Detail of the cover of the book A defect in color
Detail of the cover of the book "A defect in color", 2006, Editora Record. Photo: Disclosure.

"When you don't know where to go, look back and at least know where you came from". This is one of the ten African proverbs that introduce each chapter of the book A Color Defect (Record Publisher, 2006), a contemporary book that is already considered a classic of Brazilian literature even in its first years in circulation. The fictional volume, with almost a thousand pages, is always remembered in discussions about black, anti-racist literature, which deals with the Afro-Atlantic diaspora and the slave social formation in Brazil.

In the book, the author Ana Maria Gonçalves, from the city of Ubiá, from Minas Gerais, unfolds the plot around the narrative of Kehinde, a black African woman from the Kingdom of Dahomey (today Benin) who has in her family history a trajectory full of traumas left behind. by the Brazilian slavery process. Violence, death, separations, rape.

It is an individual history that merges with the collective memory of the Brazilian colonial period, which extends its marks and scars to the present day through the built social structures, which have inequality as one of their products. It is considered the author's masterpiece, who won the Casa de las Américas Award with the book in 2007. research firm Nielsen with the publishing platform PublishNews, A Color Defect is still present, now in its 20th edition.

The character Kehinde has roots in the biography of the mythical Luísa Mahin, a black heroine who would have helped to spark an uprising against the slave regime in Bahia and mother of the abolitionist Luis Gama, who defined her: “A black, free African, from the Costa da Mina” . The author says that what led her to write the book was to have accidentally found, when she lived on Itaparica Island (BA), a manuscript by Mahin. The book, therefore, brings a narrative that extends what was recorded by Luísa, a gain slave who knew how to read and write, in this manuscript.

Thus, the fictionalized plot of Ana Maria Gonçalves is confused several times with History. Kehinde spends her life on the move across the African continent and Brazil, where she is taken to the condition of a slave. Separated from her son, sold into slavery by his own father (a white slaver), she narrates her search for him over the years. The memorialistic tone used in the narration of the text, told by Kehinde in the first person, gives the book an autobiographical character of this woman who is taken to an epic situation when she insists on having her child back. It's also an apology from a mother who had her baby taken away with nothing she could do to stop it.

Kehinde spends her life on the move across the African continent and Brazil, where she is evaded to the condition of a slave. Separated from her son, sold into slavery by his own father, a white slaver), she narrates her search for him over the years.

It is necessary to emphasize the importance of A Color Defect in Afrofeminist studies, as it evokes the experience of women who were slaves/enslaved, becoming an indispensable work for gender studies. This is because the condition of women and the particularities of violence experienced by Kehinde are very latent, not only because she was enslaved, but because she was female. As, for example, the sexual violence that has the black woman's body as an object - and which is a crucial point of the book -, since rape is a theme that accompanies the character in Brazil, when she is violated, and also in the African continent, when he saw his mother suffer the same violence.

The identity of the character’s black mother “connects to other narratives of black mothers in Brazil, who are also separated from their children, but who, unlike the novel’s narrator, often come across the inert bodies of these murdered children. daily by a genocidal policy of the State that targets the black population of this country”, attests to the researcher Fabiana Carneiro in the book Omnibú: black motherhood in A defect of color (Editor Edufba, 2019).

When talking about the book, the author always points out the need to go back to the past to fully understand the history of our country. Read A Color Defect It is, without a doubt, knowing to critically question a reprehensible period in the construction of Brazil, which is the origin of the structurally racist characteristic that accompanies our society in all relationships. ✱

Read also Deconstructing white hegemony in Brazilian arts is an effective action for change, read an article by researcher and curator Luciara Ribeiro about. In this link.

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