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Column | About triggers and Big Brother | Brazil in fact

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Column |  About triggers and Big Brother |  Brazil in fact

Racism occurs when white people use pacts, sometimes silent ones, to maintain their privileges

When I was growing up, I wasn’t considered pretty, cool or funny.

I was skinny, some even called me Olívia Palito. This was so intense that I thought if I gained weight I would be better accepted. Maybe they chose me as their date at the June party, maybe they chose to sit next to me because they wanted to and it wouldn’t be anymore because it was the place they had left. I started eating more than I needed to “gain body” and be seen as beautiful. It didn’t help.

Television at that time was made of tubes and had an antenna that was placed on top of the TV. It was common when we used TV at school to hear that I could donate a piece of my hair to improve the image. Comparison of my hair with steel wool was frequent. And there was always a colleague’s mother who knew a great recipe for “lowering”, “controlling” or “taming” my hair. I wore my hair up until I was 22. Then I spent a lot of time going to the salon to get a blowout and straightener. It took a while for me to let go of my frizz.

I used intelligence as a tool to have friends at school. I studied hard to get good grades after I realized that this was the path to acceptance. Colleagues came to answer questions, asked for my notebooks with colorful notes, asked for “cheating” on exams, and so I finally felt like I was part of something. But it was only up to that point, it was nothing more than that.

In the phase where dating began for a long time, I was “cupid”. I took messages, found out who was interested in who, in short, put the little houses together. However, with me there was no romance, it was just fun, as I didn’t want “just fun” I continued without a partner.

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I was a teenager in the 90s and knew all the axé choreographies. I took Jazz Dance classes, I took gymnastics and capoeira classes. He knew how to dance well. Strangely enough, at parties, there were others who stood out, even though I thought I danced very well. They only called me when the subject was samba. This inhibited me and to this day I am restrained from dancing.

I loved singing as a child and teenager. To this day I have a powerful voice that I use to shout at my son’s games. When I was young, I went to church in the hope of one day joining the youth band. Never happened. Even though they heard me sing, they called other girls. I realized I wasn’t good enough and I stopped dreaming about it.

I grew up with the idea that my body wasn’t good, thin or fat. My hair wasn’t good, tied up or straightened. That to have friendships I needed to have something to offer and that I wasn’t interesting for dating, just for “hooking up”. None of my talents were enough for me to stand out. I knew a lot of people, went to different places, but I had few friends and I really preferred to stay alone at home studying.

I felt like an outcast, I thought I was ugly, I was discreet, I tried not to be a burden in the spaces I was in because I always felt out of place, excluded from conversations, in an eternal non-place. It was also not cool to appear too intelligent, it made people see me as boring, wanting to appear and distancing me from those who didn’t do so well at school. What really stood out to me, I had to keep with me and only use it when someone asked.

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After I became an adult, I understood that nothing would make me beautiful, cool, talented and cool as a “naturally” white girl is in the eyes of this society that supported a regime that enslaved black men and women for more than three centuries.

I understood how racism blocked my dreams and stopped me from dreaming big for years. To this day, I think I don’t deserve what’s really good for me. I am not enough to occupy spaces of power, decision or status. Marks of a life full of racist microaggressions that undermined my desires and ambitions and installed imposter syndrome in me.

Watching Big Brother Brasil and seeing white girls reproducing what I have suffered throughout my life in a concentrated way awakens several triggers. Seeing what Davi has suffered has been very painful. The talents he has in organizing, cleaning, and cooking are constantly invalidated despite taking advantage of it.

Everyone in the house overhears conversations and takes it to others like “look what I discovered”. When he hears something and goes to question it directly with the person involved, it is seen as if it were much worse than those who do it in secret. They made a strategy to leave him isolated, feeling that everything he does is wrong, so the best thing is to stay away and stay quiet.

They try to convince their allies that he is no good, is not worthy of having friends and that staying close to him makes them a target for voting. His scream to defend himself is seen as aggressive, wild, brutal, violent… Those who say he deserves to be beaten, that he can go away since he won some awards, who judge his character, who try to push his friends away, who judge their relationships, who belittle their work, they evaluate themselves as good citizens, owners of morals and good customs. They like him to serve them, but not to take a stand.

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For years, racial oppression built in me a feeling of insufficiency and non-belonging. I see the same pain in David’s crying. Just like me as a child, he doesn’t realize that what he suffers is because of his color. He never even considered that possibility. Unfortunately, ignorance, lack of racial literacy, does not protect you. On the contrary, by not identifying the reasons for what he has endured, he blames himself and suffers even more. These pains leave marks on the soul.

I hope this exhibition brings to light the debate that racism does not only happen with swearing or physical aggression. It occurs when whiteness uses pacts, sometimes silent, to maintain its privileges. It’s sordid, discreet, difficult to prove, easy to manipulate, but it is racist. And little by little it destroys our potential. Those who do it say they didn’t understand or that it’s an exaggeration on the part of those who report it.

Now that I have revealed how this type of racism negatively affects our lives, I hope that a public apology from this privileged whiteness is not enough to move the public and once again make us invisible and hide our pain.

Editing: Pedro Carrano

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