Brésil/512e: Enfer des Noirs, purgatoire des Blancs et paradis des mulâtres? (Trouble in Brazil’s racial paradise?)

Le Brésil est l’enfer des Noirs, le purgatoire des Blancs et le paradis des mulâtres et des mulâtresses.  Dicton (rapporté par le jésuite Antonil , 1171)
Les Portugais étaient plus humains que les Hollandais, que les Espagnols et que les Anglais : en conséquence, sur la côte brésilienne il était plus facile de se rendre libre et il eut, dans cette région, un plus grand nombre de Noirs libres. Hegel (La Raison dans L’Histoire, 1820)
I am proud of being white. I am in favor of the preservation of the white race. This is not racism. Racism for me is when the blacks create a magazine that only blacks can read (Raça Brasil), a noble award only for blacks (Trófeu Raça Negra) and segregationist racial quotas (the same technique used by Apartheid). Imagine if we whites created a magazine only for whites, a trophy/award only for whites and quotas only for whites…It would be a national scandal. Meilleure réponse (à la question: “Which is more racist?, Yahoo Brazil, traduite en anglais)
Why don’t we have images of black children in one year of Pais & Filhos magazine issues? Because black parents, mothers and children don’t interest the magazine. it simply assumes the racist standard of the desirable white categorically denying Brazilian blackness. The biggest problem of this racist posture is that it perpetuates the denial of the black family that excludes black parents and children; it therefore denies to black mothers (because the magazine is aimed at mothers in spite of the title) feeling themselves part of a maternal dimension – the care of infants. Consequently it denies to black babies the right of belonging to this universe of little angels, of little beings that should receive care and special affection. Encrespo e não aliso!” (blog brésilien, “kinked/napped up and not straight”, in reference to hair texture)
En Argentine, on préfère les gros implants. Au Brésil, les femmes des classes supérieures favorise la réduction des seins – allant jusqu’à offrir cette opération à leurs filles pour leur quinzième anniversaire! Tandis que la Brésilienne qui s’élève dans l’échelle sociale souhaite prendre ses distances avec les gros seins associés à la population noire des classes inférieures, les Argentines – souvent d’origine espagnole, avec des hommes très machos – veulent accentuer à tout prix leur différence sexuelle. Marylin Yalom
La vision d’un Brésil exceptionnellement mélangé et généreux pour les métis repose donc sur une réalité. Encore faut-il bien voir que cette mansuétude n’a touché que certains d’entre eux, les mulâtres. Une situation causée, paradoxalement, par l’importance de la traite et de l’esclavage – contrairement à l’image idéale de Portugais exempts de préjugés raciaux. Luiz Felipe de Alencastro

Attention: un mythe peut en cacher un autre!

2e population d’origine africaine du monde après le Nigéria (90 millions sur 190), revenus des blancs plus de deux fois plus élevé que celui des métis ou noirs,  plus de la moitié des résidents des bidonvilles noirs, seulement 7% dans les quartiers plus riches, un seul ministre noir et un seul membre de la Cour suprême noir pour une population pour plus de la moitié métisse ou noire …

En ce 62e anniversaire de la fondation de Brasilia (mais aussi jour anniversaire de la fondation de Rome et de l’exécution du premier héros de l’indépendance brésilienne, Tiradentes, en 1792) …

Et 512e anniversaire de la découverte (accidentelle) du Brésil par Cabral

Et au lendemain de la Journée nationale de l’Indien (moins de 1% de la population) …

Retour, avec un récent article de the Economist et après l’omerta sur les traites arabe et africaine

Sur l’envers de l’image de paradis du métissage de la première puissance émergente d’Amérique latine…

A savoir un système à plusieurs vitesses dans ce qui fut en réalité le premier pays esclavagiste du Nouveau Monde à la fois par le nombre (5 millions issus principalement des implantations portugaises d’Angola et des comptoirs du golfe de Guinée échangés contre tabac et eau de vie, 40% de la traite atlantique contre seulement 5,5% pour les Etats-Unis, plus grosse concentration urbaine d’esclaves depuis la fin de l’Empire romain au milieu du XIXe siècle dans l’agglomération de Rio avec 41 %) et la durée (300 ans,  abolition, sous la pression de l’Angleterre, la plus tardive du monde occidental en 1888).

Et aujourd’hui la  plus importante population « afro-descendante » en dehors de l’Afrique (plus de la moitié de la population se déclarant, pour la première fois depuis la fin du XIXe siècle, noire ou métisse).

Avec effectivement un plus grand métissage mais dû, comme l’expliquait  le sociologue Luiz Felipe de Alencastro dans un récent numéro spécial de l’Histoire, non pas tant à une soit-disant plus grande mansuétude des Portugais (le mythe encore répandu d’un esclavage plus plus « doux » qu’aux États-Unis ou dans l’Empire espagnol) qu’à justement cette présence massive et véritable omniprésence des esclaves dans toutes les couches de la société et tous les différents secteurs d’activité.

