Note from BW of Brazil: The post that we feature today on the blog is pretty deep. It touches on a number of topics and issues, a few of which are common here at BW of Brazil race, miscegenation), others little, if at all, touched upon here (religion). For those not familiar with the question of Brazilian elites 19th century planning for the eventual disappearance of the black race out of Brazil through the process of embranquecimento as portrayed in the famous “Redemption of Ham” painting, see here. How self-identified black women who have white or nearly white children see this is another unexplored topic. Aline Djokic touches on this a bit in the beginning of the following post before delving into how sex, race, motherhood, sin and Christian ideologies are applied to black and white women in different manners. Christian, feminist or not, it’s an interesting read.
The black woman, Christianity and the myth of redemption
By Aline Djokic for Blogueiras Negras
Embranquecimento (whitening) is a problem. It was I that said it! Weeks ago they tried to steal my son, in the figurative sense, but anyway. A white woman began to interact with us in a doctor’s office and within seconds, it was clear that she accepted my son, who has a predominantly white phenotype and rejected me for being black. It was exactly at this moment that owes itself to such a “theft”. She, through her behavior, showed that I, a black woman, even being that individual’s mother, had no claim on him; for he no longer looked enough like me. At that moment, the racist world, represented by this woman was telling me: “Thank you receptacle, mission accomplished, the son of the redemption was accepted. Your child will be recognized as white and starting from now will be part of our league.”
With this text I would like to give a response to this “theft” and such a generous offer of redemption. Today, I would like to say: Thanks, but no thanks. I don’t want your redemption, I’m not the incarnation of your Christian fantasy. I’m not Mary.
In the construction of the myth of redemption through miscegenation, there is also a strong charge of Christian mythology, as throughout the construction of racism. The white man made in the image and likeness of God, and thus, he is God himself; however devoid of divinity, that he recuperates the dehumanizing of the black man. But, delving into this subject would bring another text, so I shall confine myself to the question of black women and the construction of her affection for Christianity.
Christianity separates women into Evas and Marias (Eves and Marys). Ie, sinners or redeemers. The woman who challenged the laws of God, who dared to make decisions without consulting the man, who experiencing her sexuality, is considered an Eve, the sinner who is responsible for the fall of man, by the loss of his divinity. The curse that God imposes on women is nothing fair, she loses control over herself, her will belongs to her husband; and her sexuality, represented by the reproducibility, will forever be associated with pain. The non-acceptance of female sexual pleasure is a Christian fantasy. The curse that weighs upon the man is immensely lighter because it can easily be outsourced. When the white man enslaves the black man to live from “his sweat,” he reestablishes his divinity and delivers himself, thus, from the imposed curse.
But what about the white woman? To her was given a second chance in the figure of Mary, the woman – receptacle, who rejoices in an unintended pregnancy. When the angel appears to Mary, he congratulates her for the pregnancy. He does not say, “God requested me to ask if you want to give birth to the redeemer.” If Mary became pregnant against their will, we can consider the moment of conception, a time of violence, albeit symbolic. Yes, this really was not a good exchange…Instead of the denial of the right to sexual pleasure, the woman now carries the curse of justified sexual violence. Any connections to the obsession of Christian in preventing battered women have access to abortion is no coincidence. Just as it is no coincidence that the vision of how miscegenation originated in Brazil, through the rape of slave women, has actually been something consensual, and not violence.
When the woman, through the feminist movement, begins to question her subordinate position and her distorted image in society, she begins to deconstruct all of the stigma that had been inflicted by Christianity. The black woman however, was not included in this process and sees rested upon her all of the stigma that before slavery belonged to white women. Combating racism and the system that supports it is in this way is also a task of feminism. A society founded upon Christianity, and that until the arrival of the Renaissance saw God as the center of the universe, now sees the man as the center of this. And that’s where the problem lies, because this man, center of the universe, is the white man.
Now, if the man was made in the image and likeness of God, then he is God. The only thing that separates them from total equity is the mortality of the white man, his humanity. You must make him superhuman status that he reaches through racism. By dehumanizing the black man, the white man ascends to the divine category. God continues being the center of the world and the world continues being Christian. And as mandated by the Christian tradition, it is necessary that another carry the blame for the fall of man.
The solution found was to project everything the white man and the Christian associates with evil, the fall of Adam, the loss of immortality, with the black man. And the black woman fits into the role to take the place of Eve, when the question is forbidden sexuality and the place of Mary when she shows herself sufficiently capable of redemption. That’s why society sees in me and in my miscegenation an act of redemption. As such it sees in a black women giving birth to a black child, the perpetuation of sin. And we all know that the wage of sin is death.
The power of this collective memory is immeasurable and society acts according to it without questioning it and reproduces the prejudice even not belonging to this religious group. Questioning Christianity and its power in building the stigmatization of blacks in Brazilian society is something that can no longer be understood as a mere religious issue.
Source: Blogueiras Negras