Small number of blacks on TV leads to racism in childhood, experts say


Note from BW of Brazil: The day to day experiences of living in a country in which racism and white supremacy are prominent factors can have a very penetrative effect on black children. As the country continues to have problems dealing with issues of race in a direct manner, children who may be victims of it often have no support in confronting the problem. As we have seen in numerous reports dealing with racism in Brazilian schools, without an adequate mechanism for addressing this social illness, countless black children grow up lacking self-esteem, wishing to change their color and feeling defenseless in the face of situations that are often times humiliating. One way that Brazil continuously re-enforces this racial hierarchy is in its vast under-representation of Afro-Brazilians on television. The invisibility of black people in the media continues the cycle of an inferiority complex that passes from generation to generation as the images and ideas associated with such images remain the same year after year, decade after decade. Until the nation’s media outlets are willing to address this issue, one cannot take seriously any proclamations of a ‘racial democracy’. And as the following report shows, more and more experts are paying closer attention to the issue. 

Small number of blacks on TV leads to racism in childhood, experts say

Although rarely discussed, racism in childhood and schools exists and needs to be addressed in the opinion of teachers and experts who emphasize the low representation of black children in the media as one of the causes of the problem

By Agência Brasil

Anderson Ramos student spent much of 4th grade (now 5th grade) being called “macaco” (monkey), “preto fedido” (stinky black), “sujo” (dirty) and hearing “jokes” because of his cabelo crespo (kinky/curly hair). The offenses came from school friends who, like him, were 10 years old. The boy reported the cases to his teacher, who did nothing (1), and his mother, who was slow to understand that his son was the victim of injúrias raciais (racial injuries/slurs).

“When I started to cry a lot to not to go to school and asked to shave my head, my mother realized that I was suffering with that, even without me really knowing what it was,” said Ramos, now 20. “When you’re a kid, you don’t have the maturity to make a reading of what happened, but feel the pain that racism causes. And it is not child’s play, it’s racism,” says the student.


Although rarely discussed, racism in childhood and schools exists and needs to be addressed in the opinion of teachers and experts consulted by Agência Brasil. They emphasize the low representation of black children in the media as one of the causes of the problem.

Professor at the Department of Education at the University of Brasilia (UNB) and coordinator of the Núcleo de Estudos Afro-Brasileiros da instituição Center of Afro-Brazilian Studies), Renísia Garcia Filice believes that racism exists within schools and happens in a cruel, effective and naturalized way. For her, this attitude in childhood is the result of what the child saw or experienced outside of the school environment.

“The child may have experienced this in an attitude of their parents, in some comment or even something that teachers did or didn’t do,” says Renísia. According to her, some teachers omit themselves in situations of racism due to a lack of information, for naturalizing the situations or thinking it’s not a problem. “Because of this, teaching practices are necessary so that children perceive themselves as equal and with equal rights.”

Ildete Batista teaches 5 year old children in a school in the Distrito Federal (Federal District). She claims that racial issues appear mainly at the time of conflict and during games. A teacher for over 20 years, Ildete says that references for children are lacking. “What is as beautiful is what appears on TV, in the books – including the teaching materials. We see many commercials, children’s story books where the characters are white.”

The teacher develops, in school, a work against racism and to put more African references in education. This, according to Ildete is bringing results. “Earlier this year, a girl told me she didn’t like her hair, because of it being crespo (kinky/curly). In a drawing, for example, she made herself a blonde with blue eyes. Now, at the end of the year, he draws herself as a black child with curly hair. This shows that the work has to be done and if it is done with respect, we can overcome these problems,” she believes.

According to the professor of law at UnB, Johnatan Razen, when there are offenses between children at school, parents should report the case to the school, so that the institution promotes educational activities. “If the case involves a teacher or the offense comes from the institution – such as forcing a student to straighten his/her hair – it’s fitting to take it to court,” he advises. If you know of racist attitudes within the space and omit yourself, the school can also be held criminally responsible, according to Razen.


For the professor of the course of social communication at the Universidade Católica de Brasília (Catholic University of Brasilia or UCB) Isabel Clavelin, there is a tendency of increasing in the representation of black children in the media in recent years. “But they appear in supporting roles and representation falls short of the proportion of blacks in Brazil,” says the researcher.

“This has a devastating effect because the child sees himself absent or not seeing herself as she really is. She is always behind. The interpretation of these messages has a very damaging effect, which is the refusal, of withdrawing oneself from the space of centrality,” says Isabel. “Tackling racism in childhood is crucial and must mobilize all of Brazilian society, because there all of those identity possibilities are being shaped,” she adds.

Writer Kiussam Oliviera, who works with children’s literature in order to strengthen the identity of black children, states that there is a lack of positive representation. “In a country of a black majority, a completely white television, as we have, is not justified. From the moment that broadcasters understand that the black audience is large, we will experience a different phase from this we’re going through, where there is violence because of skin color, aggressions focused on the race – increasingly trivialized.”

Student João Gabriel, 11, feels the lack of more black children on television. “In the cartoons and TV shows, whoever is fat and black is always being called names, is always shy and others make fun of him. So we see this and think it’s always like that. Colleagues think that everyone needs to be equal and being different is bad.”

New Program

With the majority of its characters being black, the Colombian cartoon Guilhermina e Candelário begins today on TV Brasil. To mark the passing of the Dia da Criança (Children’s Day), the network will show four episodes in sequence, at 9:45am and at 1pm. From there, the cartoon will be broadcast from Monday to Saturday in the Hora da Criança (Children’s Hour), scheduled Monday through Friday schedule from 8:15 to 12pm and from 12h30 to 5pm; and on Saturday from 8:15 to 12pm.

The series shows the daily lives of two siblings, whose ability to dream turns every day into an adventure. Every day, we eagerly await the arrival of Vô Faustino (Grandpa Faustino), to whom they recount their adventures. The grandfather enjoys the stories told by his grandchildren and shares his life experience and wisdom.

Co-produced by Señal Colombia and Fosfenos Media, Guilhermina e Candelário is one of the first cartoons of its kind with black protagonists to be shown on free Brazilian TV.

Source: Portal Fórum


  1. Very common in Brazilian schools as teachers often don’t see the seriousness of the issue, don’t see it as a problem or simply don’t know how to deal with it. It was the finding of Eliane Cavalleiro in her thesis and the pattern remains the same still today as we see here, here and here.
About Marques Travae 3747 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

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