Black Women of Brazil

The site dedicated to Brazilian women of African descent

Re-election of President Rousseff brings widespread prejudice against northeastern voters and calls for secession; candidates didn’t address racism during campaigns


President Dilma Rousseff gives her victory speech after being re-elected on Sunday night

President Dilma Rousseff gives her victory speech after being re-elected on Sunday night

Note from BW of Brazil: The re-election of Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff once again brought to the fore questions of race, discrimination that has permeated throughout Brazilian society both in subtle and blatant manifestations. Even with Afro-Brazilians having made social gains in the past decade, inequalities, racial discrimination and insults continue to go unchecked and none of the major party candidates even tried to discuss the issue during their campaigns. This despite the fact that one of the candidates, Marina Silva, defines herself as black. 

While it is true that most Brazilians will speak of the pride of being Brazilian, there are also widespread beliefs in race and regionalism that reveal a divide in how Brazilians see each other. Although people will openly speak of class divisions, it continues to be more difficult to approach how people feel about race and what types of people live in certain regions of the country and what images come to mind when one thinks of these people and regions. One specific dividing aspect of the election was the image of northeasterners who are more likely to receive the government-provided Bolsa Família that supplements the income of poor families. The states that voted for Rousseff’s re-election are also the states which have larger percentages of the program’s beneficiaries. 

Generally, when one speaks of the northeastern region of Brazil, people immediately think of poverty, drought, non-white people and a general social backwardness. On the other hand, the three most southern states of the country are deemed the Brazilian Europe as its population, mostly descendants of Germans, Italians and other European immigrants between the late 19th century and the mid-20th century. This region of the country is also considered to be more developed and the population enjoys a higher standard of living. The population of these three states of the southern region is made up of 79.6% of people who consider themselves to be white. The northeast, on the other hand, has at least three states in which population is about 75% Afro-Brazilian; those states are Pará, Maranhão and Bahia. It is in this context that one must think when analyzing the following article. 

Race is not always openly spoken when prejudice against northeastern people comes up, but it is always an underlining feature of prejudice. When will delve further into this a little later in the article. 

Without analyzing the voting difference between blacks and whites, the 2014 campaign gave political coverage to racism

By Pliny Fraga

Elections wasted chance to address racism in Brazil. In campaigns and debates, candidates did not address the topic

Sum of voters who declared themselves blacks overcame the white parcel for the 1st time

President Dilma Rousseff at left. The president earned more votes from Afro-Brazilians than her opponet

President Dilma Rousseff at left. The president earned more votes from Afro-Brazilians than her opponent

There was a novelty in the election of 2014, which was lost in the middle of less important and more strident discussions. For the first time, the sum of voters who declared themselves negros/pretos/pardos exceeded by 15.7 million those voters who declared themselves brancos (white). They totaled 55% of the electorate. Also for the first time there were 6 million more women forming 52% of voters.

It was a chance to discuss and group positions in respect to public policy on race and gender. The press has missed this opportunity. Not by incompetence or naivety, but because of method.

IBOPE research on the eve of the election showed Rousseff (PT) with 55% of the vote among blacks and Aécio Neves (PSDB) with 37%. The PT had six points above the average of the total electorate. The tucano (PSDB candidate) had five points. Among whites, the variations are reversed. Aécio had 50%, seven points higher than his national average. Rousseff had 41%, eight points less.

Marina Silva (PSB) was the only of the 11 candidates for president who declared herself as black when registering her candidacy. It was not enough to highlight or open the racial issue in the election campaign. If it were to depend on the black electorate, it would have gone to the second round. The demographic which lost the most votes were lost among whites and men.

