Note from BW of Brazil: The necessity of diversity, more visibility and a dignified representation of black women and black Brazilians in general have been a few of the main focuses on this blog. As we have consistently argued, Brazil’s media has for many years portrayed the country as if it were located in Europe rather that in South America. Various media outlets around the world also took notice of the overwhelming whiteness of Brazil’s fans during the recent World Cup and one has to wonder if the worldwide media knew how Brazil’s national media portrayed the country. Although change is extremely slow, one capital city in northern Brazil recently took steps to address this issue of invisibility. After all, if it is true that there is a fear that white women won’t purchase products if a black woman is featured in a certain ad, they need to become more accustomed to seeing darker faces and not coming to such negative conclusions. It’s a shame that these types of laws are necessary (as in affirmative action) but it’s still an important and necessary step.
City council of one capital city approve a bill to feature more blacks in commercials
Bill provides increased participation of blacks in advertisements.
Former Miss Acre says project is an advance and says she has suffered prejudice.
by Caio Fulgêncio
Maria Cláudia Barreto won the Miss Acre contest in 2006, placed second in the Miss Brasil competition and was champion in Miss Brasil Internacional
The City Council of the city of Rio Branco approved unanimously on Wednesday (9), bill 50/2014 which provides for greater participation of blacks in advertisements produced by organs of the municipal administration. For Councilwoman Eliane Sinhasique (PMDB-AC), author of the project, the measure is important for Rio Branco citizens to become accustomed to the presence of black people in institutional advertising.
“The bill provides that all advertisements of the municipal administration use blacks in a proportional form. People need to get used to seeing black people in their daily lives and the television is a part of this. The municipality as a public entity, should encourage this by stimulating the participation of blacks in the advertising pieces,” says Sinhasique.
For Maria Cláudia Barreto, who in 2006 was elected Miss Acre, came in second place in Miss Brasil and won the Miss Brasil Beleza Internacional, the project represents a breakthrough, since the presence of blacks in advertising is still small. However, the Acre native regrets that a law to regulate this sort of thing is necessary.
“I think it’s a great evolution, because we hardly see black people doing campaigns. It exists more when the person is already known. It’s very important because it makes people see that, regardless of color, everyone must have the opportunity. But I think the law wasn’t necessary, people should take an independent initiative,” she says.
Now 30 and not working as a model due to college demands in Manaus (Amazonas state), Maria Cláudia says that she became interested in the fashion world early, at age 13. She remembers that in childhood, whenever there was a contest in the capital of Acre, her mother signed her up. At 23, when she ran and won Miss Acre, she reveals that she suffered prejudice because of being black.
“When I won the contest, I suffered prejudice. I heard people asking ‘what’s this negrinha (little black girl) with the cabelo ruim (bad hair) going to do in Miss Acre’. Unfortunately, like it or not, there are prejudiced people, small minded. And then after I got a good ranking, these people changed their concept in relation to me. We have to respect the human being him/herself, in their essence, and not take impressions due to their color or anything else,” says Maria Cláudia.
1. It’s curious but also not surprising how Brazil proclaims itself to be so proud of its diversity yet besides everyday acts of racism throughout the country, Afro-Brazilian women are consistently deemed not worthy of competing in beauty contests. In this regard, Brazil is equal to its European counterparts. See similar stories here, here, here and here. Please note that in all of the previous stories, like the feature story above, none of the women would be classified as dark-skinned negras, but rather “mulatas” which again brings into the question the supposed differences between how “negras” and “mulatas” are classified or treated both in Brazil and in other countries.