Note from BW of Brazil: OK, seriously, what’s going here? This blog is perhaps the first to present this issue to an English-speaking audience about the practice of blackface in Brazil, but even with a rising activism repudiating the practice, it seems that more and more people have the urge to do it. Who knows, perhaps that’s the exact reason. But just to show how out of hand this getting, the original report from today actually took place about two weeks ago. But before we can get to that one that happened in Joinville (southern Brazil), the following post came from a community in a social network just today from of Rio de Janeiro.
The following is a conversation is taken from a social network about the above photo that was taken at that school.
Fernanda – What you guys have to say of such a presentation at a school??? Until when will racism be in the school curriculum??? Escola Nossa Senhora Servita Rainha dos Corações (school) in Jacarepaguá in Rio de Janeiro
Daiana – Painting the children black? For me, this only increases the chances of the crisis in identity and the attempt of distancing one’s self from what is black. Because there are not many blacks in this skin tone in Brazil, I think, so the post of the “moreninho” is configured as a comfort zone of destructive effectiveness. It undermines our self esteem, erases us. It is no longer any use to remain silent, I’ll call a group and raise the issue with school officials. Nonsense.
Fernanda – Imagine how the girls of that school feel if they are associated with “nega maluca”, hair made to look ridiculous, a big red mouth and big ass??!! Institutionalized bullying!
Thaynara – Someone warns them that blackface is racism and that racism will not be tolerated. I just entered the school’s site, an elitist school. Is this picture really is a school event? Because there’s a space there to send email, I’m preparing mine.
Note from BW of Brazil: Keep in mind here the comment made by Thaynara that it’s an elitist school, which in Brazil means an expensive private school composed of mostly white children. Daiana also makes an excellent point. In a country that encourages descendants of Africans not to identify themselves as negros (blacks) but rather mulatos and morenos (brown/mixed/racially ambiguous) unless they have the darkest of skin color, how many Afro-Brazilian children will see this sort of performance that makes blackness appear to be an absurdity and not want to have anything to do with being called black? In reality, this has already been the norm in Brazil for decades. The next photo brought to our attention came about because of the story of an outburst of racist comments directed at a popular black journalist featured in yesterday’s post. In support of the journalist, the news crew that she works with created the hashtag #somostodosmaju (we are all maju) and the woman in the photo below apparently thought she could help the cause by donning blackface.
There have been other photos of white Brazilians with their faces smeared in black makeup floating around the internet as well, which brings us to another case in the city of Joinville, located in the southern state of Santa Catarina. And as you read the next piece, keep in mind that while blackface is generally associated with the United States, with Brazil’s own long history of unchallenged blackface performance and so many people (apparently) not even seeing how it could be considered offensive, should Brazil be considered the new home of blackface?
Teacher in Joinville utilizes blackface and generates discussion on social networks
Black movements accuse school of racism. Professor justifies that the costume was a tribute to the namoradeiras of Minas Gerais
By Priscilla Andreza *
A 4th grade teacher, Adenise Reis is accustomed to wearing different costumes in all the parties
The festa junina (1) costume at a Joinville School had repercussions about racism in social networks and nationally this week. The pages of the Coletivo de Mulheres Negras (Collective of Black Women) of Joinville and the Movimento Negro Maria Laura shared the photo of a teacher her rosto pintado de preto (face painted black), published on Facebook page of the Colégio Santos Anjos (school) with a letter of repudiation addressed to the school with the expectation of responses on Monday.
According to the movement, wearing blackface is an affront, as a form of ridicule, through the caricature, the stereotype of the black and illiterate woman. Blackface is known to be a caricatured representation of white artists playing black characters, and is considered an act of racism.
The publication had more than 300 likes, 150 shares and generated more than 190 comments. The participants are mostly teachers and students of the institution. The publication divided opinion among web users: some showed indignation at the attitude of the teacher, while others defended it.
The school apologized in a statement on Facebook, also generating comments and discussions. The director of the Colégio dos Santos Anjos, Adelina Dalmônico ensured that there was no intention of ridiculing blacks. According to her, every year the teacher wears a different costume to celebrate with parents, students and teachers at the school’s festa junina. The event was held last Saturday, June 20.
“I would like the community to understand that we never, in any moment, had the intention of offending the black race, on the contrary, we recognize all as a great human family,” says the director.
Adenise Costa Reis, who is 4th grade teacher of the of elementary school, says the clothing, along with accessories, were a tribute to the namoradeiras de Minas Gerais (state) – dolls made in plaster or wood that became famous pieces of craft in that state. She also says that the idea came out because her husband is a mineiro (native of Minas Gerais).
“I don’t associate at any moment the costume to blackface. I admit it was ignorance and naiveté on my part. I’ve already apologized on social networks and did so again. I have a tranquil conscience, I have friends that are part of the Movimento Negro Maria Laura,” she justified.
Representation that ridicules
The professor of philosophy and social sciences, Belini Meurer explains that blackface is a new expression of representing the fact of a white person dress up as black. The expression may be new, but the act is old. Blackface was a theatrical forms of facial and body painting, used often by white artists to represent black people in the nineteenth century. These representations were exaggerated and ridiculed stereotypes of black people in popular shows in the United States.
“I believe that this case was ignorance, not malice. But also it cannot be accepted that an educational institution is not within the law and not appreciate black culture. A common person can ask forgiveness, but an educational institution not having this knowledge is inexcusable,” he says.
The teacher explains that, from the time when there is devaluation and a joke with any physical aspect because of an ethnic identity it can be considered racism. He adds that, in Brazil, a good portion of the population is black and was enslaved, and the repair of past errors is being fixed today. Because of this, he said, there must be discussion on the subject in the schools.
