This is a comment I left on The African or Black Question TAOBQ blog; ´Highlighting Brazil’s Complex African Identity And Race Issues`
Thank you for referencing my post ´a lighter shade of black…`
I´d like to give my opinion on a point made
´But what’s up with the Brazilian love for the word “Afro”, which in places like Britain is often associated with the Afro comb! And as all humanity descended from Africa, they ought to consider using African heritage instead.´
Firstly, I don´t see the problem in using ´Afro´ as a prefix link to Africa. And it´s not only used in Brazil- Latin America in General; ´Afro-Latino’.
Does one have to call themselves specifically African-Brazilian, African-Latino etc to prove their acceptance of their African heritage? (“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” W.Shakespeare) Having options isn´t such a bad thing because you can´t please everyone. Someone might prefer Afrodescendente, another Afro-Brazilian. The point is to get Africans to identify with their African ancestry to ´empower´ themselves. Debating which phrase we use to do so is fighting the same battle as far as I´m concerned.
I´m working on a photo-documentary called ´I am Afro-Brazilian`. Despite meeting many people proud to be ´black´ in Rio, I have only met one person actually calling herself ´Afro-Brazilian` in 1 month of being here! Lets not knock the efforts of African Brazilians/Latinos using ´Afro` as a prefix to their ancestry.
And regarding ´places like Britain (Afro) is often associated with the Afro comb!´
Is that a bad thing for an African descendant to associate their African ancestry to the `Afro Comb´? The Afro, which in its self is a political symbol of ´African Pride´… What would be the wrong in that if that was the case?
And lastly, speaking of Britain. In some ways we (Africans in Britain) have further to go than the `Afro`-Brazilian/Latino community. Because where as there is the option for Africans in S.America to pre-fix a direct link to Africa in which ever way one chooses to, in Britain what do we have? BLACK!
Just a few months ago I was proudly wearing the label `Black British´ (I still haven´t completely shed it off, however I now prefer to just use African). Thank you TAOBQ for opening my mind to the African or Black question! We have a long way before `African British` will flow with ease from the majority of African descendants in the UK but at least the debate is out there and getting people THINKING and QUESTIONING!
One last point! I understand why people dislike labels- why should they?! However, calling ones-self African descendant (in which every way one chooses to) shouldn´t purely be for the sake of identity purposes. As you wrote; ´And as all humanity descended from Africa…` (which I think is a bit of a `cop-out` in many contexts!) I think the correct acknowledgement should be ` we all have some mixed ancestry along the line (which in many cases links back to Africa)`.
How can we define ourselves with just one ancestral link? I for example: I am a dark-skinned British-Born Ghanaian… With a German surname! But it isn´t my surname that defines me. I choose being African to define who I am to EMPOWER myself.
Thank you for the opportunity for me to voice my opinions! Keep the debate alive! The fight is for a good cause!
Please feel free to join the debate!
- A lighter shade of Black… Observations of racial identity in Rio (travelmakerkai.wordpress.com)