One of the greatest symbols of the fight against racial discrimination in Brazil, the activist Abdias do Nascimento would have turned 100 years old in 2014. Having passed away three years ago, Abdias had intelligence, talent, obstinacy in a rare high level. A painter, playwright, novelist, poet, founder of the Teatro Experimental do Negro (Black Experimental Theater) in 1944, deputy and senator. As a parliamentarian, he was one of the first to submit projects for  affirmative action for blacks, as he advocated for the establishment of a quota of 20% for black women and 20% for black men in the selection of candidates for public service. He was twice imprisoned during the dictatorship of the Estado Novo (New State) (1937-45) protesting against discrimination. After the coup of 1964, he went into exile in the United States for 13 years. In 1981, returning to Brazil, he was a founding member of the PDT party. He went to Congress twice, always as an alternate who would substitute in the absence of the mandate holder.

Abdias do Nascimento (1914-2011) in 1970

Abdias do Nascimento (1914-2011) in 1970

In a conversation shortly before his death, at the headquarters of the institute that he led, the Catete, I provoked him about the argument of those questioning the so-call racialization of political debate. Being that Brazil was miscigenado (racially mixed), it wouldn’t make sense to see a racial divide here. Sitting in his rocking chair, leaning on his cane, but lucid as ever, he replied: “This is the Brazilian stupidity, lack of character, Brazilian shamelessness. This comes from a long time ago. This discourse is to help Brazil to continue (being) racist; to continue having moral coverage for racism. They really want this.”

The moral coverage for racism is structured into points that seem mundane, but they project the immense shadow on the subject. The two main research institutes asked in all surveys the color with which voters declared themselves.

The racial approach is seen with repairs by media analysts and by a parcel of academics. The argument would be that social ills can be debated and addressed from cutting issues established from all income and education levels. But the strata of color declaration should not be neglected. Statistics show why. Those I’ve already cited here: a black worker in Brazil earns, on average, slightly more than half of the income earned by white workers. Of every ten maids in the country, six are black. Blacks have a life expectancy that whites had 15 years ago. The homicide rate among blacks is twice that among whites. Pretos and pardos (combined as the black population), after the Indians, are those with the highest infant mortality rate.

As Abdias Nascimento said, there is a moral cover for racism; just as there is a political cover, so efficient and silent, as was shown in this election.

Northeasterers suffer internet prejudice after Dilma Rousseff’s re-election

By Paulo Floro

"If I see a northeastern cangaceiro fdp (filho da puta/son of a bitch) here in São Paulo I'll kill him"

“If I see a northeastern cangaceiro fdp (filho da puta/son of a bitch) here in São Paulo I’ll kill him”

A barrage of biased comments against Brazilians from the country’s northeast took over the social networks – especially Twitter – on Sunday evening (26), upon confirmation of the re-election of the PT’s Dilma Rousseff to the presidency.

"If I find some northeasterner here in Minas Gerais I'll shoot him"

“If I find some northeasterner here in Minas Gerais I’ll shoot him”

Responses to provocations also came fast, some of them referring to the lack of water in São Paulo. “Northeastern people are also stupid as fuck, bolsa família increases but (SIC) inflation increases twice. Go study, you outlaw fdp (filhos da puta/sons of bitches)” fired one tweet. “The same people who complain about the Northeasterner is the same manure that complains when some gringo says that Brazil only has monkeys” posted a another. “Ridiculous you speaking of the northeastern people as if they were monsters that live on bolsa família,” shoots another. So far, the most used hashtags on Twitter are #EuvoteiAecio45 (I voted for Aécio), #RIPBrasil, #DilmaNovamente (Dilma again), Mais 4 (four more), all referring to the elections.

"These northeastern filhos da puta that really die in the drought, scrotum people, sucking on the tits of the government, all ignorant fdp" - author calls him/herself "Dilma Sapatão" meaning "Dilma Dike"

“These northeastern filhos da puta that really die in the drought, scrotum people, sucking on the tits of the government, all ignorant fdp” – author calls him/herself “Dilma Sapatão” meaning “Dilma Dike”

Dilma Rousseff was re-elected with 51.6% of the vote while Aécio Neves had 48.3%. In Pernambuco, Rousseff won with 70.20% (3,435,440 votes) against 29.80% of Aecio, who had 1,458,163 votes. Dilma Rousseff won the election in every state in the Northeast.

