Note from BW of Brazil: Nothing really surprising here. Just more from the land of “we are all equal”. This incident is only noteworthy because it happened on live television. I must say, singer Ludmilla seems to provoke a lot of animosity among people. Although I’ve only posted a few of these incidents (here, here and here), it seems the young woman is always attracting such derogatory comments. Let’s get to the story and then I’ll analyze the excuse given for this ‘slip of the tongue’.
Record TV host calls black funk singer Ludmilla a monkey on live TV
Announcer of the Record calls Ludmilla of monkey live; watch the video
Courtesy of Diário de Pernambuco and Estado de Minas
Singer has already denounced one TV host for a racist comment
The singer Ludmilla, famous after the success of the song “Hoje” was called “macaca”, meaning monkey, by the host of the Balanço Geral program in Federal District on Tuesday the 17th. Marcão Chumbo Grosso made the racist comment during a conversation with Sabrina Albert, in the “A hora da venenosa” segment, and tried to correct himself later, calling himself “macaco.” The program is broadcast by Record in the federal capital of the country.
The duo commented on the reaction of the funkeira (funk singer) with fans who approach her to take photos. According to Sabrina Albert, the singer used an excuse of have thing flu to avoid contact with people in a restaurant. “It’s a thing that you just can’t understand. She was poor, a macaca… Poor, poor but really poor. I always say to my friends: I was poor and a macaco too. Wasn’t I… I am rich today, in health, thanks to God,” Marcão said.
After watching the video, Ludmilla decided to denounce the host. “Her mother called me crying, really sad. Ludmilla is very upset,” said the artist’s manager, Alexandre Baptistini, to the Diário de Pernambuco newspaper. The criminal complaint will be against Marcão and Record TV, he said. “As many times as she needs to, she’s going to sue, and it was even on the television (network) of a pastor,” he said, in reference to Rede Record’s owner, billionaire pastor Edir Macedo. According to him, she was also called macaca on January 9th. Ludmilla has already denounced socialite Val Marchiori and an Internet user – later identified – for racism.
Former state congressman of Tocantins, Marcão defends that he was not racist and says that the expression is common in the region. “The term ‘macaco’ is used in the midwest without pejorative content. For example, it is quite common to see people saying that ‘fulano é macaco velho’ (so-and-so is old monkey), because he already has some experience in a certain thing. It’s the same situation present in the video, with the simple change of the adjective that accompanies the term. The accusation of racism won’t proceed,” he argued in a note.
Internet users backed the singer’s decision to go to court against the host. Since the episode made national repercussions, fans and people in solidarity with Ludmilla uploaded the tag #ProcessaLudmilla (sue Ludmilla), which is among the most talked about in Brazil.
Note from BW of Brazil: OK, so how do you feel about the TV host’s excuse? According to him, in the Federal District, people toss around the term ‘macaco’ all the time referring to all sorts of people, and as such, it shouldn’t be deemed racist. Sorry, not buying it! Whether what he says is true or not, it’s no excuse. My reasoning is that words, terms and insults can take on different meanings depending on the intent, the situation, how the words are said and the people who say them. Over the years, I’ve heard women refer to each other as ‘bitches’, I’ve heard black people in the US refer to each other as ‘niggas’ and black Brazilians call each other ‘crioulo’. The difference here would be the social environment and the relationships between the people. Coming from one person, a seemingly derogatory term can actually be used in an affectionate manner or in a way that says that those involved are coming from the say background; a term of familiarity. Uttered by another person outside of the group can be taken as an insult.
A man may react differently if his girlfriend calls him ‘honey’ or ‘sugar’ than if a homosexual male referred to him with such a term. In Brazil, people often address each other with the term ‘querido’ (masculine) or ‘querida’ (feminine), which in English translates as ‘dear’. This works in Portuguese with no problem. But I once had to explain to a male friend in São Paulo that, generally, American men don’t refer to each other as ‘dear’, which is how he frequently addressed me when speaking in English. ‘Querido’ works in Portuguese but it doesn’t work when translated as ‘dear’ when one man speaks to another man.
In the case of the TV host and the funk singer, the same thing applies. It may indeed be true that in Tocantins people refer to each other as ‘macacos’, but a white man referring to another white man as a ‘macaco’ has no historically oppressive, prejudicial connotations. But a white man referring to a black person as a ‘macaco’ drastically changes the situation as it is a term that Europeans have used for centuries to propagate the idea that Africans were less than human beings. And still today, Brazilians LOVE to insult black Brazilians with this term.
The other ‘nail in the coffin’ for why I don’t accept his weak excuse is the fact that he also referenced the singer’s humble origins. He repeated the term “poor” several times, and generally, although poor whites clearly exist in Brazil, poverty is associated with the black population. And racism often goes hand in hand with class prejudice which tells me he was not using the term without a racist intention. He went even further to display his hatred for the poor by letting us know that he is now rich. As such, for me, he is guilty as charged. But, in Brazil, one never knows how this case may turn out; we’ve already seen an example of a TV host offering a black man bananas to make him stop questioning his antics and the judge of the case saw no problem with it. Ahhh, ‘coisas do Brasil’…