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Cute Furniture.. and Slavery??

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As I don’t have a car, I rely on the internet for some things and mostly just walking around my neighborhood.  Here in São Paulo don’t just go to the “furniture area” or the shopping area, as nestled amongst houses can be the cutest boutique, chocolate shop, or furniture store.  So every day I manage to make it out of the house to somewhere other than the grocery store, I try and visit a new street.   In my neighborhood my husband ran across a cute rustic furniture store.  I would have loved to buy a bunch of cute things from the store, but the money miser pointed out that we are here for a little over a year now, and have to ship things back or leave them here.  So all I picked up was a cute office desk, which I will be shipping back.

The store is kind of a shabby chic, Brazil style store.  Deposito Mineiro The wood is all brightly colored,pink, blue, and yellow.  It is supposed to be made of wood from old houses (some of it at least). The website pretty much shows everything in the store, so you can check all of the cute furniture out, but I also took photos, and wrote down a few prices.  The desks were about R$540 to R$600.  The wrought iron rose decorations ranged from ~R$20 to R$300

I would have loved to buy one of the armoires made from old shutters, but they were around R$1950 and well, we have so much space in our house, we don’t really need it.  AND it would be HUGE to bring back to the US and heavy, but I think it is very cute, and would look great in a kid’s room.

They also had lots of various doves, kind of Spanish Catholic decor. I think they are really cute, and would rather put one of these on my wall for decor, than those 50’s style sun clocks that seem to be so popular with all of the interior designers lately.  I may just come back from the US with one of these.  This is the larger one, and they had little small ones, but I would much rather the larger one.

Finally, this is a bad photo as I took it from outside the store, but I found this HIGHLY unusual, and I know I would never see this in the US, nor would a store prominently display it in their front window.  The store calls the larger than life figurine: Mucama em Madeira Maciça or Large Wood Mucama… which I tried to tell myself was just a woman of the house (come on I was trying to give Brazil the benefit of the doubt).

So what is a Mucama?  Per Wikipedia:

Chambermaid is the name given to a slave who was once black in Brazil concubine, the slave masters but also the sexual girl who was chosen to assist in domestic service or accompany family members, usually Sinha. She was chosen specifically for these functions and ended up being taken as a slave pet. Sometimes also was the wet nurse . Example in the literature have the Maid of Lucinda Joaquim Manoel de Macedo . The maids were often subjected to torture and threats to their masters. There are few novels that put such characters as heroes and as advisors of the daughters of coffee barons and owners of farms.

From a Brazilian dictionary site:

sf slave who helped in household chores, accompanying family members of Mr. and sometimes it was the wet nurse.

So yeah, a larger than life, slave figure is considered completely acceptable to use to decorate your home.  Race in Brazil is such an interesting thing.  Stereotypes, political correctness, all of that doesn’t seem to exist here.  People do not get offended over you pointing out their race or pigeon holing them due to their race.While slavery was practiced on a much larger scale here in Brazil than it was in America, the attitude towards slavery is very much different than it is in the US.  What I mean by that is I feel like in the US there is a shame of slavery, and for African Americans there is the sense of the injustice of what occurred in America.  However, here in Brazil, I get a sense that it is accepted that it was part of history, there is no ill feeling of deserving reparation for the former bonds of slavery.   The fundamental difference is that in Brazil slaves were just considered the lowest form of labor, they were (and probably the lowest workers are still looked on in the same way) looked down upon for being unskilled or uneducated.  However, they were not looked down upon because of their race, that never entered into the equation.  Slaves were able to marry, and today and then, Brazil is a huge melting pot of various ethnicities.  So it was not just the white plantation owner who had a slave, it was simply a matter of the classes (whatever ethnicity or ethnicities you may have been). In America, we turned them into nothing more than objects and took away their humanity… which probably links to why we were so incredibly horrible to our slaves compared to the Brazilian people. So in the end, I guess a Brazilian statue of a black maid, is just that a historical bit of decor, not as it would be in the US, a constant reminder that we actually thought another human to be nothing more than an object to be bought and sold.  I do think that the huge injustice felt by African Americans, probably provided them more opportunities to be considered equals in society easier and be given more opportunities, than the black Brazilian, whose role in society is still it seems, affected and stereotyped.  I know, I know, this was supposed to just be a piece on some cute furniture I found.

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