Coming to terms with female palmitagem (preference for whiteness)

“Deeply hurt and exploited, I no longer want to be used as a sex hole for white boys”

Source: Black Women of Brazil

By Mia (or Lena)

Well, I as a black woman have already palmitei, you palmitaste, and we palmitarás (see note one). But what is the reason for this compulsive palmitagem?

I am adopted by a white family and EXTREMELY more privileged than most black Brazilians for this simple fact. I always carried myself as a menina branca (white girl) because my parents raised me as if “raça não importasse” (race does not matter) within the “somos todos iguais” (we’re all equal) discourse so I never understood exactly why they didn’t like me, I just knew that they didn’t like me.

Mia (or Lena)

Mia (or Lena)

I like any other menina negra (black girl) in childhood was seen as not feminine enough or not good enough. The meninos negros (black boys) had the privilege of being men, seen socially as “strong,” and the meninos brancos (white boys) loved walking around them to raise the level of fear in the targets of jokes. I was not the only negra (black girl) in the class but the others had no maneirismos brancos (white mannerisms) like I had, nor my educação de família branca (white family education), so there was a chasm between us.

I was not the subject of jokes during primary school in Minas Gerais because I had the status of Carioca Filha De Rico (daughter from Rio with rich parents), and I was the smartest in the room, everyone liked me (from the queues I passed to avoid being targeted).

So, they made fun of others who were like me. I got to hear “tudo macaca, menos a Milen” (all monkeys, except Milena), and I never did anything to stop it because I was “SPARED”, I pretended that it was not about me.

When I arrived in Rio de Janeiro, I no longer had the carioca title, I was once again black (privilegiada, porém preta/privileged but black) and my white mother had straightened my hair since I was six because she “didn’t know how to deal with it.”

This phase was DESTRUCTIVE for my self-esteem, I didn’t fit in! Being a prodigy, at 9 years old in a class with 14-year old boys and God only knows how bad they can be.

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