One Woman’s Fight to Claim Her ‘Blackness’ in Brazil

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Law, Media Archive on 2017-07-25 02:12Z by Steven

One Woman’s Fight to Claim Her ‘Blackness’ in Brazil

Foreign Policy
2017-07-24

Cleuci de Oliveira
Brasília, Brazil


Illustration by Sofía Bonati

The experience of a young lawyer raises difficult questions about race, belonging, and the bureaucracy of affirmative action in a country lauded for its egalitarian history.

When Maíra Mutti Araújo speaks, she draws out her vowels and pronounces them with a distinctively sharp tone. Her accent is immediately recognizable to Brazilians as typical of Salvador, a coastal city in the country’s northeast that is as famous for its beaches as its rich African heritage. Araújo grew up in Salvador, just like her mom. Her dad, who grew up in a rural town eight hours away, has lived there since college. She has her mom’s features — a broad nose, full lips — and her dad’s nut-brown complexion.

Araújo comes from a bookish family. Her parents met when they were both chemistry majors at a local university — they now work as middle school chemistry teachers. She got her law degree at the Federal University of Bahia, one of the country’s most prestigious. During her time in law school, Araújo began to consider a career in the civil service. She interned at the Federal Attorney General’s Office in Salvador while still a student and took a job as an analyst at the government accountability office in Manaus, in the state of Amazonas, after graduation. Her goal was to eventually become a prosecutor. “I love arguing cases,” Araújo says, “that whole process of taking a case and finding a solution for it.” As a prosecutor, she says, “you’re responsible for propelling the case forward. The outcome depends on your approach.”

In late 2015, Araújo set her sights on an attractive job opening for a prosecutor back in her hometown, in the Salvador municipal department. Everyone encouraged her to apply using a relatively new affirmative action option. “You of all people! You have to do it,” Araújo’s boss at the time told her. “If I had the chance to apply as a quotas candidate, I would totally go for it,” her friends said. “And you do! So apply!”…

…Even before slavery was abolished, the mixed-race Brazilians who resulted from these unions enjoyed freedoms not available to those with darker skin tones. Many thrived as small-scale farmers, for instance, and a few reached stratospheric heights: André Rebouças, whose grandmother had been a slave, rose to become one of Brazil’s most important engineers in the late 19th century. By the turn of the century, a complex hierarchy based on skin color, facial features, hair texture, education, and elocution, among other qualities, came to dominate the Brazilian social contract.

Unlike the United States, post-abolition Brazil did not enact “anti-miscegenation” or “separate but equal” laws, so race relations evolved with relative fluidity. The end result was that, contrary to America, where even a single black ancestor several generations removed marked a person as legally black, Brazilians came to define blackness as a matter of physical appearance. According to the late sociologist Oracy Nogueira — arguably the most influential scholar of Brazilian constructions of race — the American concept of “passing” as white is a moot one in Brazil, where simply looking white makes one so.

The quotas implemented in universities and government departments were born of attempts to push back against this pervasive colorism — the privileging of light skin over dark. Activists stress the importance of black representation in positions of power — particularly by those who, on account of having a darker complexion or markedly black features, do not benefit from a fluid racial identity that could otherwise see them classified as white. Which is why activists’ frustrations have grown over what they argue are light-skinned pardos taking advantage of hard-won affirmative action policies that were not fought for with them in mind…

Read the entire article here.

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Study investigates marks of racism in “interracial families”

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Family/Parenting, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science on 2017-07-14 22:26Z by Steven

Study investigates marks of racism in “interracial families”

Agência FAPESP
São Paulo Research Foundation
2017-06-14

José Tadeu Arantes
Agência FAPESP


Society’s racial hierarchies are reproduced in families and interact with feelings, researcher says (photo: Wikimedia)

One hundred and twenty-nine years after the abolition of slavery in Brazil, and despite the myth of racial democracy, race-based prejudice is still widespread in Brazilian society – so much so that it can be found even in “interracial families”. This is the conclusion of a study by social psychologist Lia Vainer Schucman.

Schucman undertook the study during her postdoctoral research at the University of São Paulo (USP) with FAPESP’s support and in collaboration with Felipe Fachim. Her supervisor was Belinda Mandelbaum, who heads the Family Studies Laboratory at the university’s Psychology Institute (IP-USP).

