Brazil: Controversy Over TV Show ‘Sexo e as Negas’

The cast of 'Sex e as Negas' and black women bloggers from 'Blogueiras Negras' protesting the show.  (Photos: Google Images)

The cast of ‘Sex e as Negas’ and black women bloggers from ‘Blogueiras Negras’ protesting the show.
(Photos: Google Images and Facebook)

While many in the United States are focused on the protests surrounding Vh1‘s latest reality show Sorority Sisters, protests are happening elsewhere over similar issues – derogatory representations of black women.

On and offline protests are taking place in Brazil over the television show ‘Sexo e as Negas,’ which translates to Sex and the Niggas. The show is supposed to be an adaptation of the U.S. hit television series Sex and the City (HBO) but is being criticized by black women in Brazil for the title and the hyper sexualized representation of black women in the series. The series creator Miguel Fallabella, who is white, apparently has blown off the blow back from black female audiences.

King Leonidas of StreettalkHGD.com writes:

“In response to claims that his series was racist, writer Miguel Fallabella reportedly wrote on Facebook: ‘Oh! n**gaz… give me a break’. He is also reported to have said the negative reaction to the TV programme was down to viewers lacking intelligence.

In an open letter to the show’s writer, the bloggers of Blogueiras Negras who are petitioning against the show said: ‘Your work, with a view to making financial profit, does little to create the dignified visibility of black women.’

‘It does the opposite. As is common in literature and dramaturgy made by white people about black people, we are treated as exotic study cases; people to be manipulated and observed.

It added: ‘Your work amounts to ‘negrismo’ – racist parody.

The cast of 'Sexo E As Negas' - Lilian Valeska (l), Karin Hils, Claudia Jiminez and Corina Sabbas (r).  Google Images

The cast of ‘Sexo E As Negas’ – Lilian Valeska (l), Karin Hils, Claudia Jiminez and Corina Sabbas (r).
Google Images

‘For us, this is about a counter-hegemonic visibility, with the power to transform the ways we are represented in the next soap opera, and the next mini-series. Without this transformation, nothing will change. The black woman will be nothing more than a stereotype to entertain.””

Sexo e as Negas is broadcast on TV channel Globo, one of Brazil’s largest media networks.

Black women bloggers are also upset about the show invoking a common saying in Brazilian culture – white women are for marriage, mulattoes are for fucking and black women are for work. They believe that the women characters on Sex and the City were seeking love while the women characters on Sexo e as Negas are seeking sex. The Brazilian version of the show also features a white woman narrator who tells the stories of the four, black women characters unlike the character of Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) who narrated the stories of the characters on the HBO hit.

Photo: Facebook

Photo: Facebook

France 24 is reporting that the bloggers at Blogueiras Negras have also launched a campaign under the hashtag #AsNegasReal to show images of real black Brazilian women, free from stereotypes. Another hashtag that is circulating is #sexoeasnegasnaomerepresenta or “Sexo e as Negas doesn’t represent me.”

The Facebook page opposing the show has 31,000 likes. The negative representations of black and brown women in entertainment is a problem that crosses genres, cultures and globes.

This post was written by Nsenga K. Burton, founder & editor-in-chief of the award-winning news site The Burton Wire with additional reporting from Nicky Francis, based in Brazil. Follow Nsenga on Twitter @Ntellectual.

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Brazil: President Dilma Rousseff Sworn In

Brazil's president Dilma Rousseff is sworn in for her second term. (Google Images)

Brazil’s president Dilma Rousseff is sworn in for her second term. (Google Images)

Lisa Alves of The Rio Times is reporting that Brazil president Dilma Rousseff was sworn into her second term on Jan. 1. President Rousseff promised to make education this administration’s top priority during the next four years. The reporter writes:

“By naming Brazil ‘the country of education’ we are stating that education will be the priority of all priorities,” she said during her inauguration speech in Brasília, adding that the education sector will begin to receive ‘more significant’ volumes of revenues from petroleum royalties and the exploration of the sub-salt layer.

As Rousseff enters her second term, Brazil’s economy is facing one its worst moments in decades, with nearly zero economic growth and increasing inflation.

“More than anyone, I know that Brazil needs to once again grow,” said the President, adding that the first steps of this journey would necessarily mean an adjustment in public accounts and an increase in domestic savings. Yet Rousseff noted her administration will not tolerate high inflation and would once again defeat the false thesis that there is a conflict between economic stability and social investments.”

