Singer Luciane Dom’s creative new video “Todo Cuidado” uses animation to depict a young couple surviving in a racist society through the bond of black love
By Marques Travae
Can I just say it? Luciane Dom is becoming one of my favorite artists of Brazil’s new crop of musical talent. If Luciane was just making good music that would be enough in itself. But a bonus element that makes Luciane stand out from the pack is that she has consistently made a point of presenting black themes, black culture, black couples and black love in her music videos.
Her first video, “Seu Bem”, featured a black couple in an interpretive dance setting presenting the stages and ranges of emotions present in any amorous relationship. Her next video, “Quanto Peso?” asked the questions “how much was the struggle worth?”, “how much is a black body worth?” and “what is freedom worth?” in a reflection of the situation of the black population, both past, depicting images of slavery, up to modern times. The video features a 90% black cast and considers of the enslavement of black bodies, but in a different interpretation than usually presented on TV and in many history books.
In Luciane’s latest video, she further explores the necessity of changing the narrative of the way black people are presented in audio-video productions. It is no secret that Brazil’s mainstream media consistently degrades the Afro-Brazilian population, with novelas, films and even news reports constantly portraying the black population as if it were society’s rogue element. Turn on the television any day of the week and one is bombarded with stereotypes about black Brazilian men and women. Even with the media making the black population seem invisible with its under-representation of such a large parcel of the population, when it does depict black people, they are always marginalized in one way or another and rarely presented as being parts of fully developed families. Another glaring omission in these depictions is the absence of any representation of black love on the small screen. Finding black couples in affectionate scenarios is simply hard to find in the media and when black people are presented in amorous situations, they are almost always paired with white partners.
What is the message here?
This is what is so striking about Luciane’s videos. Her clips present black men and women as protagonists of the stories. Black characters without any limits on the interpretation of the full black experience and as complete human beings.
In the video for the song “Todo Cuidado”, Luciane employs the animation talents of Arnaldo de Pádua with direction and script by Davidson Ilarindo to present a five-minute cartoon featuring a black couple at various stages of their lives as they go through the daily experiences of just being black in Brazil. (see full video here)
The video starts off set in a primarily white school setting where the young black boy becomes the target of ridicule at the hands of his white classmates, a common experience of black children in not only mostly white private schools, but in Brazil’s school system in general. His black female classmate conjures herself being the warrior black woman and comes to his rescue. It is a powerful, but also subtle message: In a country where white supremacy reigns, black people must have each other’s backs for mere purposes of survival.
One will note how the video weaves together realities of black life in Brazil with a sort of dreamy, fantastical element. Perhaps a take on Afro-futurism that has cropped up in a number of Afro-Brazilian creative productions over the past few years. Animation creator Arnaldo de Pádua expressed his viewpoint on this:
“I keep seeing and thinking that we managed to arrive at a very cool and subtle result because it has a fantasy thing, but it has a strong criticism, only that you perceive the criticism from the moment you begin to empathize with the characters,” he said.
The video continues as the young couple grows together and experiences various joys in their lives, such as graduating from college and continuing their relationship, exploring feelings of affection, adoration and passion. If you are black and live outside of Brazil, you may wonder why this would be a big deal. But in a Brazil where media depictions of love are usually portrayed through white and mixed couples, a mere cartoon showing a few seconds of a black man and a black woman in love can be considered groundbreaking. Let us remember how Brazilians initially reacted to the depictions of an all-black family in a recent Father’s Day commercial.
Luciane creating three straight videos depicting a black narrative/experience is no accident as the artist clearly has an objective in her video presentations.
“It’s necessary that our histories of the past and present be told beyond slavery or Ancient Africa; it is imperative that our children be proud of their color, their origin, and this is only possible if we include our ‘black side’ of history, those stories of our ancestors, kings and queens, a people of struggle, a strong people,” Luciane said in reference to her video productions.
The song “Todo Cuidado” is taken from Luciane’s wonderful CD entitled Liberte Esse Banzo, a beautiful, moody collection of songs mixing elements of Samba, Soul, Jazz, MPB and Reggae that immerses the listener in an instant melancholy, reflective temperament with its airy horn arrangements, mid-tempo grooves and live instrumentation. The album doesn’t contain any filler or fast forward songs and is a perfect companion for many everyday settings. A morning walk, background music for sleeping, a candle light dinner/conversation or sipping tea as you write those paragraphs for that thesis that is due next month.
Luciane Dom is that type of artist that would have fit in perfect with the mid to late 90s Neo-Soul movement era on the American music scene that produced so many great, inspiring artists, the kind of which seem to be lacking in today’s music. Her videos, full of an obvious black pride, love and solidarity, are just icing on the cake.