Note from BW of Brazil: It’s so funny the watch how Brazilians continuously claim that in Brazil “we are all equal” or, “racism is a thing of the United States” or that there is somehow no difference between black and white and watch how so many cracks threaten to destroy this whole fictional armor. One of the main topics we have discussed on this blog is the privilege of whiteness in Brazilian society and the myriad of ways that this is so obvious. We’ve seen it in how homeless people are perceived. We’ve seen it in how people are perceived after going through traumatic incidents in life. We’ve seen it in how people react when two little children are apparently lost in a large downtown area. We’ve seen it when two men, one white, one black, locked themselves out a BMW and attempted to pry open the door.
We see it how forces of security react when certain people are in cars, shopping malls or stores. We see it in the type of people who present the news on TV or are usually the smiling faces on magazine covers. I mean, really, it’s not hard to tell. And these are only a few of examples. As Brazil was colonized by persons who considered themselves white, these ideals of what and who are good or bad have been cemented in the nation’s self-perception for centuries. So much so, that Brazil’s elite concocted a plan straight out of a eugenics playbook that would lead to the eventual demise of the ‘undesirable element’ within a century. Modern day Brazil continues to exist according to these guidelines. Which brings us to today’s story.
Let me honest here. Until this most recent story broke a few days ago, I didn’t even know who the woman was that people were referring to. As it turns out, 24 year old Julia Tolezano, known as JoutJout Prazer, or just JoutJout as she is known on the internet, is a popular vlogger whose videos have earned her over 167,000 followers and more than 14 million video views. In her videos she discusses a range of topics from abusive relationships, feminine issues to how to cook and make music, all done in comical way that people seem to love. Cool. So why am I talking about this woman on a blog about black women and issues of race? Well, an interesting little tidbit (depending on your perspective) came to light last week in which Jout Jout’s adoring audience came to see her boyfriend, whose identity she had long kept a secret, for the first time. Needless to say, he was nothing like what they expected!
Three years ago we saw something similar to this when fans of the hit book Hunger Games expressed their disappointment at seeing one of the characters, described in the book as having black hair and olive skin, being portrayed by the black actress Amandla Stenberg in the film version. Online comments ranged from disappointment and anger to sadness and disgust. Let’s be real. The reason for this is because in a world dominated by the European aesthetic, white people expect everything thought to be beautiful, interesting, powerful or intelligent to be presented as white and when it’s not, they react. But we’re talking about Brazil. Surely Brazilians aren’t like this, right? Well, if you’ve you’ve followed this blog for any amount of time or even read just this intro you know other wise. Let’s get to the story.
Jout Jout’s black boyfriend and our everyday racism
You only think about white
Note: This post originally was illustrated with a picture of Caio. After a few comments and a reflection, I thought fit to delete the image. It’s not my right to expose the figure of someone who doesn’t want to be exposed (1). Sorry Caio, sorry JJ. ❤ (But if you are curious and want to see his face, Google’s there for that)
Then the Brazilian internet found out who Caio is, Jout Jout’s mysterious and wonderful boyfriend (with whom she always interacted with behind the camera).
Let’s go the comments?
“I never imagined that Caio was black”
“I imagined a half chubby guy, a branquinho (white guy) with a beard”
“I prefer not believe it. I will forget those images and pretend to have never seen them”
“Wow, I imagined Caio totally different”
“It’s a negão. Jout Jout likes extra L salami. Congratulations Jout Jout” (2)
“Caio in my imagination is a tall blonde, with blue eyes and muscular”
“Could it be? In my mind Caio is white. But he’s a metaphor, in each video he changes”
Apparently it is impossible that Jout Jout dates a black man (3), it is impossible that a woman “like her” relates to “someone like that” – unless you are interested in what black men “have to offer.”
The chain reaction (which should be in jail and not on the Internet) about the fact of Caio being black is due, obviously, to racism, but I will exemplify more, so that they don’t say I’m assuming anything.
In our society, we are accustomed to “thinking white”. When someone says “imagine a handsome man,” you imagine a white man.
