Note from BW of Brazil: Well, I can honestly say, this is absolutely shocking! What? Racist sentiments in Brazil?!?! The world must be ending! Alright, alright, for those of you who have followed this blog for any amount of time, you know that this absurd myth was completely annihilated decades ago. Just the reports on racism on this blog alone should be enough proof of that. The expression of incredibly racist sentiments on social networks is also as Brazilian as açaí!
But even with years of academic and journalistic reports detailing deeply-ingrained racism in Brazilian society, there are still those who continue to defend the old “racial democracy” mythology that people have generally accepted for about 60 years and still somewhat accepted in the 22 years since the publication of masterpiece The Masters and the Slaves in 1933. Nowadays for those involved in the social movements the belief in this myth is somewhat of a running joke, as we see in the comments of social network user Sara T. in approaching this latest incident that surely can’t be indicative of racist sentiments:
“From the series: ‘No, we are not racists‘. However, when they offer bananas, call her a vulture, an African whore, order her back to the slave quarters and etc….Disregard it, for surely it’s not racism!!!”
Let’s backtrack a bit so that we can set the stage for the details of today’s piece. We’ve watched the career and ascension of journalist Maria Júlia Coutinho. She is one of a handful of black women journalists who are recognizable on a national level. Having been a reporter on the street for a number of years, Maria was recently brought into prime time when she was named the new weather girl of the top news program on Brazil’s top TV network, Rede Globo. Not only was Maria Júlia, (affectionately nicknamed “Maju”) Globo’s first black weather girl, but her relaxed, personable demeanor brought her admiration who watched her bring a little flavor to the usually dull weather report. But even as she earned more admirers, she also earned the wrath of those who thought her star was rising a little too fast. Already having been the target of racist sentiments on social networks, there was already chatter behind the scenes of the top network that “Maju” was getting a little popular for her own good. True to the words of Viviana Santiago, it seems that “an empowered black woman bothers many people.” The following report seems to be evidence of that.
Maria Júlia is successful on Jornal Nacional and generates jealousy at Globo TV
Courtesy of Paraná-Online
Since Maria Júlia Coutinho entered Jornal Nacional, the climate is of envy behind the scenes at Globo. It’s because Maju gained much more prominence than any other weather girl that has been there or any of the other news programs of the network and there are people dissatisfied with it.
To avoid further embarrassment, according to the columnist Fernando Oliveira, of the Folha de São Paulo newspaper, Globo had determined that her apparitions should be restricted to JN from now (she had already appeared on the station’s other attractions, such as the late night talk show Programa do Jô and morning talk show Encontro com Fátima Bernardes). Thus, there will be time for her to rest her image.
Note from BW of Brazil: Which brings us today’s story. In yet another display of race and “place”, Brazilian society continues to have a clear conception of who they believe belongs where. Again, as much as people help to continue the myth that Brazilians are all racially mixed and thus cannot possibly be racist, time and again we see examples of the belief that those whose appearance signals a unambiguous connection with Africa do not belong in certain places, areas or positions. We perceive this from the behind the scenes plans of not allowing Maria’s star to shine too bright and now we see that a certain parcel of the everyday population thinks in a similar manner. Clearly the talented “Maju” has earned her chance to shine in the spotlight but the reaction to her everyday presence on the most important news program of the nation’s most powerful network is clearly not “the place” for a black woman. But honestly, are you surprised?
Maria Júlia Coutinho, the weather girl of Globo TV’s Jornal Nacional is the target of racism on the network’s social networks
By Andréa Martinelli
The journalist Maria Júlia Coutinho was again the victim of racist comments, this time in a publication on the Facebook page of Jornal Nacional late on Thursday evening. The comments published overnight by page readers and the journal’s spectators were extremely derogatory and racist.
– In the land of blacks, whoever eats bananas is king
– Throw it in air, if it flies it’s a vulture and if it falls it’s shit
– Wow, how dark it is
“She only got a job in the Jornal Nacional because of quotas. Preta imuda (filthy black),” read one of the comments. “I don’t have a color TV to stare at this black, no,” wrote another web user.
