Fashion

FEATURE: Strengthening the self-esteem of young black women in the favelas – Brazilian twins Tasha and Tracie Okereke

June 15, 2015

We are Tasha and Tracie Okereke, Brazilian twins of 19 years old. We have the project Expensive $hit which is a fashion-activist blog that uses history, art, music and fashion to strengthen and work on self esteem of young black woman from the favelas.

By Tasha and Tracie Okereke, AFROPUNK Contributor

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Another important point to emphasize is the issue of hair. The afro/curly hair is called “duro” (means tough), and it is considered inappropriate. As a result, black girls tend to believe that the only good solution for them is the straight hair that is what most appears in the media. However, in recent years we felt the beginning of a beautiful revolution! Thanks to the internet! The fashion sites praising the afro hair, black movements and black culture, are definitely contributing in a positive way in the view of many girls. At the same time, there is a negative side because the scope in Brazil is limited and the information does not reach the girls if they are not daily seeking for reference. The point is that information simply does not reach the girls that never left their neighborhood,those who really need information; girls that listen from their mothers that “they must clear the family” or “must date/marry a white guy” to be happy. Or even girls devalued by black men who prefer white girls. When this dissolution came comes from the oppressor is something expected, but when it comes from a similar, a brother or a sister, we can see how bigger the damage is. It proves that the slave strategies designed to last centuries still work.

We are black, young and from the ghetto. We grew up just like these girls, actually we are two of them. We attend the same places,we go to brasilian funk partys,and have the same lifestyle, but what made us to see our displacement was the love for music and the fact that we are the result of an interracial relationship. With a Brazilian white mother and a Nigerian father, we socialized with all ethnicities at the same time we had contact with our African roots. We had musical reference and knew that the afro was beautiful. We studied in private schools (where most people were white) and also in public schools. So we lived with the differences, but we also knew who we were and most important: we knew we were not less than anyone.

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Taking into account the story of our childhood and also the way we relate to these black girls, our intention with Expensive $hit  is to tell stories of art and music personalities seeking recognition and identification so it is possible that all black girls understand better the history of THEMSELVES. Our editorials are made at home and we use customized and thrift shop clothes (from 2 to 20 reais) trying to demonstrate that we can be and dress whatever we want.. “WE ARE THE STREETS, RAP, AFRICA AND WE DON’T CARE ABOUT YOUR ETIQUETTES”. That’s what we preach!

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Through the blog we share stories of girls who have gone through different hair transitions to encourage other girls who want to do the same, so they do not feel alone. And the most important to us: embrace our people, our culture and all kinds of manifestation of poor and black youth from the ghetto. Some activists, militants and people who already have full consciousness, feel superior as to be arrogant with brothers and sisters, this is one of ironic points of racism. Our role is also to not feed this sick and vicious cycle.

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(Milleni Bezeirra Moreira)

(Carliny Emerald)

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We received several messages from people who think we have to change the focus, we were also told that our focus limited us and it is not everyone that identifies with the content. Well…we believe these people want us to drift away from the focus, from OURSELVES. THEY DO NOT UNDERSTAND THAT WE ARE FIGHTING FOR US. THERE ARE TOO MANY PEOPLE REPRESENTING THEM. JUST TURN ON THE TV, OPEN A MAGAZINE, THEY WILL BE THER, EVERYWHERE. It is precisely messages like this that has the reverse effect because it only shows us what we must continue with our work and our pride very bother the oppressor. At the same time, we received several messages from girls who say they have learned to be themselves, who have made the transition or who simply feel better about themselves and today accept and love their blackness.

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Once we did a test with two friends of our neighborhood that suffered racism in so many different ways and consequently didn’t know how beautiful they were. It was such an an exciting experience to see how they were discovering their beauty during the photo shoot. We had a very realistic conversation before the photos and one particularly question drew attention: – “What is being black to you?”.

At the time, they did joke and did not answer, but when the cameras were off, one of them (the one with the darker skin) said, “When you asked me what I thought about being black, I immediately knew the answer, most did not want to talk … being black for me is to remember it that every time when I the supermarket … so I walk there I remember that I’m black.”

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Our intention is to make more of these meetings with our sisters and in the future produce a documentary reporting the rediscovery of different black girls and its opinion about how is being black in Brazil.

Expensive $hitt born of our passion for music and fashion but also because of the precariousness of information that we realized our sisters suffered. What motivates us is the will to make changes in here. We are writing projects, and we intend to give lectures and customization workshops. We have the dream of realizing the documentary and the plan to launch our brand clothing at the end of this year. AND IN EVERY LITTLE THING WE DO WE HAVE THE INTENT TO PERPETUATE THE PRIDE AND WONDER OF SCIENCE AND THE ROYALTY EVERY BLACK WOMAN HAVE INSIDE! WE KEEP FIGHTING…

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#ITFAVELA

Instagram: @expensiveshitt

www.expensiveshitt.blogspot.com

www.expensive-shitt.tumblr.com

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