Note from BW of Brazil: Let me be honest here. I don’t care for much Brazilian television. Most of it comes across as mindless entertainment for persons who don’t have an attention span of more than five minutes. Between the scandalous novelas, variety shows and futebol, futebol and more futebol, I can understand why so many Brazilians I know prefer the endless American TV programs dubbed in Portuguese. Not that American shows are any less scandalous (for example, the latest American import in which the root of that very word in the title of the program). But there is a difference in variety that Brazilian TV simply doesn’t offer.
Which brings me to the reason that I even bother to watch any of these TV shows. They often represent a reflection of how everyday Brazilians think and feel. Case in point, the latest controversy involving the most recent installment of the long-running reality show, Big Brother Brasil. As this blog approaches Brazilian history, culture and current events from a racial perspective, this latest exchange fits right in. If you’re not Brazilian, I would suggest you read a few previous articles on the usage of racial terminology so you can grasp what went down.
“If I don’t use deodorant I’ll smell like a neguinha”, says a member of the BBB
During a discussion about skin color, a participant on the Globo TV reality show stated that if she didn’t wear deodorant she’ll “smell like a neguinha”; Franciele was accused of racism by colleagues.
An episode airing on Sunday (23) featured a dialogue between the participants of the Big Brother Brasil program about skin color and who could be identified as negro (black). The participants ended up talking about the test that they had gone through and one of them, Cássio, commented that two Alines had already been on the program and that both were “morenas”.
“What morenas? They were negras (black women),” Valter, another participant, said. “See, he doesn’t understand the difference between morena and negra. I am morena, you are negro. But you’re not black, black! Look at your color compared to mine,” pointed out Franciele.
Following this exchange, Franciele made a controversial comment. “I have a little bit of black. If I don’t use deodorant, I’ll smell like a neguinha (little black girl).”
Valter was shocked by the comment and scolded her. “Then you are being racist. And brancos (whites) don’t have a smell?”, he confronted. “Ah, but that’s what they [whites] say…,” replied the native of Rio Grande do Sul (southern Brazil).
Note from BW of Brazil: Hmm, how do you interpret this dialogue? There’s actually a lot to bring to the fore here. If one were to believe everyday discourse, one could be led to believe that all Brazilians, with the exception of blondes and redheads, could be considered a “morena/moreno”, arguably the most popular term to describe race or color throughout the country. When applied to persons of visible Africa descent, it can be a means continuing the country’s ever-present belief in the “racial democracy” myth. After all, if any dark-haired or dark skinned person can be defined as a “morena/moreno”, it would mean that everyone’s equal, right? Not quite.
This blog has always advocated that regardless of the long list of racial/skin color terms utilized daily in Brazil, if a person has featured that denote African ancestry thus making that person subject to racism, that person is black, or negro, the term used by persons who are conscious of the connection between their phenotype and social position. In true Brazilian fashion, even when persons define themselves as negros/negras, other Brazilians and even the media will define said people as morenos and morenas. This is what can be dangerous about the term. Why? What would happen to a person’s sense of reality if they spent their whole life believing that they are moreno or morena and then one day, in an argument someone hurls the word negro or negra in their direction? It happens.
Black identity/consciousness is still a phase in development in Brazil. In the example above, Valter, although not very dark-skinned, is clearly a black man, even though many Brazilians would define him as a “moreno” or even “pardo” or “mulato”. Valter also defines himself as negro and lest he forget, Franciele was quick to remind him of the difference between he and her. In her definition, one could almost note that she wanted to make him aware that she is part of the dominant group, while he is “the other”. Also keep in mind that, in Brazil, a person is not automatically excluded from whiteness simply because they may have some degree of African ancestry, which is what Franciele seemed to point out. “Morena/morena” can also be one of those “escape hatch” type terms used by persons who define themselves or are seen as brancos/brancas (white men/women) but prefer to use a softer, less oppositional term.