Brazilians have been protesting educational conditions for the last couple of years. Protesters want free university education, respect for teachers’ rights and better quality education at state-run schools.

Dilma also promised to end corruption. Rousseff swore in 39 ministers who will make up her cabinet for her second term. Twenty-seven re-elected and new governors were also sworn into their respective states across Brazil.

In 2011, President Rousseff became the first woman to be elected president of Brazil.

Read more at The Rio Times.

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Brazil Uses Text Messaging to Reach Job Seekers

Some companies in Brazil use text messaging to connect with potential employees. (Google Images)

Some companies in Brazil use text messaging to connect with potential employees. (Google Images)

Ozy.com is reporting that text messaging is becoming an option for job seekers in places where expensive cell data plans and Internet cafe’s are cost prohibitive. Shannon Sims gives an example of Maria Angélica de Souza Santos, 26, who found herself without work in Taboão da Serra, Brazil. She registered with a job site, Emprego Ligado, which only required simple one word replies to text messages. Within two weeks, Santos had gotten an interview and obtained a job as a stock person for a supermarket perfume counter.

Text messaging is becoming a viable option for employers to reach workers who would otherwise not be able to communicate with them based on limited access to digital resources or restricted finances to access those resources. Sims writes:

“How does it work? You could almost text the answer. Job candidates text their skills, interests and where they live to Emprego Ligado, which then responds with a text message whenever a company wants to share job details or set up an interview. Candidates even get a text reminder so that they won’t miss their appointment. So far this year, more than 2 million job opportunities have passed through the system in the São Paulo region, according to the company. About 30 percent of job seekers have received an offer within their first week of using the program, while 60 percent secured an offer within a month, the company says. “We saw a huge demand in urban centers for people trying to find jobs,” Derek Fears, Emprego Ligado’s co-founder, tells OZY.”

 Read more at Ozy.com.

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Brazil: President Dilma Rousseff Re-Elected

Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff has been re-elected. (Photo Credit: Google Images)

Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff has been re-elected. (Photo Credit: Google Images)

The BBC is reporting that Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has been re-elected after securing more than 51% of votes in the closest election race in many years. An official count showed her rival, centrist candidate Aecio Neves, taking just over 48% of the vote. Her re-election for a second term extends the rule of her Workers Party (PT), which came to power in 2002 with President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

In her victory speech, Ms Rousseff said she wanted to be “a much better president than I have been until now.”

The author writes:

“But the vote split Latin America’s biggest country almost evenly in two, along lines of social class and geography. Ms. Rousseff called on all Brazilians ‘to unite in favour of Brazil’s future’ and said she would seek political reform. ‘This president is open to dialogue. This is the top priority of my second mandate,’ she told a cheering crowd in the capital, Brasilia.”

Rousseff has faced protests over the World Cup and political corruption. In August, presidential contender Eduardo Campos died tragically in a plane crash. The charismatic and wildly popular politician was quite possibly the candidate most likely to unseat Rousseff. Rousseff declared three days of mourning after his passing.

Read more at BBC.

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Brazil: Economy Falls Into a Recession

Brazilian currency.

Brazilian currency (Google Images)

BBC News Latin America is reporting that Brazil has fallen into a recession just one month before the general election. This information does not bode well for Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff who is trailing in the polls to newcomer Marina Silva, who is an environmentalist. Further, the World Cup is also being viewed as a business failure because of the drain on the economy and the lack of participation from “traditional” tourists.

The author reports:

“Economic output, GDP, fell by 0.6% in the three months to June, worse than analysts had predicted, and revised figures for the first quarter of the year also showed a fall of 0.2%. A recession is usually defined as two consecutive quarters of contraction. The news will be damaging for the government of President Dilma Rousseff.”

Rousseff, who is respected in many regards, is considered “weak on the economy.” The 2nd quarter GDP data also showed that civil construction, manufacturing and investment declined significantly during the second quarter.

Read more at BBC News.

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Japan Attempts to Recover Influence in Brazil

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe meets with Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff. (Google Images)

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe meets with Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff. (Google Images)

Bloomberg is reporting that the country of Japan is attempting to recover its influence in the country of Brazil.

Juan Pable Spinetto of Bloomberg reports:

“In the 1950s, Japan helped Brazil establish industries such as steelmaking and initiated key purchases of Brazilian iron ore. Now the Asian nation is seeking to regain influence in Latin America’s largest economy, where China is the No. 1 trading partner.