D’où aussi, nouvelle conséquence du caractère massif de la traite, les affranchissements plus nombreux (un affranchi pouvant à l’occasion  hériter de sa mère esclave ou certains affranchis repartis ou déportés en Afrique devenant… négriers!) mais surtout comme soupape, outre  la possibilité de se débarrasser des charges d’entretien d’esclaves vieux ou invalides, aux fréquentes fuites d’esclaves (marronnage) et parfois sanglantes révoltes (Salvador de Bahia, 1835, esclaves islamisés principalement yoroubas, Nigeria actuel), pouvant aboutir à  de véritables communautés durables et structurées (eg. quilombos de Palmares, Pernambouc, nord-est).

Mais aussi, hier comme aujourd’hui et comme en témoigne l’actuelle fortune des produits d’éclaircissement de la peau ou de la chirurgie plastique et l’opposition aux timides contremesures du gouvernement telles que les quotas, toute une hiérarchie sociale fondée sur la couleur de la peau, la forme du visage, la texture des cheveux avec les plus noirs tout en bas de l’échelle en une sorte d’ « épidermisation de l’infériorité »…

Race in Brazil

Affirming a divide

Black Brazilians are much worse off than they should be. But what is the best way to remedy that?

The Economist

Jan 28th 2012

Rio Janeiro

The shadow of the past

IN APRIL 2010, as part of a scheme to beautify the rundown port near the centre of Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Olympic games, workers were replacing the drainage system in a shabby square when they found some old cans. The city called in archaeologists, whose excavations unearthed the ruins of Valongo, once Brazil’s main landing stage for African slaves.

From 1811 to 1843 around 500,000 slaves arrived there, according to Tânia Andrade Lima, the head archaeologist. Valongo was a complex, including warehouses where slaves were sold and a cemetery. Hundreds of plastic bags, stored in shipping containers parked on a corner of the site, hold personal objects lost or hidden by the slaves, or taken from them. They include delicate bracelets and rings woven from vegetable fibre; lumps of amethyst and stones used in African worship; and cowrie shells, a common currency in Africa.

It is a poignant reminder of the scale and duration of the slave trade to Brazil. Of the 10.7m African slaves shipped across the Atlantic between the 16th and 19th centuries, 4.9m landed there. Fewer than 400,000 went to the United States. Brazil was the last country in the Americas to abolish slavery, in 1888.

Brazil has long seemed to want to forget this history. In 1843 Valongo was paved over by a grander dock to welcome a Bourbon princess who came to marry Pedro II, the country’s 19th-century emperor. The stone column rising from the square commemorates the empress, not the slaves. Now the city plans to make Valongo an open-air museum of slavery and the African diaspora. “Our work is to give greater visibility to the black community and its ancestors,” says Ms Andrade Lima.

This project is a small example of a much broader re-evaluation of race in Brazil. The pervasiveness of slavery, the lateness of its abolition, and the fact that nothing was done to turn former slaves into citizens all combined to have a profound impact on Brazilian society. They are reasons for the extreme socioeconomic inequality that still scars the country today.

Neither separate nor equal

In the 2010 census some 51% of Brazilians defined themselves as black or brown. On average, the income of whites is slightly more than double that of black or brown Brazilians, according to IPEA, a government-linked think-tank. It finds that blacks are relatively disadvantaged in their level of education and in their access to health and other services. For example, more than half the people in Rio de Janeiro’s favelas (slums) are black. The comparable figure in the city’s richer districts is just 7%.

Brazilians have long argued that blacks are poor only because they are at the bottom of the social pyramid—in other words, that society is stratified by class, not race. But a growing number disagree. These “clamorous” differences can only be explained by racism, according to Mário Theodoro of the federal government’s secretariat for racial equality. In a passionate and sometimes angry debate, black Brazilian activists insist that slavery’s legacy of injustice and inequality can only be reversed by affirmative-action policies, of the kind found in the United States.

Their opponents argue that the history of race relations in Brazil is very different, and that such policies risk creating new racial problems. Unlike in the United States, slavery in Brazil never meant segregation. Mixing was the norm, and Brazil had many more free blacks. The result is a spectrum of skin colour rather than a dichotomy.

Few these days still call Brazil a “racial democracy”. As Antonio Riserio, a sociologist from Bahia, put it in a recent book: “It’s clear that racism exists in the US. It’s clear that racism exists in Brazil. But they are different kinds of racism.” In Brazil, he argues, racism is veiled and shamefaced, not open or institutional. Brazil has never had anything like the Ku Klux Klan, or the ban on interracial marriage imposed in 17 American states until 1967.

Importing American-style affirmative action risks forcing Brazilians to place themselves in strict racial categories rather than somewhere along a spectrum, says Peter Fry, a British-born, naturalised-Brazilian anthropologist. Having worked in southern Africa, he says that Brazil’s avoidance of “the crystallising of race as a marker of identity” is a big advantage in creating a democratic society.

But for the proponents of affirmative action, the veiled quality of Brazilian racism explains why racial stratification has been ignored for so long. “In Brazil you have an invisible enemy. Nobody’s racist. But when your daughter goes out with a black, things change,” says Ivanir dos Santos, a black activist in Rio de Janeiro. If black and white youths with equal qualifications apply to be a shop assistant in a Rio mall, the white will get the job, he adds.

