Note from BW of Brazil: Over the course of my experiences in Brazil, I have known quite a few people who would be classified as white anywhere in the world. And in general, I can say that I have never felt that any of them were openly racist, although we know that racism often lurks in the subtleties, thoughts, comments and jokes that most people would never give a second thought about. This is what’s so dangerous about what I would call “Racism 2.0”. The issue of blatant racism has been exposed so much in the media, films, and schools, that most people only associate racism with such obvious displays. But often times one can discern how people think in terms of race by observing their associations and politics. With these observations, I can often develop an idea of how deep beneath the surface I would need to delve to understand how these people may actually think in racial terms. Exposing “racism 2.0” is not always as easy as exposing it’s more blatant sibling. This blatant sibling is the one that people continue to believe doesn’t exist in Brazil. Brazil’s racism is so subtle that it is often difficult to discern. Granted, I accept this to be true. But I have also long argued that Brazilians can be just as blatantly racist as citizens of any given society and it is this blatant racism that tirelessly works to undermine self-esteem and confidence of those Brazilians it doesn’t consider to be a part of the white circle. It would be difficult if not impossible to know how many black children have been victimized by this clannish sort of behavior but some believe ALL black children have experienced this at one time or another during their childhood. And because of pieces such as the one we present today, we get an idea of just how anti-black Brazil can be, even in the world of the child.
Who defends our children from whiteness?
I’m a black woman and that’s the thing I’m most proud of. I recognize myself, I resist and I exist as a black woman. But it was not always so.
By Ana Luiza Guimarães Pereira
My elementary school was held in a private school, in the periphery where I live. My mom always made a point of it and stretched herself to the limit for that to happen. Well, I was 12 years old, studying in a private school and was one of the only black students in my class. There were me and another girl in the classroom.
It took me a long time to fall into the web of racist beauty standards. Up to 12 years old, my hair, for example, were not straightened. This greatly enhanced the racist jokes in the class that were often minimized by the teachers themselves. Racism was/is a forbidden word to be used when what is at issue is denouncing it within educational institutions.
The target of the hardest part of racism was me, the other girl discovered early on that aligning herself with branquitude (whiteness) was a way to at least pretend that it was not happening to her either, after all, they were all “friends”. The truth is that to escape the pains of racism one sells themselves to their soul, the problem of which is that the whiteness demands and the demand comes with unsustainable interest.
I, on the other hand, kept my soul with me and it irritated os brancos (the whites). The whip then began to weigh more and more. I was elected the ugliest in the class, the jokes intensified, the isolation too. It is from childhood that we become aware of the loneliness. I felt alone.
I began to dedicate myself more to studies, I became better and better, every two months I stood out more. I don’t need to say what the whiteness thought of this, right?! Its hand weighed this time as never before.
One day, after a party of classmates, I was surrounded by some students. They told me I was stunk. “My mother said that’s because she’s black, they smell really strong,” said one, and the rest agreed. I went home devastated, I cried horrors. I hated every trace of mine, my color, my hair. I assimilated that and began to see myself as a disgusting person.
Today I am 20 years old, I am a black militant and researcher. Even though I have deconstructed many things this still hits me, I put on deodorant every time I go to the bathroom. I’ve had a lot of allergies because of this.
It seems that this situation is always on the verge of repeating itself.
As crianças brancas (the white children) are taught to hold the whip and weigh their hand on the strikes. The whip is placed by adults in a kind of racist heritage. No one removes it, no one teaches, and we’ve been getting beaten and suffering from it since we were little.
We still see racism as just the offense, we ignore minor assaults of the day-to-day, these aggressions that are mostly made inside the school and that have been detonating from the inside since we were little. From the micro to the macro racism is present in the bruising, sometimes in such a way that it is difficult to recover.
We urgently need to talk about the racist experiences our black children have and how this interferes with its construction as black. We need to teach them how to love each other, and we also need to teach white children to lower their whip of racism. Each minor point that it is will be used against us by whiteness.
I am 20 years old and this wound does not heal, my mother is 50 and there are wounds in her that also never closed. We cannot let black children continue to face this.