Japan has signed deals from energy to food and health care during Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to the country, the first by a Japanese leader in a decade. Abe wants to strengthen ties with Brazil, where about 1.6 million people of Japanese descent live, as he urges his country’s companies to seek more business outside their domestic market.

Top representatives from Toyota Motor Corp., Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp. and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc. were among the business people accompanying Abe in Brasilia and Sao Paulo, the last destinations of a nine-day tour through Latin American and the Caribbean.”

Korean and Chinese companies are the top producers of electronics in the country. Japan is the sixth leading investor in the nation, which is down from third between 1950 and 1985. Brazil’s infrastructure related industries and general safety are huge attractions for investors.

Read more at Bloomberg.

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FIFA 2014 World Cup: Will Africa Reach the Final Four?

Striker Asamoah Gyan of Ghana's official 2014 World Cup squad.

Striker Asamoah Gyan of Ghana’s official 2014 World Cup squad.

Writing for AllAfrica.com, Nick Said is wondering aloud if an African team will reach the Final Four in the FIFA 2014 World Cup. Brazilian soccer (football) legend Pelé famously stated in the late 1970s that an African team would win the World Cup by the year 2000. This has yet to happen.

Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Nigeria and Algeria all played in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and will play again in the 2014 World Cup.

Ghana’s showing at the 2010 World Cup (semi-finals) proves that the much talked about gap between Africa and the rest of the soccer (football) world has closed dramatically in the last two decades. The semi-finals is not new for African teams, but appearing in the Final Four of the World Cup would be a trailblazing fete.

Said writes:

“It is difficult to know which African side has the best chance. Ghana has perhaps the most complete squad and is in  the hardest group by far, while Cote d’Ivoire have an array of attacking talent but are less productive in defense.

Cameroon has individual stars but little team cohesion, and Nigeria are skillful but can be a little lightweight. Algeria always look the part on paper but struggle to make it count on the grass.

Each will have an eye on a piece of history though, buoyed by Ghana’s showing at the 2010 finals when they were one Luis Suarez handball away from the semi-finals.”

Do you think an African team will make it to the Final Four in the FIFA 2014 World Cup? If so, which team and why? Share in the comments section below.

Read more of this article at AllAfrica.com.

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2014 World Cup: South Africa’s Lessons for Brazil

2014 World Cup screensaver.

2014 World Cup screensaver.

Writing for BBC Africa, correspondent Andrew Harding shares some of the lessons learned from the 2010 World Cup held in South Africa. FIFA’s 2014 World Cup has been plagued with some of the same challenges that have led to anti-World Cup protests throughout Brazil, mostly Sao Paolo and Rio. Like South Africa, the 2014 is marked by hope and despair. Parties and murals demonstrate the conflict that Brazilians have over the abject poverty that many in the country face, while pouring billions of dollars into venues and infrastructure to host the 2014 World Cup. Coupled with controversy surrounding contracts that will mainly benefit FIFA as opposed to locals, the lead-up to the World Cup that many hope will land Brazil a 6th win, has been hauntingly similar to South Africa.

Harding reports:

“It was a success for Fifa and the corporate sponsors made a lot of money, but it left local businesses and the state floundering,” said Johannesburg-based researcher Dale McKinley, pointing out that of the eight stadiums built or refurbished for the World Cup, only one – the iconic FNB stadium outside Soweto – “is financially viable”.

Harding offers an example of the Matsafeni village located outside of Nelspurit in South Africa. He writes:

Four years after a giant orange stadium appeared on their land, the inhabitants of Matsafeni village outside Nelspruit in South Africa say they are still waiting for their World Cup legacy. ‘They lied to us and betrayed us,” said Imaan Milanzi, a community liaison officer, pointing to a muddy hole in the ground surrounded by rubbish, bushes and banana plants.

Half a dozen people, holding battered old plastic paint tubs, had formed a casual queue (line), waiting for their turn to access the borehole – their one, trickling water supply.

‘Things didn’t go as planned,’ said Mr. Milanzi, of the local government’s redevelopment plans.

‘They first promised to supply water, upgrade houses and roads. But they just built the stadium and disappeared.'”

While positive things occurred like the improvement of the high-speed Gautrain which connects OR Tambo airport with Johannesburg and Pretoria, other challenges have emerged like pricing for the Gautrain which most South Africans cannot afford and the introduction of tolls on the improved roadways. The same challenges are now facing Brazil.