The debate over affirmative action splits both left and right. The governments of Dilma Rousseff, the president, and of her two predecessors, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Fernando Henrique Cardoso, have all supported such policies. But they have moved cautiously. So far the main battleground has been in universities. Since 2001 more than 70 public universities have introduced racial admissions quotas. In Rio de Janeiro’s state universities, 20% of places are set aside for black students who pass the entrance exam. Another 25% are reserved for a “social quota” of pupils from state schools whose parents’ income is less than twice the minimum wage—who are often black. A big federal programme awards grants to black and brown students at private universities.

These measures are starting to make a difference. Although only 6.3% of black 18- to 24-year-olds were in higher education in 2006, that was double the proportion in 2001, according to IPEA. (The figures for whites were 19.2% in 2006, compared with 14.1% in 2001). “We’re very happy, because in the past five years we’ve placed more blacks in universities than in the previous 500 years,” says Frei David Raimundo dos Santos, a Franciscan friar who runs Educafro, a charity that holds university-entrance classes in poor areas. “Today there’s a revolution in Brazil.”

One of its beneficiaries is Carolina Bras da Silva, a young black woman whose mother was a cleaner. As a teenager she lived for a while on the streets of São Paulo. But she is now in her first year of social sciences at Rio’s Catholic University, on a full grant. “Some of the other students said ‘What are you doing here?’ But it’s getting better,” she says. She wants to study law and become a public prosecutor.

Academics from some of Brazil’s best universities have led a campaign against quotas. They argue firstly that affirmative action starts with an act of racism: the division of a rainbow nation into arbitrary colour categories. Assigning races in Brazil is not always as easy as the activists claim. In 2007 one of two identical twins who both applied to enter the University of Brasília was classified as black, the other as white. All this risks creating racial resentment. Secondly, opponents say affirmative action undermines equality of opportunity and meritocracy—fragile concepts in Brazil, where privilege, nepotism and contacts have long been routes to advancement.

Proponents of affirmative action say these arguments sanctify an unjust status quo. And formally meritocratic university entrance exams have not guaranteed equality of opportunity. A study by Carlos Antonio Costa Ribeiro, a sociologist at the State University of Rio de Janeiro, found that the factors most closely correlated to attending university are having rich parents and studying in private school.

In practice, many of the fears surrounding university quotas have not been borne out. Though still preliminary, studies tend to show that cotistas, as they are known, have performed academically as well as or better than their peers. That may be because they have replaced weaker “white” students who got in merely because they had the money to prepare for the exam.

Nelson do Valle Silva, a sociologist at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, says that the backlash against quotas would have been even stronger if access to universities were not growing so fast. For now, almost everyone who passes the exam gets in somewhere. It also helps, he says, that many universities have adopted less controversial “social quotas”. Mr Fry agrees that affirmative action has “become a fait accompli”. He attributes the declining resistance to guilt, indifference and the fear of being accused of racism.

The battle for jobs

For black activists, the next target is the labour market. “As a black man, when I go for a job I start from a disadvantage,” says Mr Theodoro. He notes that the United States, which is only 12% black, has a black president and numerous black politicians and millionaires. In Brazil, in contrast, “we have nobody”. That is not quite true: apart from footballers and singers, Brazil has a black supreme-court justice (appointed by Lula) and senior military and police officers. But they are exceptional. Only one of the 38 members of Ms Rousseff’s cabinet is black (though ten are women). Stand outside the adjacent headquarters of Petrobras, the state oil company, and the National Development Bank in Rio at lunchtime, and “all the managers are white and the cleaners are black,” says Frei David.

The shadow of the past

Some private-sector bodies are starting to espouse racial diversity in recruitment. The state and city of Rio de Janeiro have both passed laws reserving 20% of posts in civil-service exams for blacks, though they are yet to be implemented. If unemployment rises from today’s record low, job quotas are likely to create even more controversy than university entrance has.

What stands out from a decade of debate about affirmative action is that it is being implemented in a very Brazilian way. Each university has taken its own decisions. The federal government has tried to promote the policy, but not impose it. The supreme court is sitting on three cases addressing racial quotas. Some lawyers suspect it is deliberately dragging its heels in the hope that society can sort the issue out.

Society itself is indeed changing fast. Many of the 30m Brazilians who have left poverty over the past decade are black. Businesses are taking note: many more cosmetics are aimed at blacks, for example. The mix of passengers on internal flights now bears some resemblance to Brazil, rather than Scandinavia. Until recently, the only black actors in television soap operas played maids; now one Globo soap has a black male lead. Much of this might have happened without affirmative action.

The question facing Brazil is whether the best way to repair the legacy of slavery is to give extra rights to darker-skinned Brazilians. Yes, say the government and the black movement. Given the persistence of racial disadvantage that is understandable.

But the approach carries clear risks. Until the invasion of American academic ideas, most Brazilians thought that their country’s racial rainbow was among its main assets. They were not wholly wrong. Mr do Valle Silva, a specialist in social mobility, finds that race affects life chances in Brazil but does not determine them. And if positive discrimination becomes permanent, a publicly funded industry of entitlement may grow up to entrench it and to promote divisive racial politics.

