Here's some more amazing stuff to add to your pandemic reading list...
To understand Black Brazilian Feminism, you need to know Maria Beatriz Nascimento, the woman pictured above.
I know that it’s been awhile since I wrote Part 1 of this series. I didn’t expect it to take me this long but after I created the list of books and texts, I started reading the ones that I had missed! So I have had a great month getting filled with the wonderful writings of Conceição Evaristo, Sueli Carneiro and Beatriz Nascimento! By the way, this was really more than 12 texts and books but I didn’t want to scare you all!
7) Sueli Carneiro - Enegrecer o Feminismo: The Situation of Black Women in Latin America from the perspective of gender (2003)
It saddens me that Sueli Carneiro's most cited text—Enegrecer o Feminismo—has never adequately been translated into English. Sueli Carneiro, 70, is the founder of Geledes, one of the oldest non-profits working to support Black women in Brazil. In Enegrecer o Feminismo, which translates into "Blackening Feminism," Carneiro explains why the experience of black Brazilian women is drastically different from that of white women and why feminism, in general, needs to include their perspectives. Carneiro is also an Afro-Brazilian philosopher, writer, and anti-racism activist. She originally wrote this piece in 2011, and in it, she correctly predicted that in the 2010s black women would begin to find their voice and finally occupy their long due space in Brazil's feminist movements.
For an english overview of this article, check out this overview from the Geledes website.
Other texts and books by or about Sueli Carneiro:
Escritos de Uma Vida
Racismo, sexismo e desigualdade no Brasil - Sueli Carneiro
This text isn’t exclusively focused on Black Women. It reads like an introductory guide to the issues that Black Brazilians face. Even though it was written in 2011, it’s still quite up to date.
Sueli Carneiro - Rosane da Silva Borges
This short book explains the trajectory of Sueli’s life. There will be another biography published by Companhia das Letras this year.
8) Conceição Evaristo - Ponciá Vicencio (2007) or Olhas D'Água (2015)
Conceição Evaristo (who is also a literature professor at Puc-Rio) writes stories that center the experiences and feelings of black women. She calls it escreviencia —writing and experience combined in Portuguese. Evaristo's work is fiction, but she says she incorporates real women's experiences into her work.
For Brazil's new generation of college educated Blacks, Conceição Evaristo is their adopted woke grandmother who always shows up to the protests. She is the most read living Afro-Brazilian writer, but she's still humble enough to come to another author's book launch or a black women's event. And that's why she is beloved.
She perfected her escreviencia writing style in the somber, delicate story of Poncio Vivencio. Still today, it’s her only book translated into English (to my knowledge one of only two Afro-Brazilian literature books translated into english in the last 20 years, the other being Cidade de Deus). Ponciá Vivencio is the story of a young Afro-Brazilian woman's journey from the land of her enslaved ancestors to the emptiness of urban life. This is a foundational reading to understand Black Brazilian feminism. Like the work of Carolina de Jesus, it details the adversity that black families faced (and particularly black women) in the decades after slavery ended. For black women, this often meant leaving the brutal countryside, for the even more brutal cities, where they settled into favelas and became domestic servants. It’s a nice quick read and you MUST buy it.
Today, Conçeição Evaristo's most popular book is Olhos d'Agua, which is available on Kindle (very rare for Black Brazilian books). Like Ponciá Vivencio, it features the experiences of women who attempt to survive in Brazil's urban areas.
9) Ana Maria Gonçalves - Um Defeito Da Cor (2006)
Um Defeito Da Cor is a 952-page power house of a book that tells the story of the an enslaved woman brought from Africa to Bahia, Luíza Mahin, her struggle to achieve freedom and her pilgrimage through Brazil in search of her lost child. Black Resistance against slavery in Brazil has often been told though the lens of the man (Zumbi) so when this book came out, its point of view was rare. Many people compare it to Alex Haley’s Roots. The book has yet to be translated into English but every person obsessed with Black Brazil should at least own it. Ana Maria Gonçalves hasn’t published another book since Um Defeito Da Cor was published in 2006.
In his analysis of the book, John Maddox wrote the following:
10) Ana Cláudia Lemos Pacheco - Mulher Negra: Afetividade e Solidão (2013)
What do the words "identity politics," "politics of respectability," "white fragility," and "intersectionality" have in common with the "Solitude of Black Women?" These are all ideas and words that were initially defined and created in academia but later entered everyday vernacular.
