“People are no longer scared of identifying themselves or insecure about saying: I am black, and black is beautiful”
Elio Ferreira de Araujo
Brazil is famous for soccer, the iconic gleaming Christ the redeemer statue, heavenly beaches, and of course our Victoria’s Secret models. However people fail to realize that Brazil is one of the most racially diverse country in the world. According to the 2010 census, 50.7% of the population now define themselves as black or mixed race.
For 400 hundred years, over 5 millions African slaves between the ages of 16 to 19 were brought to Brazil and is “The largest forced immigration in the history of mankind” according to Anne E Goldman in her book: ‘Autobiographical Innovations of Ethnic American Working Women’.
Over a century has gone by since Princess Isabel signed the Golden law that ended slavery in Brazil on May 13, 1888. DNA tests are granting Afro-Brazilians the possibility to find out who they are beyond their complexion.
“Above all, slaves lost their names and their identity. With these DNA tests, they can re-establish the connection,” said Carlos Alberto Jr, head of ‘Brazil: DNA Africa.’
‘Brazil: DNA Africa’ is a series of five documentaries that are each 52mins long with the intent to trace the origin of Afro-Brazilians using DNA testing. Furthermore, explores the influence that Brazil’s African ancestry had on its food, religion, and art. The documentaries basically explores the importance of Africans in the construction of Brazil.
The series defines how DNA was taken from 150 Afro-Brazilians from 5 different Brazilian states where the most Africans were shipped to during slavery times. Five of the selectees were chosen to travel to the countries of their ancestors.
The DNA tests are being outsourced in Washington DC by a company named ‘African Ancestry’ with the selectees’ maternal DNA.
Black Women of Brazil Blog
The Black Women of Brazil blog published a more in-depth piece on this; here’s an excerpt: “For decades, Brazil has developed its reputation as one of the most racially diverse countries in the world. After centuries of mixing between descendants of Africans, Europeans and Native Brazilians, the phenotypes of many Brazilians are often unique to Latin America’s largest nation. And although Latin America in general is associated with all sorts of racial mixtures, Brazil, while far from being the only nation that imported Africans to work in situations of enforced labor, is unique in the sheer numbers of Africans that arrived on its shores. Brazil received about 9 times more Africans than its northern neighbor, the United States. The cultural and racial mixture of the original three racial groups of Brazil was of such a widespread and intense nature that famed anthropologist Gilberto Freyre wrote that: ‘Every Brazilian, even the light-skinned fair one, carries about with him on his soul, when not on soul and body alike…the shadow, or at least the birthmark of the native or the black.’ For many Brazilians, this mixture has often lead to a confusion in terms of racial identity. When combined with centuries of deeply-ingrained negative connotations associated with blacks and Indians and it is understandable as to why others often avoid claiming identities as African descendants altogether. In the past few decades, Afro-Brazilian activists have made great strides in helping Brazilians of visible African descent proudly assume identities as either negros (blacks), or afrodescendentes.”
I’m sure it’s going to be a docu-series full of emotion and surprises because certain people who think they are from one part of Africa may be baffled by the realization that they are actually from another.