I recently spoke with a friend that plays RPG (role playing games) and he told me he had never stopped to think about ethnicity in the characters, because it had never been mentioned in the descriptions. “A mago, tall, strong, the highest circle of magic. Wearing a yellow tunic and always walks with a stick made with Baobab wood.” You certainly imagined a white guy.
This is our standard. Unless we describe someone as black, you don’t think that the person is black. More examples, in order not to say I don’t speak of real life (as an RPG is just an RPG), “Fulana (so and so) is beautiful right? Short, big hair down to the waist, only walks in heels. And what a great professional she is”. You imagined a mulher branca (white woman), I bet. (4)
We’re not used to constructing images of blacks in our mind, unless it’s pointed out. Our established standards are white. Our ideals of beauty are white.
The image of the black needs to be described more as a way to diminish the person than anything else. Another example: Your friend from work arrives one day and says, “Yesterday I met a negão lindo (big, handsome, black man). Super good person, fiquei com ele (I spent the night with him).” If the guy in question were branco, he would only be “a guy”: “Yesterday I met a handsome guy. Super good person, I spent the night with him.”
Why do we have to point out the fact that the guy from the previous night was black, being that what matters is that he was a handsome and super nice person?
The name of this is racism. Whenever “negro” becomes an adjective, it is racism. “Fulana is black and super funny.” No! “Fulana is super funny”. Period. Being black does not make her more or less funny. Or pretty. Or professional.
So when Jout Jout interacted with Caio in her videos, people imagined her boyfriend as a white man. Because this is the standard of our train of thought. This stadard must change.
And we also need to change this habit of taking care of the lives of others. Let Jout date who she wants! OK? Okay then!
PS: I won’t even comment on the sexualization of the black man, that’s a topic for another text.
The “disappointing” discovery that the “Enchanting Prince” was black
Bu Leopoldo Duarte
Last weekend one of the great mysteries of YouTube Brasil was explained. The identity (a little secret) of the boyfriend – director, assistant, support etc. – of one of YouTubers that emerged in 2015 was revealed. And despite all the showering of compliments made by her about the attributes of her boy made in a video, to the disappointment of many fans, the imagined prince idealized by them was not…white. As if there was any law or spell that prevented black men to be affective partners worthy of exaltation. Possibly because this barrier in fact exists: culture.
Unfortunately for this former anonymous the secret came to light bringing all kinds of racist manure – perhaps the reason why he avoided putting his face in the sun from the beginning. Frustratingly, for him too, deleting the aura constructed by his white girlfriend around him. Until last week the mere mention of him produced desire and envy, today we know that the reality of his color brought numerous cries of disappointment. After all, how could a girl so admirable (read: white) date a “negão” like this (read “any”)?!
It is curious to see how although in most movies and stories of Princesas (Princesses), the Príncipe (Prince)(5) is usually a secondary role, the fact of him always being white – or light skinned – causes the public to freely deposit in him all sorts of virtues. As despite the participation and construction of the character “Prince” often being superficial, the tone of his skin permeates the positive attributes rarely illustrated during the narrative. In their majority they are often only heirs of some distant and unknown kingdom within a historical and social context where the women were mere objects to be protected, but even so the public can project in them a comprehensive, selfless and even anti-sexist posture.
It’s striking that, in fairy tales, white monarchs are considered fair not only by their peasants but by contemporary viewers as well. It’s almost comical how even an English explorer, partly responsible for the decimation of much of the indigenous peoples of North America, has already been painted as a partner worthy of an Indian princess from a now nonexistent tribe. It seems that all the historical atrocities committed by white men were transmuted by the cultural industry in the West through these stories that inspire and educate our children. Whether white, Asian or black- American and African.
