“I got into TV through an opening: let’s put a black on presenting the journal. That’s already a prejudice,” said the SBT TV host, Joyce Ribeiro, participating in the seminar “Black in the Media”, during the 2º Vozes pela Igualdade (2nd Voices for Equality), organized by the Commission of Journalists for Racial Equality (Cojira), the Union of Journalists of the State of São Paulo, on Saturday, November 23.
Ribeiro, one of the few nationally recognized black TV journalists in Brazil, said that she was never barred from the journalist profession, but believes that she only managed to get on TV because of this new “politically correct moment” in which they need to have blacks on TV. “I’ve been more optimistic, but today with a situation that has changed little and having few black colleagues on TV, I realize that it was a condition of the moment [her entrance into TV] and prejudice still hovers over the newsroom,” she said. She stressed, in this way, the number of black professionals does not reflect the population, which has a black and brown majority.
In the everyday of the profession, Joyce affirms that she insist on the struggle to strengthen the presence of blacks on TV. “I try to show to colleagues of the staff there are well-qualified black professionals who can speak of certain subjects and could be part of the materials that we are producing. I try to put on this view every day on various subjects,” she said.
On her look, the presenter said she was never obligated to straighten her hair or received requests to mold her look, but she remembers the lack of preparation of TV stations to take care of the image of a black woman. “We prepare ourselves to enter into people’s homes. There is a department for this on TV. But there never were products for my hair or makeup for my skin tone. If I would have used what they had for makeup, I would have come out looking gray. I always took my things. Even today the apparatus is for the standard of white skin and hair,” she said.
For Oswaldo Faustino, journalist, writer and member of Cojira who also attended the roundtable, another form of prejudice is how prominent blacks are portrayed by the media. “They are shown as an exception and turned into heroes. They are validated because ‘we whites evaluated and believed in them,’” he said, giving as examples the new president of the Federal Supreme Court, Joaquim Barbosa, and soccer players like Neymar (da Silva Santos Júnior). He continued: “But as we show you, we can also put you in limbo when we want,’” citing as example the troubled soccer player Adriano (Leite Ribeiro).
The minority is the majority
Another participant of the roundtable, Rogério Ferro, a journalist and a Master’s degree student at the University of São Paulo (USP), said that one of the characteristics of the press, showing prominent blacks as cases of overcoming, is compounded when it’s individualized. “The biggest problem is when it’s shown as only single story,” he said. For Ferro, who is from Mozambique and worked at Globo TV, the situations of racial prejudice will only change when there are more blacks making decisions. “We need more people in power and to reach more than 50% like it is in the Brazilian population,” he says.
The event was organized by the Commission of Journalists for Racial Equality (Cojira-SP), with support from Wapi Brazil and Centro de Estudos das Relações de Trabalho e Desigualdades (CEERT or the Center for the Study of Labor Relations and Inequalities), also had a table on how young blacks produce culture and communicates today, with the participation of Tatiana Cavalcante, journalist and owners of a Master’s degree from USP; José Nabor do Amaral Júnior, journalist and creator of the magazine O Menelick 2º Ato – Africanidades & Afins (The Menelick 2nd Act – Africanities & Others), and Diego Balbino, photographer and educator.
Diego Balbino’s testimony emphasized the impact of racism and racial consciousness in his life and career as a photographer and teacher, inspiring, and at times emotional, in the discussion of an audience of about 40 people. For this young man, what is socially called ‘white’ most times, photography acquires a new look from someone whose self recognition is black.
Tatiana Cavalcante gave a summary of her master’s research on the history of the program Manos e Minas (B-boys and girls), of Cultura TV, emphasizing the active role of the public in ensuring the survival of the program, which was once on the verge of being cancelled. José Nabor presented an account of the process that led him to become editor of a modern and respected publication of the black press in São Paulo. In his testimony, he revealed that he had initially focused his work only on the urban youth universe, but the public response led him to direct it to black culture and topics related to it.
During the 2nd Voices for Equality Award was launched “Negritude em Pauta”, a cultural contest aimed at students of journalism of the state of São Paulo. The aim of the awards is to sensitize students to the racial theme of Journalism, with which they will have put into the practice of the profession. Future journalists will be invited to write stories about black culture and/or race relations nationwide. Participants will compete for prizes that contribute to their education and training, such as books and laptop, in addition to the publication of winning articles in the journalist union newspaper.
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