Posted by: Khepera | Saturday, 4 February 2006

REVISED: Brazil’s First Black Television Station Works to Address the Legacy of 300 Years of Slavery


Though this tv station has gone out of business due to media monopolies since its inception in 2005, this was a highly significant development, not just for Brasil, for the entire Diaspora, for the planet. This is especially true given the steady rise to global & regional prominence Brasil has experienced over the last few years…and which is predicted to continue by the Wall Street Journal, and other financial sources.

Unfortunately, the efforts to get this media source off the ground met with stiff social opposition, as described in the following article, and elsewhere.  One would have hoped that it would be sustained, cultivated & supported by viewers, so that Brasil will not experience the debasement & disappointment we have in the US with the stillborn state, and subsequent demise of BET.  Apparently, their battle is on a different battleground, with different challenges which are great enough that they likely require a different formulation of strategies & tactics. The same is true for us here in the US, for certainly the old tactics & strategies are not solving our problems either.

An excerpt of the Guardian article.  Go here for the full article.

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Brazil’s first black television channel tackles legacy of 300 years of slavery

With non-white faces a rarity in media and politics, a new station aims to bridge racial divide

Tom Phillips in Sao Paulo
The Guardian, Monday 21 November 2005 08.13 GMT

“Is it on air? We’re on the air!” With the push of a button and these hesitant words, Brazil’s first black television channel came into existence yesterday.

TV da Gente, which means “our TV”, has been heralded as giant step forward in the country’s fight against discrimination, and to mark the broadcast high-ranking politicians, celebrities and civil rights activists gathered at the Casa Verde studio in north Sao Paulo.

“This will turn out to be the most important development ever in terms of communication for black communities all around the world,” a veteran American civil rights activist, 72-year-old James Meredith, told the Guardian. “Unlike the United States and South Africa, Brazil established a system of white supremacy without the obvious signs like segregation or apartheid. Until Brazilians start to face up to this reality the legacy of slavery will continue.”

Mr. Meredith’s ideas are far from universally accepted in Brazil where, despite the social chasm between Afro-Brazilians and their white counterparts, many still insist on the idea of a “racial democracy”, first expounded by the anthropologist Gilberto Freyre in the 1930s.

Statistics tell a different story, of a country split along racial lines. Afro-Brazilians form almost half Brazil’s 180 million strong population yet account for 63% of the poorest section of society. The 2000 census found that 62.7% of Brazil’s white population had access to sanitation compared with just 39.6% of its Afro-Brazilians, while a new UN report found that black men earned on average 50% less than their white counterparts in Brazil. Human rights campaigners underline the racial dimension behind Brazil’s staggering murder rates. The majority of victims are young black men aged between 15 and 24.

The sprawling redbrick favelas that engulf large urban centres are predominantly, if not entirely, inhabited by black Brazilians. And barring a few high-profile politicians such as the culture minister, Gilberto Gil, Afro-Brazilian faces remain a rarity in politics.

In the nightly blockbuster soap operas – perhaps the best indicator of how things stand in Brazilian society – black actors are generally restricted to playing the roles of maids and porters who work in the glitzy apartment blocks inhabited by the wealthier, white characters. Indeed, while slavery was abolished more than a century ago in Brazil, many believe its legacy is harder to shake off.

This week a leading economist estimated that for Brazil’s black population to have access to the same standard of public services as their white counterparts the government would have to invest 67.2bn real (£17.6bn).

TV da Gente’s aims to change at least part of this. Its mission statement, mimicking the former president Juscelino Kubitschek, is to achieve “50 years progress in five” in black Brazil’s fight for visibility. The man behind the media revolution that seeks to overturn this divide is Jose de Paula Neto, better known as Netinho de Paula, a media-savvy 35-year-old who rose from the housing estates of Sao Paulo to become a household name, first as a samba popstar then as a television presenter.

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