Note from BW of Brazil: Such a simplistic analysis of what’s going on in this novela. But, in reality, I don’t expect much when the topic is Globo TV novelas, racism and interracial relationships, if the writer doesn’t have a background in studying racial issues from a more critical perspective. The article below doesn’t really delve too deep into the messages embedded in this novela that it is supposed to be reviewing. But then again, nowadays we are dealing with a new form of racism, a sort of “Racism 2.0” that the untrained eye won’t catch. Let’s see how the article below deals with the issue first…
Novela shows the racism practiced by whites and among blacks
Interracial Romance of O Outro Lado do Paraíso discusses different practices of discrimination
By Jeff Benício
“But she’s black!” says Ivanilda (Telma Souza) seeing the girl with whom the white student Bruno (Caio Paduan) exchanges kisses on the dance floor of a show. “Smart woman, grabbing a man like that.”
In the head of the manicurist – a negra (black woman) such as Raquel (Érika Januza), such as the guy’s girlfriend – the union of people with so different skin tones, is, at first, incompatible.
She practices the same racism she is a victim of every day. After the strangeness, Ivanilda delivered a certain racial fetish for the young heartthrob: “She peeled him like orange.”
Walcyr Carrasco, author of O Outro Lado do Paraíso (The Other Side of Paradise), goes beyond racism of whites against blacks: he also wants to show discrimination among blacks themselves.
A thorny theme in a racist country, yet so mixed. And here racism is usually disguised. It even created an expression for the non-explicit prejudice practiced by the Brazilian: racismo cordial (cordial racism).
In the 9pm plot of the Globo TV novela (soap opera), Raquel is a quilombola who will work in the house of Nádia (Eliane Giardini), mother of Bruno, an arrogant woman and collector of prejudices.
She insists on humiliating the maid with comments regarding her ethnic background. In the head of the dondoca (1), the world is divided between ‘we’ (the rich whites) and ‘they’ (all who do not fit in this profile).
Since Raquel’s arrival, Nádia has noticed Bruno’s immediate interest in the new maid.
Commenting on her concern for her husband, Judge Gustavo (Luis Mello) heard a debauchery: “They (the maids) are there for that. The boss’s son is the little boyfriend for them.”
The magistrate represents a thought of the slavery period: the negra is a sexual object used to meet the desire of the dominant white man. A reality so ancient and frighteningly so current.
Alexandra Loras, a journalist born in Paris and a former consul of France in São Paulo, says Brazil is the most racist nation on the planet.
In an interview with Veja magazine, she explained her point of view: “I know that this placement is a bit violent for Brazilians who like to see themselves living in a country where racial democracy has worked. But Brazil is the most racist because it has the second largest black population in the world and this it is not reflected in society.”
This is the question proposed in Globo’s primetime novela. It remains to be seen whether the public will take advantage of the visibility of the problem to discuss it or will continue to pretend that racial discrimination is just a ‘coisa de novela’ (novela thing).
Note from BW of Brazil: So what’s really going on here? Is it as simple as what the writer defines as “racism between blacks themselves”? I find it ridiculous to even make such as assertion. Why? How can a black person, being the same race as another black person, practice racism against a black person? 1) They are within the same oppressed group and 2) neither character in the scenario above has any sort of power that would even allow them to practice any sort of oppression against the other person.
The next thing we must touch upon is the issue of where black people as a collective get the idea of disliking or giving no value to persons of their same racial condition. In a racist society that is completely based upon the establishment of white supremacy, as Brazil surely is, we can only point the finger of anti-black ideologies within the psyches of black people at the people who implanted such ideas in the minds of black people over the past five centuries. The effects of such racism in which the victims of the psychological and physical aggressions adapt the ideologies of the very people under whose rule they continue to live is what we define as “identifying with the oppressor.” We see numerous examples of this in modern day Brazil. How else do you explain so many black people hating or rejecting their natural hair? How do you explain the generational passing on of the “melhora a raça”, meaning ‘improve the race’, by choosing white partners and thus producing lighter-skinned offspring? How do explain the general equation of “successful black person – white partner” that is basically the norm in many parts of Brazil?
