Thais, a Brazilian woman, comes from Rio. She came to Europe for her audiovisual studies. Then she stayed two years in Valencia, from 2014 to 2016 before coming to Berlin. She had to come back to Spain for visa problems. Why leave Rio? To find out something else and she had no reason to go back.
Brazil and this quest for whiteness
Brazil, her country of origin, evokes for many, the beach, samba, carnival, pretty women.Yet there is much more to discover from Brazil: the denial of the African heritage and the rejection of the Afro-Brazilian community. By this rejection, the Afro-Brazilian community is suffering from negative stereotypes. She is a poor person, uneducated, violent, alcoholic. Your colour also defines your social class. If you are a person of colour you are poor, if you are white you are rich. As a result, many Brazilians prefer to pair up with a white or fair-skinned person. In other words, you have to “whitewash” yourself to climb the ladder. This rejection is also felt within the Afro-Brazilian community. Thais has a very good black friend. One of his relatives, who saw his friend’s picture, told him to be careful. Stereotypes are so entrenched that suspicion and mistrust even set in within the community.
The hypersexualization of light-skin women
Thais does not know who she is yet, she looks for herself; she considers herself black, but she doesn’t know her origins, like many Afro-descendants. She’d like to know more, know where she came from. What is certain is what she does not consider herself as a “mulatta” because this term for her is pejorative, the “mulatta” for her evokes the woman of colour, wearing a bikini, sexy and sensual, embodying the sexual fantasy.
This sexualization of the woman of colour in Brazil is omnipresent. The darker she is, the more she is considered to be incredible in bed, as a sexual object. Thus not wanting to be associated with the “mulatta” and to become a kind of sexual fantasy, she avoided samba and opted for theatre, for example, all activities touching on art.
The sexualization of the Brazilian women of colour is a worldwide stereotype. Because for her to say she’s Brazilian makes her anxious. Indeed, she is afraid that men will be attracted to her because she is Brazilian and not because of her personality. She had this impression by taking a step back from her preivous relationships. Some of the men she met did not want her to go into the sun too much because she would turn black. She must remain this Brazilian woman with caramel skin, reminiscent of their fantasies.
Racism as a new experience
Thais never felt ashamed, however, either for her skin colour or her hair, although she has been mocked many times at school. In Brazil, since she is not considered as black, racism has been heard more than experienced. Being younger, she did not realize that what could be cordial racism, to use the expression. She is aware that she can benefit from certain privileges because she’s light skin.
However, she experienced racism once she came to Berlin. Someone threw her a can because he thought she was African; Some people touched her hair. These are examples about what she had to deal with. This racism also stems from ignorance, snobbery. Some people have a lot of prejudices, who feel somehow superior to people of colour. Because of ignorance and snobbery, Thais sometimes feels compelled to adopt a condescending attitude to counter it.
Because yes, she’s still struggling to be seen as a person and not a result of stereotypes.