Note from BW of Brazil: A mistake, huh? Oh sure, we all make mistakes, right? Had I not known the history of Brazil, I’d probably be far more inclined to accept this publication as simply an error. But with 19 years following race relations in Latin America’s largest country, I simply can’t buy it. Before I get go any further, let me reveal what I’m talking about here. Correio Braziliense is a newspaper that I occasionally access when the discussion has something to do with race, social inequality on, in general, black Brazilians. But when the photo of a newspaper article starting circulating in my social networks, I didn’t even know where the article was from because the name of the newspaper and the date of publication had been clipped out. Across the front read the headline “Eles são o futuro do Brasil”, meaning, “they are the future of Brazil”.
OK, so what’s the problem, you might ask.
The problem was that in the photo of the children that represent Brazil’s future, there was not one non-white child. ALL of the children featured in that photo would be considered white pretty much anywhere in the world, according to what my eyes told me. Am I wrong? Take a look at photo and judge for yourself. As I mentioned above, the headline and photo quickly spread through social networks and, as you would guess, black Brazilians were none too pleased. Before I go on with my thoughts and why I reject the newspaper’s subsequent admission of an error, let me share what a few black Brazilians had to say on the topic.
“They are the future of Brazil” Correio Brazilense admits photo mistake only with white children
By Silvia Nascimento
The Internet did not rightly forgive the lack of representation in the photo that illustrated a text from the newspaper Correio Braziliense about Dia das Crianças (Children’s Day), which falls on October 12th. Either the editors would be foreseeing the extermination of non-black people, or someone there does not consider dark-skinned or oriental children as protagonists of a future Brazil.
There weren’t 3 or 10, there 17 children under the age of 5, all white in the photo of the newspaper with a headline that read “Eles são o futuro do Brasil” (They are the future of Brazil).
The fact is that the negative repercussions meant that the Correio had to publish an apology. “Readers protested against white hegemony. And with reason. It was a very serious mistake! Brazil is a mixed country where people of different backgrounds, different faiths, different political trends coexist. It is the board of races, colors and cultures that makes Brazil Brazil,” read the note.
The rest of the note was a bit of self-flattery, using the newspaper’s history to justify a flawed act. In fact, in addition to citing all this rhetoric with touches of the famed racial democracy, the newspaper could mention historical contexts not of itself, but of how this “race board” was shaped.
“The 360 Degree column published on Children’s Day does not represent the posture and opinion of Correio Braziliense. The trajectory of the capital’s periodical has a hallmark – a struggle for diversity. And the Correio will continue this fight,” concludes the note.
We just hope to have black people on the editorial board, to be spared from publications that pretend we don’t exist.
Correio Braziliense releases a statement
Correio: We committed an error
Courtesy of Correio Braziliense
Saturday’s “360 Graus” column published a text entitled “They are the future of Brazil”. In the face of Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse, a photo of 17 children – boys and girls under five – appears. They have one thing in common: they are white. There is no black, indigenous or oriental child.
Readers protested against hegemonia branca (white hegemony). And with reason. It was a very serious mistake! Brazil is a mixed country where people of different backgrounds, different faiths, different political trends coexist. It is the board of races, colors and cultures that makes Brazil Brazil.
Brasília, perhaps more than any other federated entity, portrays national diversity. Here live representatives of the 26 states. Most came to the Planalto Centra in search of a dream, when the new capital was a stroke of Lucio Costa and (architect) Oscar Niemeyer’s monuments were tests on the red-earth.
Correio Braziliense was born with Brasília. The first edition was circulated on April 21, 1960 – the epic inauguration of the city that broke into the interior of the largest nation in South America. Until then, Brazil was content with the coast. It was unaware of the immensity of the north and the midwest.
Student demonstrations displayed posters that read that a passport was required to go to the Amazon. Brasília shut down the protests and ironies. It served as the link between the two Brazils, which together form the country that became the world’s granary and the largest industrial park on the subcontinent.
The pioneer newspaper followed the construction of the new capital stone by stone, tile by tile, stained glass by stained glass. Social and political conflicts – of origins thus far – are recorded on its pages with words and images. Not by chance, researchers look for unique information in the newspaper archives.
Not surprisingly, the Correio pioneered the fight against racism, homophobia, social and gender discrimination. Anthological covers, such as the gay kiss, had repercussions in Brazil and in the world. The newspaper – as it should be – is against any kind of discrimination.
