxa’s female song and dance group, As Paquitas. The TV programs led to films and also album/cassette/CD releases that netted her millions more.
For most of her career, Xuxa was associated with Brazil’s most powerful television network, Rede Globo. And for good reason. The tall blond was fixture on Globo for nearly three decades, a relationship that only ended in 2015 when she signed a contract with the Rede Record television network. Meneghel also made a name for herself due to her brief relationship with the “Rei de futebol” (king of soccer), the legendary Pelé and, years later, Brazilians became familiar with Luciano Szafir, the businessman and former model with whom Xuxa had her daughter, Sasha in 1998. I won’t spend too much time on Xuxa’s career accomplishments because it would take up an entire blog post in itself. If you just gotta know more about Meneghel, whose wealth is estimated to be around $160 million, be sure to check out her Wikipedia page in English or, if you prefer, in Portuguese.
As mentioned above, Sasha is Xuxa’s daughter and rather than follow her mother in a career in front of the TV lights, the young lady decided to enter the world of fashion. Determined to follow her own path and achieve her own success, Sasha is a student at the Parsons School of Design in New York and after graduating and returning to Brazil, she plans to pursue a career as a designer or an art director. According to reports
20-year-old fashion student plans to participate as a speaker in the city’s fashion week in September. New York Fashion Week, which is one of the most important events of the fashion industry in the world, starts in the first week of September. Which brings me to this latest story.
Sasha’s mother Xuxa, while highly successful in her career, leaves much to be desired with the topic of race comes up. In 2015, people called Xuxa out for wearing a t-shirt that read, “you don’t have to be black to fight against racism”. The most obvious question in relation to the shirt was, what has she done that’s fought against racism? In a country like Brazil where true whiteness is overvalued, perhaps because so many Brazilians who consider themselves to be white, deep down, know they really aren’t. Much, if not most of Xuxa’s success is directly related to her blond, blue-eyed whiteness.
I also mentioned how every little Brazilian girl had probably dreamed of being one of Xuxa’s famous Paquitas at one time or another, but for little black girls, that dream could never come true as the Paquitas were all teenaged replicas of Xuxa herself: blond, with white skin. Asked about the the lack of a black Paquita on a talk show in 2018, Xuxa was nearly speechless. Then, earlier this year, with outrage gripping the black community over the strangling death of Pedro Gonzaga at a supercenter, Xuxa and other white celebrities went public with their grief over the murder of a dog. As the all posted photos with their furry friends, they had nothing to say about another young black life being taken in such a violent manner.
Well, one has to wonder if Sasha might see the other side of her own recent actions. When headlines broke that the young fashionista had traveled to Angola to teach the Angolans how to wear African fashion items, people were taken aback to say the least. So much going on there. While some were a bit miffed that she would travel to Africa to carry out the role of good samaritan when there are plenty of Brazilians for whom she could do good deeds. My issue was…She went to AFRICA to teach AFRICANS how to wear AFRICAN attire. Really? So, she’s selling their own culture back to them, is that what she’s doing?
My other issue is the fact that Sasha is simply behaving in a manner that Brazil has always dealt with Africa. Black/African culture always seems to be more acceptable/respectable when its presented in white skin. How many times have we seen this? Ritzy fashion events with African themes and no black models. Afro inspired parties with very few black people. A novela set in an 80% black city with no black actors. Or how about the adaptation of Afro-Brazilian fashion and Bahian musical genres? And we can’t forget serial cultural bandit Daniela Mercury dressed in African attire while singing that Wakanda is also in Europe. These are just a few of the examples in recent years.
YouTuber Lívia Zaruty is a black Brazilian woman whose opinions, in general, I don’t agree with, but this time, her sense of irony on this topic was right on point. In her analysis, she explained the absurdity of this story to white Brazilians who may not understand what all the fuss is about…
“But there’s a possibility that some middle-class white people are watching this video here and they won’t understand the severity of what I’m talking about yet, right? So I’m gonna repeat it for you. Sasha Meneghel went to Africa to teach African fashion to Africans…Then you told me that ‘whining is very annoying, you blacks complain about anything, we are all the equal, I don’t see color, clothes are clothes, fashion is fashion, there is no such thing as African fashion, no no, it’s everybody is equal. It’s true.’ So, let’s put it in context here. Sasha Meneghel goes to Japan to teach Japanese fashion to Japanese people. Now, I will give an example that whiteness will understand perfectly, to feel the question up close and personal. How ridiculous would be of (black samba singer) Neguinho da Beija Flor going to Italy to teach the Italians how to prepare a real pizza? The King of Angola going to Bologna in Italy to teach how them how to prepare the Ragu Bolognese, how strange this is what I’m talking about. Can you understand what I’m doing now that I’m putting it into your reality of whiteness?”
Note from BW of Brazil: All over the internet, in various social networking platforms, black folks were discussing this and for good reason. Maybe she didn’t intend for it come across this way, but almost seems as if Sasha were saying, “Let’s go to Africa and teach those Africans something that they don’t probably know, even though they created it.” I’ll just leave this story here because, no doubt, if she reacts anything similar to her mother, she probably won’t get why people have a problem with this.
Sasha teaches African fashion to youth from Angola; see photos
The girl, who studies fashion in New York, taught Angolan girls about wearing African cloths. Sasha received criticism from web users who asked why she didn’t do work like this in Brazil
Information from O Tempo
Sasha Meneghel, 21, participated in social projects during her exchange in Angola, from which she returned on Sunday, August 18.
Among the activities, the young woman, who studies fashion in New York, taught Angolan girls about the use of African cloths at Sebastiana Garcia School, which receives humanitarian aid through the Aldeia Nissi social project.
The institution shared photos and video of Sasha teaching the girls how to assemble their own clothes. Then they paraded under the applause of the other students. “The joy of these girls and boys infected us and made us vibrate with such happiness,” wrote the Aldeia team on Instagram.
“Today our @aldeianissi girls dreamed again and had their self-esteem fortified! How to thank @sashameneghel @ loruama.lopes and @lyalcantara for bringing healing in the soul of these princesses???”
“What a day, really. Thank you so much for being a part of it, for having seen their talent and tenacity closely. I’m sure it’s just the beginning,” replied Sasha.
“It was a beautiful day that marked the lives of @aldeianissi’s children. The joy of these girls and boys infected us and made us vibrate with such happiness!!!! Thank you aunt @sashameneghel @lyalcantara and @ loruama.lopes for this gift!!!! #aldeianissi Keep offering so we can continue to change the lives of thousands of people across the ocean🙏🏻 http://www.aldeianissi.com/adote”
Last Sunday, 18, Xuxa said she was proud of her daughter and stated that she was with her in thought while working in Angola: “You are my pride, Sashita.” The television host shared a video in which Sasha appears with two Angolan children on her lap, as they send kisses to Xuxa. “I love you, Mom,” she said.
“We are so glad God sends such enlightened and loving people to embrace this cause! A crowd of gratitude for you @sashameneghel who crossed the ocean to mark our lives here at @aldeianissi”