During the campaign, the defeated candidate Aécio Neves (PSDB), at a disadvantage in the region, came to ask the Federal Public Ministry (MPF) to investigate discrimination through social networks on the internet against Northeasterners. “Our society does not accept this discriminatory attempt of division of our citizens, because, above all, everyone, together, have common sense, that is proud to be Brazilian,” the PSDB candidate said in a statement.

How to report

In Brazil hate speech and discrimination with respect to origin is a crime. Libel (art. 138 of the Criminal Code), defamation (art. 139 of the Criminal Code) and Injury or slur (art. 140 of the Criminal Code) depend on the complaint made ​​by the victim him/herself. These crimes, even if committed on the Internet, must be reported by the victim at the police station nearest her residence or at a police station that specializes in cyber crimes. Already cases of Racism, Xenophobia, Incitement and inciting crimes against life can be made in the Central Nacional de Denúncias de Crimes Cibernéticos (National Center of Denouncement of Cybercrime). See what to do in these cases in this post. [For Anamaria Belarmino Miranda and Gustavo]

Note from BW of Brazil: President Rousseff’s victory, besides provoking an avalanche of prejudicial comments online, it is renewed long-time calls for the secession of the three most southern states of the country from the Republic. Not surprisingly, this sort of “us vs. them” mentality also intersects with the question of race with the region also having its own followers of “white power”, neo-Nazis and Skinheads, which has been featured here from time to time. Here is a little more background on the secessionist movement and white power groups found in the states as well as São Paulo. 

Taken from Tribos urbanas: produção artística e identidades by José Machado Pais

At the end of the 1980s, groups calling themselves os carecas (the skinheads) spread throughout various Brazilian cities while others preferred to use the term in English. At the end of the 1980s, some skinheads from São Paulo and the southern states of Parana, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul adopted the denomination  “White Power” and specifically in the case of São Paulo, “Poder Branco Paulista”, meaning ‘White Power of São Paulo’.

According to research by Alexandre de Almeida (2004), analyzing the constitution of the Poder Branco Paulista, the main rallying points of Poder Branco Paulista would be: the protection of “sangue branco” (white blood), secession of the states of São Paulo, Parana, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul from Brazil.

The skinheads of Poder Branco Paulista would denominate themselves as such, besides explicitly assuming the traditional neo-Nazi posture in search of racial purity, racism and hate of blacks and northeasterners. With the passing of time the movement would also postulate the separation of the south from the rest of Brazil.

The South is My Country movement

O Sul é o Meu País (The South is My Country) is a separatist movement in the southern region of Brazil, which aims for the self-determination of the peoples of the current states of Paraná, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul. It is organized by a legally established institution that aims to develop studies to assess the possibilities of political and administrative emancipation of these states.

Thus, the motion stipulates that “national unity grounded in respect for regional differences” would be created. Proponents argue that the states of Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina and Paraná possess their own distinct characteristics from the rest of the country, and thus demand the right to political, economic, social and cultural self-determination, based on the expectation of self-sufficiency in order to better direct the resources of the state to meet its regional peculiarities. Source

TSE numbers belie discourse about geopolitical division of Brazil

The southeast and northeast were very similar support in reelection of Dilma, contradicting the idea that attributes the PT victory to Northeastern voters. Radicals request for São Paulo to separate itself from the country

Courtesy of Rede Brasil Atual

Red states won by Rousseff, blue states won by Neves

Red states won by Rousseff, blue states won by Neves

Celebration of the victory of President Dilma in São Paulo, a land in which PSDB candidate Aécio Neves had a landslide victory. Division is not as simple as it seems

The social networking dawned today (27) with new racist statements of relection hangover among supporters of the PSDB candidate for president, Aécio Neves, defeated in the election by a margin of 3.45 million votes. Intolerance against Northeasterners – already criticized for preferring Dilma Rousseff in the first round – went beyond the discourse on “geopolitical division” of Brazil and came to calls of separatism. The numbers, however, tell a different story.

