A few months ago, we spoke about the Public Awareness Campaign Against Racism and Sexism that our partner Lundu has been carrying out in Peru. This campaign challenged the racism ingrained in Peruvian society, where African descendents are a highly discriminated against minority, marginalized on many grounds, including poverty, lack of access to education and cultural stereotypes.
These stereotypes are often reinforced by caricatured representations diffused by national media. One of such caricatures has been the “Negro Mama” (literally “sucking negro”), a fictional character with gorilla-like hands and dark-pained face, always looking for ways to take advantage of other people and commit illegal activities. The actor playing the “Negro Mama” character also plays “ Paisana Jacinta” (literally, Jacinta the farmer) , the caricature of an ugly, ignorant and rather stupid indigenous woman, who is also constantly making inappropriate sexual jokes.
In March 2010, Lundu and other organizations part of the Campaign wrote a letter of complaint to the TV channel distributing the show and to the Sociedad de Radio y Televisión, the institution monitoring that TV programs are not offensive and comply with existing Peruvian laws.
As a result of Lundu’s demand, the “Negro Mama” show was suspended last week, but only for a few days. Last Friday, the program went back on air. The dispute received very wide coverage in the national media and authoritative opinion leaders (like the former President Toledo) and civil society organizations expressed themselves in favor of Lundu’s efforts, like the National Coordinator for Human Rights, Chirapaq, Flora Tristan, to mention a few of the over 30 organizations and 160 people that expressed themselves against the two racist characters.
However, the public of the show complained for the withdrawal of this popular show and accused Lundu of exaggerating the gravity the situation, partly also because of a television coverage that was overwhelming in favor of the show and its distributing TV channel. Many people wrote offensive and threatening emails to Lundu or its staff, in particular Monica Carrillo, its Executive President.
The racist, sexist and offensive nature of the characters of the NegroMama and the Paisana Jacinta can clearly be understood by the pictures annexed. We condemn the decision of the TV channel to continuing to air the show and express all our support to Afro-Peruvian movement, women’s and human rights organizations and the brave members of the Campaign Against Racism and Sexism.
To learn more about LUNDU’s work combating racism, sexism and other types of discrimination, click here.