Carol Lima

ActivismRaceSex & Gender

redefining brazilian beauty, feminism and activism

April 11, 2019
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Photos by Caroline Lima for AFROPUNK

It only takes a few minutes with 21-year-old Aisha Mbikila Garcia Fikula to understand why she was featured on Forbes’ “Under 30” list in Brazil. She’s a brilliant blend of intelligence rooted in ancestral Black wisdom, with hints of daring Gen Z charisma.

The origin of her name, Aisha, dates back to the African Swahili language and, almost as an explanation of her personality, means Life. Aisha is a model, performer, actress and DJ, and the sum of these activities makes her one of the main faces of young, Black activism in Brazil. Her keen speech and Black feminism presents a new aesthetic to the mainstream with a focus on the idea of what it is to be a young Black person.

This multifaceted womxn has built a solid career full of highlights, such as starring in the global Nike Hyper Flora campaign. Aisha is an influencer  in the advertising world and takes advantage of this interest to spread a political discourse charged with Black Power. In addition to campaigns of famous brands, Aisha recently embarked to Patagonia to do a special for the National Geographic channel.

Caroline Lima

If all of this is not enough, Aisha is also a deejay who collaborates with her cousin and faithful squire Yaminah Garcia. They curate music that exalts culture, especially Afro Brazilian music. Aisha is also a recurring figure in the music videos of great Brazilian artists such as the powerful Xênia França, Karol Conka and the Brazilian’s drag queen girlfriend Pabllo Vittar, while she divides her time with the photo shoots and her work as a DJ in the most diverse parties of the country.

In her Instagram profile, Aisha calls herself half-Brazilian, half-Angolan — the young woman explains this definition, due to her genetic inheritance “my father is Angolan, and with the social media I ended up discovering 6 Angolan brothers, this gave me a powerful sensation of belonging and connection with my very origins. It is a privilege to know where I came from, in a country where the genetic heritage of Black people has been systematically erased,” she says.

Aisha’s spirit does not come from today, her family moved to Brasilia in 1959 for the construction of what would become the capital of Brazil. Her grandfather, Willy de Mello, was the only Black architect on the planning team of the internationally renowned Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer and was responsible for the praised landscaping projects of the Brazilian capital. Her grandmother, Lydia Garcia, is a militant of the Black movement and art educator and had an atelier of ethnic fashion and it was in this environment that Aisha had her first contact with fashion, through an afro-referenced filter. The generation that followed continued to break paradigms and her mother, a teacher, was one of the first Black female teachers in Brasilia, a great achievement for Brazilian racist society.

“People talk about me but the real responsibility for everything that is happening in my life today is my grandmother Lydia. She’s always been a cutting-edge woman, she’s always had a punk attitude, and can you imagine what it’s like to be a punk woman in the ’50s in racist Brazil?” says Aisha, recalling her ancestry and justifying her politicized speech.

The story of Aisha and her family throws light on the different moments of Black feminism which requires an interpretation beyond what we find in traditional literature. First of all, because in many of these contributions of Black women to the feminist struggle is ignored, like in the period of slavery in Brazil, Black women were entrepreneurs, for example, and used the money to buy the liberty of Black enslaved people. In the same way, many of them contributed to the organization of uprisings against slavery, as well as quilombos maintenance strategies.

If we look more closely to the history of Black women in Brazil and other countries where Black slavery has occurred, we can see that they already played an important role in the struggle and survival of the Black people, and such an effort is recognized and practiced today, but in a different way. Aisha’s activism runs through the aesthetic field and presents society with a new representation of the Black woman.

Caroline Lima

Caroline Lima

Caroline Lima