And what are we to make of her apparent acceptance of the stereotype of black people having a certain smell? Not much really. Like the Brazilian proclivity for calling black Brazilians monkeys, it’s really not surprising. Again, this is one thing I appreciate about these type of shows. People reveal their thoughts and beliefs. But always remember, Brazilians aren’t racists!
Extra note: Those who are part of the Movimento Hip Hop know Valter Araújo by his stage name Slim Rimografia, a talented rapper on Brazil’s underground Rap scene. Check out a few of his performances below…
Soon after the airing of the dialogue, numerous internet users accused Franciele of racism.
The episode with Franciele was not the first to involve racial controversy. Jaime Mitropoulos, procurator of the Procuradoria Regional dos Direitos do Cidadão (PRDC or Regional Attorney for Citizens’ Rights (PRDC), sent a letter to the Globo TV network requesting that it send a video showing the aforementioned Cássio, making racist comments. The request was made two weeks ago, but Jaime has not yet received the material.
During the first BBB14 party, Cássio said that he had killed an afrodescendente woman (woman of African descent) during sex. “And I thought like this, an afrodescendente is accustomed to having relations with..? With afrodescendentes. And I thought: hold up, she can handle everything. And I went all the way through her and today I’m accused of murder, you understand?” he said to actress Tatá Werneck, who at the time played the character Valdirene, in the novela (soap opera) Amor à vida.
After the comment, the MPF (Ministério Público Federal) has received a complaint against the participant.
Source: Pragmatismo Político, Virgula
Slim Rimografia – Sol
Slim Rimografia and Thiago Beats in “Só por hoje” at Estúdio Showlivre 2013
So all this tells me is Black women are dumped on by everyone who wants to make fun of Afro-descended Brazilians. Her sexuality, her hygiene, her every being is up for scrutiny and mockery. Interesting that it the Black woman whose natural essence becomes the point of measure where offensive bodily odours are concerned. All of this coming from a woman with very masculine features, who without her hair I would assume I was looking at a man, is she transgendered?
Its painful to see my country exporting its racist mentality through those fake reality TV concepts. We should be importing the antidote from Brazil, the US needs more love, unity and passion to enrich its own culture. People have to realize the media is purchased to brainwash people, causing people to contemplate ideas they wouldn’t of if they were not exposed; including division, corruption and confusion. When the Brazilian people find themselves having conversations centered on racial division and racial supremecy, stop – and think about why? Think about the road ahead, is dividing ourselves based on skin color going to make our country stronger or weaker, better or worse? What happens to a divided house?…it falls! Hopefully it becomes clear to Brazilians before its too late, that racism is a sneaky ugly desease, it is creapy and infectious, it turns family members into enemys, it causes wars, genocides ,poverty and enslavement. It’ll also become clear how stupid racist concepts really are. Brazil has a unique opportunity to export throught the world fresh concepts, a different point of view of history and a differnt outlook to the future; don’t let US distort what was beautiful about Brazil.
Thank you for your comment! I would like that you know that I DO love the numerous beautiful things about Brazil. But in the same manner of which of the media,I would agree that media production is put in place to occupy the minds of the people while the miserable facts about reality are glossed over and the true culprits not named.
Research has shown me that while there are clearly differences between the US and Brazil, there are also very many similarities. I don’t think a “different point of view of history” as you see in Brazil ultimately solves the problem. Ultimately it masks the problem so that people cannot deal with the reality. What many seem to think is that Brazil offers this great mixture of races that would heal the world if only other nations would follow it. Again, this is the mask. The reality is that mixture in Brazil was promoted with one goal in mind: the disappearance of the black race.
Data also show that Brazil is one of the most dangerous countries in the world having murder rates that would be huge for a nation at war. Only Brazil is not in an actual war.
Social inequality maintains a country which is one of the most unequal in the world.
