Creator of TV program deemed racist invited to black awards ceremony; students of nation’s only black college repudiate the invitation

Unipalmares students and black women activists repudiate the "Sexo e as negas" program created by Miguel Falabella
Caption: “My body is not a product on the shelf of your market” – “Sexo e as negas doesn’t represent me” – Unipalmares students and black women activists repudiate the “Sexo e as negas” program created by Miguel Falabella

Note from BW of Brazil: I must say that after reading the news last week I was little disgusted and disappointed. About what, you ask? Well, for the past few weeks, this blog has featured a number of articles detailing the controversy surrounding the new television series Sexo e as negas on Brazil’s most dominant TV network, Rede Globo. Black women across the country have repudiated the show and to stomp out the resistance, Globo is now resorting to the second step in its manipulation program: to deflect accusations of racism, well-known Afro-Brazilians are publicly announcing their support of the show. After all, if there are blacks who support the show, it can’t possibly be racist, right? Since then, a number of prominent black public have stepped forward and done just that. Yesterday on the blog you saw Grammy-nominated musician Carlinhos Brown voice his support for the show on a top (Globo) talk show. There have been others as well who will be featured in an upcoming post. And then there was the nation’s only predominantly black college opening its doors to the show’s creator.

Sexo e as negas creator Miguel Falabella announced last week that Faculdade Zumbi dos Palmares contacted him to participate in its annual Troféu Raça Negra award ceremony. It’s not clear exactly what this meant. The Troféu Raça Negra awards, something like the American Essence Awards or NAACP Awards (although it bills itself as the “Black Oscars”), presents awards to Afro-Brazilians of highlight in the year or those who contribute to the Afro-Brazilian cause. Was Falabella to receive an award? Present an award? Or have some sort of debate about race in the media? It’s still not clear. In my view, it doesn’t matter. How does the nation’s only predominantly black college whose aim is to address exclusion and racial inequality invite someone who many in the black community see as selling a highly racist, stereotypical representation of the black population to a wide audience? What is the message here? A white director can present the black population in any way that he chooses and the black population should still be thankful for this? Not feeling this action AT ALL!! And as it turns out, students at the college are not feeling it either! 

Miguel Falabella is invited to Troféu Raça Negra after being accused of racism

Courtesy of Pure People

falabella - trofeu raca negra

Miguel Falabella suffered criticism because of his new Globo TV program Sexo e as negas. The series, that debuted last Tuesday, the 16th, portrays the everyday lives of four friends in the Cidade Alta region of Cordovil, a community in the suburbs of Rio de Janeiro. On Thursday (18) of last week, in the meantime, the actor and director revealed in his Facebook profile that he had been invited to participate in Troféu Raça Negra awards ceremony and shared his happiness with his followers.

“I always believed in people. I finished my monologue Louro, Alto, Solteiro, Procura, reaffirming my belief in human beings and their terrible peculiarities; because we are capable of going back and looking at the same path with another vision. I ended up being invited by the Faculdade Zumbi dos Palmares to the Troféu Raça Negra and to debate reflectively the questions raised by Sexo e as negas. The intelligent voices started to express themselves. The negas in power,” wrote the director in the social network.

Even before the debut on TV, the author suffered criticism because of the title chosen and was the target of various protests by blacks that felt offended by the plot of the series, accusing him of making a stereotyped portrayal of the race. On Facebook, followers of Falabella criticized him.

“I’m already tired of this false representation of the black woman, these stereotypes portrayed in this miniseries don’t represent us! Stop with the term mulata, this is pejorative! Stop being a mockery, stop being portrayed as a sexual slave,” wrote one follower. “What is behind a production like this is an eternal imposition of putting and keeping blacks always in the subaltern place,” declared another.

In contrast to so many negative critiques, Miguel received support from other followers, sharing, among others, a text posted by the black actor Deiwis Jamaica, that participated in novelas like Em família and films like Tropa de Elite.

