Anitta defends her Afro-Brazilian faith after new music video costs her some followers

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil’s biggest pop star, Anitta, has released a music video depicting rituals of the Afro-Brazilian faith Candomble, sparking controversy in a country where religious intolerance is all too common.

Her track — pointedly named “Accept” — has been viewed over a million times on YouTube since its release on Tuesday. It is a rare personal offering from the artist, who has long practiced the religion in Rio de Janeiro. Anitta said she lost 200,000 of her 65 million followers on Instagram after its release.

“I’ve already talked about my religion countless times, but it seems that leaving an artistic work in my catalog forever was too much for those who don’t accept that others think differently,” Anitta said on social media Tuesday. Trolls deriding Candomble appeared far outnumbered by those expressing support.

Criticism from a minority of social media users continued overnight, and she issued another statement Wednesday to denounce misinformation and jokes targeting Afro-Brazilian faiths.

“Its teachings and its people deserve respect like any other religion,” Anitta said.

Filmed in black and white, the video shows Anitta crouching naked as a priestess in traditional, white attire pours purifying water over her head. In some scenes, she wears a straw dress resembling the head-to-toe covering used by Obaluaê, the orixá or deity of earth and health. The video also showed Catholic iconography, an evangelical Christian service and a Jewish worshipper with a tefillin.

“Anita suffered religious racism, there’s no doubt about it. She can do whatever she wants to do as an artist. But her declaring herself a candomblé means she lost followers,” said Mother Nilce de Iansã, coordinator of the national network for Afro-Brazilian religions and health, during a webinar on the Rio-based Museum of the Republic’s planned exhibition on Afro-Brazilian religious belongings.

As Portuguese Catholic colonists brought African slaves to Brazil, the enslaved men and women developed syncretic blends of their traditional religions with Catholicism, now practiced by a small minority of Brazilians.

Anitta was already known for elevating marginalized populations such as women, residents of the working-class neighborhoods known as favelas, as well as LGBTQ+ and Black people.

The pop star has a subversive side similar to that of Madonna, said Raquel Martins, who holds a doctorate in music from the UNICAMP university. Anitta and Madonna released a track together in 2019 and also shared the stage briefly during Madonna’s biggest-ever concert that took place in Rio on May 4. The show repeatedly invoked religion in provocative manners and Anitta, while on stage, wore a shining crucifix around her neck.

“Anitta is a world-renowned artist. She no longer needs to prove anything to anyone. So what does she do? She makes her art available to encourage debate in society,” said Martins.

Despite their low numbers, practitioners of Afro-Brazilian faiths in recent years have increasingly experienced religious intolerance, particularly at the hands of members of evangelical churches.

“Accept” is part of Anitta’s new album, “Funk Generation.” When first announced, Anitta described it as “an album where I celebrate my roots.”

“It’s a rhythm born in the favelas, where I grew up, and it exudes resistance and art in every community,” she said in a statement.

05/15/2024 23:57 -0400

News, Photo and Web Search

Regional News Headlines