There may be better ways to establish genuine equality of opportunity and rights. Brazil has had anti-discrimination legislation since the 1950s. The 1988 constitution made both racial abuse and racism crimes. But there have been relatively few prosecutions. That is partly because of racism in the judiciary. But it is also because judges and prosecutors think the penalties are too harsh: anyone accused of racism must be held in jail both before and after conviction. And in Rio de Janeiro the black movement’s preference for affirmative action led the state government to lose interest in measures aimed at attacking racial prejudice, according to a study by Fabiano Dias Monteiro, who ran the state’s anti-racist helpline before it was scrapped in 2007.

The hardest task is to change attitudes. Many Brazilians simply assume blacks belong at the bottom of the pile. Supporters of affirmative action are right to say that the country turned its back on the problem. But American-style policies might not be the way to combat Brazil’s specific forms of racism. A combination of stronger legal action against discrimination and quotas for social class in higher education to compensate for weak public schools may work better.

Voir aussi:

Brazil

A great divide

Jack Chang

The Miami Herald

June 17, 2007

Brazil’s public self-image of a ‘racial democracy’ is being challenged as black Brazilians struggle to overturn centuries of racism

RIO DE JANEIRO — Aleixo Joaquim da Silva was working in this city’s famed seaside Copacabana neighborhood, far from the slum where he lives, when he was reminded that racism is alive and well.

While refurbishing the service elevator of a high-rise apartment building, da Silva had to ride the elevator reserved for residents to fetch supplies. A white woman entered and, taken aback, ordered him out.

 » ‘I’m not riding with a black!’ she told me. ‘The place of blacks is in the service elevator!' » da Silva recalled.

Although black Brazilians have long endured such insults, many are deciding that they have had enough. The 50-year-old reported the woman to state authorities and had her convicted for breaking laws prohibiting discrimination.

It was a small victory for da Silva, but he’s part of a growing movement in this country of 190 million people — it has the world’s second-largest black population, behind Nigeria’s — to turn back centuries of pervasive and largely unchallenged racism.

From university classrooms to television airwaves, black Brazilians are fighting for what they say is long-denied space in a society that has kept them on the margins.

They are pushing for two affirmative-action bills in Brazil’s Congress that would open up college enrollment and government payrolls to more Brazilians of African descent. Already, many state universities have implemented their own affirmative-action programs.

In 2005, black entertainer José de Paula Neto launched the country’s first television station aimed at black audiences, TV da Gente. Meanwhile, hundreds of communities founded more than a century ago by escaped slaves and known as quilombos are winning recognition and federal protections.

And Brazilians are finally discussing race after decades of telling themselves and the rest of the world that the country was free from racism, said Sen. Paulo Paim, author of one of the pending affirmative-action bills.

« The Brazilian elite says this is not a racist country, but if you look at whatever social indicator, you’ll see exclusion is endemic, » he said. « We want to open up to more Brazilians the legitimate spaces they deserve. »

Da Silva said outrage over his treatment in the elevator pushed him to fight back.

« I couldn’t let it go, especially since it was done in such a flagrant manner, » he said. « It just hurt too much. It hurt my soul. We can’t go backward. We can’t stay quiet anymore. »

TURNING POINT

The changes mark a dramatic shift in a country that claims more than 90 million people of African descent but looks almost completely white on its TV screens and in its halls of power.

Starting in the 16th century, Portuguese slave traders sent about 5.5 million Africans to Brazil, with more than 3.3 million surviving the journey, according to historians. Brazil abolished slavery in 1888, the last country in the Americas to do so.

That African legacy is clear in census numbers. About half of Brazilians identified themselves in a 2005 survey as black or pardo, meaning a mix of races but predominantly white and black. Another half identified themselves as white, and less than 1 percent were Asian or indigenous.

DISPARITY ENTRENCHED

Despite their numbers, black Brazilians have long been poorer, less educated, less healthy and less powerful than white Brazilians.

And although Brazilians regularly eat foods and use words that originated in Africa, their history books talk almost exclusively about the deeds of white heroes, said Emanoel Araujo, a renowned black sculptor and the curator of the Afro Brasil Museum in Sao Paulo.

« We need to redo the history of this country, » Araujo said, « and work around the premise and the perspective of the African not only as a slave but as the one who changed Brazilian society, the one who constructed Brazilian society, who constructed the wealth of Brazil. »

That day of acknowledgment is still far off, and Brazil, a country with one of the biggest gaps between rich and poor in the world, is sharply divided between its whites and non-whites.

Census figures show that pardos and blacks earned about half of what white Brazilians made last year, with the gap actually widening among more educated Brazilians. In comparison, African-Americans (U.S. blacks) earned 62 percent of white American wages in 2004., and more schooling helped blacks approach white incomes.

A man begs for change outside the Salvador church Nossa Senhora do Rosário dos Pretos.(Carl Juste/Miami Herald)

The U.N. Human Development Index, which measures countries based on health, income and other factors, paints an even worse picture. If measured separately, Brazilian whites would be ranked 44th in the world, on par with oil-rich Kuwait, while its blacks and pardos would be ranked 105th, about the same level as El Salvador.

« I have never seen any evidence that suggests anything other than there’s widespread racism in Brazil, » said UCLA sociology professor Edward Telles, who studies race in Brazil. « Racial and social inequality are strongly linked. »

Jailson de Souza e Silva, who runs a Rio de Janeiro anti-violence advocacy group, said the split is stark in his city’s violence-torn slums, where blacks make up the majority of residents. Two-thirds of the country’s homicide victims in 2004 were black.

