Note from BW of Brazil: Well, something had to give. Over the past week, black Brazilians have been blasting the director of Vogue Brasil’s photos and the whole theme in which she chose to have black women dressed in traditional baiana clothing to greet guests for her 50th birthday party and pose for photos. As I wrote in a previous article, the race issue can dramatically change the way in which a setting and a photo is interpreted. After all of the hoopla, I think the magazine’s director knows this by now, even though she still tried to justify her choice and position. This turn of events that has now led to resignation of the now former director of Vogue Brasil, Donata Meirelles, shows that black Brazilians are no longer willing to accept being put and maintained in the ‘place’ Brazilian society seeks to keep them.
‘She should put black women on the cover of Vogue’, says Olivia Santana about controversy
Courtesy of Mídia Bahia
The first black woman state deputy from Bahia, Congresswoman Olivia Santana (PCdoB) commented on the controversial party that the director of Vogue Brasil, Donata Meirelles, did last Friday (8), in the Palácio da Aclamação, in Salvador. The baiana (Bahian woman) said that the socialite should honor black women in another way, placing them in the magazine where she works.
“She should have black women on the cover of Vogue (see note one). She she put thousands of these women there. That would be a tribute,” said Olívia.
Olívia also said that the controversial photo, which reverberated on social networks at the end of the week, refers to the period of slavery. “As a woman and a black, I felt extremely uncomfortable with that image, because a photo speaks and that photograph of the party conveys the message of white ladies in a cordial relationship with black women placed in colonial subalternity. Just look at this in a book. The point is that we are in the 21st century […] It was a party of rich white people,” said the congresswoman.
“Slavery has become a fetish for our elites. Instead of freeing themselves from this imagery of senzalas (slave quarters) and maids, there are still those who re-create such stereotypes as party decorations. Such a practice is recurrent, because the degree of consciousness of a large part of our society is still in the 19th century. The reactions on the social networks about the Vogue director’s party certainly caused extreme discomfort to her and amazed those who could not see what should be obvious in the situation. But the saying goes, whoever does not learn by love learns by pain. The image that remained of the photographs of the party conveys the old message of white ladies in a cordial relation with black women placed in colonial subalternity. There is no rhetoric of appreciation that solves this asymmetry. Of course, baianas are part of our cultural universe and are even hired for events. But, let’s face it, at a party where almost all the guests are white and rich, black women in ‘typical costumes’ hired as ornaments to compose a folkloric setting that romanticizes the relationship between ladies and maids should not be embarrassing only for us blacks, but for all people of common sense. The situation is regrettable, but the repercussion is pedagogical.” #DownloadingDevices #EducationTo Release
Several others weighed in on the controversy, including writer and activist Djamila Ribeiro:
“This party treated black people in a very disrespectful way, referring to a colonial heritage. What bothers me in all this is the connivance. The people who were there act as if nothing had happened,” she said. She also added: “Besides the owner of the party, I think that the people who were there should also be held responsible, especially those who say they are anti-racist. It’s past time for whiteness to think and rethink. You can’t compose with the narcissistic pact of whiteness. It is very violent. What happened was not merely a party. It is the reinforcement of a colonial structure.”
After the controversial party, Donata Meirelles resigns from Vogue
Courtesy of Catraca Livre
Donata Meirelles announced tonight her resignation from the board of Vogue Brasil.
“With sadness in my heart, but with the courage and head held high that have always guided my life, I start a new cycle and resign from Vogue Brasil, a publication that I helped to build.
I love you Vogue, I have loved you since I was young. Count on me so that you can continue to make a difference in the publishing and fashion market, defending and promoting all human beauties, as I will continue to defend.”
She didn’t explain why.
But it’s known.
Donata Meirelles celebrated her 50th birthday last Friday, February 8, at the Palácio da Aclamação de Salvador, with a party that became a national controversy.
- As we’ve seen in numerous articles, Brazil’s print media has a history of representing Brazilian women as mostly white on women’s magazine covers. See here, here and here, for examples.