Excusing racist behavior: One of Brazil’s top TV networks, Record, fires director of jouralism after he refused to fire journalists making racist jokes
By Marques Travae
In a follow up to a story I presented to you last week, we recently saw how it is that institutional racism functions and often times it protects itself. Last week, I brought you the story of how journalists at one of Brazil’s top television networks, Rede Record, used a WhatsApp group called “Resistência”, to share messages of racist content about black employees of the network at the Brasília affliate station. Brasília DF is the nation’s capital city.
Among the messages, was one that mocked the lips of a black journalist, comparing them to an anus, and others that referred to other colleagues with terms such as “macaco” (monkey) and “Patolino” (Daffy Duck). According to Mídia 4P website, the case “shocked” the newsroom after the story hit public knowledge via the Afro-Brazilian oriented website Mundo Negro.
Seriously, I don’t why anyone would be “shocked” about such behavior. Just the small sample of the racist incidents that I’ve covered over these past eight years is enough to reveal Brazilian thoughts on race. And that’s just this little site. Imagine what goes down on a daily basis across the country’s 26 states and federal district. Imagine the little incidents that never make the news; the stories that black people don’t even share out of shame or humiliation; the incidents of racism that happen to children who are unaware that what they have experienced is actually racism. Shock? Only if one still has a personal investment in rejecting that FACT that Brazil IS a racist nation.
As I mentioned previously, this also shows us how important having black media is, as the Mundo Negro is the site with which the black Record employees trusted to get the story out there. But there’s another side to this ordeal.
The other side is that Rede Record’s director of journalism in Brasília, João Beltrão, actually attempted to protect the four employees accused of racism. Beltrão refused to fire the four journalists who were caught exchanging the messages in the WhatsApp group that they participated in.
The position of director, who had been head of the department for 14 years, gave Vice President of Journalism, Antonio Guerreiro, no choice but to fire him.
It was also announced on Monday, March 9th, that the journalists who were caught exchanging the messages were also fired. But even with the network doing the right thing in this specific case, the bigger issue speaks to the question of institutional racism that functions at the highest levels in Brazilian society. I’ve already pointed out that institutional racism supports itself through the acts of simply ignoring these situations, dishing out the proverbial “slap on the wrist” or “one hand washing the other”.
In the past few years, we saw white journalists such as Marcão Chumbo Grosso and William Waack get fired from their positions as journalists on one television network, just to re-appear on another network after a short period of unemployment (see here and here). This latest incident may have led to the firing of a diretor, but it doesn’t mean he won’t take his talents and support of racist activity elsewhere in the near furture.
I’ve seen it all before.
With information from Jornal de Brasília and Revista Fórum