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Escrava Anastacia, Brazilian Saint and Icon (Culture Brief, no.7, Summer 2014)

by Jamillah R. Gabriel

Upon visiting Brazil, one might notice the perpetual image of a dark-skinned woman with blue eyes, and an iron mask and collar fastened on her face and around her neck. An iconic image that is often seen in Brazilian art and other manifestations, “Escrava Anastacia,” or the slave Anastacia, is also a popular figure amongst practitioners of both Brazilian Catholicism and Umbanda. The illustration seen below was originally a drawing of an unidentified Brazilian slave by French artist Jacques Arago which later came to be associated with the stories of Anastacia.

While it is unknown if she was a real person, there are several variations in the oral tradition that describe who she was, and most accounts agree that Anastacia was enslaved by a sugar plantation owner in Brazil, where she was subjected to rape and abuse by the overseer and many other white men. Her attempts to fend off these advances along with other acts of defiance were inevitably the cause for her punishment resulting in confinement to an iron mask and collar and her subsequent death. It should also be noted that, historically, enslaved people often were forced to wear iron masks for a variety reasons, one of which was to prevent any attempts at committing suicide by poisoning themselves through the ingestion of dirt.
Anastacia has come to represent many things to the people of Brazil. One perspective is that the emphasis on her blue eyes within the oral narrative is meant to detract from her Africanness and implies that if the eyes are the mirror of the soul, then Anastacia is good and saintly because she has a “white” soul. This belief reflects an obsession with whiteness (Dos Santos Soares, 2012, p. 84). But the most common representation of Anastacia is evidenced in the movement among Catholic women who have embraced her as a long-suffering character who was able to both maintain her virtue and forgive her attackers, despite the brutality that characterized her life, thereby making her worthy of sainthood. She has become synonymous with “the sufferings not only of slaves but of female slaves and black women in general” (Handler & Hayes, 2009, p. 37).


REFERENCES
Dos Santos Soares, M.A. (2012). Look, blackness in Brazil!: Disrupting the grotesquerie of racial representation
in Brazilian visual culture. Cultural Dynamics, 24(1), 75-101. doi: 10.1177/0921374012452812
Handler, J.S., & Hayes, K.E. (2009). Escrava Anastacia: The iconographic history of a Brazilian popular saint.
African Diaspora, 2, 25-51. doi: 10.1163/187254609X4307682014-jul-CULTUREBRIEFS7

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Carnival a Global (Black) Phenomenon

The world along with global Africans celebrate their history and roots culture in pure decadence before the religious advent season where we practice self discipline and cleanse from the debauchery of Carnival! From New Orleans, to Trinidad and Tobago, to Rio de Janeiro to Haiti, to Guinea-Bissau – global Africans celebrate carnival sometimes by different names, but always within its African roots and flavor. While many global Africans debate whether Carnival is rooted in Africa or Europe, or a construct of Christianity and Catholicism in particular, carnival clearly represents our global fusion from the shores of Africa to Europe and the Americas with all of its celebratory allure.

~ See more at: http://globalfusionproductions.com/featured/dissecting-the-global-africaneuropean-and-catholic-origins-of-carnival/#sthash.vjxPNrFV.dpu;’

 

the world along with global Africans celebrate their history and roots culture in pure decadence before the religious advent season where we practice self discipline and cleanse from the debauchery of Carnival! From New Orleans, to Trinidad and Tobago, to Rio de Janeiro to Haiti, to Guinea-Bissau – global Africans celebrate carnival sometimes by different names, but always within its African ;’

roots and flavor. While many global Africans debate whether Carnival is rooted in Africa or Europe, or a construct of Christianity and Catholicism in particular, carnival clearly represents our global fusion from the shores of Africa to Europe and the Americas with all of its celebratory allure. – See more at: http://globalfusionproductions.com/featured/dissecting-the-global-africaneuropean-and-catholic-origins-of-carnival/#sthash.vjxPNrFV.dpuf

