In a development that members of the Movimento Negro are calling a “victory”, a decision of the Federal Public Minister (Ministério Público Federal or MPF) answered the request of the Ombudsman of the group SEPPIR, which upheld complaints from various entities about a music video that compares black people to monkeys. This is a follow up to a story featured here early last month (For a more in-depth analysis of the message and irony of the video, see my previous article).
The Federal Public Ministry (MPF) instituted administrative proceedings in Attorney General’s Office (Procuradoria da República), in Uberlândia, Minas Gerais, so that the singer Alexandre Pires provide clarifications about the video “Kong” which was denounced for its racist and sexist content. The summons of the artist was prompted by a request for action sent by the Ombudsman’s Secretariat for Policies to Promote Racial Equality (SEPPIR) to the MPF.
In addition to the prosecutor, the court reported the Sony Music label, the Police Department and the Federal Ombudsman’s Secretariat of Policies for Women (SPM). The latter, because of the exposure of women in the ad, reinforcing the stereotype of a sex symbol. In December, Sony Music was also named in a similar suit for the release of a song deemed to be derogatory against black women.
According to the Ombudsman of Seppir, Carlos Alberto Jr., the MP was requested because of complaints from several entities including the Virtual Observatory on Racism (Observatório do Racismo Virtual), which accuses the posting of the video on YouTube of having “racist and sexist content, compromising the struggles of the black movement in overcoming racism, and women in overcoming sexism. Combining artists and athletes, the video uses clichés and stereotypes against black people.”
In their case, the ombudsman of Seppir notes: “to show black people dressed as monkeys” the singer in question contributes to the historical permanence of racism and eugenics practices of the inferiority of the black population, given that the majority of complaints made the National Ombudsman of Racial Equality are offensescomparing black people to “monkeys”. In it interesting to note that Pires is the third Brazilian singer of African descent (along with Tiririca and Luis Caldas) to be named in actions brought forward by activists of the Movimento Negro (Brazil’s black civil rights organizations) in the past five months for promoting derogatory images or content about black people. The message here seems clear: Racist messages and images won’t be tolerated by non-blacks or black artists themselves.
A similar process involving the brewery Devassa of the Schincariol Group, was recently filed, after the compliance of the MP’s determinations by the company. In addition to the seminars to discuss ways to resolve the conflict set up in beer advertisements for women’s rights, Schincariol was ordered to pay fines and disseminate counter-advertisements for the practice of discriminatory publicity campaigns.
Devassa ad from December of 2010
The piece that caused the complaint against the Devassa used a phrase associating the image of a black woman to beer, reinforcing the process of racism and discrimination to which black women are historically subjected in Brazil. The case was referred by SEPPIR, which fulfills international agreements on women’s rights violations, from the complaints in reference to the advertisement that promoted the phrase: “It is by the body that one recognizes the true black. Devassa black bodied. Dark styled ale of high fermentation. With a creamy roasted malt aroma.”
According to the National Council of Self-Regulation (Conar), offenses committed in Devassa’s advertisement were prescribed in several articles of the Brazilian Code of Advertising Self-Regulation.