S1523228 Class : Het Beeld van de Ander THE REPRESENTATION OF BLACK WOMEN IN BRAZILIAN CULTURE
According to professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. “Brazil is a hybrid nation, right down to its genes”. Looks can be deceiving, because although half of Brazil’s population is of African descent, almost every Brazilian has some black DNA, which proves that reality isn’t always black or white… Nevertheless Brazil is depicted as a white society to the rest of the world, because there’s a dominant white class selling that image. Chica de Silva (1732-1769) is seen by many as the symbol of the roots of Brazil’s racial democracy and the history of its racial mixing, but the reality of the actress that played her is quite different… Maria José Motta de Oliveira, known as Zezé Motta, is considered to be one of the most important black actresses in Brazil. In 1976, she starred in the film Xica da Silva, about the life of a black enslaved woman who was set free by a peninsular whom she later had 13 children with, thus becoming rich and powerful. She was accepted by the elite (as were her children), and continued to be accepted even after her husband had returned to Portugal with their 4 sons, and even though she might appear to have sacrificed her black roots little by little (by adapting the manners of the white elite, and even by whitening her face), she never lost touch with her origins since she was part of 3 irmandades, one excusively for whites, one exlusively for mulattoes, and one exclusively for Africans. Zezé Motta remembers that the producer of the film originally thought she wasn’t pretty enough, according to her because at that time all blacks were considered to be ugly. She also recalls that she was the first black woman to appear on the cover of a big magazine, and that the white owner of said magazine had threatened to fire the person that’d made the decision to put her on the cover if the issue...
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