Even Brazilian soccer (football) star Pelé and the Catholic Church have spoken out about the enormous expense that the Brazilian government has pumped into the games while failing to meet the needs of the people.

Jonathan Watts of The Guardian writes:

“But ever since mass protests during the Confederations Cup last year, public awareness of the social and economic costs of the tournament have made many uneasy about displays of enthusiasm. As compared with previous World Cups, public support is low. A poll by the Pew Research Centre suggests that 61% of the public feel that hosting the World Cup was a bad idea, because it diverts resources that could be better spent on public services such as healthcare.

Everyone from Pelé and Romário to the Catholic church has criticized the expense and delays. The footballer-turned-congressman Romário has described the impact on state funds as “the biggest heist in the history of Brazil”. Last week the bishops’ conference issued a ‘red card’ to the organizers for squandering public funds and evicting people for stadium construction.

‘The church wants to contribute to the public debate and express its concern with … the inversion of priorities in the use of public money that should go to health, education, basic sanitation, transportation and security,’ it said.”

While many think of the 2014 World Cup already as a win for the people of Brazil, similar to what many people thought of South Africa’s win to host the 2010 games, the growing anti-2014 World Cup protests serve as a reminder that all that glitters isn’t gold.

This post was written by Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D., founder & editor-in-chief of the award-winning news site The Burton Wire

Read more about this story at BBC Africa or The Guardian.

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Nobel Laureate Gabriel García Márquez Dies at 87

Nobel laureate Gabriel García Márquez has died.  (Photo Credit: Google Images)

Nobel laureate Gabriel García Márquez has died.
(Photo Credit: Google Images)

The world is mourning the loss of Nobel Laureate Gabriel García Márquez, who died of pneumonia at age 87. Márquez rose to worldwide fame with his novel One Hundred Years of Solitude, which ushered in an era of Spanish language literature. Jonathan Kandell of the New York Times writes:

“Mr. García Márquez was a master of the literary genre known as magical realism, in which the miraculous and the real converge. In his novels and stories, storms rage for years, flowers drift from the skies, tyrants survive for centuries, priests levitate and corpses fail to decompose. And, more plausibly, lovers rekindle their passion after a half-century apart.

Magical realism, he said, sprang from Latin America’s history of vicious dictators and romantic revolutionaries, of long years of hunger, illness and violence. In accepting his Nobel, Mr. García Márquez said: ‘Poets and beggars, musicians and prophets, warriors and scoundrels, all creatures of that unbridled reality, we have had to ask but little of imagination. For our crucial problem has been a lack of conventional means to render our lives believable.’

Like many Latin American intellectuals and artists, Mr. García Márquez felt impelled to speak out on the political issues of his day. He viewed the world from a left-wing perspective, bitterly opposing Gen. Augusto Pinochet, the right-wing Chilean dictator, and unswervingly supporting Fidel Castro in Cuba. Mr. Castro became such a close friend that Mr. García Márquez showed him drafts of his unpublished books.”

Richard Lea and Joe Tuckman of The Guardian write:

“Barack Obama said the world had lost ‘one of its greatest visionary writers’, adding that he cherished an inscribed copy of One Hundred Years of Solitude, presented to him by the author on a visit to Mexico. ‘I offer my thoughts to his family and friends, whom I hope take solace in the fact that Gabo’s work will live on for generations to come.’

Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos said yesterday via Twitter: ‘A thousand years of solitude and sadness at the death of the greatest Colombian of all time. Solidarity and condolences to his wife and family … Such giants never die.'”

One Hundred Years of Solitude was an instant bestseller, with the first edition of 8,000 copies selling out within a week of its publication in 1967. Hailed by the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda as “perhaps the greatest revelation in the Spanish language since Don Quixote of Cervantes”, One Hundred Years of Solitude went on to win literary prizes in Italy, France, Venezuela and beyond, appearing in more than 30 languages and selling more than 30 million copies around the world.

Márquez’s works include The Autumn of the Patriarch, The Chronicle of a Death Foretold and Love in the Time of Cholera, which was first published in 1985 and made into a film in 2007.

Márquez is survived by his wife Mercedes and two sons, Rodrigo and Gonzalo. He was 87.

Read more at the New York Times or The Guardian.

‘Dear White People': Director Justin Simien Has More Stories to Tell

Justin Simien, director of the indie hit 'Dear White People'.  (Photo Credit: Yale Zhang)

Justin Simien, director of the indie hit ‘Dear White People’.
(Photo Credit: Yale Zhang)

Dear White People is the clever feature debut of Houston native-now-Los Angeles-based writer, producer and director Justin Simien. The winner of this year’s Sundance Film Festival U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Talent is a satire that chronicles four diverse black students each struggling to find their identity at a fictional predominately white Ivy League university.

