Enegrecendo (blackening) YouTube: doing what TV has never done – Afro-Brazilians use the internet for a black representation that the media pretends doesn’t exist



Note from BW of Brazil: It’s really not hard to see. This very blog has been talking about it from nearly the beginning. What are we talking about? Brazil’s mainstream media’s insistence on making its Afro-Brazilian population either non-existent, highly stereotyped or unimportant. Now some might look at some material on this blog and say we are blowing the issue out of proportion. Well, obviously those people haven’t seen much Brazilian TV. Because besides Afro-Brazilians who have spoken on the issue for a number of years,  prominent African-Americans such as director Spike Lee and professor/activist Angela DavisMozambican writer Paulina Chiziane and recently British journal The Guardian have all voiced similar opinions about Brazil’s television programming. And in recent years, black Brazilians have been finding their own creative ways to address this media “blackout”. The online video sharing network You Tube has played a huge role in addressing this lack of blackness on Brazil’s networks. 

As the old saying goes, “if you want something done, you gotta do it yourself”, and that’s exactly what a number of talented and driven Afro-Brazilian video producers have been doing. In the same manner that has seen a surge in “black theater” productions, video producers such as Ouriçado, the producers of the Empoderadas series and producers of the series ‘Tá Bom Pra Você’ among countless others, are part of rising trend of Afro-Brazilians bringing their opinions, issues and talent to a world platform through the most popular online video channel on the internet. In fact, YouTube’s 1st Black Beauty Encounter seminar brought numerous black Brazilian women who are addressing the absence of black beauty techniques and tips in the media together under one roof. It’s all very exciting to see and today we bring you more of these producer/ activists who doing their part to enegrecer (blacken) You Tube, bringing exposure to the Afro-Brazilian community in innovative, exciting and entertaining way that the mainstream media has repeatedly shown it is not willing to do. 

Enegrecendo (blackening) YouTube: doing what TV has never done

Television is losing more and more space to the internet and for us blacks it could be a great opportunity to reverse the lack of diversity in the media that still persists in the XXI century. We live in a black country, and despite the on duty uninformed insisting, we are not the minority. The national media – and traditional – is concentrated in the (lily white) hands of people who constructed the image of Brazil as what they would like it to be, drawing inspiration in white-majority countries, by racism or an inferiority complex, or both. At 65 years, Brazilian TV does not reflect its population and its major consumers.

By Silvia Nascimento

Globo ironizando as críticas à sua programação excessivamente branca
Globo TV mocking criticism of its overly white programming. See more on this scene from a Globo TV novela here

Intellectual laziness and cultural limitations (of those groups who think we are minorities) doesn’t see the blackening of the media as beautiful. They associate blackness to poverty, violence and hyper-sexuality. No one better than blacks themselves to re-construct black representation and showcase the talents that racism impedes from flourishing. And the Internet is the way.

With relatively low cost, depending on the type of production, but equipped with creativity and dedication, anyone can use their phone’s camera and create a channel on YouTube, a platform that allows you to share videos for free.

Pedro Henrique Cortes ou PH Côrtes
13-year old Pedro Henrique Cortes aka PH Côrtes created a series called “Meu heróis negros brasileiros” meaning ‘my black Brazilian heroes’. The photo of famed writer Machado de Assis was edited and given an afro. For many years Brazilian history has attempted to whiten the writer and a few years ago a white actor portrayed him in a TV commercial.

The Mundo Negro (website) recently published a text on vlogueiras negras (black female) bloggers, who are the girls who use YouTube to share their knowledge of black beauty. A subject that deserves attention now and again on TV, but that interests at least 51% of the population. The vlogger PH Côrtes channel that talks about black history in a very original way made news in dozens of media outlets in Brazil. There is a demand.

The PH Côrtes channel series “Meu heróis negros brasileiros”. This clip features famed writer Machado de Assis

Hosts, journalists, mother, children, comedians, actresses, producers, historians and black musicians. Timidly, but increasingly, black people are making their own revolution through the largest video site on the planet.

Technical quality, nerd content and creativity of the periphery

Although most of YouTube content producers, not only blacks, but in general, suffer with technical limitations, resulting in lighting and sound problems, you can find videos worthy of prime time on TV, as is the case with the newly launched channel Bola 8oito.

Actor Eduardo Silva portrays Paulo Lumumba in a Bola 8oito video

“Lazaro Gianecchini and Tais Dieckmann, you are doing a beautiful job for your race.” This is the comment of Paulo Lumumba, a fictional celebrity represented by actor Eduardo Silva in the video “O que não vi da Vida” (What I saw of Life), a sarcastic version and strongly critical on race with a similar visual format to (the Globo TV news journal) Fantástico segment “O que vi da vida” . This is the first work of the channel.

“The requirement in first place is the visual quality. Fiction reference on YouTube today is Porta dos fundos. It is there that we should guide our quality. The idea of composing the staff of each video with black professionals in the area of audiovisual area is to show that we are there and have other skills in addition to loading the van,” explains Newman Costa, 30, Audiovisual Director from São Paulo and responsible for the direction and photography of the channel. The script of the first film is by Rogerio Ba-Senga, production by Issis Valenzuela. Thiago Domingos is responsible for sound and editing and art by Sil Elis.

For Costa the black body is not “common sense” and even YouTube ends up being one of the challenges for black producers. “It’s that racism that’s already have permeated the DNA due to the lag of references of black represented as normal people,” explains the director, regarding the difficulties in projects protagonized by Afro-Brazilians catching on on the platform.

