Posts Tagged ‘Black’

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Unconventional Brazilian Beauty

December 5, 2009

The girl who´s on the cover of Playboy´s Brazilian edition sat today by my side at the theatre – she took her three daughters to watch a children´s play, “Os Saltimbancos“, a version of the “Four Musicians of Bremen” with songs by Chico Buarque. Fernanda Young, a foul-mouthed writer and TV hostess is definitely not your conventional pin-up. She is almost forty, all covered in tattoos, extremely pale, with short dark hair, with a tendence of dropping names of depressing German philosophers. Her cover picture is also unusually discreet for Playboy´s standards in the country.

Brazilian beauty for export – Gisele Bündchen, Adriana Lima, Alessandra Ambrósio, Isabeli F0ntana, you name it – represents a very small fraction of the diversity of  looks of a country of extremely varied genetics. For decades, Brazilian press and soap operas were also blind to this variety. Slender blondes are still disproportionately present on the video and magazines.

This is slowly changing. At this exact moment, black actresses star three soap operas broadcasted by Globo, the dominant media conglomerate. This is huge in a country where TV is crucial in the definition of trends, habits, beliefs and preferences.

Maybe Brazil is ready to export its “out-of-the-box” beauty.

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Racism, the Brazilian way

November 22, 2009
Neguinho da Beija-flor, famous samba composer from Rio

Neguinho da Beija-Flor, photo alexdecarvalho/Flickr

In Brazil, unlike other countries, different ethnic groups interact a lot – sometimes peacefully, sometimes not.  This interaction leads frequently to mixed marriages and a blend of genes and cultural heritage.

This healthy mix gets more evident when geneticists investigate our origins. Neguinho da Beija-Flor, a famous samba composer from Rio, is mostly white, genetically – even if his nickname stresses his very dark complexion. On the other hand, Daiane dos Santos – Olympic gymnastic gold medalist recently involved in a doping scandal – represents what could be a “typical” brasileira: 39,7%  African, 40,8% European and 19,6% Native Brazilian.

Both celebrities had their genes analyzed in a study promoted two years ago by the British news conglomerate BBC with several prominent Brazilians of different backgrounds.

This mix didn’t, necessarily, produce a racial democracy. In an interview to the BBC on this subject, sociologist Ronaldo Sales, from Fundação Joaquim Nabuco, in the city of Recife, points out that miscegenation doesn’t create a homogeneous mixed race group, but a hierarchy – the whiter you are, the better your chances of social integration.

The underlying racism is particularly evident in bank branches. Most of the banks that operate in large cities install revolving doors, conceived to block the passage of costumers holding metal objects or bulky volumes. The following video, just released by Circo Voador, a very engaged theater and cultural movement in Rio, shows how this mechanism is used to avoid the entry of black Brazilians in banks. Two guys try to enter the same bank, dressed similarly, carrying the same bag. One is black, one is white. Guess who entered immediately and who had to remove his tee shirt and drop his belongings before being sent home, without entering the bank?

Have you ever experienced racism in Brazil?