Note from BW of Brazil: This is the type of news that we love to bring you! Of course, in a site about the experiences of being a black woman in Brazil, issues of race and experiences with racism are topics we must present in order to show how the society is experienced differently due to race or racial characteristics. Any site that presents news about black women is only telling part of the story if it doesn’t explain the influence of these factors in the day to day.
But today’s story also brings a few other dynamics that we’ve also prominently featured on this blog. Black people/women doing things for themselves and telling their own stories when the overall society continuously ignores them. We’ve seen this creativity in the so-called ‘Afro-entrepreneurialmism‘. We’ve seen it in black theatre. We’ve seen it in book and magazine releases as well as bloggers, vloggers, You Tube video series (here and here) and commercials that make full use of the freedom of the internet. Today’s story continues this creative process as it seeks to challenge/change the traditional image of black women established in Brazil centuries ago. We look forward to seeing from this exciting venture! Be sure to check out the videos below…
Documentary web-series empowers black women
Stories of real black women, successful in several areas, including arts, entertainment, entrepreneurship and politics
By Ana Victorazzi
We have spoken here about the presence of black women (and men too!) in the pop culture universe. And today, we will bring another project that wants to empower them.
Normally, the Brazilian media brings black women stereotypically.
Therefore, Joyce Prado and Renata Martins filmmakers decided to create a documentary web-series to combat this limited and erroneous view, showing real stories of black women successful in several areas, including arts, entertainment, entrepreneurship and politics.
With a more than appropriate name, “empowered” was released in May this year on Facebook and the first season has 14 episodes, which were disclosed in the channel fortnightly.
‘Empoderadas’ and black women’s turn
Webseries portrays the trajectory of black women who, each in their own way, fight against the oppression to which they are subjected. According to the creators of the project, the idea is to expose positive references to black children and teens, as opposed to stereotypes and the lack of representation in the traditional media
By Anna Beatriz Anjos
In the first week of August, the rapper MC Soffia, eleven, invaded the timelines of Facebook. In a video of four minutes and 24 seconds, between one scene and another of her shows, she talks about her daily life, women who inspire her, she deals with situations of racism and the way her work encourages other black children to feel as happy and complete with their identity as she was. The articulation, wisdom and security of the girl, although so young, certainly contributed to the recording going viral and reaching, in a week, more than 430,000 views and 14,800 shares.
The video is the seventh episode of the webseries Empoderadas (empowered ones), created and produced by filmmakers Renata Martins and Joyce Prado. Until November, they planned to release seven more episodes, totaling fourteen by the end of this season, which began in May with interviews of Chris Mendonça and Ana Paula Xongani, creators of the Xongani brand of African clothing.
The series has it defined goal, as suggested by its name: telling stories of empowered black women, in a variety of areas. “She can be an artist who makes dolls, an actress, a child, an entrepreneur, a maid,” explains Prado. “They are women secure in their history. Success is not only financial, is being free, being tranquil, wearing your hair the way you want and the clothes you want, for example. They are women who have managed, even with all the difficulties of living in a racist country, to understand themselves as black women,” added Martins.
The idea is to counter the narrative that cultural means of greater tradition in Brazil has maintained for decades about black people. In other words, contrasting the under-representation of black men and women in film, television and advertising, questioning and subverting the roles in which they are usually portrayed. “We are not even represented, if we think in terms of mainstream media. And when there is the representation, is caricatured, full of racism and prejudice,” Prado explains.
For Renata, Empoderadas meets the necessity of bringing characters in a positive way extolling the vibrant aspects of their trajectories. “The project arises from a sensitive eye to the society that realizes the lack of representation [of blacks], but at the same time, arises from contact with amazing women. Don’t we see them in the media, but we see them in our daily lives. I thought, why can’t we think of something to give visibility to these women and bring them in a more complete way, breaking the stereotypes,” she says.
With this, the filmmakers intend to create references for black children and young people whose self-esteem is crippled by a European standard of beauty that does not include them and classifies their bodies as less important – especially for women, who have added oppressions. “When you don’t see yourself in any space in a positive way, you actually believe that you’re good for nothing, that people can abuse you and that you’re in a position of servitude. It is very violent when you don’t look at yourself as a woman who thinks and discusses as a child doing nice things,” argues Martins. “This reflects in our future life. Data show the absurd quantity of black women who suffer domestic violence or who are alone.”
The role of black women in alarming statistics is one of the factors responsible for gender perspective given to the webseries. Figures from the 2010 Census, for example, indicate that more than half of them live in emotional loneliness situation – according to the survey, 52.89% at the time were single, compared to 24.88% married and 2.6% divorced. Black women are also more exposed to violence: According to IPEA (Institute of Applied Economic Research) between 2009 and 2011, they accounted for 61% of victims of femicide in the country.
In addition, Renata points out that black women are a minority in most professional fields, including the audiovisual sector. “From the moment you look at yourself, with all your potential, and see that you’re outside of the labor market, you ask yourself why is it that we [black women] are not productive and creative in the audiovisual chains. It’s not that we don’t exist, we are made invisible, we are not absorbed by the market,” she notes. “One way of belonging is to create, starting from the moment in which you create a possibility of production, you insert yourself.”
The fact that the interviewers share the same pains and struggles of the interviewees says Prado, allows conversations to flow much more spontaneously than would happen in other situations. “Being black women interviewing other black women, there is a lot of confidence and a strong complicity. When we see the end result, we felt that they didn’t worry about what we were going to think of them, because we are equal,” she says.
The results are extremely humanized interviews that unveil the stories of each character. In the analysis of the authors of the series, this increases the responsiveness of the public, which so far has responded very positively – they joke that have not been targeted by actions of trolls or people who deny the existence of racism. “When you expose yourself so much in such a way, how will someone want to come up with a negative comment wanting to belittle you? It becomes more difficult, there are no loopholes. If anyone has any lock [in relation to the theme of racism], it breaks from the time that the respondent exposes herself,” Joyce points out.
Going forward, the filmmakers plan to shoot in other parts of Brazil, besides São Paulo, to explore the mosaic of realities that the country offers. For now, they work alone and take turns, every episode, in the camera and editing, direction and script, but want to add other professionals to the team to so that more black women get into Audiovisual.
Renata Martins and Joyce Prado recognize that the representation of black woman figure in the major media has undergone some transformations of times up until now, but the process occurs very slowly. “I have seen in a very subtle way, some advances, particularly on Globo (TV), which is a racist station at its base,” says Martins. She cites some specific scenes of the Babilônia novela (soap opera), in which Paula, played by actress Sheron Menezes, breaks up with her boyfriend Pedro, played by Andre Bankoff, after a racist comment – “As long as you think you are superior because you’re white, because you have blue eyes, dating a black will not make you less racist,” the character says. “Even so, only one scene doesn’t give count of 60 years of television drama,” adds Renata.
For Prado, this slow change is grounded in three aspects: “economic and educational power, and questioning that brings education.” “One of the reasons for this change is the greater entry of black people into universities, into academia, and all this brings more questions, it is inevitable. There is an economic change, which is very important as well, because from the moment you reach economic power, you go on to have the power of decision on what you consume and about what you want to see as your representation,” she considers.