Note from BW of Brazil: So here we go again! Yet another example of how Brazil’s media loves to present itself representative of all Brazilians while simultaneously promoting a supposed ideal image of whiteness. Didn’t we just touch on this in yesterday’s post? Just goes to show how consistent Brazil’s media is in its ethnic representation. Before we go any further, here’s the latest controversy…
TV Globo denies racism in photo about ‘diversity’ with only blonde women
By Ricardo Senra
Thousands of internet users alleged racism due to the lack of black women, sexism, because of the phrase, “mulheres para todos os gostos” (women for all tastes)” and “hypocrisy” by the apparent contradiction between the #somostodosmaju (we are all Maju) campaign and the largely Caucasian representation in Faustão dance troupe.
Seventeen blond, white, straight haired women line up for the picture, like a futebol team. The caption reads: “The ‘Bailarina do Faustão’ (Faustão Dancer) competition showing the diversity of the beauty of Brazilian woman. Gatas (hot women) for everyone.”
Published on Facebook, the image generated nearly 30,000 comments, shares and ‘likes’ in just two days. Most criticized the lack of black women in the post that exalts feminine variety – the official proportion of blacks (people who declare themselves pretas/blacks or pardas/browns), according to the IBGE) represents more than half (50.74%) of the Brazilian population.
Sought by the report, Globo TV said initially it was unaware of the controversy surrounding the posting. After the contact from BBC Brasil, the broadcaster said, by email, that “the post does not reflect the totality of the participants.”
The producers of the program state that “the Domingão do Faustão (show), as well as all programming of Globo, repudiates any kind of prejudice” and that the aim of the competition “is to have a panel of Brazilian women in dance corp.”
But that’s not how the publication was perceived by thousands of internet users – many of them black women. The opinion of a young São Paulo woman on the case was highlighted on the page and alone rendered more than 9,000 likes:
“Where is the diversity in this picture?” she says. “For this reason and others, that when a black person appears in the programming of Globo all the racist movement takes place, because in fact we are not all Maju!” she concludes.
She refers to the sequence of racist comments posted on social networks against the Jornal Nacional journalist Maju Coutinho. Soon after the episode, the anchors William Bonner and Renata Vasconcellos created the #somostodosmaju (we are all Maju) campaign in defense of their colleague and against prejudice.
‘Gatas for every taste’
Criticism against the publication are based on three pillars: allegations of racism, the lack of black women on the post, sexism, due to the phrase “mulheres para todos os gostos” (women for every taste) and “hypocrisy”, due to the apparent contradiction between #somostodosmaju campaign and mainly Caucasian representation in the dancers.
Questioned, the broadcaster did not comment on references to the campaign in defense of Maju.
Note from BW of Brazil: So let’s delve into this latest display of Globo TV’s “dictatorship of whiteness”. In the two previous weeks, we covered a controversy involving a string of racist comments directed at the Globo TV Jornal Nacional news program’s first black weather girl, Maria Júlia Coutinho, known affectionately as ‘Maju’. In a mock display of solidarity with the journalist, the show’s anchors created the hashtag #SomosTodosMaju (We are all Maju) in ‘support’ of Coutinho. But as we thoroughly proved in a previous post, Globo TV can NEVER stand in support of someone against racism because the station is one of the prime promoters of racism, racial stereotypes and racial exclusion in the media. The latest incident is simply the latest in decades of the station’s modus operandi. Let’s look at the facts about this contest.
1) It may be true that the photo of the blond women don’t represent the totality of all the contestants, true, but it IS the photo the network decided to share on its page, obviously knowing the obsession with blondness around the country.
2) The only true diversity in the photos is a diversity of white women. We see a multitude of white women with brown hair, black hair, blond hair and redheads. Four different categories of white women divided by hair color does NOT constitute diversity. Yes, there are six black women, but of the 60 contestants, we see 51 representated in the photos and according to usual Globo standards, we have no reason to believe that the remaining 9 women would be black. Lest we forget, the program responsible for this contest is the Sunday variety show Domingão do Faustão, the same show that presents an all-female dancing troupe every week with no more than 2-3 black women of about 30 women. And considering that none of the six black women competing in the contest have completely straight hair, it’s also fitting to remember what the TV show’s host, Faustão, thinks of black women’s hair.
3) Brazil, even with clear examples of racism and racial exclusion in nearly every area of society, has always cast itself in a superior light in terms of racial relations in comparison to segregated countries such as South Africa or the United States, but the nation and the media clearly picks and chooses where it wants to present its own type of segregation. We see this during Carnaval in the state of Bahia. We saw it in a 2013 contest (featuring all black women) to crown the new ‘Globeleza girl’. We see it every year during the Miss Brasil contest that only one black woman has ever won in sixty years. We see it in choices for anchors and journalists. We see it on another Globo TV program that, every year, chooses from a group composed of mostly black women to represent the Carnaval Muse. On the other hand, when it’s for the title of “goddess of Brazil” or the cover of magazines, 95%-100% of the time the woman is white. We see it when a black woman is crowned “Miss Prostitute”.
In this sense the message is clear: everyone has their proper “place”. To represent beauty and speak for Brazil, it must always be the white woman. When there are positions associated with menial work, the kitchen or something associated with sexuality, a black woman is considered the better representative.
It is for these consistent choices of representation that leads people to celebrate when a black woman is portrayed as a lawyer or when there are shows that feature majority black casts, even based on stereotypes. And for these reasons, it will always be difficult or impossible to take seriously any proclamations of ‘fighting racism’ on any of Brazil’s major networks.