Note from BW of Brazil: Today’s story is so typical of Brazil. It’s one of those stories in which people will most definitely declare a “misunderstanding” or that “you people see racism in everything”. But we all (or should know) that depictions in media, the arts and advertising often work and are successful for by appealing to the messages that are sent in a subliminal manner. The type of advertising or media that doesn’t come out and say something directly, but in only making a connection which is already present in the public imagination, it captures attention and sends a message without doing so in a obvious manner. While that is often the case, I would argue that today’s controversy doesn’t really qualify as subliminal. It is quite blatant. First in its selection of a mannequin that is black in color when most mannequins this writer has seen in Brazilian shopping malls are paper white. Second because of the association in the ‘mind of the Brazilian’ between blackness and criminality. And third because the media, advertising and the general population understands full well certain associations. Need proof? Well let’s see…
A few years ago we had the infamous beer ad that played on the stereotype of the sexuality of black women. Then we had the logo that played on the widespread public view that connects natural black hair as being similar to a scouring pad. We saw a similar play on this connection just last week on a long-running, popular reality show that displayed a doll with a huge afro being used as a dish-washer sponge. These are just a few examples. The most recent example is on full display on newsstands right now. The February 2016 issue of Galileu magazine (above) features a headline that reads “The bandit is dead. Now what?” The photo used to emphasize the text is that of a bloody, dead black man, whose hands had been tied up. Out of context one may not understand the message here, but given the many violent public lynchings of black men throughout Brazil in recent years (see here, here or here), the image speaks to the color associated with criminal activity. Again, I must emphasize that while most corruption and multi-million dollar scandals in Brazil usually have white faces and bodies, in the public mind, blacks are the criminal element. All points to consider as you review this latest controversy and decide whether this is simply creativity or subliminal messaging.
Black boy hung by the feet in a children’s ad in Reserva store in Shopping Rio-Sul
by Marcos Romão
A mannequin of a young black hanging by the feet tied by ropes is on display the Cadeia Reserva store in Rio Sul Shopping Mall.
Sos Racismo Brasil received the information from Douglas Soares as a case of racism in advertising in the Reserva store at Shopping Rio Sul in Rio de Janeiro, along with the photo of the crime and a comment:
“RESERVA (reserve) your bad taste for assembling displays and sending messages.”
SOS says it has already forwarded it to the public prosecution and to human rights and anti-racist groups and institutions in Rio so that this company is notified and assumes the liability for its racist acts, with the aggravating factor of being directed to a children’s audience with an image that is reminiscent of the public lynching of young blacks in Brazil.
Note from Mamapress, we received from the author of the photo that it is only one doll and its reflection in the picture. Sorry for the optical failure of the original material.
SOS Racism files lawsuit on display of “mannequin” of a black child in a degrading position in the Reserva fashion store
The co-coordinator of Sos Racism Brasil presented a complaint with federal prosecutors denouncing the exhibition of a black “doll” in a degrading and racist position.
The fashion shop RESERVA located in the Rio Sul Shopping Center put on its display case in the store, a black doll imitating a black child, with feet tied and hung upside down.
For Marcos Romão, “a piece of propaganda assaults people passing by the store that reminds them of of the frequent lynchings of black children and youth in Rio de Janeiro and in the country, when they are left tied to poles in the south of the city.”
Marcos Romão asks, “one criminal action against the manager and those responsible for the store, as well as against the creators and agency responsible for this “piece” of discriminatory and humiliating propaganda, in relation to the children that go there and or becoming aware of the fact, to our view racist and offensive against blacks and the Brazilian people. In addition to disturbance of the public order that the exposure of this “racist offense” carries throughout society.”
SOS Racism will request the Núcleo de Combate ao Racismo da Defensoria Pública (Center to Combat Racism of the Public Defender) to represent all those who are outraged by this racist assault.