As black people, unless we come into the consciousness of understanding white supremacy and what it means to be black living under such a system, it is even common to see black people condemning other blacks in situations in which there is conflict between black and white people. We sometimes see this in the experience of black police whose duty it is to protect middle to upper-class white people when “outsiders”, often lower or even middle-class blacks, come into realms designated as “for whites only” even when they aren’t actually sanctioned by law. We’ve seen many examples of this on Rio’s ritzy beaches, but also in places such as BMW dealerships, restaurants, and middle-class apartment buildings.
In the situation described in the novela, I don’t interpret one black woman negatively reacting at seeing a “white prince” with another black woman as racism, not only for the reason I just explained but also due to the fact that, under white supremacy, black people are naturally trained to place higher value and social status to white people. As such, a black person, already knowing and accepting the lower position society has reserved for him or her, can actually come to question why a would be socially/racially superior person would be spending time with one of “those people”. For in the mind of the oppressed, if one is part of the oppressed group, they cannot bestow upon members of their own group a higher position than that of themselves. And to take this a step further, if said black person were to attract the attention of the “charming white prince” or the “white princess”, they will then feel the necessity of “showing off” their “prize”. For they have managed to attain something of far greater social value than that of the opposite sex of their own race and, symbolically, elevated themselves over their equals by just being in the daily presence of the person from the “superior” group.
But once again, all of this is due to the indoctrination of white supremacy. It has NOTHING to do any such “black on black racism”. White supremacy creates the very inferiority complex that black people continue to carry even slavery having ended several decades ago. Thus, in this scenario, white supremacy creates the inferiority complex of which so many black people continue to be victimized and, having created the destructive cycle of behavior and that helps maintain its position atop the racial hierarchy, it is quite easy to simply step back and say, “look at what those negros do to themselves.”
Two other things that the above article doesn’t bother to mention are 1) Brazilian society’s continuous view of black women as being “the help”, a role that continues to be re-enforced in top novelas and is presented once again in Globo’s latest offering. And 2) generally speaking, well to do white men of the privileged classes don’t choose black women for serious relationships, particularly those who are “the help”. As in the slave era, they may lay down with black women for sexual adventures, but will never put on a ring on the finger of a woman who is considered his social inferior in every way.
Such relationships once again show how the racial hierarchy continues to be at the root of social relations in modern Brazil. For it is not difficult to find a black man who has struggled throughout his life and managed to rise above the lowly social position that Brazilian society reserves for him choose a white woman who has much lower social capital than he. On the other hand, white men, when they do choose black women, generally make sure that they choose the best the race has to offer.
An added twist to this scenario is the fact that in novelas, it is more common to see a gay couple on TV than it is to see a couple featuring a black man and a black woman. This novela takes this omission a step further. Not only is the main black female character in this soap opera romantically linked to a white male, but so too is a black male character. According to the script, white actor Eriberto Leão will play Samuel, a psychiatrist married to a woman, but who will live a secret romance with Cido, a role played by Afro-Brazilian actor Rafael Zulu. Afraid to have his true sexual option discovered, he will pretend to be a homophobic, macho, and prejudiced man. As such, once again, in a Globo novela, you have an attractive black female and attractive black male paired with white partners and of these two couples, one is a gay couple. I ask, what message does Globo wish to pass on about black relationships? They don’t exist?
So let’s get this straight. Describing the way in which black people sometimes treat each other as “black on black racism” once again avoids getting to the root of the problem and that which continues to be the most influential, underlying factor for why black people often demean each other in sometimes very cruel manners. I’ve often witnessed this sort of behavior among other black people and it often amazes me how whiteness, even when not a direct influence on a given situation, still has a sinister presence in the interactions of the black population.
- Describes a rich, often times, stuck-up woman who is loved by society but who does very little and is often times taken care of.