The incredible case of a black ‘palmiteiro’: He doesn’t want a ‘commitment’, but radically changes his mind when a white woman enters his life



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

Raescla Ribeiro de Oliveira

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:

Frantz Fanon from ‘Peles Negras e Mascaras Brancas’ (Black Skins White Masks)

“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).

“But black men, our standards ain’t that high, we’ll fuck any white girl” – Chris Rock from Kill The Messenger

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:

  1. 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


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
About Marques Travae 3747 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.


  1. I feel this story has some truth to it but is in itself, a perpetuation of racist myths about Black men within our own community. The idea that we “only want a white woman” was started by the slave master. We have incorporated this sickness into our own psyche. Why are we even dignifying terms like “palmiteiro” in relation to black men. I enjoy but I sometimes feel that the writers promoted hardcore feminist, almost misandry ideas. If we are to heal from five centuries of psychological, sexual, spiritual brutality and genocide…we must include the Black man in that struggle.

    • The photo accompanying this article is very relevant to the topic. The white woman is on a pedestal (horse) and the field labourer, partially clothed in contrast to the lady’s rich adornment and obviously of lower social standing is guiding her. She is looking at him with some degree of affection/ interest so it is not a mere mistress/slave relatonship.

      What Fanon has said holds true all over the dispora to various degrees and is the outcome of domination.

  2. Oh brother, here we go again!

    As I’ve written repeatedly before, I don’t expect you to ever “get it” because your mind is already made up. I won’t really worry much about because I believe that various articles on this blog speak on this whole ‘palmitagem’ thing well enough for readers to make up their own minds…

    In terms of your comments, let’ see…

    “If these points are true , why are more black men with black women ? If these points were true , you would see a plethora of black men walking around with white women in the streets of brazil, and , you don’t .”

    First of all, you can’t just look at one stat and come to conclusive conclusions. Why? In the past 20 years, interracial marriage in Brazil has increased from about 20% to 23% to 31% today. And the fact that it’s only 31% today only considers ALL marriages. What happens if we consider only the marriages of people 40 years of age and younger? We would see quite a spike in the numbers. The stats include plenty of marriages of people in their 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s, which are still majority of marriages. Most of the women who write these articles fall in the under 40 bracket which means their perception of being passed over could be very valid.

    The other thing is, as we both know, Brazil in fact can’t be broken into 100% accurate stats when we are dealing with race. There are people in the census who define themselves as white even though they are brown. There are those phenotypically white people who recognize that they have African or indigenous ancestry and thus define themselves as brown. Then there are blacks who define themselves as browns or even white. As such, we can never truly know the racial representation of Brazil with 100% accuracy as one person could see themselves different than how others see them. As such, these same numbers must be questioned when we consider race and marriage.

    On your last point, I DO “see a plethora of black men walking around with white women in the streets” in the streets of SP and also RJ. I also saw this in Londrina. Friends around the country also report this from states in the south. It is so common that people don’t even notice until someone says something. I know, because I’ve asked people to pay attention to the couples in the streets and partners of black men. When they do this, people are often quite surprised.

    “Once again, Fanon used as a template , as though his experience represents how all black men feel…”

    Of course it doesn’t represent ALL black men but it speaks very well to the mental colonization that we as black people experience in Western societies. And until you understand the affects of white supremacy on the black mind this debate can never go anywhere. I mean, you can ignore all the studies you want, but I won’t especially if they summarize what I’m seeing.

    “Black people arnt monolithic”

    Which is EXACTLY why I try to show all sorts of black women on this blog…

    “it’s preposterous to even think most black men walk around thinking that way”

    Maybe it is preposterous. But how do you know this? Is this your own opinion or have done some research on this? Have you had this conversation with hundreds of black people? I have. I’ve been told about the brothers, uncles and cousins in some families who NEVER seriously dated a black woman. I’ve seen families where ALL of the brothers and sisters married white people. I’ve personally listened to stories of black men who have abandoned their black wives/families and re-married white women.

    “the black Brazilian women want white men…of course , you don’t see a plethora of black women , light or dark , walking around with white men in brazil”

    Well, this is where I say we DO need to look at both sides. Because the idea of white, preferably European “Prince Charming” also affects black women. One of the articles on this blog mentioned it. I’ve often amazed at how many butt ugly white foreign men can come to Brazil and hook up with a beautiful black woman.

    “So , there is a lot of bs psych going on . What is really happening is about issues between black men and black women”

    YES, exactly, “issues between black men and women” so why do you, a white man, feel it’s your territory to interrupt this discussion?

    “This women brings up the naked black woman as the carnival image in brazil”

    Your obsession that I’ve already addressed here and won’t discuss again…

    “no passista is used to represent carnival in the north east..”

    Absolutely true, but the most famous Carnaval in Brazil that is broadcast around the world is the one in Rio and that’s the image that most men outside of Brazil associate with all Brazilian women but particularly black women. This image also stereotypes black women in Brazil as a number of articles here have shown.

    “Misled by books and soft science psycho psych psychoanalysis , to portray an image of brazil that isn’t true in the streets.”

    Really? Which books? So you’re telling me that if someone from a social science background interviews hundreds of black Brazilians and records their opinions, that holds no merit for you? Well, as I’ve said, no point in arguing this point.

    “The white wash is true , there is colorization , but , translating that into actual interracial unions is ridiculous..”

    How is that you can admit that colorism and whitewashing is true but you want to completely ignore how this may affect people’s choices in the dating/marriage arena? One of the passages in the above article reads like this:

    “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…”

    “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.”

    If you choose to ignore how whitening and white supremacy works, this is obviously not a conversation that you can deal with. Do you know how many kids I have heard tell me directly that when they grown up they’re gonna get a blond? Ignore that too, right? And there are lots of people who also report these same thoughts among black children, boys and girls.

    To close this out, again, I don’t think this is a conversation you’re up to having. It’s always a problem I have to deal with when discussing white supremacy with white people. You/they seem to get some things but are completely clueless on other things.

    Feel free to continue your comments, but the show must go on!

  3. Actually you are the one who used statistics. How many comments have yoy made with the 70 percent number. They’ré on the site but I choose to look at other angles besides just numbers. But I’m done here…Have a good one!

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