Our race is very strong. Our race is very resistant. And by virtue of our blood, by virtue of our orixás, which have sustained our faith, our energy and our arm that has never rested in this relentless struggle for our fundamental rights (Abdias do Nascimento)
Resulting from a slavery system that dehumanized blacks for nearly four centuries, Brazilian society naturalized a set of statements that value white people and belittle black people. We often hear that whites are more trustworthy, are the prettiest, the smartest, and other issues that place them as superior.
In this sense, according to the psychiatrist and political philosopher Frantz Fanon (2008), “the black is the symbol of Evil and Ugly”.
And it doesn’t end there, in parallel expressions like: “black with a white soul”, “foot in the kitchen”, “the color of sin”, “black service”, “black market”, “the thing is black” circulate . It is the pure broth of racism in the social imagination, which is why language accompanies it. She carries violent traits, even in situations that appear to be a joke, or a loving way of dialoguing with black people.
However, the damage it causes to mental health is unquestionable. Even whites are affected, albeit in a different way. In them, a feeling of racial superiority and a stimulus to discriminatory practices emerges: “You are envious of my color”.
I remember school term with great contempt. The racist attacks by the white children and the teachers’ omission had shaken me.
There was a situation where I was desperate with insults about my hair, so I decided to apply a hair straightener. I couldn’t stand to hear “babyboard hair”, “bad hair”, “pixaim hair” anymore. But it was disastrous, it injured the scalp, as I didn’t know how to use the cream. My mother found out and despaired of the wounds, and in the end I had to shave my hair.
After the fateful episode, a student appeared saying that if black people bathed with chlorine, their skin would be lighter, however, before doing something else crazy, I asked my mother. She was so angry that she went to report the student to the principal.
In fact, I was apprehensive when someone in my family had to attend school, as I didn’t want to give the kids ammunition to get racist jokes behind my back.
The fact is that the accumulation of violence against blacks, throughout our existence, is never in vain. The activist and intellectual bell hooks* explains: “In a society where white supremacy prevails, black people’s lives are permeated by political issues that explain the internalization of racism and a feeling of inferiority.”
::Brasil de Fato launches special tabloid on Black Consciousness and anti-racism::
By internalizing racism, we mutilate our dreams, we do not live fully, we submit ourselves to the humiliations of whites and reproduce racism against other blacks. I believe that overcoming these situations begins with the construction of the black being within us, therefore, there is an urgent need for permanent participation in racial discussions, but that they are carriers of historical, political and cultural content.
The psychiatrist Neusa Santos Souza (1983) in the work “Becoming black: the vicissitudes of the identity of the Brazilian black on social ascension” discussed these issues:
Being black is (…) becoming aware of the ideological process that, through a mythical discourse about oneself, engenders a structure of ignorance that imprisons oneself in an alienated image, in which one recognizes itself. To be black is to take possession of this awareness that reassures respect for differences and reaffirms a dignity that is alien to any level of exploitation. Thus, being black is not a given, a priori condition. It is a becoming. To be black is to become black.
However, it is essential to be clear that the construction of black identity, which renounces the idealization of white values, does not depend only on the mental effort of black people. The social environment needs concrete changes that provide, above all, human dignity. For that, a deep engagement in anti-racist and anti-capitalist struggles is required.
If we consider those initial statements, we will notice the relationship with concrete reality, even if they are mistaken and incomplete. Since most inmates are black, whites believe that the criminal instinct is in our nature. As we are the poorest and most miserable, whites conclude that we don’t try hard enough. [Continua após o vídeo.]
Since most whites are in overvalued occupations (judges, doctors, engineers), whites believe that blacks lack substantial intellectual capacity. In other words, the conclusions ignore the racial issues that hamper our lives. Anyway, there is a dialogue with what catches the eye. But if concrete reality changes, the claims will not be validated. Maybe they won’t even exist.
On November 20th, we will celebrate the Black Consciousness and the memory of Zumbi dos Palmares. It is a time to enhance debates that address historical struggles, black culture, contemporary challenges, in addition to denouncing society’s historical debt with black people. Those who have not yet become black find one more opportunity to get involved and rethink their place in the world.
Black people must get rid of the idealization of whiteness and the feeling of inferiority. Remember Abdias do Nascimento’s words “Our race is very strong”. Take pride!
*Ricardo Correa is a teacher. Graduated in Industrial Technology and Postgraduate in Teacher Training (IFSP). Former community leader on the outskirts of the east side of São Paulo.
**bell hooks is the pseudonym of Gloria Jean Watkins, written in lowercase letters as claimed by the intellectual herself.
***This is an opinion piece. The author’s vision does not necessarily express the editorial line of the newspaper Brasil de Fato.
Edition: Vinícius Segalla