Disgruntled voters see Brazil as being split into two countries: "Old Brazil", represented by the red states that Rousseff won and the "New Brazil", represented by the blue states that Neves won

Disgruntled voters see Brazil as being split into two countries: “Old Brazil”, represented by the red states that Rousseff won and the “New Brazil”, represented by the blue states that Neves won

One of the main spokesmen of the recent secessionist wave is the alderman of the city of São Paulo, Colonel Telhada (PSDB), a former commander of the elite squad of Military Police, enthusiast of the dictatorship and newly elected state representative with 254,000 votes. “That Brazil swallows this crossed frog. I think the time for São Paulo to separate from the rest of the country has come,” he lamented on his Facebook page, posting a poster that summoned Paulistas to fight during the Constitutionalist Revolution of 1932 against then President Getúlio Vargas.

“Since Brazil has made its choice for PT, I understand that the South and Southeast (except Minas Gerais and Rio de Janeiro, who opted for PT) begin the process of independence from a country that prefers a handout than work, prefers disorder instead of the order, prefers voting through a bridle rather than freedom,” he complained, before questioning: “Why should we submit to this government chosen by the North and Northeast? They pay the price for that alone.”

"YAY!! Dilma won. For a minute I thought that I would need to work" - a reference to the government's bolsa família program

“YAY!! Dilma won. For a minute I thought that I would need to work” – a reference to the government’s bolsa família program

A simple conference of the polls, however, dispels the discourse of the Colonel. According to figures from the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE), Northeast and Southeast regions had very similar shares in the victory of the PT candidate. President Dilma Rousseff obtained a total of 54.5 million votes in the second round. The region so attacked by sectors of São Paulo elites contributed 20.2 million votes – 37% of the votes to the PT candidate. In the Southeast, 19.9 million people chose the President – representing 36.5% of the vote for Dilma.

Another reference to the bolsa família program. One line is to receive "YAY!! Dilma won. For a minute I thought that I would need to work" - a reference to the government's bolsa família program and the other is a job agency

Another reference to the bolsa família program. One line is to receive “YAY!! Dilma won. For a minute I thought that I would need to work” – a reference to the government’s bolsa família program and the other is a job agency

In turn, Aécio Neves had 25.4 million votes in the Southeast, almost 6 million ahead of Dilma Rousseff, showing that the region clearly prefers the tucano (PSDB candidate). The representative of the PSDB, however, managed only 7.9 million votes from the northeast – little more than a third of the vote obtained by the president in the region. It is clear, therefore, that the Northeast nourishes wide predilection for Dilma Rousseff. But it is not true that this preference is reflected as strongly to Aécio Neves in the Southeast.

Chart showing that nearly 24% of the Brazilian population are beneficiaries of the   government's bolsa família program. The top benefiting states are red states that Rousseff won

Chart showing that nearly 24% of the Brazilian population are beneficiaries of the government’s bolsa família program. The top benefiting states are red states that Rousseff won

There is a certain balance between the votes received by Dilma and Aécio in the North of the country. The Amazon states granted 4.4 million votes for the PT candidate to 3.3 million for the PSDB. The balance doesn’t tilt much to Aécio in the Midwest, where he received 4.3 million votes against 3.2 million for Dilma. In the South, the advantage of the tucano is slightly higher: 9.6 million versus 6.8 million. The numbers of TSE, allows us to say, if there is political division, it covers the whole country, leans significantly to the PSDB, the Southeast, and very favorably to the PT in the Northeast.

Source: Rede Brasil Atual, NE 10Yahoo Notícias, Pais, José Machado and Leila Maria da Silva Blass (editors). Tribos urbanas: produção artística e identidades. São Paulo, Annablume, 2004.

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