Actor Deiwis Jamaica (left) in a scene from the novela 'Em família' with actress Erika Januza
Actor Deiwis Jamaica (left) in a scene from the novela ‘Em família’ with actress Erika Januza

“I decided to say something because the sense of justice screamed inside of me. I cannot remain silent in the face of so many injuries and accusations. Because of being black, I was born and raised in the Cidade Alta of Cordovil community, I feel full ownership of the subject to report all that there is no bad faith, prejudice, racial discrimination or even the intention to stereotype black women,” wrote the actor.

“Let’s support this, that came out of the suburb and that is more than proving that the suburb has not left him. And for these and others always giving opportunities to black actors in such a hard job market. It’s more than time to forget this theme of ‘Historical Debts’. We blacks owe nothing to anyone, we do not have to feel persecuted,” he concluded.

Globo - racista

Last Tuesday (16), protesters scrawled the term “racist” on the headquarters of Rede Globo in São Paulo. In a video published by Levante Popular da Juventude, you can see the damage to the front of the station and several people with banners and signs protesting the show.

Note from BW of Brazil: In the piece below, the news of the Falabella being invited to the awards ceremony that is connected to the directors of the Faculdade Zumbi dos Palmares college didn’t sit very well with students. Below is an expression of repudiation from students as well photos from black women students around the country that want Falabella and Globo TV to know that Sexo e as negas “doesn’t represent them”. 

NO PRIZES FOR FALABELLA

Coletivo Mulheres Negras de Joinville, Santa Catarina (Black Women’s Collective of Joinville, Santa Catarina) also repudiates 'Sexo e as negas'
Coletivo Mulheres Negras de Joinville, Santa Catarina (Black Women’s Collective of Joinville, Santa Catarina) also repudiates ‘Sexo e as negas’

I received this note of repudiation from Flávio, showing that the series Sexo e as negas continues to provoke things to say: a college wants to reward Miguel Falabella.

Pretas Simoa, black women’s group from Cariri, Ceará
Pretas Simoa, black women’s group from Cariri, Ceará

First of all, a little context. The Zumbi dos Palmares College is one of the arms of the Movimento Negro (black movement). It was born to be a “black university”, inspired by the Americans. Located in São Paulo, currently about 97% of its students are negrxs (black men and women). It is the only one in Latin America with this profile.

Maisa, Pedagogy student in Salvador, Bahia
Maisa, Pedagogy student in Salvador, Bahia

The Faculdade Zumbi (Zumbi College) annually hands out the Troféu Raça Negra, rewarding black researchers and militants. This year one of the guests for the awards is the author and actor Miguel Falabella. The justification for his prize is that the institution wants to establish a dialogue with him about racial issues. Much of the Movimento Negro believes that Zumbi College is not adequate space to promote this dialogue.

Below is the letter of repudiation from the Pedagogy department (all pictures in this post were taken from the National Boycott page on Facebook, which already has almost 31,000 likes):

“The students and teachers of Pedagogy of Zumbi dos Palmares College 2014, collectively organized and gathered on the date of September 22, 2014, to formalize a vehement repudiation of the invite made by the directors of Zumbi dos Palmares College to the actor and director Miguel Falabella. As most of our group is formed by black women, we understand that the show Sex e as negas re-enforce racist stereotypes that relegate black women to the role of sexual object and due to this, we do not feel represented in, but to the contrary, disrespected.

Eliane, Pedagogue
Eliane, Pedagogue

We emphasize that the understanding of black woman transmitted by the production goes against all the guiding principles of affirmative action policies won by the struggle of the Movimento Negro (Black Movement) in Brazil, these principles that address reparation, recognition and appreciation of the black population. We are black and non-black men and women in the quest for a just, fair and equal education and therefore defend our right to make use of these conquests and condemn and punish any act of racism.

Paula, Pedagogy student in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais
Paula, Pedagogy student in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais

This ideology acts as a constructing mechanism of distorted images of the black population, linking different Eurocentric symbolic elements to justify and validate the ranking among humans. Racism seeps into all spaces, echoing ideas that mutilate the possibilities of existence, building lives incarcerated within a subaltern survival. For the realization of this process, numerous everyday actions densifies stereotypes, setting pre-established destinations for black children, black women and black men.