“We set out to discover whether and how society’s racial hierarchies are reproduced in families whose members classify themselves differently with regard to ‘race’ – as ‘white’, ‘black’ or ‘mixed-race’ – and how these hierarchies coexist and interact with their emotions or feelings,” Schucman told Agência FAPESP.

In addition to performing an exhaustive review of the specialized literature, which took three years, Schucman personally interviewed 13 families from different regions of Brazil. She has written a book about her findings: Famílias Inter-raciais: tensões entre cor e amor (“Interracial Families: Tensions between Color and Love”). The book will be available later in 2017.

“My interest in researching the topic arose initially from my interaction with people from these families, people who experienced ‘racial contradictions’ in their own skins, as it were,” Schucman said. “It happened when I was finishing up my PhD research, which was on ‘whiteness’. Because of my research, I started to be invited to give lectures quite frequently, and after the lectures, people would often come up to tell me about cases of suffering due to racism in their own families. This happened many times. These conversations led me to realize that families could be a key to understanding ‘interracial’ relationships in the wider context of society.”

Schucman’s starting-point was the conviction that “race” is not a biological given but a social construct. It is a construct based on phenotypes, she argues, which engenders and sustains profound material and symbolic inequality in society and which affects the daily lives of millions of people…

Read the entire article here.

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Brazil’s Ongoing Race Problem: Recent Study Uncovers Shocking Treatment of Darker-Skinned Children in Interracial Families

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, Social Science on 2017-07-10 02:22Z by Steven

Brazil’s Ongoing Race Problem: Recent Study Uncovers Shocking Treatment of Darker-Skinned Children in Interracial Families

Atlanta Black Star
2017-07-01

D. Amari Jackson


SALVADOR, BRAZIL -Social psychologist finds Black Brazilian children in interracial families face shocking racism. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

“The most shocking story I heard was told by a young woman, a university student who came to see me… she was phenotypically ‘Black’ but her mother was ‘white.’ She told me that when she was little, her mother would sing a lullaby with these words: ‘Plantei uma cenoura no meu quintal / Nasceu uma negrinha de avental / Dança negrinha / Não sei dançar / Pega no chicote, ela dança já’ [I planted a carrot in my backyard. / It sprouted a nigger girl in an apron. / Dance, little nigger girl! / I can’t dance. / Show her the whip, she’ll dance alright.] Her mother’s lullaby wasn’t just racist, it was a slave owner’s song.” — Social psychologist Lia Vainer Schucman from a June 2017 interview with Agência FAPESP in Brazil

Perhaps you’ve heard of the ‘bleach bath,’ a popular process designed to significantly lighten one’s skin. Or maybe the clothespin, the laundry drying device that doubles as a nighttime nasal clamp to narrow the width of what is regarded as a phenotypically Black nose. Here in the 21st century, such tragic racialized practices and psychoses are, unfortunately, still alive and well in countries across the globe.

This acknowledged, there is a common perception that the more racially diverse and interracial a society and its relationships become, the less racism it will endure. It is a questionable line of reasoning particularly prevalent in Brazil where racially mixed societies and families are the norm. It fuels the popular national narrative that racial prejudice cannot exist in South America’s largest country since “somos todos iguais” (“we are all equal”).

A recent study by social psychologist and researcher Lia Vainer Schucman says otherwise. In it, Schucman interviewed interracial families from regions across Brazil willing to discuss the manifestations and impact of racism within their units as part of her postdoctoral work at the University of São Paulo. Sponsored by Agência FAPESP, a media service of the São Paulo Research Foundation, Schucman’s research is the subject of her upcoming book, “Famílias Inter-Raciais: Tensões entre Cor e Amor” (Inter-Racial Families: Tensions Between Color and Love)…

Read the entire article here.

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Afro-Latino Fest NYC 2017-A Tribute to Women of the Diaspora

Posted in Arts, Caribbean/Latin America, Live Events, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2017-07-07 20:44Z by Steven

Afro-Latino Fest NYC 2017-A Tribute to Women of the Diaspora

Afro-Latino Festival of New York
Brooklyn & Harlem
New York, New York
Friday, 2017-07-07, 19:00 through Sunday, 2017-07-09, 04:00 EDT (Local Time)

The Afrolatino Festival NYC enters its 5th year anniversary in 2017 with a Tribute to women of the diaspora. We just successfully completed a community-powered round of crowdfunding via Kickstarter.