« The objective here is not to preserve life, and hundreds of black men are dying every year, » de Souza e Silva said. « Meanwhile, in the rich, white parts of the city, every single death is big news. Our lives clearly don’t have equal value. »

Da Silva’s slum has been paralyzed in recent years by gang-related violence, and its middle-class neighbors have erected gated checkpoints around the slum to stop the killing from spilling into their streets.

« It’s another sign of the inequality here, » da Silva said while gesturing to the rutted dirt road running by his house. « The government doesn’t bother to pave the streets here. We’re just totally forgotten. »

A squatter named Beatriz, hanging laundry under the glare of a bare bulb, is one of many who occupy abandoned buildings in Salvador. (Carl Juste/Miami Herald)

GAP IN NORTHEAST

The divisions are felt even in the northeastern Brazilian city of Salvador, where more than three-quarters of the population is black and where African-based culture and religion are the mainstream.

Ivete Sacramento, who became the country’s first black president of a major university in 1998, said she is saddened every day when she looks out the balcony of her upper-middle-class apartment at the sprawling slum that sits just a few dozen yards away.

Except for her family and two other households, every resident in her 64-unit apartment tower is white. In the nearby slum, the racial equation is inverted, and white faces are rare. ‘‘No one has any idea that blacks can be anything more than maids, » said Sacramento, 54.

‘‘The place of blacks in Brazil is still the place of slaves. »

Alberto Borges, a 31-yearold aspiring boxer from the slum, said that just being from his neighborhood is a strike against him.

« If you live in one of these houses, the people outside will call you preto, » Borges said, using a word for black Brazilians that many consider derogatory. « If you try to find a job and tell them where you come from, they won’t call back. »

Despite the disparities, debate about race is rare in Brazil., and problems are more felt than spoken about.

Black Brazilians have never launched a civil-rights movement like that in the United States nor developed national black leaders in the mold of Martin Luther King Jr. or South Africa’s Nelson Mandela.

Also non-existent are black civic groups with the power of U.S. institutions such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People or financial networks that could spur black entrepreneurship.

A BACKLASH

Those who do speak out about racial disparities, such as TV da Gente, are accused — even by some prominent blacks — of fomenting racial divisions or of outright racism.

‘‘Every time we try to put together a project like this, we’re criticized by the government and everyone else who says there is no racism in Brazil, » said Hasani Damazio, TV da Gente’s director of international programs. « It’s clear that race is treated very differently here than in the U.S. »

A key difference is that Brazil never imposed legal racial segregation like the United States and South Africa, which meant that black Brazilians didn’t have an institutional injustice to rally around.

Black leaders also blame what they describe as decades of self-censorship about race spurred by the « racial democracy » vision of their country, which long defined Brazilian self-identity.

Preached in the early 20th century by sociologist Gilberto Freyre, the vision depicted a Brazil that was freeing itself of racism and even of the concept of race through pervasive mixing of the races.

Opponents of the pending affirmative-action bills have echoed key points of Freyre’s argument, especially those about miscegenation. Census statistics show that about 30 percent of Brazilian households in 2000 were headed by couples from different racial backgrounds — six times the U.S. ratio.

Ali Kamel, executive director of news for the country’s biggest television network, Globo, said Brazilians don’t think in terms of white and black, and argued that poverty affects all Brazilians. He blamed a collapse in public education and not racism for social disparities.

« Our big problem in Brazil is poverty, not racial discrimination, » Kamel said. « The racism here is at a degree infinitesimally less than in other countries. »

Opposition to the affirmative-action bills also has come from some black leaders such as José Carlos Miranda, coordinator of Brazil’s Black Socialist Movement, who fear that racebased policies could aggravate racism.

« The worst thing we could do is pass laws that deepen divisions that already exist, » Miranda said. « What wounds us the most is class, and the only way to fight racism is to promote more equality. »

Other black activists, however, argue that race is the dividing factor and that racial mixing didn’t eliminate discrimination against nonwhites.

‘PREJUDICE ISSUE’

« The problem of Brazil always was this issue of thinking the mulatto and the pardo are outside of the prejudice issue, » Araujo said. ‘‘Yet, when you want to hit the soul of someone, you call him black.

More Brazilians are coming around to Araujo’s view, polls show, and the timeworn idea of a multi-hued racial democracy is losing its sway, even as the race debate heats up.

In its place has risen the begrudging admittance of a racially segregated country. A 2003 poll showed that more than 90 percent of Brazilians said racism existed here.

President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, a former leftist activist and union leader, is credited with helping to spur the changes in attitudes.

Soon after taking office in 2003, he made race a key issue and appointed Brazil’s first black Supreme Court justice, Joaquim Barbosa. Lula da Silva also created a special secretariat for racial equality and launched initiatives such as requiring that Afro-Brazilian history be taught in all primary schools.

Many black leaders are skeptical that the latest changes will have any lasting impact. They point out that although the country’s 1988 constitution criminalized racism, few people have served jail time for breaking the law. The woman who insulted da Silva in the elevator was sentenced to community service but has appealed the ruling.

