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  • It has been 128 years

  • since the last country in the world abolished slavery

  • and 53 years

  • since Martin Luther King pronounced his "I Have A Dream" speech.

  • But we still live in a world

  • where the color of our skin not only gives a first impression,

  • but a lasting one that remains.

  • I was born in a family full of colors.

  • My father is the son of a maid

  • from whom he inherited an intense dark chocolate tone.

  • He was adopted by those who I know as my grandparents.

  • The matriarch, my grandma,

  • has a porcelain skin and cotton-like hair.

  • My grandpa was somewhere between a vanilla and strawberry yogurt tone,

  • like my uncle and my cousin.

  • My mother is a cinnamon-skin daughter of a native Brazilian,

  • with a pinch of hazel and honey,

  • and a man [who is] a mix of coffee with milk,

  • but with a lot of coffee.

  • She has two sisters.

  • One in a toasted-peanut skin

  • and the other,

  • also adopted,

  • more on the beige side,

  • like a pancake.

  • (Laughter)

  • Growing up in this family,

  • color was never important for me.

  • Outside home, however, things were different soon.

  • Color had many other meanings.

  • I remember my first drawing lessons in school

  • as a bunch of contradictory feelings.

  • It was exciting and creative

  • but I never understood the unique flesh-colored pencil.

  • I was made of flesh but I wasn't pink.

  • My skin was brown, and people said I was black.

  • I was seven years old with a mess of colors in my head.

  • Later,

  • when I took my cousin to school,

  • I was usually taken for the nanny.

  • By helping in the kitchen at a friend's party,

  • people thought I was the maid.

  • I was even treated like a prostitute

  • just because I was walking alone on the beach with European friends.

  • And many times,

  • visiting my grandma or friends in upper class buildings,

  • I was invited not to use the main elevator.

  • Because in the end,

  • with this color and this hair,

  • I cannot belong to some places.

  • In some way,

  • I get to used to it and accept part of it.

  • However, something inside of me keeps revolving and struggling.

  • Years later I married a Spaniard.

  • But not any Spaniard.

  • I chose one with the skin color of a lobster when sunburnt.

  • (Laughter)

  • Since then, a new question started to chase me.

  • What will be the color of your children?

  • As you can understand, this is my last concern.

  • But thinking about it,

  • with my previous background,

  • my story led me to make my personal exercise as a photographer.

  • And that is how Humanae was born.

  • Humanae is a pursuit to highlight our true colors,

  • rather than the untrue

  • white, red, black or yellow associated with race.

  • It's a kind of game to question our codes.

  • It's a work in progress from a personal story to a global history.

  • I portray the subjects in a white background.

  • Then I choose an 11-pixel square from the nose,

  • paint the background,

  • and look for the corresponding color in the industrial palette, Pantone.

  • I started with my family and friends,

  • then more and more people joined the adventure,

  • thanks to public calls coming through the social media.

  • I thought that the main space to show my work was the Internet

  • because I want an open concept that invites everybody

  • to push the share button in both the computer and their brain.

  • The snowball started to roll.

  • The project had a great welcome --

  • invitations, exhibitions,

  • physical formats,

  • galleries and museums ...

  • just happened.

  • And among them, my favorite:

  • when Humanae occupies public spaces

  • and appears in the street,

  • it fosters a popular debate

  • and creates a feeling of community.

  • I have portrayed more than 3,000 people

  • in 13 different countries,

  • 19 different cities around the world.

  • Just to mention some of them --

  • from someone included in the Forbes list,

  • to refugees who crossed the Mediterranean by boat.

  • In Paris, from the UNESCO Headquarters to a shelter.

  • And students both in Switzerland and favelas in Rio de Janeiro.

  • All kinds of beliefs,

  • gender identities

  • or physical impairments,

  • a newborn or terminally ill.

  • We all together build Humanae.

  • Those portraits make us rethink how we see each other.

  • When modern science is questioning the race concept,

  • what does it mean for us to be black, white, yellow, red?

  • Is it the eye, the nose, the mouth, the hair?

  • Or does it have to do with our origin,

  • nationality

  • or bank account?

  • This personal exercise turned out to be a discovery.

  • Suddenly I realized that Humanae was useful for many people.

  • It represents a sort of mirror

  • for those who cannot find themselves reflected in any label.

  • It was amazing

  • that people started to share their thoughts about the work with me.

  • I have hundreds of that,

  • I will share with you, too.

  • A mother of 11 years --

  • A mother of an 11-year-old girl wrote me,

  • "Very good for me as a tool to work on her confidence,

  • as this past weekend

  • one of her girlfriends argued with her that she does not belong

  • and should not be allowed to live in Norway.

  • So your work has a very special place in my heart

  • and it's very important for me."

  • A woman shared her portrait on Facebook and wrote,

  • "All my life,

  • people from across the globe had difficulties to place me in a group,

  • a stereotype,

  • a box.

  • Perhaps we should stop.

  • Instead of framing, ask the individual,

  • 'How would you label yourself?'

  • Then I would say,

  • 'Hi. I'm Massiel.

  • I'm a Dominican-Dutch,

  • I grew up in a mixed family

  • and I'm a bisexual woman.' "

  • Besides these unexpected and touching reactions,

  • Humanae finds a new life in a different variety of fields.

  • Just to show you some examples,

  • illustrators and art students

  • using it as a reference for their sketches and their studies.

  • It's a collection of faces.

  • Researchers in the fields of anthropology,

  • physics and neuroscience

  • use Humanae with different scientific approaches

  • related to human ethnicity,

  • optophysiology,

  • face recognition

  • or Alzheimer's.

  • One of the most important impacts of the project

  • is that Humanae was chosen to be the cover of Foreign Affairs,

  • one of the most relevant political publications.

  • And talking about foreign affairs,

  • I found the perfect ambassadors for my project ...

  • teachers.

  • They are the ones that use Humanae as a tool for educational purposes.

  • Their passion encourages me to go back to drawing classes,

  • but this time as a teacher myself.

  • My students,

  • both adults and kids,

  • paint their self-portraits,

  • trying to discover their own unique color.

  • As a photographer,

  • I realize that I can be a channel for others to communicate.

  • As an individual,

  • as Angélica,

  • every time I take a picture,

  • I feel that I am sitting in front of a therapist.

  • All the frustration, fear and loneliness

  • that I once felt ...

  • becomes love.

  • The last country --

  • the last country in the world who abolished slavery

  • is the country where I was born,

  • Brazil.

  • We still have to work hard to abolish discrimination.

  • That remains a common practice worldwide,

  • and that will not disappear by itself.

  • Thank you.

  • (Applause)

  • Thank you.

It has been 128 years

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B1 TED skin spaniard maid abolished photographer

【TED】Angélica Dass: The beauty of human skin in every color (The beauty of human skin in every color | Angélica Dass)

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