Thanks to all who have supported and will support over the coming months.

For more information, click here.

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Fighting for Black Lives in Colombia: ‘The People Do Not Give Up, Damn It’

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Slavery, Social Justice on 2017-07-05 22:21Z by Steven

Fighting for Black Lives in Colombia: ‘The People Do Not Give Up, Damn It’

The Root
2017-07-01

Lori S. Robinson


iStock

Editor’s note: This story is the first in a three-part series looking at the fight for rights of black people in Colombia. This first piece explores the history of Afro-Colombians and the impact of the recently ended war with the FARC. Subsequent stories will examine the current political environment. 

Black activism started in Colombia when Africans arrived in chains.

Spaniards were early kingpins in the trans-Atlantic slave trade, first importing kidnapped Africans into what was then New Granada in the 1520s—a century before the British brought this epic crime against humanity to North America.

Concentrated along the country’s Pacific coast, enslaved people were forced to do agricultural labor and, primarily, to mine gold. This region became majority black during colonial times. It still is…

…Colombia never had legal segregation after slavery, like the United States. The national narrative of Colombia, like most of Latin America, has been that inequality is economic, not racial, and that significant racial mixing throughout the country’s history proves that racism doesn’t exist. According to Perea, Colombians have gone so far as to say that “racism was solely an expression of North American culture.”

Meanwhile, the largest numbers of black Colombians have been isolated, abandoned by their own government, without educational or employment opportunities, living in poverty…

Read the entire article here.

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‘Bleach bath’, clothes pins on the nose and ‘black monkey’: Study exposes racism in interracial families debunking one of Brazil’s greatest myths

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, Social Science on 2017-06-29 02:23Z by Steven

‘Bleach bath’, clothes pins on the nose and ‘black monkey’: Study exposes racism in interracial families debunking one of Brazil’s greatest myths

Black Women of Brazil
2017-06-27

Courtesy of Jornal Floripa

What happens when there is racism in the home? In what way does it manifest? How can interracial marriages generate children who are segregated in their own home environment because of their color? Why do many white people deny the black race of their spouses – chosen by them – and even their children? Some answers to these questions appear in a study by the doctor in social psychology Lia Schucman, who researches racial relations in Brazil.

For her postdoctoral work at USP (University of São Paulo), entitled Famílias Inter-Raciais: Tensões entre Cor e Amor (Inter-Racial Families: Tensions Between Color and Love), she interviewed 13 families who were willing to talk about the subject – often in conversations punctuated by tension and disagreement in relation to the races. In the end, the psychologist used reports from five families with different manifestations of what Lia called “racism of intimacy”…

Read the entire article here.

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Children of Uncertain Fortune: Mixed-Race Jamaicans in Britain and the Atlantic Family, 1733-1833

Posted in Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Forthcoming Media, History, Law, Monographs, United Kingdom on 2017-06-12 19:59Z by Steven

Children of Uncertain Fortune: Mixed-Race Jamaicans in Britain and the Atlantic Family, 1733-1833

University of North Carolina Press
January 2018
Approx. 448 pages
24 halftones, notes, index
6.125 x 9.25
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-3443-2

Daniel Livesay, Assistant Professor of History
Claremont McKenna College, Claremont, California

Published for the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, Williamsburg, Virginia

By tracing the largely forgotten eighteenth-century migration of elite mixed-race individuals from Jamaica to Great Britain, Children of Uncertain Fortune reinterprets the evolution of British racial ideologies as a matter of negotiating family membership. Using wills, legal petitions, family correspondences, and inheritance lawsuits, Daniel Livesay is the first scholar to follow the hundreds of children born to white planters and Caribbean women of color who crossed the ocean for educational opportunities, professional apprenticeships, marriage prospects, or refuge from colonial prejudices.

The presence of these elite children of color in Britain pushed popular opinion in the British Atlantic world toward narrower conceptions of race and kinship. Members of Parliament, colonial assemblymen, merchant kings, and cultural arbiters–the very people who decided Britain’s colonial policies, debated abolition, passed marital laws, and arbitrated inheritance disputes–rubbed shoulders with these mixed-race Caribbean migrants in parlors and sitting rooms. Upper-class Britons also resented colonial transplants and coveted their inheritances; family intimacy gave way to racial exclusion. By the early nineteenth century, relatives had become strangers.

