Note from BW of Brazil: Another day, another controversy. On November 2oth, Brazil’s national Day of Black Consciousness, this blog posted a story about a new contest being featured on one of the programs of Brazil’s top television network. The show’s goal was to find to new “Globeleza” girl; the gyrating, near naked, brown-skinned woman who would represent the arrival of the Carnaval season. Since 1991, two black women have represented the Globeleza girl and thousands of Afro-Brazilian women were lining to take advantage of the opportunity to become the new Globeleza. One of the principal reasons for this blog is the lack of black women and black Brazilians in the media in general and also that the images that DO exist leave much to be desired. This latest controversy is a perfect example of this and perhaps worse because of the actress involved. Read on and the blog will chime in on this further below…The first article is how the story broke.
Actress Sheron Menezzes is criticized for exploiting backsides of contest candidates in photo; quickly deletes photo
by Giovani Lettiere
Actress Sheron Menezzes, host of the contest that chooses the new Globeleza girl on Sunday evening TV program Fantástico, sparked controversy on Sunday (24) in the social network Instagram. The actress posted just before going on air on the evening TV journal, a photo in which she posed, seated, beside the butts of the candidates – all with their backs turned and not showing their faces – along with the photo, the network’s Carnival poster girl, posed the question, “Which one do you think should be the Globeleza 2014?”.
With controversial photo, Sheron received a barrage of criticism from her more than 50,000 followers on Instagram for exploiting the “derrières” of the morenas (1). “From what I see in this photograph you could change the name of the contest,” wrote one follower. “Such an unfortunate photo! Pitiful,” posted another. Result: Sheron deleted the photo but the blog was faster and guaranteed its registry…
Note: The following piece represents the opinion of a writer that was posted on the Racismo Ambiental (Environmental Racism) blog
Is it so hard to say no Sheron Menezes??
by Arturo Bonandi of CENPAH
I start this brief article with two premises: I’m not Brazilian. I’m not black.
In themselves, these two statements are enough to disqualify someone what will be placed in this article. Even so, I will write, with or without spelling and syntax. Two days ago I was browsing in my Instagram. What I found on the page of Sheron Menezes, whom I admire very much for her professionalism, beauty and courage to be working on a TV channel like Globo??? You can see in the picture below (photo above).
I was flabbergasted, and not in the rear ends showing, something that must have left many drooling, if not, by the flash back of an image like this. It may be that my imagination is well boiled, but suddenly I felt like I was in the middle of a public market of the colonial era. Same smile, same flesh on display, the same deviant language that just wants to sell a product, this time with the consent of the goods themselves. Despite the fact that Globo continues to sell the image that Carnival has nothing to do with the discussion of themes, with the effort of remembering the history of the world, with the affirmation of black culture and that every year it puts a woman naked on the small screen, reinforcing the idea that the “mulata” is only good for that; the question remains why this happens precisely in the month of black consciousness. Sure, I understand that those who affirm their machismo as a weapon to assert their masculinity find this “fantástico (fantastic)” and would probably love to see more. However, this article does not talk about this.
What I want is to talk about it, or better, vent and question the choice of Sheron Menezes. We know that in the history of black Brazilian women there were always black people who associated themselves with the ruling power. This was the cause of treachery, murder and misfortune for many black Brazilians; blacks themselves taking on the dirty work of their dominators was a strategy that still today one finds in the structures of this country. Blacks killing blacks and blacks accusing blacks. Now black selling blacks?? I thought that this posture of survival of afrodescendentes (African descendants) in Brazilian history had subsided or rather the conscience of the Afro-Brazilian population, especially one that has a visible role of reference, would have enough strength to say no. But I was wrong, and how I was wrong. I wonder: what makes an already affirmed black woman already, since I imagine the salary received by the actors provides a certain economic security, to take on a role in which their own “race” has been devalued and then post this type of photo on a virtual channel accessed by millions of people (the picture has been removed from Instagram)? And just as important appears on Globo at the expense of millions of black women who, in only in Brazil, are still presented as objects of pleasure and that are degraded to be used and disregarded in this land cursed by veiled racism?? A contract with Globo can buy the consciousness of anyone in this country??
Perhaps the fact of her having the courage to wear her hair curly gave me the impression that she was different and could make a difference. My mistake. And here she is with her face in the middle of the rear ends of the “mulatas”. Is it so hard to say no, Sheron Menezes?? After so many people who fought for equality in this country, is it so easy to let a consciousness be purchased?? Or maybe I should be writing another “whitened” consciousness.
Note from BW of Brazil: A few things to touch upon here. First, this blog is a fan of Sheron Menezes. When she burst upon the scene in 2002 on the novela Esperança, the pretty new girl from Rio Grande do Sul was adored and welcomed as another face that would bring some visibility to Brazil’s women of African descent. Throughout her career, Menezes has done her part to represent apparently without having to sell herself too much to achieve her success. Well, let’s be real; in order to make it in today’s entertainment business, particularly on a network like Globo that continues to portray Afro-Brazilians as if this were still the slavery era (that is when they are even presented), one must sell themselves to a certain degree. Sometimes the things that I see Afro-Brazilian actors and actresses do in the media make me wonder: I wonder what they were thinking when they were asked to do that.
Actresses like Cris Vianna and Cíntia Rosa have both revealed how particular novela scenes (in which they were asked to be sexy, naked or near naked) have caused them discomfort or even embarrassment. I wondered what actress Taís Araújo (trailblazing, top black actress in Brazil) was thinking when her highly celebrated character was forced to fall to her knees and get violently slapped in the face by a white actress during the Month of Black Consciousness no less. In terms of Sheron Menezes, I questioned her willingness to go and represent (sell?) a TV network like Globo, where Afro-Brazilian actors are an extreme minority, in Angola, a black country. Africans have also noted the lack of black faces on Globo. Perhaps Menezes’ participation (like that of Vianna, Rosa and black actors/actresses in general) is part of the cost of playing “the game”.
Brazil’s history of selling black skin simply updates the selling of black flesh over the course of 350 plus years of slavery in a country that received 40% of slaves during the Trans-Atlantic Slaves Trade. The image of the “sexy mulata” continues to be sold within Brazil as well as around the world in tourism brochures as well as internationally broadcast images of Rio’s immensely popular Carnaval season. Again, the problem here is not beauty itself. This blog supports the presentation of beautiful black women in a worldwide media that continues to indoctrinate the world into only accepting the white woman as beautiful and desirable.
Again, the problem is the one-sides image. Black Brazilian women are presented as only “mulatas” (sex) or domestics (work). Carnaval is really the only time the media is flooded with images of brown-skinned women and the photo posted by Menezes (asses and no faces) simply re-enforces how these women are often thought of in the public imagination. In Brazil, the old saying goes, “White women for marriage, mulatas for sex and black women for work.” I wonder: Did Sheron think of this before she posted the photo? Maybe not until the negative comments started rolling in. Oh well, just another day in the “Vênus Platinada” (Platinum Venus or Globo TV).
By the way, Happy (belated) Birthday to Sheron, who turned 30 on the 26th and now the Globeleza contestants have been narrowed down to just three (if you were wondering).
Globeleza contestants display their samba skills
1. Note here the usage of the term “morenas”, a term along with “mulata” that some black women soundly reject.