Note from BW of Brazil: It’s a dialogue that desperately needs to happen! In Brazil today, the black population is waking up by the hundreds of thousands, realizing and decoding the centuries of lies they have been taught by the country’s devious, but very potent and even endearing form of racism. For the past century, the discourse that Brazil is somehow a ‘racial democracy’ in spite of the overwhelming evidence to the contrary has captivated millions of white as well as black Brazilians and those who are not certain of their racial identity, an issue that was/is a result of the mythology and also contributes to the issue. As black activists, students and scholars continue the deconstruction of the myth, one particular issue has been continuously raised by one side of the black population while the other side doesn’t seem to want to engage in any serious type of dialogue.
As we’ve seen over the past few years, black women have consistently raised the issue of interracial unions in blog posts, social networks, articles, dissertations and books. And although black men have sparingly addressed the issue, this is generally only when black women bring the issue up. But the fact that must be recognized is that, without a black family, the existence of a black population is in grave danger and no amount of individual black success, wealth or representation will be able to salvage the situation. As such, let the dialogue continue…
The incredible case of the ‘homem negro palmiteiro’, white woman loving black man
By Raescla Ribeiro de Oliveira – Originally posted at Blogueiras Negras
Síndrome de Cirilo (Cirilo’s Syndrome) and Palmitagem are different nomenclatures for an old problem. Black affectivity is in question, the “love” the black man has statistically been directed to the white woman, the title of the doctoral thesis of Professor. Dr. Ana Cláudia Lemos understands and perfectly conveys the idea of the black man and his view towards his “beloved”: “BRANCA PARA CASAR, MULATA PARA F…., NEGRA PARA TRABALHAR” (white woman for marriage, mulata for fucking, black woman for work).
The affirmation of the title is painful, however, it’s real. It is real and is present in the perceptions of individuals in their discourses and actions. To understand this statement, just think of such actions as reflecting historical and social processes involved and resulted in the construction of this thought. These processes involving various fields of social interactivity.
It’s notable still in childhood the lack of representativeness, since all the princesses, heroes and characters are mostly white, contributing early to the appreciation of a single ethnic group, this appreciation limits the view of what is beautiful and acceptable. There is therefore an over appreciation of brancura (whiteness), since mulheres brancas (white women) have always been characterized by literature as serene, soft, beautiful, demure and of the home, in cinema their faces and bodies are the standard and is that that one considers “beautiful”, it’s always white women that the protagonists fall in love with, it’s always white women that are the protagonists. Thus, the love of the XXI century is too white, too white for me, a black woman, and it’s about my particularity that this text wants to scream.
Now I come to talk about myself, of me, black woman and of the hyper-sexualization that my body routinely goes through and how it affects or has affected my relationships and those of other black women. One example is the “fiu-fiu” (whistle) and “hey princess” that both annoys women so much in general. I, a black woman, live a step beyond sexism, if the “fiu-fiu” is painful, imagine the “eu, vou comer teu c*” (I’ll fuck your a**) – because it’s what I hear when I go out into the streets.
It’s the idea of the masters that’s still present is the understanding of the “mulata for f******”. Abdias do Nascimento tells us in Genocídio do Negro Brasileiro (Genocide of the Black Brazilian), that in the colonial period the white men initiated sexual activity with the enslaved black women, in other words they raped them and an animalistic category defined what they would do with their bodies.
Later, the same in Brazil in tones of republic celebrate Carnival and has as a muse black women in full nudity. And as a tradition, the presence of black women in the country comes to be put on once a year in February, half naked.
As such, I am the “gostosa” (hot one) that black men will “comer” (fuck), I am the “gostosa” that hears “eu vou comer teu c*” out of the mouth of four men in a car on a busy street. I am the “gostosa” that doesn’t know love, I live with the hyper-sexualization of my body and the total absence of affection on this same body. This construction of black man, still doesn’t know how to love the black woman.
And the “negra para trabalhar”…
The labor force of mulheres negras has been present since the colonial era, when mulheres brancas were still on the condition of “demure and of the home.” That is, the insertion of the black presence in the country now stands in the image of the working black woman, who has her sexuality and affectivity denied, and as such are born “tias Anastácias” (aunt Anastácias).
These three representations bring out concrete perceptions and already ascertained in social research. They talk about me and my experience as a black woman and explain the possibilities for the affectivity of the black women, are the concrete arguments of the actions of black men, make obvious the privileges that white women have, that are established from the simple fact of not worrying about being loved.
