“I Africanize São Paulo” Vision, Race, and Afro-Paulistano Visual Culture

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Reighan Gillam


Although the city of São Paulo has the largest number of Black people in Brazil, it is not commonly associated with Blackness or Black aesthetics. Yet, the city has historically and currently been the home of Black collective action, cultural
production, and Black life. This article focuses on the “I Africanize São Paulo”
T-shirt, its designer, and photo campaign. Rather than consider São Paulo antithetical to Black aesthetic and cultural production, I find that the “I Africanize São Paulo” T-shirt demonstrates a form of Afro-aesthetics that emerges from São Paulo’s tradition of Black politics and culture. I focus on the history of Black political and cultural activity that preceded the T-shirt production as well as the factors that contribute to the obfuscation of Black culture in the city. 

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Author Biography

Reighan Gillam, University of Southern California

Reighan Gillam is assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Southern California. She can be reached at rgillam@usc.edu.