Note from BW of Brazil: Sound the alarm, for there’s another fire brewing in Brazil! Once again, the object scorn is the long time nemesis of the Afro-Brazilian community, the television giant Globo TV network. Here at BW of Brazil, since the beginning, we have given example after example of how the image of black women and black Brazilians in general are minimized, stereotyped and made to look utterly ridiculous for the whole country to see; in fact, as Globo’s reach is international, these consistent spectacles are put on for the WHOLE WORLD to see! Brazil’s extremely Eurocentric, blond obsessed media has always sought to keep black women in the “places” that Brazilian society has traditionally reserved for them: the kitchen or the bedroom. Every year, we see naked brown flesh put on display in the one and only time of year that black women are visible: Carnaval. We’ve seen the horrid black faced portrayals. We saw the contest in which black women competed to dance naked on television. We’ve seen them play the secondary role in near silence even in the kitchen, which is supposedly their domain.
And this is every time they are seen at all.
One study recently showed that Afro-Brazilian women only made up about 4% of the protagonists in Brazilian films. And we also know that Afro-Brazilians in general are rarely ever more than 10% of any cast of Brazil’s decades-long success run with the ever popular novelas (soap operas). We’ve seen stereotypes of black women sexuality used to sell beer and we’ve seen campaigns that have re-enforced the Brazilian racist idea that natural black hair is bad. Well, nothing’s changed. As a matter of fact, the Globo TV network is upping the stakes with a new TV series that plays directly into the national stereotype of the hyper-sexual negra or mulata. In fact, the show is actually called Sexo e as nêgas, which could be translated as something like “sex and the negresses”. This new program which hasn’t even debuted yet is the precise reason that black women called for a more dignified representation in the mass media. The media continues to ignore this demand, so black women are coming out to express their outrage.
Below is short intro to what’s shaping up to becoming a battle; stay tuned as we will continue the developments on this latest slap in the face of the black community!
Hey Globo, I’m not one of your nêgas!
By Laila Oliveira
The feeling of indignation made me reflect on this constant and secular sexualization that is imputed upon us black women; an image that has been sustained for decades by the Brazilian literature, the media and by songs in the cultural industry responsible for the cultural construction of stereotypes in the popular imagination such as the hot negra, the moreninha (little brown girl) of the color of sin or the mulata tipo exportação (mulata of the exportation type). I almost fell backwards to learn the newest work of Globo (TV) art, another blow of the racist media, the production of the series created by Miguel Falabella, Sexo e As Negas (Sex and the Negresses) parodying the famous Sex and the City.
The series still has no release date, and according to the author, the version will take place in Cordovil, in Rio de Janeiro. It will consist of a quartet of carioca (Rio natives) friends composed of a maid, a cook, a worker and a seamstress who will experience dilemmas and obstacles to achieve their true goal which is the conquest of a sexual partner.
But what’s worse than making poor black population look ridiculous in a rough version of a series of white and bourgeois women, is believing that it’s making a difference in the lives of black men and women relegated or subjected to subordinate roles, stating that through this production the self-esteem of the black population will increase, and maybe now there will be a change in Brazilian TV after 46 years of existence, where the trajectory of the black characters were the kitchens and the favelas (slums) in the cold scenarios of TV novelas (soap operas).
The issue of race in the media is still very heavy, since according to Joel Zito, researcher and filmmaker, in a third of telenovelas produced by Rede Globo until the end of the 1990s there were no black characters, contrasting with the Brazilian reality, that at the time reached 50% of the population, currently the data indicate that we are the majority but we are still invisible in the spheres of power, institutions of education, health and [non] democratic media universe.
If this long trajectory traveled by Ruth de Souza, Léa Garcia and Neusa Borges and so many other renowned actresses and those coming from the Teatro Experimental do Negro (Black Experimental Theater), the station never opened space for a serial fiction only starring black women, what is the interest? What is the game?
Miguel Falabella is already an old acquaintance of the productions that make a mockery of the poor, women, black people and people from the northeast. If we go back in time we will remember celebrated characters and phrases of the director and producer. One of his productions became very famous for violence and intolerance phrases like “Shut up Magda!” And “I have a horror of the poor.” Is he really concerned about contributing to a shift of focus in regards to the poor black population? I think not.
Solange Couceiro de Lima has warned in her article “Reflexo do Racismo à Brasileira” (Reflection of Brazilian-styled racism) “the existence of a distorted and stereotypical black identity present in various products of social communication.” And if the media contributes to a national culture that strengthens an image that stigmatizes us, that keep us in an inferior place perpetuating the veiled racism of the country, we must deny this place, this is not our role.
We will not accept, nor will we strengthen the slavery heritage where our black body has no voice and no time, fitting only for the sexual satisfaction of white masters. Lélia Gonzales (1984), reflected on the degree of symbolic violence against the black woman, at the same time that is deified in the carnival season, exercises in her everyday the activity of a maid for sustenance. “It’s also there where it appears that the terms mulata and domestic are attributions of one single subject.”
We demand more respect to our lives, to our bodies and our choices. While you fantasize and ridicule the affectivity of black women from the suburb, we continue dying in public hospitals, exterminated by racist police or suffering from the lack of rights that should we should be guaranteed, and that’s not funny.
We continue fighting and resisting to quell every and any production that contributes to the perpetuation of a racist society, denouncing and demanding accountability of broadcasters, even the private, as they have public concessions and thus should respect the Brazilian population and its diversity. The horizon points to the urgency of the democratization of the media, where we can see ourselves not only with pride, but where we can see our demands met by the media.
ARAÚJO, Zito Joel. “O Negro na Dramaturgia, um caso exemplar da decadência do mito da democracia racial brasileira.” Florianópolis: Estudos Feministas, 2008.
COUCEIRO DE LIMA, S.M. Reflexos do Racismo à Brasileira. Revista USP, São Paulo (32): 56 – 65: DEZEMBRO/FEVEREIRO 1996-97
GONZALES, Lélia. Racismo e Sexismo na Cultura Brasileira. Revista Ciências Sociais Hoje. Anpocs, 1984, p. 223-244.
HALL, Stuart. A identidade cultural na pós-modernidade. Rio de Janeiro: DP&A, 2001.
LOPES, Maria Immacolata Vassallo. “Telenovela como recurso comunicativo”. MATRIZes. Ano 3-nº1, agosto/dezembro 2009
Source: Nação Z