Betina Costa analyzes the blackout of black actors at the 2016 Oscars on her Claquete 16 channel

“This world of pop or nerd culture as some call it, is unwelcoming to minorities. There are few blacks, few women talking about it. I, for one, don’t know any black YouTuber who talks about movies, comics and games,” says Betina Costa, 22, a trainee in IT in Porto Alegre (RS) and host of the Claquete 16 channel, talking about movies, series and pop culture. The channel has been on the air since 2013, initially made in partnership with a friend. After a pause, she resumed the channel alone at the end of last year.

Betina posts new videos every first Tuesday of the month. The long interval between publications is worth it because all videos show the research as much in text as in the images of the young gaúcha (native of state of Rio Grande do Sul) that attempt to reconcile the work of the channel with other activities.

“Normally I choose a theme and I research it, sometimes it’s something “random” as video on translations and in others a topic much talked about at the time, such as the Oscars. After I make a script combining content with a little humor, I record (with the help of a friend to facilitate, where possible), do the editing and publish on the Channel,” Betina reports on the production process.

Valtinho Rege, left, on his channel Energia Positiva

The Globo TV variety show proclaims itself the program of the peripheries, but who makes fun videos and records direct from Laje is Valtinho Rege, of the Energia Positiva channel. The channel’s name shows how the young Paulistano (São Paulo native) overcame aggressions he suffered for being black, gay and poor (he says in one of the videos that he lost baby teeth, at the age of six, beaten up by colleagues who found him very effeminate) in fun and very well edited videos and. The space in addition to being used by the vlogger to omit his opinion on various topics, also includes interviews with artists and people from the community. In the video below he traveled to Rio de Janeiro to show how funk contributes to the self-esteem of favelados (low income regions) in Rio de Janeiro.

All in Portuguse, check out some of their creative work in the links below

Bola Oito

Claquete 16

Energia Positiva

Source: Mundo Negro

About Marques Travae 3747 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.


  1. Very cute, but I’m pretty sure Machado de Assis was a very racist guy who disdained blacks.

    Also, youtube channels are nice for playing, but you still need to get normal TV to reach people in Brazil.

    • Do you know how hard it is for Afro-Brazilians to get their own representation on
      “normal TV”. This is the EXACT reason why these Black Brazilians are creating their own media and outlets. Globo and every other channel in Brazil are blatantly racist against blacks which is why it is so hard for them to get on normal TV.

      I would even go so far as to say YouTube is MUCH better. Because you can talk
      about the topic you want without getting censored.

      I wish way more Africans-Americans would start doing this.

      • I didn’t say this is not good. It’s something, but as far as solving the problem of black representation in Brazil, it simply doesn’t, period. We can discuss ad nauseam the wonders of youtube, but if you believe that is the way out, at least in Brazil, you’re fooling yourself.

  2. Mike: They do its called ” Black & Sexy TV” The have three or maybe four movies on there site. They have Weekly TV show. T

  3. Black & Sexy Tv is cool. But we as Black people need to make MAJOR power moves. Like studios, prod companies, distribution and subsidiaries.

    ALL of these things need to be black owned. One or two MINOR steps is not progress. However, one or two MAJOR steps is.

    • I can’t help that there are some Blacks who ARE doing some of these things (Tyler Perry, Oprah Winfrey, Jay Z, etc.), but what they do never really seems to be good enough for many of us…

      Also, the fact that uninformed Blacks feel that the answer to all the problems is “ownership” rather than “playing the game correctly and possibly owning” is the trap that so many of us continue to fall into. The fact is that Blacks must first understand how the world operates in ther here and now. We must also understand that “Black ownership of more stuff” is not necessarily the answer everything. Lots of Black people own lots of stuff, but have a tendancy not to understand how to oparate at a higher level in the world as it is today. The fact is that if you choose to sell to and work exclusively with a globally disempowered people, you will never get anywhere. Smart Blacks understand that they must learn about how the people who already have all the power work. They understand that they must take similar steps in order to be successful (its why you RARELY hear the same horror stories that happen to poor Black people, happening to educated and upper-class Black people).

      I want BADLY to work as exclusively as possible with Black owned businesses, etc. Unfortunately (for them) I also want high quality and good service (two of the basic tenants of business GLOBALLY that we as Black people often fail at). Luckily, there are more of us gaining the understanding that we need to function and succeed in a world that is not exclusively Black.

      As for these folks doing their thing on Youtube, I am SO happy to see this! I am SO happy that they have found a way to at least BEGIN to produce media that they and others like them would like to see. Unfortunately, in our instant gratification world, many have lost sight of the fact that success must usually be earned rather than given, if one was not born into an elite society. I hope these youtubers will continue to understand that they do not need to change the whole world with what they are doing. They only need to continue to make their mark as they see fit. If that includes significantly changing Brazilian society, then, so be it. If it does NOT include making an astronomical impact on anything, the effort is still a valiant one!

    • I checked it out and it looks promising! I can see that they appear to have loyal viewers. I think that a lot of folks don’t really understand the importance and power of youtube just because it is not a tv station. They don’t know that yourtube has made millionaires out of several of the content creators there, and that several others make quite a comfortable living with this medium! they don’t know about the studios and sponsorship that come to successful content creators, as they think that the whole thing is just a bunch of kids uploading cat videos.

      There is nothing I like to see more than informed, creative, and PROACTIVE Black people! I had mentioned previously that I would like to see more Black Brazilian creators find their way using youtube. The only barrier to international fame would be the language gap, but content wise, there are several Brazilian youtubers that I enjoy already!

  4. The world wide web (Net), YouTube, and Twitter/Facebook/Instagram are the equalizers that will defeat anti-blackness on a global scale. Television and magazines are dinosaurs of communication. When they ruled, it was easy to pull the wool over our heads. Now, the African Diaspora can connect from anywhere on this planet…A Beautiful Thing!

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