Documentary “A Pele Negra” (Black Skin) explores what it’s like to be black in Brazil

Documentary "A Pele Negra" investigates what it is to be black in Brazil
Documentary “A Pele Negra” investigates what it is to be black in Brazil

Note from BW of Brazil: Can’t wait to see this documentary! It originally aired on public television back in May but as I hadn’t heard about it, I missed it. Anyway, it touches on many of the very issues that are covered and dealt with on this blog: racial identity, racism, violence against black population, the “place” in Brazilian society reserved for black people. From the clip that  I watched (see below) there’s nothing absolutely shocking about the film. The only thing that really caught my eye was the comment made by one of the women. Denial and escape from blackness in reality remains an issue in Brazil and sometimes one meets people in which, based on their extent of racial mixture, you can actually understand how they may not know which box to check in terms of racial classification. But for others it’s like, get real! When I first read the write up on this story and I read the comment made by Janaína about being the “first black person in her mother’s family and first white person in her father’s family”, I assumed from the photos that she was the other woman, Manoela, because her skin is lighter. But then I watched the clip and realized who was who and I was like, “really?” Are my eyes deceiving me? In what country would Janaína be considered white? Take a look at the photos below for yourself. But, oh well…”Coisas do Brasil” (A Brazilian Thing)….See the trailer below (in Portuguese)

The "Caminhos da Reportagem" documentary "A Pele Negra" aired on May 15, 2014
The “Caminhos da Reportagem” documentary “A Pele Negra” aired on May 15, 2014

Documentary “A Pele Negra” (Black Skin) wins honorable mention in journalism award; investigates what it’s like to be black in Brazil

Caminhos da Reportagem shows how it is to ser negro (be black) in the country (TV Brasil)

“A Pele Negra” (Black Skin), an episode of the Caminhos da Reportagem program, on TV Brasil, received an Honorable Mention in the 36th Prêmio Jornalístico Vladimir Herzog de Anistia e Direitos Humanos (Vladimir Herzog Journalistic Prize for Amnesty and Human Rights), in the documentary category. The program aired in May, during the week of the anniversary of the abolition of slavery, and showed how racial prejudice is still a reality in the country.

The husband of Cláudia Ferreira Silva and the wife of Amarildo Dias de Souza
The husband of Cláudia Ferreira Silva and the wife of Amarildo Dias de Souza

The report displays testimonials from several people that reveal the violence – physical or veiled – of which they are subjected because of black skin. Among them are the relatives of Amarildo (Dias de Souza, construction worker who disappeared after being arrested by Military Police of the UPP – Police Pacification Unit in the Rocinha favela, in Rio de Janeiro) and Cláudia (Ferreira Silva, the woman that, dead, had her body dragged on the ground by a Military Police car in Madureira, also in Rio de Janeiro). They say what they suffer because of being black, and at the same time, residents of poor communities. They also reveal that prejudice is not only about skin color.

Documentary also explores the difficulty of light-skinned persons of African origin and kinky/curly hair who have doubts abut their racial identity
Documentary also explores the difficulty of light-skinned persons of African origin and kinky/curly hair who have doubts abut their racial identity

In addition, the documentary talks with people who have African origin, fair skin, cabelo crespo (kinky/curly hair) and many doubts when declaring themselves negras. The report also features researchers who also testify: Blacks are the biggest victims of the Military Police in (the states of) São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais.

The director of the episode, Bianca Vasconcellos says that “it was shocking to see that blacks suffer so much with racism in the country of mestiçagem (racial mixture) that is difficult for them to identify their own skin color.” To her, “receiving an Honorable Mention of the more important awards in the area of Human rights is the certainty that our team is in tune with the work of a public TV.”

"From the moment you have a black professor or black director you start dealing with a person who is outside of the place reserved for him."
“From the moment you have a black professor or black director you start dealing with a person who is outside of the place reserved for him.”

The producer Thaís Rosa, meanwhile, reports that the team effort was to address the issue in the broadest possible way, in order to know where racism is. “We found that it is in all sectors of society,” she says. Luana Ibelli, also producer of the program, adds: “It was a learning experience to participate in the documentary with a super important issue that doesn’t find much space for discussion.”

Caminhos da Reportagem (Paths of Reporting) interviewed young people from the middle and upper middle class, university professors, residents of Rocinha and Madureira (Rio de Janeiro).

“I’ve dated a guy who loved to boast about how I dance the samba. Except that when I came home he told me ‘you’re not all that,’” says Manoela Gonçalves, mother and stylist. She is part  of the statistic of the last IBGE census: black women are the least likely to marry.

Janaína Viegas and Manoela Gonçalves discuss their experiences with race
Janaína Viegas (left) and Manoela Gonçalves discuss their experiences with race

“I am the first pessoa negra (black person) in my mother’s family and the first branca (white person) of my father’s family,” says Jay Janaína Viegas, also used to be the only black in private schools.

This is the third consecutive year that the TV Brasil has received an Honorable Mention award that honors the journalist Vladimir Herzog, murdered under torture by agents of the military dictatorship (1964-1985). The awards ceremony will be held on October 29 at Tuca, Theatre of the Catholic University of São Paulo.

Trailer: A Pele Negra

Source: EBC, TV Brasil

About Marques Travae 3607 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

4 Comments

  1. I would like to watch this. Maybe somebody can translate it for a wider audience.

    What the Black Population around the world need to do is work together and the need for a common language is vastly important.

    One thing this blog keeps mentioning is that Black women are least likely to marry, but then in other blog post like to throw Black men in Brazil under the bus. As I have said before, very similar to what Black women do in America.

    It’s okay for them to marry somebody else because there not enough Black men. I think if you look inside the number there’s something else going on just like America; it can’t be a simple as Black women want to marry and Black men aren’t financially secure.

    Anyway there’s a Facebook page called Afro-American vs Afro-Brazilian Women, Would you date? Sort of the dumbest thing to call a group and that’s all I will say about the title of the group.

    Plenty of Black men there interested in visiting and even relocating to Brazil. So if there’s problem with Brazilian Black men marrying Brazilian Black women the answer is not to throw Brazilian men under the bus, marry poor Haitians and dark skin Dominicans who increasingly cross the boarder; but to find reasonable Black men from America, Canada or the UK.

    It’s easy just learn English and wink at one.

    • That is the million dollar question/debate. A number of articles of the blog deal with this issue. You have two basic ideologies. That which says “pardos” are completely separate from those considered “preto” or “negro”. Being of whatever degree of mixed race and of any combination of mixture, many feel they are not one or the other.

      But others, including Afro-Brazilian activists, consider that the way racism works in Brazil, “pretos” and “pardos”, according to most social statistics, are in the same boat. And as such, both being non-white and having basically the same quality of life, they should both be considered representative of the black population.

      And while we also have to consider that many “pardos” also have indigenous ancestry, it has been calculated that almost 90% of Brazilians have at least 10% African DNA.

      With this, what conclusion do you come to?

      • In the north america and europe, being 40%+ black means you are a black person. I think they should adopte the one parent/ one drop rule in my opinion. That way useless confusion will be avoided and true unity will rise. If our peoplee are more united, more problems will be able to be solved.

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