It would be great if that kind of romanticizing were restricted to children’s entertainment, but remembering characters like Hannibal Lecter and Dexter Morgan we can see that even cannibalism and psychopathic serial killers are acceptable when performed by white men. As well as the abusive possessiveness of Edward Cullen and Christian Grey. As if for the screen skin white possessed some kind of purity of varnish that repels any kind of vice and vileness that prevented the failures of white delinquents would fall upon the rest. Giving white people the privilege of being considered the standard model of innocence until (irrefutable) proof otherwise. In the masculine case, more specifically, constructing a facade of unshakable enchanting nobility. While every black person must prove their value to redeem the bad name attributed to their color.
Returning to the boyfriend of the vlogger, it saddens me to understand how adults and supposedly politically conscious people, having armed themselves only with compliments videotaped ended up constructing, mostly, a mental image of a white and aesthetically standard partner. In clear association, a restriction of the qualities and virtues to eurodescendente (European descendant) people.
The declared disappointment of those viewers with the blackness of her partner described as desirable is nothing surprising for whoever recognizes that same culture that deposits virtues discriminately in whiteness is the same that labels black men as marginal, violent, abusive, uneducated, unskilled, disposable and incorrigible . The same that limits the involvement with black men to an erotic exoticism.
Nor surprising is the innocence of those who expected the same mysterious man who both strives – and handles – being an Excellent boyfriend was blonde with blue eyes. For centuries, this phenotype has been wrapped up like a trophy and doesn’t need to re-enforce so much its place on the podium of the current affective and sexual choices in the globalized western Brazilian society.
What really bothers me in all this is that despite this following public projecting a pro-feminist (egalitarian?) identity –- these people still preserve a sexist concept – besides racist – of an ideal partner. Could it be that the questioning of this imaginary ends after breaking the requirement of behavior of the donzela-princesa (Maiden-princess) or can we expect that this episode serves to deconstruct this golden white armor? Who knows, maybe in another 127 years (6)…
Discussions around the racist repercussion of the image of the former par-excellence revealed that a good part of the fans are more concerned about the impact of all this on the reputation of the girl-idol than in how the attacked ex-guy is dealing with the collective “veiled” rejection. The greatest zeal of many commentators seems to be the reassurance that color does not matter in the face of undeniable evidence to the contrary. Or in the repetition of it continuing to be admirable “even not being white.”
Maybe it’s time we face the ode to the white male present in fairy tales, in romantic comedies, the syrupy romances and dramas etc. We need to reassess how this overvaluing has racist effects not fictitious noticeable not only in the fetishization of men of other ethnic groups as the deficiency of affection deficiency directed toward them. It is high time that these supposedly deconstructed people confront the reality that their emotional-sexual “preferences” are guided by the supremacy of branquitude (whiteness). Maybe it’s necessary to be honest and recognize that it’s no use deconstructing many things while we continue favoring white protagonists.
- This writer decided to post an altered photo of Jout Jout and Caio for a very specific reason which we will discuss later.
- In this comment we clearly see the established stereotypical connection between black men and above average sexual performance and attributes. For more on this topic see here, here or here.
- Another thing to point out here is that Brazilians are famous for encouraging persons of visible African descent not to identify themselves as negro/negra, meaning black, but instead classify themselves in more racially ambiguous terms such as moreno/morena. The reason that this writer felt it necessary to include an altered photo of Caio is because he, like American actress Amandla Stenberg, is very fair-skinned. But in both cases, this light skin did not exclude them from the disappointment of them not being white and/or defining them as negro/black. Thus, as we’ve seen in other examples, when the situation is tranquil, in the Brazilian context, the person is defined as anything but negro (moreno, mulato, pardo, etc) but in a negative situation the same person is immediately defined as black.
- This analysis speaks volumes to the idea that black Brazilians choose white partners because “amor não tem cor” (love has no color) when the fact is whiteness is the all-encompassing standard of beauty in Brazil and numerous other countries around the world.
- The Prince Charming motif is clearly influential in Brazil as the writer alludes to. See here and here for other article on this topic. In other articles (here and here), we take on the issue of the ‘princess’ always having to be white, an ideal that many black women have also included in terms of the highly popular 90s children’s program starring host Xuxa.
- A reference to the fact that slavery in Brazil ended in 1888.