« Things have gotten worse, » said Antônio Carlos dos Santos, president of Ilê Aiyê, a community group in Salvador known for both its African-influenced Carnaval parades and its consciousness-raising social projects.

« Sure, we have people who are more conscious about the situation, but this is a land that’s stepping backward, » he said. « We are almost 80 percent of this state, but we’re still controlled by the white minority. »

It’s a cynicism shared by ordinary Brazilians such as da Silva, who live every day with the country’s crushing inequalities. But in his case, and for many black Brazilians, cynicism is giving way to action.

 Voir également:

Black Women of Brazil is a photographic and informational blog featuring a diverse array of Brazilian Women of African descent. The women are models, singers, rappers, dancers, actresses as well as politicians, activists, journalists, athletes and common everyday people from the Federative Republic of Brazil. The women range the gamut of phenotypes in terms of skin color, hair texture and facial features.

This blog is a mixture of photos, articles and profiles. For every 3-5 photos posted you will find at least one article or profile

Beauty and Magazine Covers in Brazil: The Overwhelming Dictatorship of Whiteness

Black Women of Brazil

March 28, 2012

afro brazilian women
Sometimes it amazes me when white people look at events or certain media that is aimed at and features specific segments of a population and then proceed to accuse this media or event of being racist. Take the comment I copied below from a Yahoo Brasil questions and responses section for instance. In response to someone’s question that asked, « Which is more racist? », someone posted their response in this way:

« I am proud of being white. I am in favor of the preservation of the white race. This is not racism. Racism for me is when the blacks create a magazine that only blacks can read (Raça Brasil), a noble award only for blacks (Trófeu Raça Negra) and segregationist racial quotas (the same technique used by Apartheid). Imagine if we whites created a magazine only for whites, a trophy/award only for whites and quotas only for whites…It would be a national scandal. »
white women
I see this point of view as a sort of the « fish in water » phenomenon. When someone lives, breathes and experiences something constantly it becomes so normal that it they don’t even recognize that they are immersed in it. This is the case for people who define themselves as white who live in societies dominated white-oriented mass media. Brazil has always had a huge contingent of non-white people in its population, and in 2011, the Brazilian census confirmed something that Afro-Brazilian activists have argued for years: Brazil is a  majority non-white country. But one wouldn’t know this after glancing at magazine stands, beauty contests, top fashion show events and college campuses. For in each of these areas, people who physically look as if the majority of their ancestry is European dominate.
Pais & Filhos magazine, March 2011 to March 2012
In a literal « fish in water » example, if you take a fish out of water, it experiences shock because something that it needs to survive and is accustomed to is suddenly gone. This is the same for the person who responded to the question of  who was more racist (between blacks and whites). As « proof » of reverse racism, he or she points to Brazil’s only magazine devoted to the Afro-Brazilian population (Raça Brasil), an award show dedicated to achievements of black Brazilians (Trófeu Raça Negra) and Brazil’s quota system designed to diversify Brazil’s 85-90% white university student body. This person is so accustomed to looking at magazines, TV shows, and student bodies and seeing people who look like him or her that when these images are reversed he or she is literally shocked. « THAT is racist » is the response. Really? Let’s take a look at this.
Crescer Magazine, March 2011 to March 2012
The top photo of this article was taken from a preview of the 2011 Miss Brasil contest. There are 27 women representing 26 states of the country and 1 federal district. Of the 27, there is not one woman who is of obvious African or indigenous descent. This is not to say that all of these women look purely European, many do, but a few look as if they have at least a little non-European heritage. Even so, none of these women display clearly visible African or indigenous physical characteristics. Even women from states where the population is overwhelmingly Afro-Brazilian like Bahia, Alagoas or Maranhão are represented by white or near white women. The second photo featuring all of the babies I took from a blog called « Encrespo e não aliso! » which loosely means « kinked/napped up and not straight » in reference to hair texture. The writer of this blog analyzed the covers of the Pais e Filhos (Parents and Children) magazine from March of 2011 to March of 2012 and showed that all of the babies presented on the covers were white. The article was entitled « Só os brancos nascem (Only whites were born)? » The same author also analyzed another magazine, Crescer, which is also directed at parents of young children.

In the article, the author goes on to say:

