The Unseen Lives of La Comunidad Negra

Trends / Realness
FG Trade
Federico Roales
Sep 21, 2022
Black people are underrepresented in most popular visuals in Latin America. This is closely related to the historical status of the Black community in Latin American societies: excluded from powerful positions, made invisible by visual media and living amongst low‑income social classes. Research also proves1 that despite significant gains over the past decade, Black people are still overrepresented among the poor and underrepresented in decision‑making positions, both in the private and the public sector. While representation of Black people increased 122% since 2016, more than 4 out of 5 Latin American consumers recognize that they haven’t seen Black stories in media any more often than a year ago, according to our consumer survey. And despite the regional impact of Black Lives Matter, Black people continue to be tokenized in visuals: they are 4x more likely to be represented as part of multi‑ethnic groups, rather than being centered as the main characters of everyday imagery.
We should acknowledge how difficult it is to count the total Black population in Latin America. The way that regional categorizations in Latin America work may obscure the fact that many Latin Americans claim mixed racial ancestry, identifying with regional subcategorizations as mestizo or criollo, and statistical instruments struggle to measure a phenomenon that societies were not recognizing for several years. Nevertheless, the latest available research from the World Bank estimated2 that one out of every four inhabitants have African descent, making up between 20% and 25% of Latin American population. But this demographic make‑up is not representative of every country: in Brazil or Colombia, people of African descent are far more numerous than in Argentina or Chile. So, when we look at Getty Images’ most popular visuals in Latin America, we see other mismatches: Black people are depicted in only 10% of images, which doesn’t reflect the true regional demographic composition. In fact, although white people are not a regional majority, they are depicted more than half the time.
While underrepresented overall, Black people are more likely to be depicted in work scenarios, whereas they are underrepresented in leisure scenarios. As a result of a considerable effort by our customers to encourage Black representation in places where ethnic diversity is expected to be seen, Black people are more likely to be represented as white‑collar workers or in professional occupations than white people. Nevertheless, Black people are still less likely to be depicted in travel settings, lifestyle, or adventure scenarios compared to other ethnic groups. Imagery that promotes an aspirational lifestyle, centering healthy habits and leisure time where people are shown enjoying the finer things in life rarely depict Black Latin Americans. 
Furthermore, Black People are often shown in open spaces that do not convey any cultural landmarks from their community or signs of belonging that promote identification; nor are placed in Latin American locations.

So by visualising Black people outside of multiracial group photos, highlights their stories and heritage as an indivisible part of Latin America's cultural wealth and diversity thereby centering their experiences, emotions, relationships, and everyday routines.
[1] "Esta es la situación de las personas negras en América Latina" (CNN)
[2] "Afrodescendientes en América Latina: Hacia un marco de inclusión" (World Bank)
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