Note from BW of Brazil: So, did you notice anything strange about the photo above? If so, what struck you as strange? In a country like Brazil, creating a huge billboard or perhaps producing a novela (soap opera) based on the image would be shocking. I can just imagine how nasty posts and complaints people would make on social networks. Why? Well, it’s quite obvious. Brazilian society is quite accustomed to seeing black people in positions of inferiority with white people running things. Over the years, we’ve seen numerous situations where black people were mistaken for “the help”, black CEOs who have been passed over, and a legal advisor who was mistaken for a prostitute. These types of things happen every day, in every part of the country. For many, the imagined place of blacks and whites is as normal drinking a glass of water. Which is precisely why the image above could cause a few heads to turn were it to be featured in an advertisement.
If you live in Brazil, would you disagree?
Above photo published in Vogue Brasil in August, 2016. In the photo are: Paola de Orleans and Bragança in the background and, from left to right: Karine Amancio, Joyce Ribeiro, Alexandra Loras, Dani Ornellas and Samira Carvalho (Photo: Tinko Czetwertynski)
The real world, only in reverse
by Alexandra Baldeh Loras
My question to whites is: would you trade places to be black in our society, with all the consequences that being black still represents in 2016?
Try to imagine a different world. In this world, everything that was done by the blacks is considered intelligent, beautiful and incredible and all the historical references are with blacks. A world where the great characters of history are all black. Revolutionaries, historians, philosophers, inventors, writers and even God, the supreme being, are represented as black and, of course, Jesus Christ as well. When the children watch television, in cartoons, most characters are black, as are princes and princesses. In novelas (soap operas), the white woman is always the cleaning lady, or the lover of the rich black man. And the only thing we know about whites is two pages in textbooks that say whites were enslaved. What would this world look like? Would it not be cruel to always see the white man as the criminal, as the drug dealer? Would it not be shocking? For this is the world in which we live, only to the contrary. These are the references we have, since we were born to this day.
In my lectures, I like to propose this exercise of imagination to stimulate a different view on the issue of prejudice. It is interesting to see how society has become accustomed to being racist by the simple fact of facing as normal something that, if it were to the contrary, would cause strangeness. I had the opportunity to translate this reflection into an image, a photo produced for Vogue Magazine and I believe that, as they say, a picture is worth more than a thousand words. The photograph represents an aristocratic environment, but with blacks representing elite people, while white women are uniformed as maids, one of whom is Princess Paola de Orleans and Bragança, a descendant of the Brazilian royal family, who kindly accepted my invitation to participate.
I see this image as an invitation to wear the skin of black people. How do you see this photo? Does it cause any strangeness? The mere fact of the image provokes controversy shows that we do not have an egalitarian society because if the world in which we live blacks and whites were treated in the same way, a reversal of roles would not bother anyone. But as we are accustomed to this society that promotes privileges to the whites, they do not put themselves in the place of the blacks. Our objective was to generate a reflection on the theme, provoke debate and generate discussion. So whatever your opinion about the image, the important thing is that you think about it, talk about it and reflect. My question to whites is: would you trade places to be black in our society, with all the consequences that being black still represents in 2016?
A similar exercise was proposed by the French filmmaker Eléonore Pourriat in the short film Majorité Opprimée (Maioria Oprimida/Oppressed Majority) to denounce the machismo present in our day today. The film portrays an otherwise sexist, women-dominated world in which men suffer harassment, abuse, and disrespect.
In both cases, it is not a matter of defending these reverse worlds as ideals. Nor would the society I desire be one in which whites are oppressed by blacks. No way. I believe that racism will be overcome by the joint efforts of blacks and whites. I believe in conciliation through awareness. Today’s white is not to blame for the atrocities that have been done in the past, but we are all responsible for resolving the traumatic consequences and rebalancing our society.
In all my initiatives against racism, I receive numerous messages of support and also many criticisms. I’m not the greatest expert on the subject, but I try to take advantage of the space given me by the Brazilian media to bring visibility to this subject. Ever since I developed my master’s thesis on the invisibility of the blacks on French television, I have been researching racism. This year I participated in more than 50 events on diversity, I was one of the invited speakers for the TEDx in Cannes during the events of the month of black consciousness at Harvard and I idealized the first TEDxSãoPaulo held with black women as protagonists that happened in July in the Hotel Unique.
I believe there is no right recipe for this fight. I prefer to deal with it and bother people than to be quiet, quiet, being abused by the system. I prefer to try and err than to be stuck in this reality that bothers me without doing anything to change it.
Source: Nexo Jornal