« Why don’t we have images of black children in one year of Pais & Filhos magazine issues? Because black parents, mothers and children don’t interest the magazine. it simply assumes the racist standard of the desirable white categorically denying Brazilian blackness. The biggest problem of this racist posture is that it perpetuates the denial of the black family that excludes black parents and children; it therefore denies to black mothers (because the magazine is aimed at mothers in spite of the title) feeling themselves part of a maternal dimension – the care of infants. Consequently it denies to black babies the right of belonging to this universe of little angels, of little beings that should receive care and special affection. »
In research I conducted of Brazil’s women’s magazines in 2007, I came across some very disturbing statistics. When I looked at the women’s monthly magazine Marie Claire, I found that between February 2001 and October 2004, actress Taís Araújo (issue #158, May 2004) was the only woman with clearly African features that appeared on the magazine’s cover. Continuing my research, I also discovered that in 101 issues (August, 1996 to December 2004) of the magazine Corpo a Corpo, Araújo was again the only woman of clearly African descent.
Actress Taís Araújo
We saw this recently « chosen black woman » routine back in 2009 when singer Beyonce seemed to be on every magazine cover on the stand as entertainment’s « it » black girl; in other words, Beyonce appeared on magazine covers when very few black American women were being featured on mainstream women’s magazines. In the same sense, while black Brazilian women are invisible on mainstream Brazilian women’s magazines, when they did feature a black woman, Taís Araújo, a woman of many firsts, was the one. And to be sure, this Afro-Brazilian invisibility doesn’t apply to only the magazine covers. The inner content of these magazines are also overwhelmingly represented by white women. A study by Erly Guedes Barbosa and Silvano Alves Bezerra da Silva verified this.
In an article from the July-October 2010 issue of the journal Revista da ABPN, Barbosa and Silva analyzed two magazines targeted at Brazilian women, Claudia and Marie Claire. The results were taken from their analysis of the two magazines between the months of October to December of 2007 and January to March of 2008. In these two periods, the authors found 230 materials that referred to white women (104 in Marie Claire and 126 in Claudia), while only 13 (5 in Marie Claire and 8 in Claudia) featured Afro-Brazilian women, a meager 5.35% of the total. And similar to my results, no black women were featured on any of the covers in this period of time. While these magazines normally feature Brazilian women, you will note that one issue of Marie Claire featured American actress Angelina Jolie on its cover.
Covers of Claudia and Marie Claire between October 2007 and March 2008
So what conclusion are we to take from this research? According to Barbosa and Silva, « the representation of these white and successful women is used as a means to sell to the feminine public an ideal of beauty and physical, emotional, social and psychological perfection…This constant flow of white women on the covers reveal the ideal of perfection constructed in women’s magazines. » It is « the adoption of a white standard as the norm, normative whiteness, resulting from the incorporation, by these magazines of the Brazilian myth of racial democracy and the ideology of whitening. » In other words, to be successful, beautiful, intelligent, or the ideal woman, is to be white. This dictatorship of whiteness of Brazil’s magazine covers continues to this day. Some of the magazine collages in this post are actual photos that I took of magazine stands in two Brazilian cities (Belo Horizonte and São Paulo) in June of 2009 and June of 2011 respectively.
Although the comment that the guy or girl wrote in response to the question of who is more racist is only one example of this belief that black-oriented events and media are somehow racist, believe me, over the years I have seen literally hundreds of these types of comments on Brazilian blogs, online comments sections or social networking sites. My question to anyone making this type of comment would be, « Are you serious?!?!? Take a look a around. » What was his comment again? Oh yeah… »Imagine if we whites created a magazine only for whites, a trophy/award only for whites and quotas only for whites…It would be a national scandal. »

The truth of the matter is that the Brazilian media IS created for white consumers and is overwhelmingly represented by white people and this is the case in many areas and genres throughout Brazilian society and in  reality, it is not a scandal because it is the norm thus the vast majority of the society doesn’t even notice. It is for this very obvious fact that magazines, events and programs are necessary for specific audiences, be they black, gay or women, because all of these groups are considered minorities and as such are often invisible. If people really think in the same manner as the person that posted that comment despite all of the overwhelming evidence to contrary, I would suggest that you take a walk to a local magazine stand and start counting. It ain’t hard to tell.

Posted by Gatas Negras at 9:12 PM

Voir encore:

21 avril 1960

Brasilia capitale de l’espoir

Le 21 avril 1960, Brasilia devient officiellement la capitale du Brésil. Ce n’est sans doute pas un hasard si l’événement survient le jour anniversaire de la fondation de Rome !

Quatre ans plus tôt, le président brésilien Juscelino Kubitschek a décidé de construire une nouvelle capitale en plein coeur du pays, dans les steppes de l’État de Goiás, afin de réorienter le développement du Brésil vers l’intérieur.

L’oeuvre de l’urbaniste Lucio Costa et de l’architecte Oscar Niemeyer est fidèle au «style international» inventé par Le Corbusier. Elle ravit les esthètes… mais ne convainc pas ses habitants ni les nostalgiques de l’ancienne capitale, Rio de Janeiro.

Pourquoi une nouvelle capitale ?

La première capitale du Brésil colonial, Salvador de Bahia, a été fondée en 1549 à la pointe orientale du pays. Elle a conservé son statut durant deux siècles avant d’être remplacée par Rio de Janeiro en 1763.

Il apparaît bientôt aux dirigeants du pays que le sud très développé avec São Paulo, Belo Horizonte et Rio, au cœur des régions minières et caféières, risque de phagocyter le reste du Brésil. Comment unifier la nation et exploiter ses possibilités si la capitale est située en marge de ce territoire ? La constitution républicaine de 1891, inspirée de celle des États-Unis, prévoit donc dans son troisième article la construction d’une nouvelle capitale sur le plateau central.

Ce texte reste lettre morte jusqu’à l’entrée en fonction du président Juscelino Kubitschek, en 1956 ! Ce dernier, qui succède à Getúlio Vargas dans des conditions très difficiles, choisit pour renforcer sa légitimité de s’en tenir à la constitution et de créer une nouvelle capitale.

