This is about Carnaval, remember that’s how we call it in Brazil, and since in this post I intend to speak up and say how I feel about it, that’s how I am going to address it: -Carnaval.
I beg your pardon for this is not a pretty post. I hold this opinion within my very soul. Let me tell you a bit more about myself, than about my own country, but most of all you also have to know I do love Brazil.
After that you will be entitled to your own opinion, which I will respect. In fact, I promise to publish every single one of them as long as I do not find it offensive.
I am what is to be called in Brazil “mulata”, you may know those people who are African-descendant, half black half white. Light skinned. A proud one I must say so. Coming from a middle-class family, I had access to reasonably good schools, homing, education, and an honorable life style.
My father was a classic musician, never liked samba pretty much, preferring instead “MPB” (Brazilian Popular Music), jazz, rhythm and blues, the Good Oldies and so on.
My Mom was brought up in a Catholic boarding school and rarely expressed her feelings through music.
So my feet got to learn Samba when I was already a teenager. I had never been encouraged by my parents, but can’t say they opposed to it either.
People usually get to dance it in circles in family gatherings on weekends; we basically watch and learn and practice does make perfect.
By my 19 I did it really well! I loved dancing with friends at night, or afternoon clubs, had never been in any kind of “trouble”, never drunk alchool, tried drug, or even had connections with people who did so. I had my own job, and was able to afford my own University fees. Therefore my parents allowed me to continue going to those places. My friends and I just loved dancing, that was all.
I was also naive enough to support Samba schools, participating in all the preparations that preceded the big party of Carnaval itself.
Never realized the major efforts people did to collect funds for the Parade, never knew back then that most money involved in the Carnaval Parade comes from money laundering, but before the board of the Samba school asks for this humiliating “support”, many of the participants get to donate even the little money they would have used to buy more household food!
Having studied Culture as a different subject for three years as part of my Tourism Graduation Course I really changed my mind.
It was then that I learned that for many people going to the Sambodromo even for one day, made them feel as if they left the status of being poor and got to be queens and kings, during this spectacle. People say that Carnaval is the moment the world turns its eyes to the poor, in admiration, wishing for a moment they were in their shoes.
They are it.
For a fraction of time the world belongs to them. The only day they are covered with sparkling costumes, dancing and moving frantically, seducing, showing off, freely at the sound of live music produced by themselves.
It hypnotizes people, and unfortunately in many circumstances is what makes them carry on their miserable lives day-after-day…for the year to come.
Another dark side of Carnaval to me is that as the years pass by it has proven to be more of a reason for people to “misbehave”, going over their limits, getting killed in stupid massive accidents, dressing nothing, disclosing their own bodies publicly -which should be their temples-bringing my people to a place close to disgrace.
I will never forget once in Holland, and not by myself, walking downtown Rotterdam I had been checked down by a man. The way he looked at me made me sick to my stomach. After walking for a block or so I saw the reason for that look: There was a huge poster of a “mulata” dressed in Carnaval let’s say “attire” hanging at a newsstand.
To say the least this is the image people outside Brazil have of people inside Brazil. And may I dare say it is as sad as it may seem.
Pitifully it hasn’t changed over the decades.
I wish we could only go out and play during Carnaval, having fun for a few days, I wish the media paid more attention to the fun part of it. Helped us more in trying to become a better and more equal, respectful country.
It hurts deeper than the skin, reaches our souls, goes beyond it.
As sad as it may seem.