Having already directed a series of short films, Simien’s unapologetic film was inspired by his undergraduate experiences as one of very few black students at his alma mater, Chapman University. The film and theater major tackles Obama’s presidency, color consciousness, interracial dating, hair texture, hip hop, reality shows, sexual preference, father/son relationships, white privilege and Tyler Perry movies on screen.

Dear White People is also inspired by nationwide news headlines reporting white fraternities on various college campuses hosting parties mocking black culture. Some of the article clippings appear in the end credits. Dear White People, which Simien originally titled Two Percent during the script’s infancy in 2006, was the cathartic process he used to become more comfortable with his racial and ethnic identity.

“The theme of the film centers around identity versus self,” says a crossed-arm Simien. “I had to make peace with all of the different parts of me. Walking through the world as a minority is complicated. Whatever identity I create, no matter how useful it is, ultimately I have to let it go to be a bigger version of myself. That’s the lesson I learned.”

For inspiration, Simien says he looked up to Star Trek, Spike Lee, Wes Anderson, Stanley Kubrick, the Coen Brothers and Ingmar Bergman. He doesn’t believe he’s a comedian under any circumstances. “My knack is storytelling that I tell from a place with a very specific form of humor,” says Simien. “I just want to tell the truth about the human condition from my point of view as best as I can.”

Dear White People’s concept trailer, which Simien refers to as his “visual pitch,” began streaming in May 2012 and quickly went viral. Shortly after, an Indiegogo campaign was launched with a $25,000 goal. The financial goal was met and surpassed in three days. Simien even sat in on screenwriting workshops and included some of the harsher criticisms in his work to give the story more substance.

Shot on University of Minnesota’s campus, Dear White People was constantly met with resistance from studio executives even as national media began to pay close attention. Simien believes executives couldn’t relate to the subject matter nor did they believe there was a market for black art-house cinema. Simien, both openly gay and working in publicity and marketing in Hollywood for eight years, saw Dear White People as an opportunity to develop characters that mainstream films often don’t include.

“I’m gay and black, and that puts you in a sort of gray area of what kind of black man you’re supposed to be,” says Simien. “There was no version of me in the culture that felt true, so I was in no man’s land.”

Despite the lack of faith some had in Simien and his multiethnic team, their creative efforts paid off. Dear White People earned top honors at both Tribeca Film Institute and Sundance. Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions inked a deal to distribute the film later this year. Simien doesn’t care to replicate making the same type of film.

He believes memorable films have original stories that are brave enough to defy conventional story arcs and character development. “You don’t get anywhere trying to make a movie based on what you think people are going to like or based on what you think has worked in the past,” says Simien. “You don’t get anywhere doing that. If you want to make a cultural impact, you’ve got to tell the truth. Tell the story that’s burning deep inside of you.”

One of the next projects on Simien’s radar is the web series, Twenties, executive produced by Queen Latifah’s Flavor Unit Entertainment imprint. He makes it a point to credit his equally diligent best friend, Lena Waithe, as the creative force behind the project. Tightlipped about sharing Twenties’ details, he did confirm that he’s directing the series. “I read it, and I was like ‘I’ve got to be a part of this.’ It’s her world and voice. She’s getting that project pushed further, but you’re definitely gonna see it,” says Simien

Dear White People was this year’s closing film at the Atlanta Film Festival. Completely sold out, it was the final cut’s third overall screening. The theatre was full of laughter and humorous gasps throughout the film’s 108 minute running time. “You never know what movie you’ve made until you screen it for an audience,” says Simien. “People at Sundance laugh at different moments that people in Atlanta or New York. It’s been a pleasure to see the movie play to such different audiences and seeing it connect on very different ways.”

Even as Dear White People’s accolades and popularity continues to grow, Simien remains humble about the hard work, dedication, patience and perseverance the film required. “It’s great to know that I did something that a lot of people told me wasn’t gonna happen or there was no model for it,” adds Simien. “I made it. That’s a really powerful thing, and I’m grateful.”

This post was written by Christopher A. Daniel, pop cultural critic and music editor for The Burton Wire. He is also a contributing writer for Urban Lux Magazine and Blues & Soul Magazine. Follow Christopher @Journalistorian on Twitter.

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