Magazine article UNESCO Courier

Where Gods and Men Have Mingled. (Culture - September 1977)

Magazine article UNESCO Courier

Where Gods and Men Have Mingled. (Culture - September 1977)

Article excerpt

BRAZIL is a country OF racial mixture. This is an obvious and incontrovertible fact. The Brazilian experiment is of immense importance in the search for a solution to the terrible racial problem that afflicts the world. For in Brazil the most diverse races have constantly been mingled.

What Brazilian could honestly claim to be of "pure" descent in a country where Iberians, Slays, Anglo-Saxons, Magyars and others have become inextricably mixed with black and Amerindian peoples and with Arabs, Jews and Japanese?

This continuing process is the fundamental reality of life in Brazil, and represents our own special contribution to world culture and the humanist tradition.

We are a racially mixed people, and the mixture has depended as much on the contribution of the black as on that of the white. We owe to the black peoples some of our most outstanding characteristics: our ability, for example, to endure misery and oppression, to survive in the toughest conditions, and to love life and laughter.

It is to them that we owe the unfailing joyfulness that inspires our efforts to fight against and defeat backwardness, poverty and the many obstacles on our path to development. We owe this toughness and fighting spirit to the black blood which flows not only in our veins but also in our music, dance and other forms of artistic expression.

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.

But it would be ridiculous to claim that there are no racists in Brazil, for there are many. On the other hand, we do not have a racist philosophy of life: our outlook is fundamentally anti-racist, based as it is on intermingling.

The vigorous "negro" art of the sculptor 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. …

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