If Brazil is the picture of a racial paradise then the photographer must be Dali.
Salvador Bahia, Brazil, lauded as a small piece of Africa in the Americas is playfully called “AfroDisney”. It has the largest concentration of African descended people in the Western Hemisphere. Yoruba culture is prevalent but distorted. The Yoruba Orisha Yemanja has an entire festival in her honor yet she is presented with an african body covered in the skin and hair of a white woman. For an afro centered person like myself, Brasil looked like a place to explore what it means to be black in the America’s through a new perhaps more “authentic” filter. I’m starting to believe that was a very naive thought.
I came because-well maybe that’s the first problem.
I, like many other DVD owners and former film majors, would call “City of God” my favorite movie. I’m now realizing I’m no better than the jerks who move to Baltimore after watching a season of the Wire. I was drawn to the violence. I wanted to study the people. I wanted to compare and contrast struggle.
People from Baltimore, or DetroitNewOrleansComptonTheBronx know the reaction you get when you tell people you’re from Baltimore or DetroitNewOrleansComptonTheBronx. Eyes widen and maybe some are surprised because you aren’t featured in a World Star Hip Hop video or robbing them (at the moment). “The Wire” and “City of God” are great but they still hold a white gaze. Still directed, produced and made by white people for other white people. In other words, their story is just a piece of the pie. I came down here cause I wanted to study a countries recipe. I thought I would be satisfied with just a 3 month visit. It felt like dipping my toe into the cool pool at the 4th of July cookout (the one where people are actually swimming). 3 months wasn’t enough. I missed my return flight. Too much had happened but also not enough.
Anyway, I came to Brazil cause I was obsessed with something I became familiar with through the media. I stayed cause I thought I fell in love. I’m not leaving just yet, cause I want to figure out why the hell I’m still here.