The 360 Degree column published on Children’s Day does not represent the posture and opinion of Correio Brasiliense. The trajectory of the capital’s periodical has a hallmark – a struggle for diversity. And the Correio will continue in this fight.
Newspaper cover of the Correio Braziliense newspaper “Children’s Day”.
Of which child? So, most of the population is not part of Brazil’s future: It is for this and others that We Blacks need political autonomy, walking on our own legs. Let’s go…
The cover of the Correio Braziliense of children’s day is the deep desire of Brazil. A Brazil that is born and develops from the desire to be white, western, European. A desire that is embodied in eugenic policies that aimed to monitor, enable, realize this desire for whiteness. The promise was that in the 2000s Brazil would be branco, branquissimo (white, very white). The Italians came, the Germans came, whoever it was, it was enough to be white, white, white. We forbid blacks access to school. If you get to at school, it will also be a fabrica de clareamento (lightening factory) Clearly mental, spiritual, cultural. This is Brazil. Brazil unmasked. The real Brazil. At least the cover is sincere. It reveals the intimate desire of this Brazil that sees in the black a subordinate person that if he doesn’t work by serving, he is no good, that needs to be killable, disposable, imprisonable. The desire of supremacia branca (white supremacy) is that the Black be unnecessary for its survival needs. This is the future that Brazil and its metropole (Europe) has always reserved for us, namely: a future without us!!
Note from BW of Brazil: So, needless to say, I totally agree with the critiques of the newspaper article, but these sorts of things must always be placed in their proper context. Let me also state that, after looking at the photo again, I DO see one child in the picture that could be considered black. But the child that I spotted in the mass of whiteness also has fair skin, and if you didn’t look closely, you might assume he was also white.
Even if the child I see in the photo is black, the photo is still a representation of what Brazil has always desired. A future that is almost completely white. You see, the history here is one that I’ve discussed often on this blog. The documented evidence that at the end of the 19th century and into the 20th, Brazilian elites, politicians, social engineers, scientists, etc. predicted, planned, desired and put into motion a plan for the eventual whitening of Brazil. It was an expansive goal. Brazil was the country that most imported enslaved Africans in to a single region with estimates of 4-5 million being brought to work in coffee and sugar plantations over the course of about 350 years.
As it is well-known among scholars of the African Diaspora and the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, Brazil was the recipient of anywhere from 8 to 13 times more Africans than the United States. And while the United States adapted the policy of segregating its black population in order not to “infect” the blood of whiteness, Brazil, with a much large black population, decided it would be better to indoctrinate its black population into racial suicide by encouraging it to “improve” itself by mixing with the millions of European immigrants flooding into the country between 1870 and 1940. European immigrants that subsidized by the government precisely to whiten the country. As slavery had been slowly coming to an end, the institution being completely abolished by 1888, it’s not like the country was short on labor. But instead of offering full employment to its recently freed slaves, the best jobs were given to immigrants from Italy, Germany, Spain, Portugal and other countries. African immigration was strictly prohibited. It was as if Brazil was saying, “we got all the free labor we needed from you” and “we’ve got enough negros here”, now its time to start whitening up.
Not only was it forecasted that blacks and eventually mestiços of African ancestry would eventually disappear, but the prediction was calculated to happen sometime in the second decade of the 21st century. It was Brazil’s own experiment with eugenics. Well, needless to say, the end of the black race didn’t happen but with the long and ongoing history of miscegenation, the goal is still a work in progress.
It is because of this history that I can’t accept the choice of the article’s photo with almost all white children as being simply an error. No. Brazil has ALWAYS wanted to be white. It has ALWAYS wanted to be as white as Europe and only a steady flow of “wholesome Caucasian blood” could make that happen. That desire for a European whiteness is still seen today in the manner in which Brazil treats its black and non-white population.
Correio Braziliense’s apology for its “error” and demonstrating its commitment to equality is simply an extension of the way Brazil continues to operate today. “Proving” its commitment to equality but then letting a photo that displays a highly desired future whiteness slip through the cracks. Whenever I choose photos to display on this blog, I have to think about what works, what doesn’t and what messages these photos could put across before I post them. There’s a certain responsibility involved in the process. But you mean to tell me that a popular newspaper, with a chain of command of which material must go through being before the final material reaches the public and no one noticed the whiteness of this photo? A newspaper that features articles about blacks wanting representation, or the lack of black characters on TV novelas (soap operas), or black political representation being low, didn’t recognize this same lack of representation in an article of its own production? Sorry, I don’t buy it. Not with this history.
With info from Correio Braziliense and Mundo Negro