Translation of above comments
Clear weather? (That’s a) lie, you black – What is a black on the top of a building with an S on their chest? It’s Super-Ticão – It’s time for JN to stop posting photos of every black – In the land of blacks, whoever eats bananas is king – Throw it in air, if it flies it’s a vulture and if it falls it’s shit – Wow, how dark it is – Can someone throw a biscuit to her soon? – She only got a job at JN because of quotas, black monkey. Warning Bomberman – She only got a job at JN because of quotas, black monkey – I don’t drink coffee so not to have intimacy with black – She only got a job at JN because of quotas, filthy black – This one here went beyond the point too much – You are a vagabond, every time that I see you I already think it will rain, every black in this piece – I don’t have a colored TV to keep staring at this black, no – When does the black go to school? When she’s in construction – This African whore messed up my view with oil – How do you know if the favorite food of this negra is a banana? – Disgraceful daughter of a whore, go back to the slave quarters fugitive…two years of whippings when your owner captures and brings you back – This monkey is so black that she stole my TV – You’ll make these predictions in the slave quarters of hell – Is my TV screen black? – Do I have cataracts? Because I looked at the photo and suddenly there was a black stain – What is a band-aid for blacks? Insulating tape – What are 100000000 blacks in the moon? A total eclipse – In 2015 we still have blacks on TV – It was only when she came that the weather got dry as charcoal in ashes (1)
Later, the negative messages were removed from the newspaper’s profile by the team that manages the social network. In contrast, other users, appalled by the prejudiced comments, came out in defense of the journalist and rebuked the comments in the post.
Band of envious racists! Contain yourself in your small disgusting and insignificant world. She, besides being beautiful is talented and because of this she’s caused the rage and envy of this band of unfortunate and hardly loved people. I am married with black woman and I am very proud of this. Maju, you are beautiful and my family cheers for your success.
Maju, you are an elegant, intelligent, beautiful, charismatic and certainly earned her space on Jornal Nacional due to a lot of talent! Sometimes success of people shines so much that it infuriates whoever wants for us to remain in our place! All that’s left is for us to shine more, there is no racist discourse that resists that. A lot of light for you.
Whoever is bothered by light lives in darkness…Beautiful, congratulations for the success and for the person that you are. You deserve it.
Journalist and Maju’s boss, William Bonner, gave the perfect answer to all the prejudiced ones:
@majucoutinho, Your uncle learned that we must say that the weather “is steady”, when there’s no rain and neither chuvica or chuvona (rainy). But in JN, the weather is always good with you. (2)
Later, Maju answered one of the comments in a brilliant way!
And she won support of the entire staff of the Jornal Nacional:
It wasn’t the first time …
Maria Júlia Coutinho debuted as a weather girl on Jornal Nacional in April, and is the first black woman to assume the function. Irreverent, she’s part of the team that makes journalistics more “relaxed” and integrated with the viewer – once she included images of tourist points in meteorology after a suggestion from a viewer, for example.
But with racist comments, as in the day she was called “cabelo ruim” (bad hair) by an web users on social networks, she said in an interview with the newspaper Extra in Rio, that she doesn’t waste energy with this:
“I’m not shocked. I find it sad, but I’m very conscious. I grew up in a family that was active in the Movimento Negro (black movement). I don’t waste much time with it,” she said.
In an interview with UOL, Maria Júlia said that there is a certain “weight” to be the first occupying this place, but that she sees, with this, a very positive and transforming result:
“I’ve been happy. For some time now, my color has been invisible in most of the interviews that I’m giving. I have been treated as Maria Júlia Coutinho, aka Maju, journalist, period. That’s how it should be, because no one refers to Bonner as a white journalist with gray hair, or to Renata [Vasconcellos] as a journalist with brown hair and light skin.”
Disgusted, other social network users came out in defense of the journalist and published comments in repudiation of prejudice in television news page on Facebook.
“The most mixed country in the world and we still have to be reading these racist comments. Unfortunate. She is beautiful, intelligent and earns much more than you,” defended Claydson Vieira.
“To the racists a warning: The internet is not a lawless land and if you think you can distill all the rottenness that exists inside of you just because you use fakes, you are mistaken. I hope that you all are hurt a lot,” warned Martha Bernardo Duarte.
In an interview with UOL in May this year, Maju said he did not intend to take legal action against the commentators. “From what I’ve seen it’s a minority that has made this type of attack. I’ll plagiarize the little 8-year old Carolina, whose video went viral on the internet when someone said she had cabelo duro (hard hair), Carol did not hesitate and said. ‘It is hard having to endure ignorant person saying that my hair is hard.’ I grew up in a family that was active in the Movimento Negro (black movement), I am aware of my rights, I will only take some measure when someone’s racism curtails my rights.”