When I arrived in Brazil in 2015, everybody was talking about the "Solidão da Mulher Negra," - The Solitude of Black Women. This theory says that Black Brazilian women lead lives without long-term partners and with little affection. The theory can also be applied to the loneliness that black women face as they rise to the top in education and in their careers.
Solidão da Mulher Negra is really just another way of saying - Branca para casar, mulata para fuder, negra para trabalhar or “White to marry, mulatto to have sex with and black woman to work.” Ana Cláudia Lemos Pacheco Pacheco took this saying and attempted to deconstruct it scientifically. She conducted dozens of in-depth interviews with black women in Brazil's blackest city—Salvador. In general, she found that most black women failed to live their lives in healthy, affectionate relationships.
Another good book to check out is Virou Regra, published two years before Ana Cláudia Lemos Pacheco's book. Claudete Alves wrote the book based on her 2008 Master's work entitled: A Solidão da Mulher Negra: Sua subjectividade e seu preterimento pelo homen na cidade de São Paulo. Like Pacheco, Alves also interviewed black women about their relationships. She also physically went to public places where she thought she would black couples, churches, movies, parties. In São Paulo, she found very few black female and male couples.
Neither of these books is available in English. But the website Black Women of Brazil has translated and published at least a dozen mainstream articles on the topic that will get you up to speed.
11) Joyce Ribeiro/Preta-Rara - Eu, Empregada Domestica (2019)
Preta-Rara (Rare Black), Joyce Fernandes, is a rapper, activist and writer, who formerly worked as a domestic servant. In a country that glorifies blondes and fetishes mixed-race women, Preta-Rara is a rare sight. She's a large, dark-skinned black woman with "crespo" hair who exudes confidence and demands respect. She first burst to fame as the creator of "Eu, empregada doméstica," (I, domestic servant), a Facebook page in which domestic servants anonymously reported the horrible treatment of their bosses. This facebook page became a bestselling book last year, Eu, empregada doméstica.
Before becoming a teacher, Preta-Rara worked as a domestic servant for six years, just as her mother and grandmother had. Once the Facebook page took off and she gave a viral TedTalk, she began pursuing her rap career. Her first single, "Abolição Falsa" (False Abolition) asserts how Brazil's 1888 abolition of slavery did not end the struggle for black women in the country.
As a domestic servant Joyce was stuck in one of the three roles delegated to black woman - domestic servant, sexual mulatta, and the black mother. Within Black Brazilian feminism, Joyce represents how young black women can transform themselves into powerful, race- and gender-affirming forces.
The Ted talk video has been translated into English so enjoy! It’s powerful!
12) Beatriz Nascimento - O Conceito do Quilombo e Resistencia Cultural Negra - The Quilombo Concept and Black Cultural Resistance
There is a reason that I began this list with Leila Gonzalez and ended it with Maria Beatriz do Nascimento. They were both peers, and they both passed away unexpectedly, leaving this earth way too early. They were both intellectual-activists who revolutionized how blackness is perceived and studied in Brazil. unfortunately, there is way too little is written about them in English. The best English-language text about her was written by Christen A. Smith in 2016: Towards a Black Feminist Model of Black Atlantic Liberation: Remembering Beatriz Nascimento. The article can be read through JSTOR, which is free until the end of 2020.
Beatriz Nascimento was born in 1942 and she emerged as an intellectual-activist during the 70s and 80s—a transformative period that included the creation of the Black Movement in 1978, and the 100th anniversary of the end of slavery in Brazil. She completed major research on quilombos, self-sustaining black rural communities, and her writings promoted the idea that quilombos are prime examples of black resistance. This is the foundation of black pride in Brazil today.
Her other major contribution to Brazil’s black movement is the documentary Ori, which she produced with Raquel Gerber. This documentary provides an overview of the Black Movement in Brazil during the 70s and 80s and tells Beatriz’s story as she searches for her African heritage.
Other books and writings on Beatriz Nascimento:
Alex Ratts covers Beatriz Nascimento trajectory as a black women from the northeast of Brazil to a professor, poet, and activist in Rio de Janeiro.
Alex Ratts and Beatriz’s daughter published a collection of her poems in this book, which can be downloaded at the link above.