Yes, because love is not a problem on the white woman’s life. She will be loved, she will be someone’s Summer, she will be the girl to be rescued, she’ll be the princess to be crowned. But before speaking of her, I need to talk about him and all of them.
Frantz Fanon in Peles Negras e Mascaras Brancas (Black Skins White Masks), affirms:
“Out of the blackest part of my soul, across the zebra striping of my mind, surges this desire to be suddenly white. I wish to be acknowledged not as black but as white.
Now—and this is a form of recognition that Hegel had not envisaged—who but a white woman can do this for me? By loving me she proves that I am worthy of white love. I am loved like a white man.
I am a white man. Her love takes me onto the noble road that leads to total realization. . . .
I marry white culture, white beauty, white whiteness. When my restless hands caress those white breasts, they grasp white civilization and dignity and make them mine.”
Fanon sees the black man’s behavior in an interracial relationship, as a way of upward mobility and a estratégia de embranquecimento (strategy of whitening), a perfect formula to being inserted into the mundo dos brancos (white world), to being white. Assessing the psyche of the black man, the author brings major contributions to the understanding of what we call palmitagem or síndrome de Cirilo (Cyrilo’s syndrome).
As such, it becomes notable the reasons for the preference of heterosexual black men for white women. The representation of the beautiful and worthy of love was constructed historically and socially upon the image of the white woman, and yet we have the icing on the cake that deals with a subjectivity that tries to forge itself white, in the subconscious of the homem negro he wants at any cost to tornar-se branco (become white) and externalizes the actions through the relationship with the white woman. He appropriates whiteness, is an almost white, establishes an emotional and sexual relationship with a mulher branca and thus approaches the object of his desire – the brancura da civilização (whiteness of the civilization).
The desire of the black man is justifiable, his intellectuality has been annulled for years, knowledge is white, the culture produced and exalted is white, in this way the black man lives in a white world, relates in a material and immaterial way to brancura, their affective-sexual relations are embranquecidas (whitened) and are the bridge to his own embranquecimento.
A friend of mine, or rather a former friend, palmiteiro black man and that suffers from Cyrilo’s syndrome caused in me this year large conurbations, I will call him of Mr. J.
We met a few years ago, while still in high school, we were good friends, I cultivated a beautiful feeling for him and thought that our friendship could develop into something more, even knowing his history of palmitagem.
bell hooks, speaking of black affectivity explains about how hard and rigid we blacks become in the face of love, I am not in contrary way, a “eu gosto muito de você” (I like you a lot) or “Eu te amo” (I love you) doesn’t easily come out of my mouth, but I felt prepared to reveal to Mr. J. what I felt, I was bem escura (quite dark) with the words (after all, being clear is something of white people) and told him about what I felt, he simply replied that “he didn’t want a serious relationship.” I was in shock, and sought to analyze the reasons of Mr. J’s reaction and the possibilities of his response.
In the liquidity of the time and love of Zygmunt Bauman, we know that liking someone doesn’t imply a “dating”, or a commitment. The reason for his reaction is easy to understand, it deals with the panic that the palmiteiro black man goes through faced with the possibility of an affective relationship with the black woman. Dear Mr. J. didn’t flirt with a black woman, isn’t so close to the point of almost loving her because he will panic with the possibility of an amor negro (black love), you still don’t know how to deal with this.
He really didn’t know how to react, he reacted by the instinct of palmitagem. Months after the event we went back to the friendship and everything was fine until I did a post on Facebook, on the issue of the syndrome that affects several black men – Cyrilo’s syndrome, this is a subject that I always deal with in my social networks, after all aflui about the reality of the comunidade negra (black community). The post, said: Today was reflecting on the incredible case of the black man who does not want a “commitment”, but that radically changes his mind when a white woman comes into his life (1).
It reminds me a Chris Rock show (there are sexist passages) in which he talks about how the black man is obsessed with the idea of having a white woman at his side and he adds: “Qualquer branca, ela não precisa ser padrão ou ‘bonita’. Ela basta ser branca.” (Any white woman, she doesn’t need not be the standard or ‘beautiful’. She just needs to be white).
And it’s in that moment that I start talking about her, about all of them, all the “well-meaning sinhazinhas (2)” cited by Aline Ribeiro.
The post came to the eyes of a person who is going out with Mr. J., a white woman thought it was a post of provocation or a critique of the relationship that they are experiencing. This white woman, that I will identify as Ms. C. was never on my list of Facebook friends, doesn’t know me personally, but found out about the post and thought that it was directed toward her and her beloved palmiteiro.
