Tag: brasil

You’re “too black” for carnival, luv


When the Guardian Newspaper brought to light that a Globeleza carnival queen lost her title because she is “too black”, I was shocked.

I still am; actually I feel sadness more than anything.

Racism and its cancerous child, colourism are such primitive constructs, but their foundations seem unshakable.

The video below, reminds me again that colourism, is very much a part of black culture in the diaspora.

colourism in the black community, racism, black men, black women

 

In Brazil, a country reported to contain the highest proportion of black people outside of Africa – a carnival samba queen who won by public vote, was subjected to racist comments online, by white, mixed and black Brazilians! Following the abuse that she suffered, she was then stripped of her crown without explanation. Later replaced by a lighter-skinned samba queen, who didn’t win by public vote.

I’ve been to Brazil and I noticed a socio-economic colour divide. I saw more brown skinned people when I visited the favelas than I did while walking through the pretty suburbs of Rio de Janeiro. I remember some of the surprised looks from hotel staff when they saw me walking through the hotel; maybe they were not used to seeing black people in hotels on the Copacabana beach front. Some people thought I was Brazilian, so maybe that’s what threw them off.

You can hear how the carnival queen, was stripped of her crown and how she felt in this video.

brazil samba queen, black brazilians, brazilian women

 

It’s enough that other races see black people at the bottom of the food chain, but how do we see ourselves?

The samba queen above was ridiculed because of her skin tone by black Brazilians too. I’m not giving a pass to some people of other races who may have an habitual disdain for dark skin, but we are also perpetrators in this colourism crime.

The inception of the trans-Atlantic slave trade solidified the perception that dark skin women are less ‘beautiful’ and even less human than their white and lighter skinned counterparts.

White supremacy notions of beauty and superiority have been propagated from generation to generation by black people to their children, because of oppression. Not surprising as this is what we’ve been taught. We’re still subjecting ourselves to these negative stereotypes consciously and/or subconsciously. Dispelling such stereotypes seems to be a never ending PR exercise, but will become an impossible task if we’re  complicit in keeping those ideologies alive. A waste product of being divided and conquered.

The US, is another country with a large proportion of black people and probably has the most famous civil rights history in the world. When rapper Kendrick Lamar, casted a dark skinned girl in his music video Poetic Justice, nearly three years ago, it became a talking point, within the black music culture community.

Why?

Why would casting a dark skinned black girl in a hip hop music video even be a cause for discussion?

 

This isn’t a pity party, yes there are black women who are given opportunities, like Viola Davis and Lupita Nyong’o. However, the fact that their prominence was such landmark moment when it happened, during the millennium, shows there is still some way to go.

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Natural hair – a fashion statement, a phase, a normality?


“Fight for your rights!” – a slogan that the black people (and other minority groups) wherever they reside in the world can relate to. It seems like controversy is just part of black culture?

Even hair.

Known as the crowning glory for women and men, hair is also wrapped up into this notion called beauty – which the majority of us are intrigued by. Consciously or sub-consciously.  However, like most things associated with ‘beauty’ the emphasis is usually disproportionately projected onto women.

Black people (women more than men) seem to have a love hate relationship with Afro hair; a subject which provokes fascination (from others) and discussion.

Afro hair has a chequered history, a controversial present and unwritten future. Who knows if we’ll be having the same conversation in 5 years time?

At one point Afro hair was seen as the epitome of black identity and defying white oppression.

Afro hair is making a comeback; most recently displayed on high fashion Western catwalks and photo shoots. Last year W Magazine’s spread, featuring models with natural hair caused waves on social media.

w mag collage
W magazine

In recent years, natural Afro hair has been stretched, pulled and debated more openly. Some may argue that it’s becoming more ‘acceptable’ now.

natural hair in fashion, natural hair in fashion
Fashion bible: W Magazine – Fashion shoot

 

In south/Latin American countries where being of African descent is usually something to be ashamed of and hidden, people are starting to embrace their African heritage. In another bold fashion step, Jourdan Dunn is on the February issue of Vogue Brasil (with an Afro wig); a country who has struggled to accept her African heritage and subscribed to European beauty standards for decades, despite reportedly having the second largest black population in the world.

voguebrasil-jourdan-dunn-600x793

Despite the preference for straight hair among most races over the years, curly/afro hair is met with fascination, curiosity, approval and disdain. In the video below, un-ruly.com spoke to women about how they feel when asked the question many naturals dread, “can I touch your hair?”. This video was inspired by Saartjie Baartman, an African woman who was displayed across Britain by Hendrik Cezar between 1810 and 1814, because she looked ‘different’ (to the Europeans who displayed her, like an artifact in a museum).

Whether its here today or gone tomorrow, it seems natural hair still ignites controversy. We can’t forget when pop singer Zendaya Coleman was accused of “probably smelling like weed”, by a TV presenter when she wore a dreadlock hairstyle to last years Oscars. 

Zendaya hair, Zendaya dreadlocks

Either way, natural hair is here to stay; and there are afro naturals all over the world who are embracing their natural hair. To them this is more than a fashion statement, its a normality!

Courtesy of ‘Black Girl with Long Hair’…Naturals living in the Caribbean/USA…

natural hair in the caribbean

….living in Europe

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….living in Africa / USA

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