Note from BW of Brazil: This is my second feature here discussing the Netflix series Dear White People and its availability on the Brazilian market. It’s intriguing to see that the series has managed to attain somewhat of following in the country since its debut a few months ago. It’s intriguing for a number of reasons. 1) As reports featured on this blog continue to show, a large portion of the Brazilian population is still not capable of having an open discussion on topics such as race, racism, white supremacy and privilege. 2) Dear White People has been generally ignored by Brazil’s mainstream media and hasn’t created the same buzz as other Netflix series. And 3) In the United States, the series caused a backlash by a number of Netflix subscribers who decided to cancel their subscriptions to the online streaming network after seeing trailers of the series that were deemed by some to be ‘racist’. The whole thing of how such a series being exhibited in a country that, for the most part, sees itself as being completely different from the United States in matters of race. As I have repeatedly expressed on this blog, I acknowledge that while there are a number of differences between the two nations in terms of racial matters, very few will acknowledge that there are also many more similarities than one would assume. The very fact that there are Brazilian viewers who either “get it” or identify parts of their own experience in the series is more evidence of this. Check below what some Brazilians are saying about the series.
Netflix series ‘Dear White People’ (Cara Gente Branca) wins over fans, both black and white, in Brazil
By Miguel Arcanjo Prado
“I loved Dear White People“, says the journalist and businesswoman from São Paulo, Cristiane Guterres, as soon as the report begins the talk about Dear White People, (released as Cara Gente Branca in Brazil), a series that debuted just recently on Netflix after controversy in the United States.
There, even without the chapters being made available and having as the only reference the promotional teaser, a group of white subscribers canceled their Netflix subscriptions due to the proposal of a series that deals with the racism from the point of view of black people.
And this is the great differential of Cara Gente Branca, inspired by the film of the same name from 2014 directed by Justin Simien: approach with no detours and with a lot of irony a theme that needs to be discussed by the society; in the US and Brazil.
At the opening of the series, a blackface party is shown, with white students painted in black, which triggers the racial tensions on the university campus where the story takes place. Race relations in the place are the theme of the ten episodes of the first season, which feature the main characters and their points of view in each of them.
What has bothered some right away is also what makes Cara Gente Branca win over new fans every day in Brazil; spectators of different ethnicities.
Many see themselves reflected in the script, such as Cristiane Guterres: “I identify with it and was moved in each episode,” she says.
“I’m not accustomed to seeing the searing pain that I felt the first time all my white friends were kickin’ it with someone and me being alone in a series. But it’s not just about being alone at a party, it’s about being alone in life, at work, at the university. It’s about how I underwent endless pains to have straight hair and being accepted,” says the journalist.
She identifies with the character Coco, played by actress Antoinette Robertson, who seeks social ascension through study, but must deal with racism daily. Cristiane hopes that another character, for whom she has great affection, will get an episode of her own in the second season: Joelle (Ashley Blaine Featherson), best friend of the protagonist Sam (Logan Browning) and that did not have her own chapter in the first season.
“In society, I am Joelle, a black woman who has to fight harder to avoid being invisible,” says Cristiane. According to her, the series, by showing the protagonist Sam winning the leadership of the black students, also exposes the colorism, the theory that the darker the skin of a black person the more racism he/she suffers.
“It’s a lot easier for Sam. She has green eyes, she’s light (skinned). It is obvious that if the whites have to tolerate someone it will be her,” she explains, problematizing the script of the series.
For the mineiro (native of the state of Minas Gerais) Franz Galvão, with a master’s degree in Education at UFMG (Federal University of Minas Gerais), the series reveals the tensions present in the most diverse black movements. And emphasizes the character Coco, in which “the series works with the empoderamento da mulher negra (empowerment of the black woman), the passing over of the black woman in relation to the white ones and even in relation to the mestiças (persons of mixed race), as in the case of her friend and protagonist Samantha White,” echoing Cristiane’s opinion.
Franz also points out that the way black men are constructed in the series escapes from the commonplace. “Black men are marked by stereotypes constructed by society, usually dehumanized, seen and recognized for virility, sexuality and violence. The series immerses in the diversity of its black characters, manages to show gay blacks, the rich and very intelligent,” he says.
Franz also remembers another important point shown in the series: interracial love relationships, a focus of the story of the protagonist Sam and her boyfriend Gabe [John Patrick Amedori].
“Gabe, Sam’s white boyfriend, despite his good intentions to collaborate with this universe, always highlights the sense of danger when he is close to blacks, even asking the most intelligent character in the series, who is black, if he would hit him as an alternative to dialogue, and at another point calling the police.”
For the São Paulo actor Lucas Allmeida, seeing the series is a way “to understand a little of the movimento negro (black movement)”. “Every scene is a huge learning experience. The incredible thing is that the series is not afraid to show anger on both sides, with difficult discourses to swallow, but that are pure truth,” he says.
For Lucas, the script is “totally up-to-date, fast and with references from our daily lives,” citing “Buzzfeed’s lists and idolatry for Beyoncé.”
“Some stories in the series are very similar to those of my father and my uncles, blacks, speaking about their youth in the 1960s and 1970s,” he says, before concluding, “Dear White People is at the very least necessary and obligatory.”
The São Paulo actor Mateus Monteiro also saw the first season. And he liked it a lot. “In addition to an excellent script, actors, and direction, what strikes me most in Gente Branca is the exercise of sensitivity that the series provokes,” he says.
For Mateus, the series “reveals much of the pain and suffering that centuries of racism still carries hidden behind the cruel maxims: ‘calm down, it was just a joke’, ‘why this storm in a glass of water?’ among many others.”
“The series is a forceful contribution to raising the awareness of pain and the struggle for racial equality, leading, consequently, to indispensable respect,” the actor defines.
Laura Guimarães Corrêa, professor of the Department of Social Communication at UFMG, highlights the tension in the series: “The actors are beautiful, the actresses are also. The costumes are bold, interesting and powerful. The art direction, flawless. The setting is the rooms, halls, and buildings of Winchester, a fictional Ivy League university. But something is out of the question: Sam White’s controversial radio program on racism at the university, for a majority who don’t want to hear it.”
According to Laura, “the series is” humorous, intelligent and sometimes predictable “and points out” the conflictive and uneven race relations,” a theme “as important as uncomfortable,” remembering that “part of the US audience boycotted the streaming service that produces and distributes the series.”
“Dear White People reminds us that the university, an institution historically dominated by homens brancos (white men), is part of the society,” she says. And that the fictional Winchester “reproduces the places of power and the nothing fictional violence that maintains privilégio branco (white privilege) in different spaces – especially in the most privileged.”
For the professor of UFMG, “despite some forced dialogues, the neoliberal logic that crosses everything, the main cast is not the age of freshmen students, the series is very welcome.”
And she argues that the climax of Cara Gente Branca is in episode 5. “It is directed by Barry Jenkins, the same director of the movie Moonlight. Strong and vigorous, this chapter is worth the series,” she says, leaving a tip.
After all, as the phrase of the African-American social writer and critic James Baldwin (1924-1987) says, “The paradox of education is precisely this – that as one begins to become conscious one begins to examine the society in which he is being educated.” The success of Cara Gente Branca is proof of this.
Source: Blog do Arcanjo