Makeup artist is a victim of racism for using black model in contest
Model Luciana Vilaça shared snippets of racist messages on Twitter
Yet another story from the country that isn’t racist. You know, I don’t simply publish these stories to provoke controversy because we all know what kind of world we live in. Even those of us who pretend not to see it. There’s enough racism going down every day in Brazil that I could publish something on the topic several times a day. And today, when everything is social networks, cell phone videos, etc. this is even more so the case.
I wanted to cover today’s story because, having a background in the social sciences, I like to analyze the comments that people make because they are often very revealing about how people in a given society think. Brazil prefers not to admit this as it always presents itself as a place where everybody is mixed which would thus make it a country where racism couldn’t possibly exist. But the point here as I have always maintained, is that whiteness was and continues to be the standard that dominates the country. And as the European standard is maintained in the concept of beauty, it should come as no surprise that the beauty industry is not exempt from this standard. In fact, the beauty industry is perhaps one of the most important areas for upholding this standard.
The story of 19-year old model Luciana Vilaça started to blew up on Thursday. It all started when Luciana published excerpts of a conversation saved as as screenshots by her makeup artists makeup artist Leonardo de Oliveira Pacheco who goes by the name of Leonardo de Gannancyr. The artist preferred not to expose the identity of person who wrote the messages. Both Leonardo and Luciana were the victims of racist messages all because of a colorful makeup job Leonardo did with Luciana for her participation in an internet contest.
Here is how the dialogue went down via WhatsApp
Hi, Leonardo, we don’t know each other, but I follow you, and I’m here to tell you the secret of success. Your makeup on black skin is beautiful, but it will be very difficult you to win over the market. That colorful makeup you did is not good on her skin tone, that’s why it is important to use models with white skin, the color on it comes out much more.
Really, this is what time it is?
I just gave you some advice, you’re the one who’s losing money. You’re my friend, I’m just trying to help you.
I’m very tired of this can’t, always it’s the black that can’t. Blacks can’t use a colored shade because they won’t survive, for God’s sake, go wash the dishes. I don’t know you and I don’t want to know you, I want distance.
You want to break a standard that you will never, I feel much more your black skin will not come out of this. I’ll wash dishes and you wash the body of your dirty models, who knows, maybe they’ll get light
Go to hell, you disgusting idiot!
No I won’t, I don’t want to meet you there. Your race was made there.
Race is your mother, dude, I swear I’m not reading this now. If I catch a person like this, I don’t even know my reaction.
Be careful, I’m white, and you’re black, and blond, I can say that it was an assault.
The perpetrator, who Leonardo didn’t even know, contacted him via Whatsapp to say that “colorful makeup doesn’t look good on black skin” and followed that up with a series of racist comments. As the WhatsApp escalated, the WhatsApp racist also told Leonardo to “wash the body of your dirty models”’, so that “maybe they’ll get lighter.”
As harsh as the messages were, they also reveal a truth about the beauty industry and Brazil as a whole. “Your makeup for black skin is beautiful, but it will be very difficult for you to win over the market,” read another of the messages. According to Luciana, the object of the competition, that went down last Tuesday, was to reproduce a makeup design that would be published on Instagram with the makeup artist’s work with people voting via the social network. The prize was to be a professional kit. Leonardo said that his priority is to make up black skin.
“In all profiles of professional makeup artists there are more white women than black. There is no makeup for black skin. In every course I did I always got ‘can’t do that’, ‘can’t apply contour’, ‘can’t use shadow X’, and I said I was going to be different.”
Accordng to Leonardo, he publicized the competition in several groups asking people to vote for him so he would come out on top, and he thinks that’s how the makeup artist who sent him the messages found him as the WhatsApp is a social circle for group of professional makeup artists. In the end, Leonardo didn’t win the competition.
“He ran a social media campaign for my model to lose.”
With the evidence of the screenprints he saved, Leonardo registered case at the Alcântara police station in São Gonçalo, a suburb of the capital city of Rio de Janeiro. The makeup artist was advised by a lawyer that it was a crime of racism rather than racial injury or slur. This is important to note as, in Brazil, there is a difference in the law in which racism levies a harsher penalty than simply a racial injury or slur.
“In every moment he emphasized that the black is the problem. It’s not me, it’s the black. So much so that he said to bathe my models so that they would be light,” says Leonardo.
The model, whose publication denouncing the racism of which the makeup artist was a victim says the attitude shocked her, but said that it wasn’t surprising. Ya think? How could it be? But of all the things that were said, for me, the most revealing was when he said, ”be careful, I’m white, and you’re black”, and because he was blond, he ”can say that it was an assault.” It’s comments such as these that once again reveal that this whole idea that ”we are all equal” that is so commonly said in Brazil is a sham.
It reveals that, unlike the narrative that says, ‘we are all mixed’ and thus ‘can’t be racist’, people CLEARLY know the advantages of being white. It also shows that people know that black people are automatically assumed to be criminals regardless of their credentials and that, if there is a dispute between a black person and a white person, the white person will be believed to be innocent. This comment is every bit as lethal as when the beach racist told the victim of her verbal assault to ‘next time be born white’. Or the time a councilman pointed out the fact that he had blue eyes in the middle of a dispute with a black protester. It also speaks of the recognized privileges of being white, even if one is a drug-addicted, homeless person (see here and here).
These sorts of of verbals assaults are all too common in the days of social networks, and this is also nothing new for Luciana, as she revealed.
“It wasn’t the first time this happened to me. We try to pretend it’s ok, it won’t happen again, but history always repeats itself. Even more so in the realm of makeup. For example, many brands have no powder or base for black skin tones,” Luciana vented.
But through the entire ordeal, Luciana appreciated the affection and support she received from people who heard about the incident, further motivating the makeup artist to keep it moving.
“I lost the contest, but I won something better than that: the affection of the people. I received a lot of messages motivating me. Now more than ever I will want to do colorful makeup.”
This situation is yet another reminder that Brazil, as much as it denies it, is also a country where white supremacy reigns, which is why it is so important that black men and women such as Leonardo and Luciana organize themselves into support groups and establish events, organizations and companies for and by black Brazilians. And, fortunately, this is slowly happening. These sorts of incidents happen precisely to re-enforce that the dominant society intends to maintain its position at the top of the hierarchy.
With information via Bia Oliveira