“The debate on the networks is valid for rethinking racism and to present it to those who had no knowledge about blackface. But the important thing is to bring the debate home, to school and also to work,” he stresses.
According to professor of Art History Vanessa da Rosa, a black person represented with blackface was generally “silly” or “sick”. She comments that blacks are not folk objects and to represent an ethnic group, it is not necessary to change the skin color.
“It’s not just a woman dressed as black, it’s a woman dressed as black with a silly attitude, which makes it pejorative. As a teacher, she should have the insight that the lack of intellectuality denigrates the image of blacks,” she emphasizes
Vanessa cites the Law 10.639, passed in 2003 for strengthening the importance of Afro-Brazilian and African history and culture being taught and discussed in classrooms. According to her, in Joinville, about 17% of the population is black.
“There must be a sensibility of schools to legitimize the presence of blacks in the city. Racist theories need to be discussed and not only among blacks but for all of society,” she says.
* This story was written by Priscilla Andreza and is part of stage studies in the newspaper A Notícia where she has worked since July 2014. Priscilla in the 7th phase of a journalism course phase at Bom Jesus Ielusc.
Blackface in Joinville
By Diogo Conceição
Once again we’ve had our features ridiculed; deformed by groups of white people with a sick thought of having fun embarrassing the difference of the other. Using an ancient technique, an ancient racism, but that is still incorporated by people who didn’t care about the suffering of others. That they contribute to putting another brick in this historic construction of racist stereotypes. The case to be denounced happened on Saturday, June 20, 2015, at the Colégio dos Santos Anjos school, where a teacher was painted and dressed up with a defamatory caricature of black women, causing laughs and lots of pictures on social networks as if they were before a freak. The “Nega”’ as it is called, is a caricature portrait of a black woman, reinforcing stereotypes created by the white man.
A well-known technique in the world of theater and film as blackface, and that was for a long time, used mainly in countries like the United States to represent blacks, since they had no right to come and go and, much less, to be represented on stage and screen. This ”caricature” brings highly sexualized characters with freakish, ignorant and mediocre language, taking the center of attention in an inconvenient and aggressive manner.
What’s most troubling is the dissemination of this racist discourse being done in a school setting, which is said to be Christian, and proud of its values are ethics, competence and humanization. But that reproduces in its black men and women its vision of blacks in front of its students in a fellowship. Schools and teachers cannot take what some deem as ‘folklore’ forward. Inciting the thought that blacks are meant to be ridiculed and used by society. Taking away sleep thinking that new generations are taking this horrible and humiliating representation as truth by having unprepared teachers to talk about the subject.
Here’s a question for the Colégio dos Santos Anjos school: how many black teachers teach in the school?
Maybe they may have black keepers to clean up the dirt. Their students are, in a large majority, white and upper class. Just looking at the entry and exit of classes we can even observe calmly, since the parents make an issue of using a bus lane – made for the entire population of the city – as exclusive parking for themselves, showing their big cars and ignoring others.
Could it be that after all this they still manage to think of others? Could it be that they you following the same Christian values? I wonder what Jesus Christ would say about this?
We can imagine.
But one certainty we have: students are bombarded, through its supplier of knowledge, about the image of blacks. It is through representation, of the visibility we create, construct and propagate our thoughts. A space that should be deconstructing prejudice and promoting equality and humanization, plays the contrary role, with an elitist and conservative air.
How do you end racism such as this? With characters that generalize and are called “Nega”’? How do you construct a better world propagating the same racist, humiliating and arrogant thoughts in these schools where young professionals of our city and our country will be formed?
There are forces who want to end the true identity of blacks. That that thousands of people have fought for and are fighting daily to show the blindness of the Casa Grande (Big House) that history has deprived us of being considered human. They can say in response to all this, it was just a “joke” that it’s part of “folklore”.
Yes, it’s part of folklore of black women being seen as bodies without souls, young black men as devils that are born to do evil and uncultured men, as Monteiro Lobato tells us that, indeed, the school should make use of the racist works of the writer without even making a critical analysis.
It is part of world folklore to treat blacks as second class, as a sub-race. It’s also part of the denial of responsibility and commitment to the consequences that each of these actions can provoke.
The stoning of someone of the Umbanda or Candomblé religion, the genocide of black youth, the neglect of the poor, abuses committed in Haiti, the discrimination against Haitians that came to Brazil … The blame is always on the other, the difficult thing it is to assuming part of the blame dressing up to humiliate the black race and to know how to recognize that this act can and encourages greater and more violent acts.
Violence is not done only with guns. Violence is done with words, gestures, ideologies and representations. And in this case, violence hurts much more knowing that it was practiced by a teacher because we value this class very much that should contribute to formation, but not for misinformation.
We expect a self-criticism of the Colégio dos Santos Anjos. We await, hopefully, an apology. Hopeful, therefore, on the bus lane, the discourse presented was totally different from the teachings of Jesus. We also ask that the debate on this issue is more frequent and that due care be taken that this doesn’t happen again. We don’t need bigger houses. We need more people to feel empathy and being and not having.
We want to be represented yes, but for many of us, truly, with black characteristics and features. We do not put up with more teasing and moral lashes. We have laws that punish those who still don’t make themselves conscious and are not following the change to a more just and equal world.
1. Festa Junina, also known as festa de São João for their part in celebrating the nativity of St. John the Baptist, are the annual Brazilian celebrations historically related to European Midsummer that take place in the beginning of the Brazilian winter. These festivities, which were introduced by the Portuguese during the colonial period (1500-1822), are celebrated during the month of June nationwide both in Brazil and Portugal. The feast is mainly celebrated on the eves of the Catholic solemnities of Saint Anthony, Saint John the Baptist, and Saint Peter. Source