Before coming to Brasil (that’s the Brazilian spelling; you learn something new every day!), I thought a lot about what my experience would be like as an AfroLatina in a different Latinx space. I wondered about racism and colorism, and even what prejudices might exist against natural hair. I was trying to mentally prepare for anything, and I think that is real and necessary to admit when thinking about traveling as a natural Black Latina. And these concerns are definitely founded because when I traveled to the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Costa Rica, my hair was often a point of conversation from both family, friends, and even strangers. My Blackness and hippie-girl aesthetics often caused people to stare and even ask for pictures… Point is, I’ve “been there, done that” and was trying to be real with myself about what I might experience.
To my sweet sweet surprise, Rio is a natural hair hub full of Black pride and Black beauty. I have fit right in with my hair and style, which has been such a comforting experience. It is also more than just how people look, but a powerful movement of AfroBrasilieros rocking their natural hair in fros and locks, wearing pro-Black clothes and accessories, dancing to Black diasporic music, and having events that celebrate the existence, accomplishments, entrepreneurship, and resistance of Black Brazilians. I know my words do not do this movement justice because it is a beauty that cannot be captured with words. The Black Pride here is so strong and explicit, it gives me goosebumps!
And yes, of course Brazil is very much known for being “mixed,” but racism, poverty, and rampant police brutality are realities that many AfroBrasilieros continue to face today. Although I have been surprised by the Black reality in Brasil, I still have experienced microaggressions because that is the reality of our world unfortunately. But living here has definitely widened my lens to see the multi-leveled reality that AfroBrasilieros live because it can be a life made difficult because of structural violence and governmental neglect, while being a life full of survival, resistance, creativity, and pride in who they are and where they come from.
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<div>I'm a student, a friend, a naturalista, a budding activist, a writer, a wom@nist/feminist, an intellectual, a Tupac-lover, a New Yorker, and a person in process all wrapped in one. I'm living on the hyphen of many identities that allow me to see the world in a critical, refreshing way; and at the intersections of many struggles and journeys that I would love for you to join me on. :)</div>