The journalist said she believed that prejudgments in the workplace are often extinguished by coexistence. “I think some people are just used to co-existing with blacks who hold positions of security guards, employees, cleaning people, they get scared, and sometimes doubt the ability of a black person occupying another type of function (journalist, doctor, writer ), but this kind of prejudice is usually neutralized with the co-existence,” she said in May.
In Brazil, racism is non-bailable crime. If Maria Julia takes the case to court, the authors of the comments could be sentenced to prison if found guilty.
Note from BW of Brazil: So what does BW of Brazil say about this latest display of the Brazilian character? Well, there are several things of note here. 1) Judging from the comments, sentiments against the institution of affirmative action which has lead to more access of Afro-Brazilians to a college education continue to fester, even after more than a decade. In pinning their bitterness against the system on Maria it becomes clear that whether an Afro-Brazilian ascends the social ladder through the system of quotas or not, blacks don’t belong there wherever they manage to go in their careers.
2) Although many will look at the actions of journalist William Bonner and the team of Jornal Nacional in supporting Maria in this latest episode of a very ugly side of Brazil is an honorable gesture, it again shows that the Brazilian media, particularly the Globo Network, is still not able, willing or prepared to deal with racism in a direct manner. Why? In the video recorded by the team of Jornal Nacional, Bonner states that he and his co-host came up with this idea of sending a a little message to Maju. The camera then focuses on the whole crew as they all state “Somos Todos Maju “, meaning “we are all Maju”. Again, as in a previous “campaign/joke” concerning a racist incident involving futebol player Daniel Alves (“somos todos macacos”/we are all monkeys), another concerning a futebol goalie and the murder of a TV dancer by Military Police, as one of the greatest promulgators of negative/stereotypical images and exclusion of Afro-Brazilians, this network cannot seriously approach the issue. Even worse, it is one of the main accomplices of racism in the country. Need proof? Here are just a few examples since this blog has existed.
– The program Sexo e as Negas was was repudiated by black women’s movement because it’s continuous promotion of black women as hyper-sexual objects.
– A recent disgraceful comedy skit poking fun at slavery using white actors in blackface
– A long running children’s TV program with its blond host that never featured a black girl in its popular song/dance group
– The promotion of the ‘great white savior’ of blacks
– Its promotion of the militarization of police in poor, mostly black neighborhoods that victimize black youth
– Novelas (soap operas) in which black a minimal role or don’t appear at all
– With black women nearly invisible on a daily basis, once per year it broadcasts a naked, gyrating black woman (the Globeleza girl) to promote the Carnaval season, further contributing to the sexual stereotype of back women
Keep in mind that if these are but a few examples of how Brazil’s most powerful network has helped contribute to attitudes about Afro-Brazilians only in the past few years, imagine its 50 year history. With all of this history, should it be surprising that in the video (see below), journalist William Bonner doesn’t even mention why he and the crew are supporting Coutinho, which leads to a serious question: How can one support someone against a social ill if they cannot even mention what they’re supporting them for? Are we really supposed to take that serious? Besides that, Bonner is considered one of the top journalists in Brazil; an upper class white male who will ever experience the types of vile hatred that people that look like Maria can be subjected to regardless of social class everyday.Similar to popular blond TV host Xuxa wearing a “you don’t have to be black to fight against racism” t-shirt, this is an absolute joke. Again, is this really how you fight racism? Who’s gonna really be fooled by such spineless displays of fake concern/activism? Unfortunately, I’m sure there are more than a few people who will definitely believe the hype!
In the end, simply yet another clear example of raw racist sentiments continue to live in the hearts of many Brazilians and how the society has no intention of seriously addressing the issue.
1. Along with macaco, meaning monkey, the terms tição and urubu are also terms that have been used specifically to insult Afro-Brazilians. The term “tição”, loosely meaning “soot” means black smoke, is a term used to describe a dirty or very dark-skinned person. “Urubu” means vulture.
2. Bonner’s comment refers to an on air incident in which Coutinho corrected the anchor on the proper usage of a term associated weather reports. Many believe that Countinho’s “nerve” to correct someone of Bonner’s stature on national television was part of the first racist comments directed at her. See here for more on that story.