Note from BW of Brazil: “Nossa” (Wow!) was this writer’s first reaction upon entering the Cultural Livraria bookstore one day this week. As I often stop in the store to kill time, meet with friends or develop new stories for the blog, y routine is usually the same. Glance at the newest book releases at the store’s entrance and then head to the magazine section. I’m not an avid magazine buyer as most of them are simply too frivolous for my taste. But on that day, my eyes lit up when I looked across the covers and saw a smiling, beautiful brown-skinned face set off by a white dress among the numerous covers of blonds and brunettes. As I got closer, I realized it was none other than the Globo TV news weather girl Maria Júlia Coutinho!
The cover was striking in that, one, you rarely see black women on magazine covers in Brazil and two, she is a darker-skinned black woman. We’ve seen other Afro-Brazilian women on covers in the past such as actress Camila Pitanga, singer Preta Gil and numerous covers featuring actress Taís Araújo (Taís is actually featured on this month’s edition of Estilo magazine). But all three of these women fall into the light-skinned/light-medium brown-skinned range of skin tones. “Maju” was the focus on several stories this year after becoming the prime time news program Jornal Nacional’s first black weather girl but perhaps, unfortunately, garnering more attention because of the barrage of racist comments directed at her on Globo TV’s social networking page a few months back.
This week, it seems that a lot of people wanted to know who Maju was. Earlier this week, the visitors to this site exploded and on one day in particular the site received seven times more visitors than usual! Wondering what was causing this spike in the numbers, I realized that one of this blog’s features about Maju was highlighted as a link in an article posted by not only Business Insider, but also Yahoo Finance, San Francisco Chronicle and Clutch Magazine Online. The story was about black women’s organization Crioula and its clever billboard campaign to expose racist comments written in social networks. Maju had been victimized by this example of this “Brazilians aren’t racists” ideology.
Anyway, at that moment in the bookstore, I wasn’t thinking about blog numbers or racism. A shining, lovely ‘Maju’ had brought just a tad more representation to a community that continues to be treated as if they’re ‘untouchables’ in the media.
Maria Júlia Coutinho to magazine on racism, ‘My militancy is my work’
Majú’s covers Claudia magazine’s December issue and told about her first memory of prejudice: ‘I don’t play with her, because everything in her is black’.
By Priscila Bessa
Maria Júlia Coutinho, who regularly presents the weather forecast on Globo TV’s Jornal Nacional is on the cover of Claudia magazine for December. In an interview with the publication, Majú, as she is called by JN’s anchor William Bonner, talked about her first memory of having suffered racism.
The journalist, who studied at the Escola Islâmica Brasileira (Brazilian Islamic School), in São Paulo, up to age 15, said that when she was 6 years old she came to disbelieve in peaceful coexistence because of it. “A girl stared at me and said, ‘You have everything black in life. Your hair, your car, your house.’ And, looking at other children, she determined: ‘Don’t play with her, because everything in her is black,’” recalled, who the daughter of two teachers who militated for the rights of blacks and that raised her to shield herself from the face of intolerance.
Years later, Maria Júlia made her first discourse of self-affirmation that JN put on the air after being the victim of racial slurs in their social networks. In the episode, colleagues William Bonner and Renata Vasconcellos launched the #somostodosmaju hashtag, which spread frantically through social networks. The case is in court, and the criminals who told to go her back to the senzala (slave quarters) and eat bananas like a monkey have still not been punished.
“I cried hugging my husband”
Maria Júlia reveals on that day, worried, she called her mother. “She was shaking, it was bad. And I closed the door and cried hugging my husband (advertiser Agostinho Paulo Moura). A cry for also feeling caressed by thousands of people who were in solidarity,” she said.
“A lot of people thought that I would be crying through the halls (…) I’ve dealt with this issue of prejudice for as long as I can remember (…) I am very angry, but I don’t falter, I don’t lose heart (… ) The militancy I do is my job, with affection, dedication and competence,” she said.
“I straightened my hair”
On the topic of cabelo cacheado (curly hair), the host said that she took some time to assume the natural look. “For years, I underwent a rite in order to be accepted: I heated on the stove a metal comb and straightened my hair. Outside the small circles, it was difficult to assume my identity. Courage is necessary to wear crespo (kinky/curly), a symbol of being on the margins,” she said. “In the 1990s, I saw on the cover of Raça Brasil (1) a black woman with a decided air, with African braids, enormous and beautiful, and I said, ‘I want that’. It worked as a permission to be myself,” he said.
Majú also said that children are not in their plans for now. “We are at home a lot. Agostinho (is taking philosophy), he needs to study. It may be that I’ll be a mother, but not now. And if it doesn’t come, ok. I already feel fulfilled affectively and professionally,” she said.
- Brazil’s only national magazine targeted at the Afro-Brazilian community has been mentioned in numerous posts on the blog.