Brazil has the largest black population outside of Africa, and it is no secret that there is a palpable division between color and class in the country.
Sadly, the concept of racism and class-ism is nothing new to us, but for some reason there is often a disconnect between our struggles and that of our international counterparts. Perhaps the most suitable quote for the circumstances would be that of the late Dr. King
““Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
Thankfully, the Afro-Brazilian community is not sitting back and allowing for the collapse and eradication of their culture. In fact, they are embracing it, and pushing the boundaries of the currently rigid and unfair standards of beauty.
Even in the states, when we think of Brazilian people, images of Giselle Bunchen and other euro-centric featured, thin model types are thought of – yet 50.7%, roughly 97 million Brazilians, identify as black or mixed. Essentially, there is a global image of what it means to be and look Brazilian being perpetuated that is quite simply, false.
Now, I imagine we all have at least a general understanding of the roots of racism and colorism so for the sake of our depleting attention spans I will refrain from going on a long winded rant. Instead, I want to highlight the magic being made and the efforts for equality being pushed by local Brazilian communities.
“Right now we are looking to find our identity as black women, so we get inspiration from our history, things we find out about our culture” Tracie Okereke states
The Afro Hair Movement is a push for the acceptance and appreciation for Brazilian blackness, more specifically, finding beauty in natural hair. The concept is simple and honest, it is founded on the principle that curly, kinky, coiled, short, long hair, all of it, is not bad, nor is it ugly and less desirable than straight hair.
If you want more insight on the significance and power of hair for people of color, perhaps take a listen to Solange’s timeless track “Don’t Touch My Hair”. In short, hair, quite literally is a direct extension of our identity and culture. For centuries it has been abusively impressed in the minds of the people that the way we naturally look is not in line with standards of beauty, it is instead viewed as exotic and otherized (this isn’t a word, but it should be). Don’t believe me? Just think about the Brazilian blow-out trend.
What’s happening in Brazil is important, and we believe it deserves our attention. Whether you’re looking for support for your own journey, fighting the system and breaking institutionalized stereotypes, or simply want to check out some bad ass women doing their thing, I highly recommend watching the video below and taking the time to learn more about the movement.
Check out the Catsu Collective, a team of young Brazilian women bringing light to characteristically Brazilian fashion and the individuals behind the garments.
Beleza Natural is a Brazilian owned/run natural hair company with 45 salons in five different states that supports natural hair care.
Favela do Sapo is an underground party series held by the beautiful Okereke sisters in the heart of their favela, bringing together like minded black and brown youth from all over.