Where Gods and Men Have Mingled

Article excerpt

Where gods and men have mingled

THE culture of Brazil was formed in the struggle against racism and was born of the mingling of whites, blacks and Amerindians. The black element in Brazilian society is inextricably mingled with the white, and Africa is a maternal presence in our midst.

Our outlook on life is fundamentally antiracist, based as it is on intermingling. The vigorous "negro' art of the scultor Agnaldo da Silva, without equal in Brazil today, is not exclusively black. It bears traces of white and Iberian influences in both form and subject: Agnaldo's Oxossi is also St. George.

It is all the more unfortunate, then, that a distorted image of our way of life is sometimes presented abroad. The African contribution, which is of fundamental importance to Brazilian culture, is glossed over or pushed into the background.

This is a totally false approach. Through a curious reversal of the colonial mentality, there is a tendency to put the spotlight on painters, writers and singers with the blackest possible skins. This attempt to prove the absence of racial-prejudice in Brazil actually indicates a preoccupation which is totally alien to the Brazilian philosophy of life.

The blackest girls are chosen to sing, but no attention is paid to the fact that they sing songs more strongly marked by Iberian than black influence, although Brazilian music derives primarily from the atabiques of Africa.

The paintings shown tend to be typical examples of the Paris School--the important thing is that the artists' skins are black. …