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Chica De Silva

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Chica Da Silva: A Brazilian Slave of the Eighteenth Century by Junia Ferreira Furtado focused on a slave woman and her path to freedom. In Brazil slaves could "buy" their freedom or their masters could grant it for them. The people would put on a "blind eye" and see past their color or "defect". Even though this would make the former slaves a part of society they would still be consider stained and not be able to hold a high position or have honor. By having this defect of containing African blood descendents, or mulattos, were considered illegitimate. "Slaves did not have surnames, as they were considered mere things, the property of a master, and thus lacked any official status." (pg 47)

Citizens of the society went through a de genere process to see if there was any "stain" on them by investigating their linage, the parents and four grandparents. If they were spotless, and contained no African blood and they were admitted then any blemish that had failed to turn up would be erased for forever. "Chica Da Silva lived her days, first as a slave, later as a free mulatta and companion to the most important man of the region - the diamond contractor - and finally as a matriarch of many offspring she sought to protect and give a positive standing in the local society." (pg 39) Joao Fernandes de Oliveira inherited his father's title and wealth, and he was considered a man of business and a good catch. He became the chief judge. Joao purchased the parda slave, Chica Da Silva, in 1753 and manumitted her within months, on Christmas day, this allowed their children to be legitimate. Chica Da Silva was defined as parda because she was of the "lightest tone of skin found among mestizos." (pg 114) This made "blindness" easier to come by since most people could be noted of their status by their skin color alone.

"Love was a game, a source of fun. Seduction and adultery were pastimes." (pg 118) Chica Da Silva gave birth to thirteen children by Joao each considered a "little angel" since pregnancy was still considered a mystery back then and the mortality of new-born babies was extremely high. Chica Da Silva had wet nurses, which was a symbol of status to take care and feed each of her children. By mixing with a man of Joao stature their children were whitened and allowed them to occupy a status higher than their mother's. "Chica Da Silva was not the owner only of a house in the village, but also of a significant number of slaves."(pg 146) "She took full advantage of Joao Fernandes's power to guarantee herself a secure and plentiful source of income. " (pg 151) The main source of their income came from the services their slaves provided. By doing this she had secured a high status in the society which allowed her offspring to marry a spouse of a higher rank. When Joao died in 1779 his



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