Occasionally here on the BW of Brazil blog, someone will ask a question or make a comment about the fact that this blog features stories of racism that regularly happen in Brazil. Well, let’s be clear; the objective of this blog is not only to give space to black Brazilian women who are more or less ignored in the Brazilian media, but also to discuss the and expose the issues of race, racism and racial inequality in Brazil. One of the main reasons for the necessity of this blog IS the invisibility of black Brazilian women in society and the media, which IS a result of racism. The racial situation is still very much underexposed on a world level and this can be noted in the comments on this blog as well as in various social networks where people often write, “I didn’t know this type of thing existed in Brazil.” Many people, for example, wrote this kind of comment concerning a post from a few days ago about a popular children’s novela in which a poor, black boy is hopelessly in love with an arrogant, middle class white girl who despises him.
Today’s report confirms why we must continue to discuss the issues of racism, exclusion and racial inequality. The point of the article? The Brazilian media rarely covers it and when it does, it covers the topic in the context of initiatives and policies to combat it rather than openly discussing its causes, how often it is reported, why it exists, its history in Brazil and its existent forms, blatant, subtle or covert. In reality, if you’ve followed this blog for any amount of time, you will have noted that many popular news sources in Brazil DO in fact post stories of racism but they rarely address the why and how often. The Globo TV network, through its G1 news site often reports individual incidents of blatant racism that occur throughout the country, but it will never report the existent subtle and blatant forms of racism that are portrayed in Globo’s own television productions or analyze the subliminal messages and ideologies that are embedded in portrayals of the few black characters featured on these programs or Brazilian TV networks’ overwhelming whiteness in all of its productions.
As you know, racism in itself is not only of the blatant variety in which one person calls another “macaca/macaco (monkey)“, for example, which seems to happen everyday in Brazil. But it is also the more subliminal, often more powerful forms of racism that exist in the society that must be identified in order to combat it.
This is the reason debates like these continue to be necessary. Read on….
On March 20th, the Institute of Socioeconomic Studies (Inesc) and the Parliamentary Front for Racial Equality and Defense of Quilombo (maroon societies) inhabitants held a breakfast to release the publication “Parliament and Racism in the Media.”
The breakfast brought together an audience of civil society representatives who advocate equality, academics, parliamentarians and members of the media. The publication was prepared by Inesc and research that resulted was developed by Andi: Comunicação e Direitos(Andi: Communication and Rights). The goal of the analysis was to outline the portrait which investigated the way newsrooms of various Brazilian regions followed the involvement of parliamentarians specifically in terms of the racial question.
The research project entitled “Parlamento e Racismo na Mídia (Parliament and Racism in the Media)” was released on March 20th by the Instituto de Estudos Socioeconômicos (Inesc or the Institute of Socioeconomic Studies) and by Andi: Communication and Rights presents a picture of news coverage about the racial question. The study analyzed 401 newspaper articles that linked the issue of racism with the Brazilian Parliament in 45 daily newspapers, 5 nationwide and 40 regional/local.
The newspaper A Tarde of the northeastern state of Bahia stood out as a paper that most pushed the debate about the Parliament and racism in the Brazilian media. The newspaper published 51 texts (12.7% of total analyzed reports). A Tarde was followed by nationwide newspapers: O Estado de S. Paulo, with 46 texts (11.5%); Correio Braziliense, with 32 (8.0%), O Globo, with 25 (6.2%), Folha de S. Paulowith 19 (4.7%) and Journal do Brasilwith 16 (4.0%).
According to Eliana Graça, polical adviser of Inesc, the most important thing is not the quantity of material that the newspaper publishes on the subject, but the quality of information. “The newspaper A Tarde was a surprise in earning the best position in quantity of materials and for being one of those that most opened space for leaders who claimed the existence of racial discrimination against the black population. On the other hand, we have O Estado de S. Paulo that despite being in second position in terms of quantity stood out negatively paling to the idea of a society marked by racism,” she says.
The scenario of the lack of representation of blacks in the Parliament is already bleak. Although they represent over 50% of the population, according to the Census of the Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística (IBGE or Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics) from 2010, blacks are a minority in the Brazilian Parliament, representing less than 10% of all parliamentarians. According to a survey conducted by the União de Negros pela Igualdade (UNEGROor Union of Blacks for Equality) of the 513 federal deputies, only 43 are recognized as black. Of the 81 senators only two are black.
If on the one hand there is an absence of blacks in the legislature, research also demonstrates the difficulty of the media in dealing with the theme of racism. More than half of the 401 texts analyzed (56.1%) does not mention the concept of racism. The news distances itself from the historical, philosophical, sociological and anthropological debate about the phenomenon, while addressing mechanisms to combat racism (such as quotas and legislation in the area).
Although a significant part of the news (35.4%) admit the existence of racism, the vast majority (83.4%) of the news generally deals with the issue of equality/racial inequality, which is not the same as dealing with racism.
Main topics covered
The research also points out that the themes addressed most by the news about the Parliament and Racism in the Media were the quota policy for admission of blacks in higher education institutions (23.2% of all texts) and quilombo (maroon) communities (14.5% the total news).
The study also contains a special section, which covers 74 texts captured in the two days following the adoption of the Statute of Racial Equality in the House of Representatives and the Senate. The objective was to examine the behavior of the Brazilian press in relation to the construction and approval process of the law in both legislative houses.
The research aims to feed the debate on the political under-representation of blacks and identify how this segment participates in news stories about racism and racial equality published by the press in Brazil. It analyzes 401 journalistic texts selected from a universe of 1,602 materials from the report Impresa e Racismo (Press and Racism), developed earlier by Andi. The subjects are from 45 sources, five of nationwide coverage and 40 regional/local.
The event was to feature a debate on the text to be released in the presence of the authors of the study and experts on the subject. José Antonio Moroni, a member of the collegiate management of Inesc; Veet Vivarta, executive secretary of Andi: Communication and Rights; Luiz Alberto, Deputy (Representative) from the PT (Partido de Trabalhores – Workers Party), and Cleidiana Ramos, a journalist for A Tarde, were to be the panelists.