Note from BW of Brazil: As followers of this blog well know, media representation is a regular and important theme for us. And it should be. Whether one likes to admit it or not, the mass media plays a huge role in how people and societies see themselves and perceive the world around them. But what happens when that media insists on for the most part ignoring the existence of one of the groups? How might this group feel about their existence? How might this group feel about themselves? How would this group go about making their presence felt and bring forth issues and images that may be important to their specific experience? Well, as we have seen in a number of black culture oriented expos, expos focused on black hair and black theater groups, Afro-Brazilians have learned that if they are to see themselves, it is they who must make their presence felt. This was the approach of a journalist in the state of Minas Gerais who took it upon herself to help continue the long tradition of Afro-Brazilian media.
September of 1996 saw the release of the most successful, long-running magazine dedicated to the Afro-Brazilian population, Raça Brasil. With a magazine covers and features stand that regularly featured Brazilians of primarily European ancestry, every month, Raça Brasil’s presence brought colorful images of beautiful black Brazilians that had long starved for media representations of themselves. Today, nearly 19 years later, Raça remains the only media outlet that consistently brings black faces, culture and issues to a national audience. But when the magazine takes hiatuses, as it did earlier this year for about five months after switching publishers, the faces representing Brazilian life, culture and news were almost exclusively white. Raça Brasil’s success would prove that Brazil’s “ethnic market” represented a enormous untapped consumer class that had limitless potential and laid the groundwork for numerous other projects and ventures that have targeted the Afro-Brazilian population over the years.
With this brief history as a intro, below, we learn a little about a new venture of journalist Etienne Martins, who we met a several months back during the last Month of Black Consciousness.
Afronta, a newspaper of the black people of Minas Gerais, is already circulating in the Belo Horizonte region
by Brigida Alvim
“When I saw the first edition of Raça Brasil (magazine), with black people on the cover, I knew what I wanted to do,” says Etiene Martins, holding in her hands the first issue of the magazine from September 1996 that she still has. Later, and already a college graduate, starting in 2010, Etienne went on to write articles for the magazine. “During this period, I helped put a lot of mineiro (Minas Gerais natives) people in Raça, but the publication focuses on the Rio – São Paulo axis and the gap of a vehicle in this segment in Minas continued to exist,” says the journalist.
Jornal Afronta came to fill this gap. Bimonthly, it represents and is geared toward black men and women. In the printed pages is disclosed news about culture, achievements and demands of black people in the metropolitan area. “Releasing Jornal Afronta is for me the realization of a dream. Many ask me, but why a black newspaper for blacks? And I answer, why does no one ask this question when they sees a newspaper made by whites for whites? Since we blacks are in ‘fashion’, as they say, we should gain prominence on the covers of newspapers and magazines, but it is for our deeds and achievements and not as criminals, imprisoned, killed or on the run,” Etienne emphasizes.
“Afronta comes to confront society, placing itself in favor of what black people need and where it is going. The initiative is like a comet, it’s not every day you see a newspaper made by blacks for blacks. Similarly, it is hard to see black entrepreneurs, managers, academics and successful artists, as we can see here, at this meeting,” said Camilo Gan, musician and African educator member of Bloco Afro Magia Negra and the group Samba de Terreiro.
The Black Women’s March, held in downtown Belo Horizonte on May 13, with 500 women from 65 Minas Gerais cities, is the cover story of the first issue of Jornal Afronta. Coverage of the event by the Minas Gerais press disappointed Etienne Martins. “Some newspapers covered it and took lots of pictures, but the next day, when I picked up the O Tempo newspaper to check it out, there was a line on the cover about the subject, but the photo chosen was of two white women. For me it was the last straw and I found that it was necessary to launch a Minas newspaper to give appropriate visibility to black people,” recalls the journalist.
Other matters dealt with in the issue are the coverage of Afro-Brazilian fashion event Love Turban and Encrespa Geral; the trajectory of Edmilson Pereira de Almeida, who has, among other academic degrees, a doctorate in Communication and Culture from UFRJ (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro); reading tips for the book Ouvir para contar – Memória de alunos negros do Curso Técnico em Química Cefet-MG, de 1964 a 1978 (Listen to tell – Memory of black students of the Technical Course in Chemistry Cefet-MG, 1964-1978); and the article “O Senegal me deu a chave de Berlim” (Senegal gave me the key from Berlin), by guest columnist Ras Adauto Berlin.
The first edition has 12 pages and financed costs by selling ads. That is how Etienne wants to keep the publication, making room for afroempreendedores (Afro oriented entrepreneurs) to advertise their products directly to their target audience. Jornal Afronta has free distribution in cultural centers, events and projects focused on the development of culture, politics and the black aesthetic. Through a partnership between the publisher and the Núcleo de Relações Étnico-Raciais da Secretaria Municipal de Educação (Racial-Ethnic Relations Center of the City Department of Education), the vehicle will also be distributed in local schools. Afronta has a channel of dialogue with the public, through the Afronta community, which is hosted on Facebook.
