Note from BW of Brazil: Hmmm, plenty of room for comment on this piece. What is perhaps most intriguing here is that the author, while pointing out the steering of black boys away from black women at a young age, also acknowledges that black women receive this sort of socialization as well. Is she saying that black boys receive it more than black girls? Is she saying that black women development a stronger desire to maintain their roots than black men at an early age? However you see it, we do know that this sort of indoctrination toward whiteness does happen in Brazil, we just can’t say with any precision how common it is. It would be intriguing to discover how many people could affirm this promotion of embranquecimento (whitening) within Afro-Brazilian households. I’m quite sure there are probably plenty of white men and women who can also confirm this social processing in favor of whiteness within black families as well. Many little details that would perhaps require an interview to explore some of these questions. Anyway, this is one black woman’s perspective.
The Pretinha and the Pretinho (the little black girl and the little black boy)
By Taís Espírito Santo
The pretinha (little black girl), since she was a little kid, her dad said, “Pretinha, pretinha. We have to appreciate ourselves, many people will not like you because of the color of your skin, your hair, your features … But you are beautiful. “And pretinha always say: Dad, I am really beautiful, at school today they complimented my hair, said I am beautiful with braids!
And like this, Pretinha grew up. Her parents always showed that negro é lindo (black is beautiful), always taught Pretinha to have value of her origin, her people, her color. And, inclusive, the best would be for her to marry a black man, so the family stays all united, strong, and nothing better than an equal to strengthen the bond together, the heritage, culture and history … And Pretinha became a woman, studied, dated some guys, she loved. Pretinha often heard that story, “Oh, you’re crazy? Marry a black man, and what about your child’s hair? The child will always have that cabelo ruim (bad hair)?; Oh, clareia essa família (lighten this family), only black isn’t cool.”
The pretinho (little black boy) since he was a kid, his father said: Son, you are black and have your value. You have to study, work, make money, be someone in life. And God willing, you will be a futebol player or a successful man. When this happens, don’t forget, my son, marry a blonde or a white woman. A black woman makes a lot of confusion, she’s troublesome, she takes work, and as they say around here here: “a black woman lies and does Macumba,” God forbid, my son. And here for us, the blonde is much better than the black woman. And so Pretinho grew up, didn’t become a futebol player, but a black man with his proper value, successful, and to maintain the status quo that his father always said, always dated white women, took them to the parties, proudly presented them to all.
And in this crazy maelstrom of life, (it was) Pretinha who always wanted a black man. Not only for black being in style, but she always wanted to perpetuate her history, value her people, her roots. She is still looking for a black man to share this long walk. But the Preto, not recognizing himself, not truly knowing who he is, likes samba, likes “coisas do preto” (black stuff), but he does not like the Preta. He’s not used to her, doesn’t want to share his life, because he remembers what he was taught, since childhood, that a preta can be a friend, can be a sister, can be anything but a woman. And often, when he looks at a beautiful preta or that calls his attention in any way, he says, “I always liked black women, but they never gave me the proper value.” And life keeps going… The Pretinha in hers, in search of her Preto so dreamed about and the Preto in his, in search of what he doesn’t know is missing, deluding themselves, reproducing all the “teoria do embranquecimento” (theory of embranquecimento) and losing more and more. Until when?!
* I am in favor of all kinds of love and colors, what I don’t think is right is when you don’t have the freedom to do so, when it is already implicit, it is already created. I like the freedom. Taste of freedom. Freedom of choices, decisions, thinking and acting.
Source: Preta e Gorda