The author, very lucid and critical, did something that I had not seen in previous writers: he took a stand. And this he himself proposes as part of his analysis in the book’s own introduction. I like to understand the authors’ premise and a little bit of their personality, because I know that this directly impacts their production. So, I found myself stuck in the book and read more than the past chapters, since the content is very good.
This radiography of racism that Abdias do Nascimento Faz is very conscious and based on the mixture of academic studies with empiricism and experience. Until then, unless mistaken, all previous authors commented on racism and Brazilian racial formation, even defending the idea of racial democracy, they were not people who would suffer from the country’s ethnic constitution.
I mean that, until then, it was not a black or indigenous person who was talking about this topic, which left the analysis too partial for the benefited side of the spectrum, which put in check part of their judgment. Therefore, I think it is great to have an author like Abdias, who besides having a lot of theoretical background, speaks with a lot of propriety.
And that is what he does most in the text, in addition to deconstructing many concepts of the so-called racial democracy. He criticizes heavily Gilberto Freyre and it is not free, as Freyre helped to consolidate many questionable concepts about Brazilian ethnic relations. Abdias questions the position of racism and blacks in our society and, based on very elucidative historical reports – such as changes in religions of African origin -, he draws a panorama of the fallacies and truths of the blacks’ experience in the country.
Thus, he demystifies that the “survival” of part of black culture did not happen through a natural process of assimilation of cultures in society, but through a struggle of the people who were enslaved to resist and fight for their own customs.
And he adds that, even today, these cultural elements were incorporated and remain seen as customs peripheral to the natural order of cities. In other words, black culture is repudiated in everyday life and, when it is accepted in certain points, this is seen as a favor or even a reason for more rejection, since it “is not part” of the Brazilian social imagination in a common way.
He comments on this, that the survival of African cultural traits is manipulated by people of bad character to “demonstrate” a culture of non-racism, where ethnicities live harmoniously.