Note from BW of Brazil: This is a followup report to a piece from Friday night. Over the years we have seen numerous examples of the appropriation of black culture and whitening of Black History, both in Brazil and in other countries. What is the danger of and what precedent do these types representations present to a population in which more than half identifies itself as non-white and that is still vastly under-educated when historically black figures are consistently co-opted and presented as white? It’s even more alarming when we consider the fact there is still resistance to the law that was established over a decade ago to address black invisibility in Brazilian History continues.
Let’s not misunderstand the question. This is not to say that there aren’t non-blacks who never participated in this culture and history, but often, if not most times, ancestors of these whites did all that was possible to repress these expressions of black culture. Years later, they find ways to exploit these same cultures to earn profits while simultaneously whitening the faces and figures involved in the creation. It is an ongoing practice in Brazil and so it is with a new controversy in Rio de Janeiro, the site of the 2016 Olympics.
THE STAFF OF “THAT PIECE” LOST THE NOTION OF DANGER. PEDRA DO SAL AND BLACK CULTURE WITHOUT BLACKS!
by José Antonio Do Espirito Santo
What becomes evident in the case: Alexei Weinchenberg, the author of this piece put into his project a Globo TV actress, the former Malhação (Globo TV soap opera) Cristiana Peres (who recently changed her name to Christiana Ubach) to call media. Therefore Patricia Kogut, columnist of the TV Globo newspaper (and happens to be the wife of Ali Kamel, the newspaper’s managing editor) took note with maximum attention.
In contrast, Alexei would then decided (or was requested by the “great actress” as a condition) to create a special role especially the girl. So far, they are artistically unethical acts, very questionable, however trivial. In fact, so far so good.
But, irresponsibly Alexei (along with Christina, who knows) have decided to set up an unlikely role of a renowned mãe de santo (priestess), which, of course, in the case of a historical spectacle with a transpiring plot set in the early 20th century, would HAVE to be done by a black woman, incurring then an unquestionably racist act. (As it turned out, Christiana Ubach, white with green eyes, dressed with a “mãe de santo fashion” look became a bizarre image)
But there’s another complication here: Obviously the decision would cause controversy, attracting the debate that is creating (and there resides a possible and very scrotum opportunism). Widely spoken, the piece then attracts more media and more spectators. It doesn’t seem to be therefore an attitude of an author/director something mediocre and racist, merely ignorant. It would be, rather, an “unlimited frame”, deliberate, malicious provocation, full of bad intentions.
Christiana Ubach was characterized as Mãe Wanda de Omulu for the show João Alabá e a Pequena África, June 20 and 21 at Pedra do Sal, June 12th, in the column of Patricia Kogut (O Globo).
It would be a typical action of misappropriation of white predatory artists, a practice unfortunately very common nowadays, after they began to open institutional sponsorship channels for culture, for art and for black history of Brazil.
They try to operate a “black culture without blacks” concept adopted in my book to define this subtle phenomenon.
Everyone began to want to be black now in a shameful cynicism. Already holders of historical advantages, these whites, these “fake blacks”, will then quickly occupy all the slots, all spaces, winning all the edicts (for financial grants), entering in their casts one little black man or woman extra here and there, to justify it.
In this movement the real black artists continue to be unsuccessful and excluded. They remain invisible and with no chance of working with no power of expression and representation.
It is a political matter of course.
I find this very serious. It’s better that those interested act soon, with all firmness and decision in this case. The time is fair and it is this.
The theater piece João Alabá e a Pequena África, however, seems even to be an opportunistic and irresponsible action of racist white people, protected from someone. The malhação (physical exercise) that it’s receiving and all the protests and boycotts that can be mobilized are needed.
They do justice to our firm repudiation. They should be expelled from Pedra do Sal, “peacefully” with shouts of ‘Catch the Thief!’