Marie Tattiana Aqeel
Blackness Returns to the Earth and From Her, Springs Again
Updated: May 9, 2019
I am not absolved of the fear that someone I love, because they are Black, can be hunted by suits claiming to be law enforcement for being Black. I read, I hear, I try not to watch because the visceral reaction is too much for my heart sometimes, that the attempt at eliminating Blackness violently takes a bodies with it.
I haven't been the same since I knew this. I remember the moment in fact, in a film, Amistad (albeit tenderized for white comfort by presenting yet another white savior), when a woman was pictured fighting for her life not to be sacrificed to the Atlantic and the camera angle showed her fight as she descended into the sea. I was ten and had only thus far seen pictures of lynchings and pic-a-niggers (pic-nic) barbecues including burned black corpses and smiling white faces. I knew at that moment in the film that We must also live in the sea.
I watched films documenting the actual history of slavery in Brasil- the numbers, the barbarism, the conditions, the crop, sugar, and European demand for it, the mixing of races, how Brasil was mostly Black and then intentionally whitened to undo its enslaving past (branqueamento). In circles of light-skinned Brazilians I can't help wondering who among them is trying to erase this past as their ancestors did, as mine did, as American whites often do. I wish I could talk with them in depth about it.
Alas, I know I can talk with the Mestre about this as he is a Black elder from Brasil. He will know more than I can gather from English journalists about the history and presence of Blackness in Brazilian culture and about the branqueamento period and its persistence today.
Stay tuned in. Not giving up on my body. Not this time.