Translation of above text: “Today I was reflecting on the incredible case of the black man that doesn’t want a “commitment”, but that radically changes his mind when a white woman appears in his life. This reminds me a show of Chris Rock (there are racist excerpts) in which he says how obsessed the black man is by the idea of having a white woman at his side and he adds: “Any white woman, she doesn’t need to be the standard or ‘pretty’. It’s enough that she’s white.”
However, I wasn’t even aware of this relationship. Ms. C. sent me messages requesting explanations for my post, she felt the urge to embarrass me, come to me with an apparatus of demands. The vision of white women in relation to black women, has not changed much since the slavery period, we black women are still seen as something public, tangible and accessible.
To the point of a white woman coming to annul a social criticism, thought by many black intellectuals and think that it’s just about her, and perceiving herself as having the right to come to me to question my actions and positions. This is a problem of the white women and this world that is always at your feet, they are faithful to the idea that everything is about them, about their princes and castles, about their fairy tales.
But I bring good news to the fragile and disposable ego of the sinhazinhas, not everything is about you, it was not about your specific case, it was not about the absence of your beauty, since I didn’t even know you, it was not about him being a palmiteiro, it wasn’t about him rejecting me, it was not about my personal experience, it was about historical and social facts, it was about black theoretical analysis, it was about a black problem. And, even if a line oriented by my experience, her attempt to silence it would still be at the minimum racist.
“You are intersectional. Intersectional. That post offended me a lot. Not because I’m white. That I am. In spite of in my registration this doesn’t even appear. Because I’m not the daughter of whites. But of a black man and a ribeirinha (one who lives near the river). I know that it was for me and for….But what’s the necessity? I thought that was strange. Because you don’t know me. You don’t know about me. Nothing about what me and my family have gone through.”
‘Darkifications’ (clarifications) for Ms. C:
- Having black father or black mother doesn’t make you less white.
2. Being working class or having belonged to it one day does not make you almost black. Blackness is not a matter of class.
3. No trauma or damage experienced during your life will make you black.
4. Their ethnic-racial group is not faced with problems in relationships, for belonging to such a group.
5. Last, but not least, point: You have privileges, recognize them.
Now it’s about you, but it’s not just about you, it’s about all of you. It’s about the sinhá “intelectual”, a sinhá “militante” (“intellectual” missy, the “militant” missy) that I’m talking about, it’s about the white woman who is in our midst, that is a feminist and fighting for class, who is in the university, who has access and availability to deconstruct themselves but that is still rooted their sinhá (2) skirts. You still doubt black intelligentsia, conceive the black body within hyper-sexualization, thinks you are incapable of racist actions because you lay with a black man, don’t know how to see the fingers being pointed at you, especially if the one who points them are black women.
The black man wants to wipe the tears of sinhá the whole time, even making a black woman bleed.
Note from BW of Brazil: Of course we’ve featured a number of posts on this blog about what many black women see as the black man’s preference for white women and all of its contributing factors, but what takes this text into a another realm is bringing the white woman factor beyond her being deemed more desirable for serious relationships. What we have here is a white woman who not only benefits from an apparent preference for her physical type and what she represents for black men, but also her audacity to speak out on a topic that, in fact, has nothing to do with her personally. The text by the author spoke specifically about influences that lead the black man to choose the white woman and not the other way around. But the reaction of this woman is another viewpoint of interracial relationships that DOES need to be discussed.
The woman who responded to Raescla’s post felt herself in the right to respond to a post that wasn’t even directed at her. As such, beyond her privilege of having white skin, an unearned top position in the female hierarchy simply because of her white skin and men (even of the group most oppressed by people who look like her) who desire to keep her in this position, she feels the need/right to respond to the frustration of a woman who feels the brunt of rejection due to not having the color that would afford her respect, honor and princess status. Her “how dare you” attitude is reminiscent of the attitude that white feminists often have when dismissing the concerns of black women relating to race within the women’s movement. And like the white woman’s attitude within feminism, the woman who responded to this text cannot even see her partaking in hegemonic whiteness, a dominant force in Brazil and the world, when she manages to attract a black man who may be a victim of its effects. For me, until women like this are ready to acknowledge the depths of such privileges, it would
probably definitely be best if they kept their mouths shut until reality sets in!
Source: Blogueiras Negras
Featured Image – thinkinghousewife, pinterest
- I must point out that numerous black women have shared their experiences of black men who don’t want commitments but suddenly have a change of heart when a relationship with a white woman becomes possible. See one of these texts here.
- During the slavery era, ‘sinhazinha’ (diminutive of sinhá) referred to the slave master’s wife or daughter. Sinhá also refers to the slave’s master wife.