the world along with global Africans celebrate their history and roots culture in pure decadence before the religious advent season where we practice self discipline and cleanse from the debauchery of Carnival! From New Orleans, to Trinidad and Tobago, to Rio de Janeiro to Haiti, to Guinea-Bissau – global Africans celebrate carnival sometimes by different names, but always within its African roots and flavor. While many global Africans debate whether Carnival is rooted in Africa or Europe, or a construct of Christianity and Catholicism in particular, carnival clearly represents our global fusion from the shores of Africa to Europe and the Americas with all of its celebratory allure. – See more at: http://globalfusionproductions.com/featured/dissecting-the-global-africaneuropean-and-catholic-origins-of-carnival/#sthash.vjxPNrFV.dpuf
the world along with global Africans celebrate their history and roots culture in pure decadence before the religious advent season where we practice self discipline and cleanse from the debauchery of Carnival! From New Orleans, to Trinidad and Tobago, to Rio de Janeiro to Haiti, to Guinea-Bissau – global Africans celebrate carnival sometimes by different names, but always within its African roots and flavor. While many global Africans debate whether Carnival is rooted in Africa or Europe, or a construct of Christianity and Catholicism in particular, carnival clearly represents our global fusion from the shores of Africa to Europe and the Americas with all of its celebratory allure. – See more at: http://globalfusionproductions.com/featured/dissecting-the-global-africaneuropean-and-catholic-origins-of-carnival/#sthash.vjxPNrFV.dpuf
the world along with global Africans celebrate their history and roots culture in pure decadence before the religious advent season where we practice self discipline and cleanse from the debauchery of Carnival! From New Orleans, to Trinidad and Tobago, to Rio de Janeiro to Haiti, to Guinea-Bissau – global Africans celebrate carnival sometimes by different names, but always within its African roots and flavor. While many global Africans debate whether Carnival is rooted in Africa or Europe, or a construct of Christianity and Catholicism in particular, carnival clearly represents our global fusion from the shores of Africa to Europe and the Americas with all of its celebratory allure. – See more at: http://globalfusionproductions.com/featured/dissecting-the-global-africaneuropean-and-catholic-origins-of-carnival/#sthash.vjxPNrFV.dpuf
the world along with global Africans celebrate their history and roots culture in pure decadence before the religious advent season where we practice self discipline and cleanse from the debauchery of Carnival! From New Orleans, to Trinidad and Tobago, to Rio de Janeiro to Haiti, to Guinea-Bissau – global Africans celebrate carnival sometimes by different names, but always within its African roots and flavor. While many global Africans debate whether Carnival is rooted in Africa or Europe, or a construct of Christianity and Catholicism in particular, carnival clearly represents our global fusion from the shores of Africa to Europe and the Americas with all of its celebratory allure. – See more at: http://globalfusionproductions.com/featured/dissecting-the-global-africaneuropean-and-catholic-origins-of-carnival/#sthash.vjxPNrFV.dpuf
the world along with global Africans celebrate their history and roots culture in pure decadence before the religious advent season where we practice self discipline and cleanse from the debauchery of Carnival! From New Orleans, to Trinidad and Tobago, to Rio de Janeiro to Haiti, to Guinea-Bissau – global Africans celebrate carnival sometimes by different names, but always within its African roots and flavor. While many global Africans debate whether Carnival is rooted in Africa or Europe, or a construct of Christianity and Catholicism in particular, carnival clearly represents our global fusion from the shores of Africa to Europe and the Americas with all of its celebratory allure. – See more at: http://globalfusionproductions.com/featured/dissecting-the-global-africaneuropean-and-catholic-origins-of-carnival/#sthash.vjxPNrFV.dpuf

BCC HISTORY: 40 years ago this week

Dear Everyone:

It was a hard transition into the Greater Lafayette area for BCC Director Emeritus, Antonio Zamora and his wife Betty. Someone left snakes in their mailbox. They got calls from the Ku Klux Klan threatening them, trying to scare them out of town. Why? Because Mr. Zamora was the director of the newly founded Black Cultural Center at Purdue University. The cultural center was not wanted by some people, so by default, neither were Mr. and Mrs. Zamora.

So why am I  taking this bumpy trip down memory lane? Well, my phone rang last night and it was Mama Betty, as I call her. She asked if I had seen the Journal and Courier, the Sunday paper, page A2. I had not, so she began to tell me what was on the inside.

I learned from her that the Sunday paper featured a photograph from the J & C Archive. Well, that is not just the paper’s history, it is Black Cultural Center history too.

Stokely Carmichael (later known as Kwame Ture) was the first keynote speaker invited by Director Emeritus, Antonio Zamora when he was hired to be the director of the Purdue BCC. Mr. Zamora was well informed of the happenings among Black people nationally at this time in our history. He brought artists, intellectuals, politicians, scholars, philosophers and academics to the university interact with students and to keep them and the community informed on the happenings outside of the walls of academe. These happenings would affect their lives.

Stokely Carmichael was at the forefront of revolutionary thought and a member of SNCC, the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee. He was married to South African freedom fighter and artist, Miriam Makeba. Makeba used her art to speak out against the atrocities faced by Black people in South Africa.

What is not commonly known is that it was extremely hard for Mr. Zamora to find a place on campus for Stokely Carmichael to speak. Being the consummate administrator, he negotiated with the late Mr. Smalley who approved a space in the PMU Ballroom for Carmichael to speak on October 29, 1973.

All I can say is thanks Mr. Z. None of us would be here, with jobs, access to resources – globally etc., if not for your very hard work and perseverance. There would be no BCC, no programs, no building, no 44 year history at Purdue, if not for you.

^^^^^^^^^^

For the record… you music lovers will get a kick out of this:

Another incident occurred that academic year. Guests to the university, invited by Mr. Zamora, were to perform a free open-air concert at Slater Hill. The men in the band were asked to NOT use the dressing rooms to change into their performance attire. Eventually, things were worked out and the show happened.

The name of that band is not known, but one of the band members, well, his name was Maurice.

Maurice and a few of the other brothers went on to form another band. Maurice was Maurice White, and the band they formed, it was called Earth, Wind, & Fire and they have been all over the world performing their music and we still hear it today on radio, in movies, commercials and everywhere. Just think, one of their stops on their road to being internationally known was at Purdue University via the BCC.

That photo of Stokely Carmichael stirred up memories in Mrs. Z. I am so glad she called to share those memories with me so I could pass them on to each of you. We must know upon whose shoulders we stand.

Jolivette J. Anderson-Douoning

Source:

Zamora, Betty. Phone Conversation. November 3, 2013. Approx. 8:30 pm