Author Archives: Nasua Labi

Natural Hair Movement in Brazil

Even though Brazil has a predominantly black and colored population, Black features and culture are often looked down upon and stigmatized. In this article by Zoe Sullivan and Ana Terra Athayde, the current trend of black women and women of color accepting and embracing their natural hair is explored. The article begins with a reference to the Brazilian Blowout technique which has gained international fame because of many famous American stars. This technique was widely used by women of color to conform to social norms and standards of beauty; but today, many young black and mixed raced women are choosing to wear their hair in its natural form to “reclaim their identity.” This has created a market for natural hair salons and hair product lines in Brazilian.

Like many other movements involving hair throughout history, this is about more than just defying fashion norms, but it also brings to light many of the problems and oppressions people of color face in Brazil. Black women earn 28% of what non-black males earn and 80% of employed black females work as maids or in manual labor.  This is coupled by a lack of representation of black women in Brazilian media. By embracing their natural hair these black women are challenging the notion of black culture and black people as inferior.

40 Incredible Photos from Brazil’s First Natural Hair Empowerment March


Wikipedia Clean-Up: Letter of Pêro Vaz de Caminha

For my Wikipedia Article Project, I decided to look at the article on the letter from Pêro Vaz de Caminha to the King of Portugal, Manuel I. This letter is of particular importance to Brazilian history and culture because it was the first ever official letter and description of Brazil in 1500. It has also been considered by historians as the most accurate depiction of Brazil at the time. This letter can help give better insight into the opinions of early Portuguese people when they landed in Brazil and how that affected future relations between them and the Indigenous peoples.

There are many content gaps in this article, for example there is no context given about the Portuguese’s agenda and purpose in Brazil and there is no information about the author and his motives. The article also only translates very few sections of the letter and does not elaborate on them at all. There also needs to be a section on how this letter was received by the Portuguese monarchy and how it affected their future expeditions to Brazil. In terms of the actual writing of the article, it could use some improvement as it is not coherent in certain parts and does not introduce certain aspects very well which leaves the reader confused about the topic of discussion.

Currently, there is an article by Eduardo Mayone Dias entitled “Brazil’s Birth Certificate: The Letter of Pero Vaz de Caminha.” In this article, Dias descries the European political environment of the time in relation to exploring the New World. He also describes the actual expedition of de Caminha, what he encountered and his opinions; this is relevant as it gives more context to the letter.

Research Project Blog 1

Candomblé and other Afro-Brazilian Religion

I want to examine Candomblé, an Afro-Brazilian religion, based on gods and traditional religions that African slaves brought with them from Africa. I want to research this topic from various aspects to see how it has shaped the experience of being black in Brazil, how it has changed overtime and how it was received. Religion is a huge part of Brazilian culture and majority of its population is black or of color as such this topic is important in understanding Brazilian history.

I want to examine the actual belief system of Candomblé in terms of rituals, beliefs and practices as well as which traditional African religions and practices and possibly to pin-point which specific tribes they came from and what aspects are unique to Candomblé. I also want to see if the predominance of Catholicism in Brazil has influenced Candomblé in any way.

I also want to look at the chronological development of Candomblé; how it was practiced during slavery, after slavery and in modern times. Simultaneously, I will examine the use of Candomblé as a tool for coping with racism in Brazil and how this has evolved over time.

An important aspect of this topic is how non-Africans and non-people of color reacted to Candomblé over time. I want to examine how white/main-stream Brazilian culture reaction and treatment of Candomblé as well as the Catholic churches reaction.

Scholarly Sources:

Primary Sources:

Yemanjá Documentary:

City of Women Documentary

Critiquing Wikipedia’s Coverage of Brazilian History

The Wikipedia on the Afro-Brazilian population in Brazil gave a fair and unbiased depiction of the history and current situation of black people and people of color in brazil. The author(s) manage to treat a very sensitive issue without being partial; they managed to present the facts and depict an accurate picture of what it means and has meant to be black in America. Majority of the article was focused on the topic with only relevant information being used. However, the section in which they discussed the genetic make-up of the average black Brazilian in-terms of racial ancestry was, in my opinion, much longer than it needed to be since this information does not affect the daily experience of the average Brazilian.

In terms of things that could be added or improved, the section on sports and music were very short and lacked a lot of information. Such topics could be used to reveal a lot about Afro-Brazilian culture. The author(s) should also include information about current activists who are fighting for more inclusion of black and iced raced people in Brazilian media, politics and education.

Due to the language barrier, which is expected, I was unable to evaluate whether the sources supported the claims in the article for most of the sources and whether or not they were unbiased. Most of the sources cited in this article were PDF and seemed to be from credible sources.

This article is in 3 WikiProjects: WikiProject African diaspora, WikiProject Brazil/Gepgraphy and WikiProject Ethnic groups; it is rated with a B-class in all these projects. The Talk page shows that this article has undergone a lot of editing and critiquing already; most of which includes modification of sources and the wording of the article to make it less biased and inoffensive.

Wikipedia takes a very objective role when addressing this topic which is very different from how we discuss it in class. In class, we tend to examine Brazilian culture from an American perspective so we often compare and contrast the two cultures instead of taking a more objective view.