Note from BW of Brazil: OK, so we first brought you the story of an independent, black newspaper in one of Brazil’s largest cities, Belo Horizonte, back on July 22nd. But as we consistently stress here, black representation in Brazil’s mainstream media leaves much to be desired, and as such, any forum that comes along to fill in the gaps left by Brazil’s white, blond, blue eyed model will be promoted and celebrated here! As such, we are proud to once again announce the creation and release of the newspaper Afronta.
Afronta: Black and free media
By Camila Eiroa
“It wasn’t possible to like being black by not fitting into standards of beauty in the magazines. It was frustrating.” This is what Etienne Martins says, while she notes that at the age of ten she opened her first copy of the magazine Raça and realized that she could be the journalist that she wanted to be.
Today, at age 31, with a degree in journalism and advertising, she put on the streets of Belo Horizonte the first independent newspaper of mídia negra (black media), Afronta. From putting the idea on paper to the printing and release of 5,000 copies, Etienne had a long path.
She grew up in the periphery and says to Tpm (magazine) that there was no college where she lived and she didn’t know anyone who had graduated – let alone in journalism. “It was a profession distant from my reality.” After finishing high school in 2000, it took seven years to get into the course she wanted, but she managed thanks to ProUni (2).
“Every time I had a job to do, I chose a theme within my reality. If I were to talk about music, I would talk about rap. Until one day when a teacher turned to me and said: Etienne, for God’s sake, stop doing this material about blacks!” she recalls.
It was in the third period of the course, in 2008, that she started writing her own material outside of the university grid and sent a suggestion to the editor of Raça Brasil magazine (1). It worked out, and the Belo Horizonte native started to frequently publish in the magazine. The experience made her begin to discover black culture in Belo Horizonte.
This was how the idea of making Afronta came about: “The major publications don’t escape much from the Rio de Janeiro-São Paulo axis, and because of this came the desire to create a journal that spoke of nice people who work with culture and politics in Mines Gerais. But it was difficult to put into practice, I never had financial resources.”
Another great incentive for writing the project of the publication was its monograph. The theme? The representation of black women in women’s magazines. The obstacles emerged as soon as the idea was presented to the professor of the course. “He didn’t want to let me in any way,” says Etienne, who sought help in the interim coordinator of the course, who was black.
She graduated as a journalist in 2012 and for six years has been active in the Movimento Negro (black movement). In the Marcha das Mulheres Negra (Black Women’s March) this year, which took place on May 13th (in Belo Horizonte), she was together with her comrades of struggle and recalls that “a newspaper published a note about the event, but the picture was of two white women! It was full of black women there, it revolted me. I decided not to wait any longer on others to tell our stories.”
Launch of the first edition
Even without money, it was time to contact her partners that spent many years of struggle to make possible the idea of the publication. Entrepreneurs of black culture, like owners of beauty shops, came together to announce an advertisement in Afronta and all the money was reverted for printing.
On July 8, Etienne had at in her hands copies and began distributing in the salons, cultural centers, art galleries and pubs of the city’s outskirts. She also had a party in the Casa Una de Cultura, of the university in which she graduated. The general release took place on July 12 at the Feira de Moda e Beleza Negra (Black Beauty Fashion and Beauty Fair), with about 100,000 people. “Everyone who got the newspaper said ‘wow, but I’m here!’” she says happily.
Afronta should be published every two months. Also to be released with the second edition, in September, is a site to replicate the content. “It will be within the race to maintain the frequency because I have no money and the idea is to be totally independent,” she says, while affirming the idea of the content being printed. “I, a militant, can look for what I want on the internet. The brothers who are imprisoned no, but I can take a newspaper to them.”
Finally, she carried out the project and with the necessary breathing space to not stop anytime soon, she says that “Afronta was born to be a media space for blacks: culture, fashion, art, behavior and beauty. Today we hear (people) saying that black is in fashion … But our fashion, our culture, our black face is not on the radio, on TV or in the newspaper. For this Afronta exists.”
Source: Revista TPM
- Raça Brasil magazine debuted in September of 1996 and is the only national magazine in Brazil targeted at the Afro-Brazilian community.
- The Programa Universidade para Todos (Prouni or University for All Program) is a program of the Federal Government of Brazil created with the objective of granting full and partial scholarships in undergraduate and sequential of specific training in private institutions of higher learning. It was created by Law No. 11.096, of January 13, 2005, when Tarso Genro was Minister of Education. Source
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Ms Etienne Martins is beautiful and intelligent. I hope she finds the will and resources to keep doing a so good job. I would like her to write me back.