Note from BW of Brazil: Let us start this post by declaring that there is nothing new about today’s report. If you’ve examined Brazil’s mainstream media from a more critical perspective, the facts are glaringly evident. Many reports found on this blog demonstrate how whiteness is presented throughout Brazilian society as the standard of beauty, wealth, intelligence and power to the point that one would believe that whiteness should be equated with perfection. While blackness, on the other hand, is presented as the exact opposite. These messages aren’t presented in a manner in which a narrator actually says “whiteness is better”, but in the contrast of the manners in which blackness and whiteness are portrayed, meanings associated with race are regularly divulged in ways that can’t really be described as subtle. And these associations play themselves out in the public in the manner in which the two groups are treated, both by everyday people and by persons in positions of authority. In the past these types of associations went, for the most part, unnoticed and seen as normal, but with more and Afro-Brazilians getting access to higher education, the messages embedded in such images are being increasingly questions. Take today’s story, for example…
Fábio Santiago: When young whites die the press makes an issue of talking about their resumes. When young blacks are the victims the first thing they are concerned about is research on their criminal record. We have to be our own communication because it’s been a long time that they already decided who the marginal is, their color and zip code.
Two women shot dead in Rio de Janeiro: One black, the other white
By Renato Gama
A black woman in the Complexo do Alemão region.
A white girl, in a black territory on the outskirts of a favela (slum).
How did (Globo TV news journal) Fantástico present them?
The negra (black woman) was only cited as killed in an exchange of gunfire between criminals and police.
The branca (white girl)…Look …the white girl…It can even make you angry, know what I mean, the format of the material to create in us consternation for white people and indifference to blacks… The loira (blonde) was PRESENTED. What was she doing in Rio, where she was going, where she lived, what she did in life and her passing the vestibular (college entrance exam) for medicine.
Life is life. But don’t judge us by our political acts in always prefer ourselves, black (as). Life is life, but we live in a place whose history was forged massacring and destroying the black existence in favor of white. Life is life, but it is explicit that the white life is worth much more than a black life. So, black community, if we don’t value ourselves, if we don’t prefer ourselves in everything, if we don’t prioritize ourselves in everything possible, WHO WILL DO IT FOR US?
You know how it can START to change? When we take embarrassment in the face and, instead of continuing to beg for a role in a novela branca (white soap opera) and representation in a white TV network, BEING our own novel! BEING our own TV station! We are 60% of the population. We are indeed a People! Are we going React, black people? How can be the majority and not have or at least our own grid of channels? Look, I’ve already thought of the names and I’m open to suggestions:
The main station: Quilombismo (1)
News Channel: Dandara
Channels for novelas, movies, sitcoms and art in general: Grande Otelo
Pictured: Elaine and Beatriz. Separated by color, location of the ship and type of ship in which they were transported here and by the way they left from their original Continents and the purpose of which they historically came to do here. One forced, the other by choice. Whose family who will be on a segment of (Encontro com) Fátima Bernardes (Glovo TV talk show) very soon?
Note from BW of Brazil: So what have we here? In a nutshell, two women were recently killed in Rio de Janeiro during a horrific weekend of violence that saw a total of six people murdered in the city, putting a tragic memory on last weekend’s Mothers’ Day. Now according to the popular Brazilian slogan “we are all equal”, one would think that all of these lives would be reported in similar manners, right? Well, not exactly. In fact, the way Brazil’s number one TV network, Rede Globo, presented the deaths of these two women, one would have to agree that there is no such thing as ‘equality’. Further, if one believes that the coverage of one woman’s death was warranted due to the fact that she was to enter a university medical program, while the other worked in the service sector and thus didn’t deserve such coverage, you must then admit that we are not all (treated) equal!
As the piece above elaborated, the story of Ana Beatriz Frade, a 17-year old white female student, was highlighted in the press, while the story of 34-year old Elaine Cristina de Souza, a black woman, was treated almost as if it were just a footnote only to be mentioned in passing.
In the piece above, Renato Gama described how Globo TV presented the death of the two women in its Sunday evening news journal Fantástico. Gama’s interpretation of the news report can be verified by analyzing the way in which Globo’s online websites presented the stories. Ana Beatriz Frade’s death and subsequent burial were covered by Globo as its own full story. The two reports that discussed the death of Elaine Cristina de Souza told her story in five short lines in one report and one line in another.
As Fábio Santiago wrote in the intro to the Gama piece, it’s very common that the news reports any run-ins that persons murdered in the streets had as if the information would actually justify their murders in public opinion. For purposes of clarity, it is necessary to mention that other, less popular websites did in fact tell us a little more about Elaine Cristina Souza, who worked as a general services assistant.
But the fact is that in comparison of the nation’s top TV network, one woman (white) was given full coverage after her untimely death, while the other (black) was reduced to a few lines in the context of a story about violence in Rio and the murder of a soldier. All of this just goes to show that, as demonstrated in numerous previous articles, Brazil’s media has a certain standard for the manner in which white and non-white Brazilians are presented (2). And if there is ever to be any sort of change or balance in this racial dynamic of representation, the only way is through some sort of independent, alternative media. After all, one cannot expect their oppressors to present any sort of positive images of themselves.
- A concept presented by activist, senator, playwright, painter Abdias do Nascimento at the 2nd Congress of Black Culture of the Americas (Panama, 1980). Quilombos are one of the first experiences of freedom in the Americas. They had a community structure based on African cultural values. Its political organization was democratic. Its economic model was the opposite of the colonial model.Instead of producing an item only for export and subject to the imperial matrix, it had a diversified agricultural production that provided its own livelihood and maintained relations of trade and exchange with the surrounding populations.
Quilombismo proposes that legacy as a basic reference of a proposed political mobilization of African descendants in the Americas based on their own historical and cultural experience.
- For a few examples, see here, here or here. For examples of differences in the way white and black Brazilians are treated in everyday life, see here and here.