A newspaper to call our own – Meninas Black Power interviews Etienne Martins
By Élida Aquino of Meninas Black Power
You already know it and it sound like a mantra around here, but I’ll write it again: representation is important. Among the many daily cases, known or unknown, of racism and its variations, so much pain that the everyday still causes black bodies circulating around the world, my heart vibrates and is strengthened when I see more and more cases of sweet resistance, positioned creatively, producing content that unites us as a community, showing our potential and providing the vision from the good side (which, in faith, will one day overcome all the other sides of the story) of being us. That was the feeling of discovering Jornal Afronta, coming directly from (the state of) Minas Gerais. The release was held on July 8th at Casa Una de Cultura in Belo Horizonte. Below you can check out the conversation I had with Etienne Martins, creator of Afronta and a journalist who represents. To better understand who she is, what the newspaper is about and fall in love with the space that is all our own!
MBP – Start by telling us who you are, where you come from, your education and etc.
Etienne Martins – I am a graduate in Journalism and Advertising. I started my career as a reporter of the Raça Brasil magazine in 2010, when I still was studying in the third period of journalism, then I was asked to be adviser of communication of the Festival de Arte Negra (Black Arts Festival) which is held in Belo Horizonte. I always combined my two passions: journalism and black culture.
MBP – What is the history of your hair? Did it influence in some way the construction of Jornal Afronta?
MS – In my process of politicization and “tornar negra” (becoming black), I also rediscovered my estética afrodescendente (African descendant aesthetic) and after 25 years of straightening my hair, in the month of the first edition of the Jornal Afronta, I celebrate my first year of farewell to chemicals. This process was crucial in the construction of this work, because black self-esteem is part of the editorial line of the newspaper. Our true beauty with our true hair.
MBP – How did the idea of creating a newspaper like Afronta come about?
EM – Given the lack of space for our subjects, demands and cultures in mainstream media, I had to resort to an idea that emerged in Brazil in 1915, which is the Imprensa Negra (Black Press), and through this press give voice to black people once again.
MBP – How long was the journal planned until it was in circulation?
EM – Since 2012 I have been thinking and elaborating this project, but only now can we put Afronta on the street.
MBP – When accessing the page of the newspaper we see that the definition of the idea is “racial ethnic journalism.” What does that mean?
EM – A journalism with our face, beautiful, black, crespa (kinky/curly hair) and full of authenticity.
MBP – How does the team that works on the creation of newspaper work?
EM – We work with consciousness and love for our roots and our people. The staff is small but well articulated. It has a photographer, a reviser, an art director and a journalist.
MBP – We well know the relationship between the media and racism. How do you see that affirmative publications, such as Afronta, for example, can cause the opposite effect? How can they promote the effect of educating for equality and also strengthen the black community, making that it occupies a space of prominence?
EM – Jornal Afronta came to strengthen our struggle for a free, independent, anti-bourgeois, anti-capitalist and well demarcated media at the side of the black Brazilian people; a battling press that evidences that our black Brazilian people exist and has a culture, a tradition and valuable beauty, really that they are attempting to deny us of.
MBP – And how do you understand that the newspaper can empower black people, particularly black women?
EM – A black woman has always read magazines without seeing themselves portrayed without stamping the covers, always being overlooked and made invisible. Afronta comes to meet this demand that other media doesn’t cover. Afronta empowers without surrendering to such common stereotypes propagated by the white Brazilian media putting our women on the covers, occupying a space that is also rightfully ours.
MBP – What guidelines do you consider most relevant among the issues that permeate the black community in Brazil and in the world today?
EM – Wow, there are so many! But the inclusion in the academic and professional world is of utmost importance, as well as the right to uncensored religious practices, without even speaking of youth genocide. The power of being black inside and outside, in the skin and hair and being respected everywhere.
A lot of #crespoamor (kinky/curly love) and Jornal Afronta at the Feira Ébano (Ebony Fair) – Photo: Journal Afronta
MBP – We agree! Now let’s talk about the release. How was the first edition received? What matters did it address?
EM – It was received with a great party, joy and enthusiasm, after all our people are looking forward to a decent space in the media. The first edition was permeated by our beauty, talking about an event that brought together hundreds of people to celebrate the beauty of cabelo crespo in BH. We also speak of the tradition of turbans. The interviewee of this issue was the doctor and black writer Edimilson Pereira de Almeida and the guest columnist was the carioca (Rio native) Ras Adauto, who lived in Berlin for more than a decade. The cover story was on account of the Marchas das Mulheres Negras (Marches of Black Women) that mobilized women of the entire state of Minas Gerais and lead all to the streets, demanding their rights.
MBP – What can we expect from the next editions?
EM – Subjects that communicate the daily life of black Brazilian people in culture, politics, beauty, education. I intend to speak a little of everything.
MBP – Where is the newspaper available? Do you intend to reach other States? What and when?
EM – currently the newspaper is available in art galleries, pubs, beauty salons, rodas de samba (samba circles), universities, fairs and events in which our people circulate in greater BH. In the next issue we intend to reach the states of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo and gradually occupy our country.
That’s it Meninas (girls). What a brilliant idea, right?!
Do not forget to like the Jornal Afronta page here and follow all the news to come. Kisses!