June 2020: Transgender rapper and activist Rosa Luz received threats online after she posted an image on her Facebook account promoting a new single, reported Select Art.
Rosa Luz released the single Diss Pras Rata treating about the “right to have feelings and how the music industry is racist in Brazil,” Rosa told Freemuse.
The threats relate to the image created in support of the single and illustrated by the rapper’s sister, who also illustrated the single’s cover. The illustration depicts Rosa Luz holding the head of a middle-aged white man.
Rosa Luz told Freemuse that “This image was taken out of context by people from the extreme political right, who created the fake news that I was a bandit, a terrorist, financed by Banco Bradesco, one of the largest private banks in Brazil.”
The rapper created a video accumulating the threats that she received.
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As a result of the threats online, Rosa Luz deactivated all her social media accounts and removed the image from all of them.
In the Privatising Censorship, Digitising Violence: Shrinking Space of Women’s Rights to Create in the Digital Age report, Freemuse recognised online harassment as a major issue impacting both men and women. However, it is the gender-specific nature, volume and frequency of threats targeting women on social media platforms which have come under particular scrutiny in recent years.
“I started creating content on the internet in 2016 due to the lack of jobs and staying out of the networks made me realise how effective this project of silencing trans and black people is, unfortunately,” Rosa Luz described to Freemuse the time when she was offline.
“It took me a month to understand that I was being targeted by articulate digital militias to attack specific people and that I was neither the first nor the last to receive this type of attack,” the artist adds.
The restrain from the social media presence caused some financial loss to Rosa Luz.
“I have not felt safe producing my art since the beginning. […] I have been threatened with death on the internet before, and Christian groups have already organised themselves to report me to the police in the past when I used nudity as an artistic element in performance festivals […] (I submitted the projects in open calls to be previously evaluated),” Rosa Luz spoke about her current situation of being an artist in Brazil.
Rosa Luz is an artist interested in “intersections between photography, video, performance and music thinking about orality and the decolonisation of our bodies as central axes which guide my creative process.” Besides publishing artwork and artistic projects on her YouTube channel Rosa, the artist also uses the platform to approach gender, race, and class issue.
“I intend to continue producing visual arts and music, even if I don’t have the reach and visibility I would like,” Rosa Luz says after her experience with social media platforms.
Freemuse’s report the State of Artistic Freedom 2020 highlights that following government interference in the rights of LGBTI artists, creative expressions featuring LGBTI content are continuously challenged in Brazil.
The report further discovers that “[…] the attempts to target artistic expression are symptomatic of a wider resistance towards LGBTI content.”