“I became black in 2013”: Liniane Santos constructed her identity as a black woman through an Afro-Brazilian studies program at the State University of Ceará
It’s a common story that one hears when researching the development of black identity in Brazil. As the nation’s history has long undermined and promoted a distancing from one’s blackness, millions of Brazilians of visible African ancestry are immersed in a culture that actively encourages them to see themselves as simply Brazilians, pardos or mestiços.
The problem with this ideology is that this same system doesn’t explain to Brazilians whose features signal African ancestry can and often will experience some sort of discriminatory behavior or treatment based purely on what they look like. Even within the family context, when many of these people begin to become conscious of how they are perceived by the society at large, experience rejection in job opportunities, hear racist comments or some joke that belittles them or their physical features, it sometimes leads to a desire to have a deeper understanding of or the adapting of a black identity.
The process is sometimes painful, often a learning experience but also a life-changing event. Knowing that you are black sounds like it is something that would be automatic, but as we’ve seen from numerous stories of people “becoming black“, in Brazil, the process isn’t as simple as one may think. In today’s post, we learn about the journey into blackness as experienced by a college student in the northeastern state of Ceará.
Liniane constructed her identity as a black woman through Afro-Brazilian studies