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Research investigates marks of racism in “interracial families”

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Family/Parenting, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science on 2017-06-09 01:33Z by Steven

Research investigates marks of racism in “interracial families”

Black Women of Brazil
Source: FAPESP
2017-05-31

José Tadeu Arantes

The final pillar of the debunked ‘racial democracy’? Post-doctorate research project exposes racism and racial hierarchies within interracial families

One hundred and twenty-nine years after the abolition of slavery, and despite the myth of racial democracy, racial prejudice continues to be widespread in Brazilian society – so widespread that it even manifests itself within “interracial families”. This was the conclusion of a study conducted by social psychologist Lia Vainer Schucman.

The study was the postdoctoral theme carried out at the University of São Paulo (USP) with support from FAPESP, a collaboration of Felipe Fachim and under the supervision of Belinda Mandelbaum, coordinator of the Laboratory of Family Studies at the Institute of Psychology at USP.

“Our objective was to verify if and how the racial hierarchies of society reproduce within families whose members self-classify differently in relation to ‘race’: as ‘brancos’ (whites), ‘negros’ (blacks) or ‘mestiços’ (persons of mixed race). And how these hierarchies coexist and interact with affections,” Schucman told FAPESP…

Read the entire article here.

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“We Are Not Used to People Thinking We Are Beautiful”

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Arts, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Mexico on 2017-06-08 00:49Z by Steven

“We Are Not Used to People Thinking We Are Beautiful”

The New Yorker
2017-06-02

Jonathan Blitzer


Photograph by Cécile Smetana Baudier

It was a toothache that brought the Franco-Danish photographer Cécile Smetana Baudier to Costa Chica, on the Pacific Coast of Mexico. She was in Oaxaca at the time, for a project on women’s fashion, when she visited a dentist with a special reputation among cash-strapped local photographers. He accepted payment in the form of photographs. His waiting room, in Oaxaca City, was like a gallery, with framed images along the walls and piles of art books cascading over tables. There, just before getting a molar pulled, Baudier came across a series of photos of reedy men with fishing rods and nets, lolling in boats and along the banks of lagoons. She was surprised, given the fact that the men were black, to learn that the photographs had been taken in Mexico, in the remote southern states of Oaxaca and Guerrero. It was the first time she had ever seen images of Afro-Mexicans, and she decided to try to contribute some of her own. A few weeks later, she set out for El Azufre—a secluded coastal fishing village with a large Afro-Mexican population—where she spent five weeks living in a tent pitched on the front yard of an acquaintance’s house.

The African presence in Mexico dates back to the early sixteenth century, when Spanish conquistadors and colonialists arrived; with them came the slave trade. As many as two hundred and fifty thousand African slaves were transported Mexico, according to academic estimates*. At the turn of the nineteenth century, ten per cent of the population had African origins, but Mexican independence ignited a new national dialogue that downplayed race and elevated, instead, the idea of common citizenship. Even though some of the country’s most iconic freedom fighters and early politicians had African roots, their accomplishments fed a celebration of the broader mestizo culture. The history of Afro-Mexicans ever since has been one of erasure and marginalization. Today, there are 1.4 million citizens of African descent in Mexico, but the government did not recognize them officially until a 2015 census count…

Read the entire article here.

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Rachel Dolezal: ‘Negra Frustrada’ (Frustrated Black Woman)

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, Passing, Social Justice, United States on 2017-05-25 01:25Z by Steven

Rachel Dolezal: ‘Negra Frustrada’ (Frustrated Black Woman)

Chinyere Osuji
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
2017-05-24

Chinyere Osuji, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Sociology
Rutgers University, Camden


Rachel Dolezal

Race is a social construction. We have heard that phrase over and over again to the point that it has become a bit hackneyed. When I teach my sociology students, I tell them, “Sociologists study what people do together: we create families, schools, economic systems.” All of these things are social constructions that are produced, reproduced, and even demolished because people together make it so.

And then Rachel Dolezal comes along…

Read the entire article here.

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