Nathalia, Social Sciences student at UFSC (Federal University of Santa Catarina in Florianópolis, Santa Catarina
Nathalia, Social Sciences student at UFSC (Federal University of Santa Catarina in Florianópolis, Santa Catarina)

Racist TV productions need not be debated, but punished in an exemplary manner conforming to the Brazilian Federal Constitution. Our role as educators is to denounce the explicit racism in this and other negative works to the construction of an egalitarian education. Our comprehension of education understands that we have the institutional duty to echo the voices of those who are rarely heard and represented in our society, and not bringing visibility and awareness to public figures that disqualify our banners of struggle.

There are already 117 complaints against 'Sexo e as negas'
There are already 117 complaints against ‘Sexo e as negas’

We strengthen the right to respect and legitimate representation of black actors and actresses, of black men and women in movements of struggle and resistance as workers, students, mothers, daughters, teachers, lawyers, administrators and advertisers among others. We finalize by demanding respect!”

Source: Escreva Lola Escreva

About Marques Travae 2895 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

2 Comments

  1. Though I think the show has potential for propelling Black actors into more coveted roles on tv, I commend the Black people of Brazil for holding strong and letting their truth be known! It has been interesting to see the fear of engagement from both the creators and the news outlets. I think that, if the “powers that be” choose actually HAVE this conversation rather than running away from it, a LOT of progress can be made!

  2. The Global phenomenon of white supremacy is so fine tuned that white supremacists are able to construct and determine the narrative that seeks to control what can be deemed racist and how racism can be combated. To leave such important changes in the hands of the gatekeepers of white supremacy is like asking the police to investigate itself about black deaths in police custody .

    In London black voices and organised protests led by Sarah Myers managed to stop the racist creation of Brett Bailey called Exhibit B which sought to re-enact the spectre of the human zoo where black actors depicted various forms of degradation African people were subjected to during the Transatlantic African Enslavement and colonisation Holocaust.

    We were told that Exhibit B sought to challenge racism. However 23,000+ people thought otherwise. The voices of Exhibit B black actors and a few prominent black voices were deployed as weapons against the 23,000 dissenting voices. The spectre did not appear in London.

    The majority voices of the sons and daughters of the African Diaspora are often silenced when it comes to defining racism . The silence allows for truth to be divorced from lived reality. The warped power relationships allows white supremacy to continue to build its web of lies and present those lies and distortions as neutral and good.

    White supremacy is a corrupting force. It has the power to seduce and confuse the masses. Even when some enlightened people know the truth they find it impossible to speak out against the system as they have more to benefit from the status quo or are scared to speak out. Their tacit defence of a system that disempowers and disenfranchises the masses speaks to the power of white supremacy.

    It is of vital importance that the silence is shattered and the voices of those who are historically and contemporarily rendered invisible and silent organise to make their voices heard.

    These voices are the voices of truth and humanity. These are the power relationships that will change corrupted power relationships forever. These are the voices that will expose the corruption of white supremacy and help construct a new and better world where the lives of the masses are valued and heard. These are the voices that will end the corrupt system of white supremacy which permeates every aspects of our lives.

    The messages that are pushed through the communication channels owned and run by white supremacists are dangerous and help perpetuate and embed racist stereotypes. Images are one of the most potent ways of embedding subliminal messages into the psyche that help groom additional and future gatekeepers of white supremacy .

    Any narrative about ending racism has to have two vital components. Those who are the intended targets of racist systems and the white supremacy power brokers. The environment where this dialogue commences has to be primed and neutral not poisoned. The dialogue has to be backed up with a sustainable programme of action that is designed to ensure that lives subjugated, restricted and controlled by racism are freed from racist constructs.

    White supremacy was created to protect the privileges of the ‘elite’ ruling class. So resistance will be strong. However we cannot allow ourselves to be silent. To do so would be to acquiescence to our continued subjugation.

    Make no mistake a war has been waged upon black people. That war has in some ways been subtle but just as deadly as a fully militarised war as we die physically and mentally.

    Times ahead will be tough but through unity, organisation and strategy you will achieve your goals. Power to the Truth my sisters. It is your destiny. It is time.

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