So while you may see the faces of the smiling Brazilians on TV, the great soccer players, etc. realize that beneath the facade is something much more depressing, sinister and ugly. This reality is NOT as example that should exported to the world.
united states of America are developed countries while Brazil is still a third world country considered “emerging” .
This socio-economic level brazil does not he partly explains the large delay of afrobrézilians.
Here in the United States, Franciele Almeida would be considered a mestizo. There is no chance she would be considered a white woman, no matter how you saw it. If she came to the USA and tried to pawn herself off as a white woman, she would be in for a rude awakening.
With regards to the current state of racial attitudes in Brazil and the prospect for change revealed by the events described in this story…Is the glass half empty or half full?
It was certainly a POSITIVE sign that after her statement “Franciele was accused of racism by colleagues.”
And in perhaps a good indication that Brazil as a whole does not share her views it was an encouraging POSITIVE that shortly after her statement she lost was voted off in the show in the nationwide public vote process.
It was also a POSITIVE sign that the responsible branch of the Brazilian justice system has opened an investigation of Cassio’s comments for which he also faced criticism.
So I ask again, Is the glass half empty or half full?
The average upper-middle class (what they call “rich”). white Brazilian is ignorant about just about anything of substance that exists on this planet. They are like lobotomized apes that should be kept in cages because their general stupidity and cluelessness causes them to unknowingly reak havoc on the world around them(think Eike Batista’s son). They pay a lot of money to go to private schools that do not teach them how to think and keep them dumb, as they are surrounded only by other dumb, “rich” (by Brazilian standards), white people. Then they move on to gain spots in public universities that lie to the people and make them believe whole-heartedly that they are getting a great education. Except for the USP, this one always makes me laugh – particularly when I try to talk to my priviledged English students to find that they literally have no thoughts about anything in the world, in any way, shape or form. Looking at this stupid woman’s face and it’s lack of intelligence lets me know that she is not worth the air that she breathes, even before she speaks.
Thank God Brazil is forcing the issue of racism and classism at every level of society (thanks to Joaquim Barbosa) and making headway with creating a society where the intelligent poor and middle-class ´people who actually know how to think becaus the MUST to survive, are being given opportunities to move into the troubled areas of society where they are needed most.
Since I found this blog, I am devouring it. Every post is for me a source of inspiration. Also, I have read several of your intelligent comments with delight.
But whats is the reason for this racist and xenophobic comment?
Really, it pisses me off. If you have such a superior and condescending attitude towards Brazilians why don’t you go back to the States?
I give you that people, people in general, are a bunch of idiots who are clueless about the world. But don’t be too harsh on my fellow stupid Brazilians! after living in the US and un Europe for several years I concluded intelligence is rare in any place.
That stupid cunt from BB indeed does not deserves the air she briefs, but so what? Have you seen BB US? BB Norway? I didn’t, but from the you-tube commercial, seems the same kind of stupidity.
Yes, Brazilians have a complete delusional idea about how good their education is in a world level… but even with that a few Brazilians come to the world to win the Fields Medal!!!! – with e Brazilian background!! (by the way, the guy that won is clearly African descendent so now he is “Franco-Brazlian”… typical)
Just to say that some of your comments I read in racist blogs against blacks (yes, I read them, you need to know how the enemy thinks) same way.. Imagine that someone had posted the following:
“The average black is ignorant about just about anything of substance that exists on this planet. They are like lobotomized apes that should be kept in cages because their general stupidity and cluelessness causes them to unknowingly reak havoc on the world around them”
“they literally have no thoughts about anything in the world, in any way, shape or form. Looking at this stupid woman’s face and it’s lack of intelligence lets me know that she is not worth the air that she breathes, even before she speaks.”
Now, just imagine this was posted in a racist anti-black blog. Be reasonable and think with me, I know you are very clever person.
BECAUSE – that is their excuse – always
if you don’t answer it you’re neguinha da Globo.
This is the problem with starting with a good argument and get drunk…. love you..
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don’t worry African’s are used to injustice.