Ce grand projet doit lui assurer de nouveaux soutiens dans le pays. Il en fait donc un argument de campagne électorale et, dès 1957, fixe par décret la date d’inauguration de la nouvelle capitale, le 21 avril 1960, double anniversaire, de la fondation de Rome d’une part, de l’exécution du premier héros de l’indépendance brésilienne, Tiradentes, en 1792, d’autre part.

Le symbole du nouveau Brésil

C’est l’urbaniste Lúcio Costa qui dessine les plans de la nouvelle capitale, avec l’idée très affirmée qu’elle doit symboliser l’extrême modernité du Brésil. Il trace deux axes, l’Axe monumental (est-ouest), le long duquel sont implantés les ministères et bâtiments officiels, mais aussi les activités commerciales, et un deuxième axe, courbe (nord-sud), sur lequel sont implantés les quartiers d’habitation, superquadras. Le tout a la forme d’une croix ou d’un avion, symbole de cette capitale éloignée de tout et tributaire des liaisons aériennes. Au croisement des axes, la gare routière.

L’architecte Oscar Niemeyer est responsable des bâtiments principaux, dont le plus important est sans doute la cathédrale, structure hyperboloïde, avec une base circulaire de 70 mètres de diamètre, dont les piliers convergent avant de s’écarter de nouveau en haut.

Tout est loin d’être achevé lorsque la capitale est inaugurée, puisque la cathédrale n’est consacrée qu’en 1970. Cependant, la date est respectée. Le cardinal archevêque de Lisbonne, dom Manuel Gonçalves Cerejeira, prononce la messe d’inauguration de la ville avec la croix de fer de Cabral, découvreur du Brésil, qui avait servi lors de la première messe célébrée au Brésil ; symbole du renouveau dans la continuité.

Un bilan contrasté

La fondation de Brasília a incontestablement donné une dynamique nouvelle au Brésil, qui s’est dès lors tourné vers l’intérieur et vers l’exploitation de l’Amazonie, pour le meilleur… et pour le pire, d’un point de vue écologique.

Cependant, certaines des ambitions urbanistiques n’ont pu être réalisées. Le système de quartiers indépendants, les superquadras, regroupant commerces et écoles, tend à isoler leurs habitants et rend indispensable l’utilisation de la voiture, car la rue n’est plus pensée comme un lieu d’interaction sociale : Brasília est une ville conçue pour l’automobile.

Faute d’avoir les moyens d’accéder à ces superquadras, lesquels abritent en tout et pour tout 300.000 habitants, les migrants des régions pauvres du nord-est, attirés par la capitale, se sont entassés dans des villes-satellites chaotiques, séparées du centre par une «ceinture verte» qui doit assurer la préservation de l’écosystème et fournir un espace de détente aux citadins. Au total, deux millions de personnes environ.

Comme Brasília demeure presque exclusivement une ville administrative et n’a pas d’emploi à leur offrir, le taux de chômage y est très élevé.

Politiquement, la construction de la nouvelle capitale a permis à court terme de stabiliser le pouvoir, mais n’a pas empêché le coup d’État militaire de 1964.

fondation d’une république noire au Pernambouc (nord-est du Brésil) : Palmares.

2 Responses to Brésil/512e: Enfer des Noirs, purgatoire des Blancs et paradis des mulâtres? (Trouble in Brazil’s racial paradise?)

  1. […] de la peau et l’opposition aux timides contremesures du gouvernement telles que les quotas, toute une hiérarchie sociale fondée sur la couleur de la peau, la forme du visage, la texture des cheveux avec les plus noirs tout en bas de […]

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  2. jcdurbant dit :

    Voir aussi:

    Avec un taux de 16 actes esthétiques pour 1 000 habitants – près du double des États-Unis -, le pays devance le Brésil ou l’Italie au classement de l’International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS, 2010). Les Californiennes aux seins siliconées ou les fesses brésiliennes artificiellement rebondies peuvent aller se rhabiller ! (…) Contrairement à l’Europe, où les soins de rajeunissement chez les femmes mûres dominent, la chirurgie esthétique asiatique est une affaire de jeunes qui optent pour des opérations radicales, souvent financées par leurs parents. Avec pour objectif la réussite professionnelle et matrimoniale. Renforcer ses chances de trouver un emploi… et un beau parti, riche si possible. La chirurgie est un « atout important » pour décrocher un bon job, selon 70 % des Sud-Coréens interrogés par Embrain Trend Monitor en 2009. (…) Au lendemain du baccalauréat, les cliniques n’hésitent pas à offrir une réduction aux candidates, pour l’ablation de leurs paupières qui permet de leur élargir le regard et donner une touche occidentale à leurs yeux jugés trop bridés. Une opération désormais banale aux allures de rite de passage qui ouvre la voie à d’autres travaux de plus en plus communs comme la rhinoplastie visant à l’allongement du nez. Et de plus en plus souvent, le rabotage des mâchoires pour diminuer la taille du visage. « La chirurgie esthétique, c’est la même chose que les soins de peau, la teinture des cheveux ou se payer un massage. Si on veut améliorer son look, il suffit de chercher ce qu’on veut », indique sans détour Bae Jina, 24 ans, vendeuse dans une boutique de cosmétique et qui s’est fait élargir les paupières. « Parfois, je me demande ce que va devenir mon pays », s’inquiète le docteur Whang.

    L’Express

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