Note from BBT: Every now and then you gotta just enjoy something fun and simple. This blog often discusses the harsh realities of a racist system that has maintained the Afro-Brazilian population in a certain place in society for decades, centuries really. When you really look at it and make a comparison, it’s hard to really argue that racism is worse in the United States, as Brazilians have long claimed.
All of that aside, when I first read about this story and then watched the video, it brought a smile to my face. Not only because I hadn’t heard Michael Jackson’s 1991 hit “Remember the Time” in some time, but because I loved what the woman in the video, Kamilla Albino, did in showing the many ways one can rock afro-textured hair. I always felt this way myself. In the Western world where straight hair always was and continues to be promoted as the standard, this 30 second video spoke volumes.
It reminded me of a few things. One, I used to love to wear my own hair in various styles. In my own time, I’ve gone from afros, to shorter naturals, to straightened, press curled, braided, faded and curly. Looking back at 1990s America in the Hip Hop world, we saw this versatility of black hair in full effect, both for black men and black women. Walking around in Ghetto USA you were just as likely to see brothas rockin’ bald heads and cornrows, as you were to see fades and afros. For the sistas, we also saw styles such as afro puffs, dreadlocks, twists and braids.
In Brazil, we’ve only seen this freedom for men and women of African descent to wear their hair anyway they so choose in perhaps the last decade or so. In previous posts, I’ve highlighted how afro textured hair was always frowned upon by the society at large and to be considered just somewhat “acceptable”, black Brazilian men would resort to shaving their heads as close to the scalp as possible while black women used all sorts of techniques to straighten out the kinks and curls.
But in the last decade, we’ve a huge evolution with black women leading the way to full acceptance of kinks, curls and everything in between and beyond. The video featured in today’s piece wouldn’t have been possible just two decades ago because most black women just weren’t daring enough to experiment with the diversity that black hair could offer. The funny thing is, the song being lip-synched by Kamilla Albino is by Michael Jackson, who, along with his brothers symbolized pride in sporting the huge H-bomb style afro in the 1970s, but by the last decade of his life, had become the exact opposite of former self. We all know what MJ looked like from 1999 to 2009, so I won’t even get into. Even so, it’s nostalgic to ‘remember the time’ when he and other black artists represented what Kamilla is bringing in her video.
Video by Brazilian woman Kamilla Albino showing the diversity of black hair goes viral after being shared by Viola Davis
By Nathália Geraldo
A transitional video showing more than ten different hairstyles was enough for influencer Kamilla Albino to win over fans she never dreamed of having on Instagram. The young woman, from Campos dos Goytacazes, in the interior of Rio de Janeiro, made a publication on the social network about cabelos crespos (kinky/curly hair) that ended up being shared by none other than American actress Viola Davis, who shared the Brazilian’s name with her followers all over the world.
With Davis’s share alone, which was published on Monday, there were 760,000 views. Before that, the video was shared via the profile of Taís Araújo, arguably Brazil’s top black actress. Through Araújo’s share, 80 thousand people had already liked what Kamilla had produced. After having met a few years ago, Araújo and Davis formed a friendship.
Today, Albino has almost 60,000 followers on Instagram. In the video, she moves her face and snaps her fingers to change her hairstyle to the sound of Michael Jackson and shows the variety of hairstyles for afro hair: side buns, loose black power (afro), scarf holding the strands, high bun and curlers all over her head are part of the options.
When they say natural hair isn’t versatile … #MondayMotivation #BlackGirlMagic @kamillaalbino @taisdeverdade Michael Jackson – Do You Remember The Time? – A post shared by VIOLA DAVIS (@violadavis) on Nov 9, 2020 at 5:23 pm PST
The idea was to show that those who have 4C strands, like Kamilla, can choose from various finishes and hairstyles. The repercussions, however, also made the influencer notice the difficulty that black people have in gaining recognition of their work, in some conditions.
Success among famous
Both in the original publication and in those of Taís and Viola, there was no lack of praise for the content producer, the followers and the famous. “A Friday entered my Tuesday just to see the beauty and animation of Kamilla in this video”, wrote Taís Araújo. “When they say that natural hair is not versatile …”, Davis shared.
Kamilla says she was just eating some bread in the morning when she saw the international actress talking about her.
“When Taís shared the video, I already freaked out,” she jokes. “I ran out of my apartment, screaming, I don’t even know what my neighbors thought. So, it was beautiful. Yesterday, I left home to buy bread and didn’t look at my cell phone. I was drinking coffee when I saw a lot of messages from friends on my cell phone, sending good energy! When I opened it, it was from Viola Davis. I couldn’t say a word.”
Kamilla Albino@kamillaalbino: PEOPLE WHAT HAPPENED? I was here making my breakfast … I take out my cell phone and Viola Davis responded to my video and Beyoncé likes me?! – Kamilla Albino (@kamillaalbino) November 9, 2020
Kamilla says that the repercussions made her cry because she remembered “the hardships that I went through and that I go on to be influential.” “I am a digital influencer who comes from a city that is very racist. Anywhere, there is a difficulty for a black person to have professional recognition. But, in Campos, it is complicated,” she commented, in a telephone interview with Universa.
“It’s as if I needed Taís and Viola Davis to notice me so that my city could recognize me.”
On Twitter, she commented on the fact that she was not invited to the city’s marketing events. “I remembered so many times that I was not even remembered in my own city to work with digital marketing, partnerships, presence at events and these jobs in general, since they only call white influencers,” she complains. “When it happens, it happens”.