Note from BW of Brazil: At a time when black voices in Brazil have been demanding more black representation in all areas of Brazilian society, a new cartoon called Hora do Blec (meaning Blec’s/Blacks’s Time) recently debuted featuring a black boy as the lead character. In some ways, this represents somewhat of an advance (sorta), but in other ways its not. After all, the cartoon is being broadcast on YouTube, not television or even cable TV. The project also has the support of the United Nations via its sustainable energy program. Sounds all good, right? Well, really depends on how you see it.
Let us always understand that when things debut in the media, there are always several goals/agendas behind them. This cartoon fits a bunch of them just from the few details that I’ve gathered. But I’ll let you figure that out. From what I’ve seen, the series doesn’t appear to be a full-fledged cartoon (as of yet), but rather short, 2-minute cartoon-based music videos. Cute, but nothing mind-blowing here. I mean, nearly 50 years after the debut of Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids and Brazil still can’t get a majority black cartoon on regular TV?
On YouTube, the ‘Hora do Blec’ (Black’s Time) cartoon has a black boy with a magic pick as protagonist; project support by United Nations sustainable development program
Courtesy of UOL, Raça Brasil and Nações Unidos
A little black boy who removes the pente garfo (pick) from his hair which activates his black power (afro) and is the newest character available among children’s content on YouTube. He is the protagonist of the stories of Hora do Blec (Blec’s Time), which transmits basic learnings, such as contact with nature and eating habits, to children.
On Instagram at @horadoblec, the content producers explain that Blec is a boy who “loves playing basketball and venturing out with his gang in search of helping the world to be more sustainable.” The pente garfo, meaning pick is his “talisman”. “When Blec pulls out the comb, the fairy Lara, his master, appears and then his hair rises, turning into a beautiful and magical Black Power”. In Brazil, ‘black power’ is the term adopted to mean an afro hairstyle. The man who plays the character is the actor David Junior. The series was idealized by Yasmin Garcez, David’s wife, who is now pregnant.
“The importance of this project is the representativeness added to the plurality that Blec brings, in addition to the dialogue with other children, social equity and sustainability. Feeling represented through animation for early childhood can make all the difference in the imagination of the poor, black, peripheral child and also give a new perspective to other non-black children about how we can be seen,” said the actor.
The group is made up of Blec’s parents, friends, the fairy Lara and the mascot, the mutt Basquiat, in honor of the artist Jean Michel Basquiat. In Blec’s daily life, children still continue with their daily lives with their mother, father and grandfather. The project is by Ubuntu Filmes and has the institutional support of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
The idea of Blec came from Yasmin Garcez, one of the partners of the project and also interpreter of the character Yayá who, since 2016, after getting to know the Projeto Identidade (Identity Project), of Orlando Caldeira and Noemia Oliveira, started to observe the scarce production of children’s entertainment with black protagonism and decided to produce one. At the time, however, due to the agenda of the friends with whom she united, the project didn’t move forward and without a company with black partners, she didn’t want to continue because she knew the importance of this representativity in terms of the theme.
In 2019, already in an interracial relationship with Blec’s partner and interpreter, David Junior, they decided to resume this initiative and, together, they developed the Hora de Blec. Believing that communication with children is the seed of social equality, Hora de Blec sought to create multi-ethnic characters, having as protagonist, a young black boy.
The music video series, aimed at the early childhood audience, is a project by Ubuntu Filmes with institutional support from UNDP, United Nations Development Program, from the UN.
“In addition to addressing the challenges of sustainable development with children’s language, the initiative plays an important role in tackling racism, by having a black boy as the protagonist, within a happy black family, The cartoon brings to the center of the message the reduction of social inequalities, which coincides with the UNDP mandate. The fight against racism also involves recognizing and valuing black Brazilian identities,” evaluated the UNDP gender and race officer in Brazil, Ismália Afonso,” says the UNDP gender and race officer in Brazil, Ismália Afonso, on the program’s website.
The first video of the series has as its theme the song “Mãe Terra”, meaning “Mother Earth”, related especially to ODS 15 – Terrestrial Life. Follow the videos on the YouTube channel.
For the UN, racism is one of the main historical causes of the situation of violence and lethality to which the black population is subjected. In this sense, the Hora do Blec is aligned with the campaign Vidas Negras (Black Lives), an initiative of UN Brazil for an end to violence against young blacks. The campaign is one of the initiatives developed within the framework of the International Decade of Afrodescendents (2015-2024), a recognition by the international community of Afro peoples whose human rights need to be promoted and protected.