Note from BW of Brazil: Technology has long been proven to be a very profitable advantage for those who know how to exploit its full range of potential. Nowadays, thanks to such advances in the world of technology and innovation, there are a whole new world of possibilities for common, everyday people that was simply not possible just two decades ago. After having read a number of articles posted on this blog about the manner in which Brazilian society basically freezes its black population out of numerous genres, many have mentioned how Afro-Brazilians can use modern technology to overcome the difficulty to access in so many vital areas in today’s world.
Cell phones, for example, which everyone seems to have, have made it possible for almost anyone to contribute to the world of journalism. And social media has made it very easy for anyone to get a message out to tens of thousands of people in an instant. A couple of months back, attending a discussion of Afro-Brazilian comic book artists, I was amazed to discover that a guy who has a relatively large following in social networks crafts his videos with the aid of a very well-equipped cell phone with a microphone attached to it. Had I not attended that event, I would have never known that his excellent videos and interviews were recorded with one of the latest Samsung Galaxy phones.
Social media is so important these days that the mainstream media often gets some of its content from the posts of everyday people who have their fingers on the pulse of what’s going on in the streets and what people want to know and see and becoming social media influencers along the way. YouTube has been an important weapon as an alternative for Afro-Brazilians to offer content and get exposure from an audience that is starving for content that speaks specifically to them in ways the media has continued to refuse to do. And now with avenues such as Facebook facing crises with its audience, Afro-Brazilians have come up with another potential winning innovation that has the potential to reach millions of other black people for purposes of sharing messages, getting political candidates elected, and promoting facets of cultura negra (black culture) to the people it matters to the most. Below, learn more about Black & Black, the new social network platform for specifically black Brazilians.
Social network for blacks wants to give visibility to politicians and entrepreneurs
Courtesy of AFP
Black & Black, a Brazilian social network designed for blacks, was launched two months before the election to give politicians and entrepreneurs visibility and to promote initiatives such as boycotting racist marketing campaigns.
The platform, which presents itself as unprecedented in the world, aims to “connect the demands and narratives of the black population in the world”, so that “black people have the protagonism they deserve”, describes the official website.
Conceived by social entrepreneur Celso Athayde, CEO of Favela Holding, the network has around 100 thousand users, among them actor Lázaro Ramos, rapper MV Bill, columnist Flávia Oliveira and comedian Hélio de la Peña.
According to Athayde, the goal is to reach one million members until the October elections and 10 million by the end of the year.
The platform wants to bring together people who tend to consume “black experiences, activities or actions involving ethnicity issues,” Athayde says.
“Black movements, women who talk about black beauty, black dances, Afro religion…we have a series of segments within the black segment, but everything spread out,” he adds. “They may have different interests, but there is one thing that unites us: the feeling of being black.”
This need to find a common platform can be explained by the fact that in Brazil, due to centuries of miscegenation, the black movement is historically multiple and diffuse, according to Luana Génot, executive director of the NGO Instituto Identidades do Brasil.
The situation is different, for example, from the United States, where “legal separation between races facilitated the emergence of associations that help to unify the black community,” he adds.
Brazil was the last country to abolish slavery in the Americas, without this being accompanied by policies for the social integration of blacks.
Affirmative actions such as racial quotas in universities have emerged in the last decades to try to compensate for this historical debt, which allowed the access of blacks to mostly white environments and, with this, the strengthening of Afro identity.
Athayde rejects the criticism that Black & Black promotes segregation: “We are not separating, we recognize the separation that already exists. We live in a country where there is a black movement and public entities to combat racism, evidence of racial prejudice.”
Under-representation in the Congress
Black & Black’s interface is similar to Facebook’s, with friends, pages and a feed, where users share information of interest to the black community – news, job offers, cultural activities, products and services.
It is also a space for policy making, promoting the meeting of black candidates to state governments and legislative positions – there are about 600 on the platform – with their public.
The official launch of the platform will be in 2019, but the beta version was released on August 15.
“We decided to anticipate the launch because it was an opportunity for the candidates to make their pages, to ask for votes and to be presented to people,” says Athayde.
The businessman helped create the Frente Favela Brasil party, which today has more than 100 candidates competing in positions through other formations.
Although 55% of the Brazilian population, according to the IBGE, blacks (citizens that declare themselves preto/black or pardo/brown) represent only 20% of the members of the Chamber of Deputies, and 46% of the candidates for the October elections, according to data from the TSE.
“Blacks are not elected because those who allow you to be elected are the financial resources, and that they don’t have because they are not the employers. Therefore, they are not a priority in the parties,” says Athayde.
According to Athayde, this underrepresentation in Congress reflects the lack of affirmative action policies in favor of the black population.
“Politics defines every and any rule of this game, and if you only have whites and men in this sector, obviously they will only think about what matters to them,” he says.
Athayde emphasizes that the under-estimated black population’s consumption potential is boosted on this platform. Thus, small entrepreneurs or large companies that have specific products for blacks can communicate directly with their target audience.
According to the research institute Locomotiva, blacks moved R$ 1.6 trillion in Brazil in 2017, equivalent to the 17th largest market in the world.
Athayde also highlights the potential for mobilization, for example against racist marketing campaigns: “There is no channel today where one can stand permanently or propose boycotts against those who commit such slips.”
“Today we don’t cause fear in anyone. We need to arouse a little bit of fear in people, and I think this platform starts to awaken this. If the blacks come together, that game may start to turn. “
The network will be upgraded to a final version in December, when it will also be available in the United States, France and Spain.
It can be accessed through www.blackeblack.com and by the Black & Black application.