Note from BW of Brazil: Below we present a short update on the situation involving the racist hostility directed at actress Taís Araújo last week in a phenomenon that represents just another blatant example of the racist elements that have existed in Brazil since its three original races came in contact with each other.
After actress’s testimony, 30 people will have confidentiality broken for offenses against Taís Araújo
Actress who was the target of racist comments testified on Wednesday
Courtesy of Jornal do Brasil
After the testimony of actress Taís Araújo, on Wednesday (4), at the Delegacia de Repressão aos Crimes de Informática (Bureau of Suppression of Computer Crime), the Civil Police of Rio decided to break the confidentiality of about 30 social networking user profiles suspected of having directed racist comments at an image published by the actress.
According to the researchers, the profiles belong to people residing in the cities of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. The director of the General Department of Specialized Police, Renato Oliveira, ordered the investigation of the case after learning of the comments.
“The crime is of injúria racial (racial injury/slur) made by proxy, and an increase of penalty for being posted on the internet. She came here to warrant the initiation of investigations,” said the police chief Alessandro Thiers, DRCI chief.
The penalty for committing the crime of racial injury over the Internet can reach come to up to four years of imprisonment. If there is evidence of a conspiracy, the punishment of those involved can come to eight years.
Note from BW of Brazil: The case involving Taís Araújo also brings to light another facet of everyday racism that Brazil must deal with if it is serious about tackling this social ill. As we have documented in numerous posts, macaco and macaca, the masculine and feminine versions of the Portuguese term for monkey, are the preferred terms that Brazilians use to insult and dehumanize Brazilians of visible African ancestry. In past comments, many have asked the question as to why we focus on these everyday racist attacks rather than focusing on more positive subjects. Well, the text below provides an excellent example of why we continue this work. Brazil is not a ‘racial democracy’ as it has long proclaimed itself to be.
Everyday people who don’t have the fame or money of an actress like Taís Araújo or journalist Maria Júlia Coutinho (known as Maju) who was the target of a similar attack several months. Because of their fame, Globo TV (with whom both have built their careers), other famous people as well as everyday people mobilized themselves in support of these black women even if only in useless faux campaigns such as “we are all Taís/Maju” campaigns that are so typical when such incidents happen.
Some of these very same people will say or do nothing when everyday people or even friends are victims of such racist expressions, a behavior of which in some ways can be compared to Brazil’s famous “para inglês ver”, meaning “for the English to see” mentality. The phrase refers to a treaty signed in 1826 between England and Brazil banning the trade of slaves in Brazil. It was all for show because the practice continued for another six decades (1). In other words, when they’re not looking, things continue the same. In the context of the famous, the message would be: “we stand up and speak out, because these people are too famous for us to look like we don’t care.” But when it happens to everyday black people, we: 1) pretend racism is all in their mind, 2) deny its very existence, 3) adapt the attitude of ‘that’s THEIR problem, not mine’.
By Pedro Araújo
Taís Araújo is called macaca (monkey) on her Facebook page and the topic spreads on social networks. The police involve itself and soon we will have the racist behind bars with all praise and applause from the public. Then I ask: if Taís were not Taís, would it have happened the same way? How many blacks are called macaca and nothing happens? Many, my friends, many. But it takes a Globo TV actress to suffer the crime so that it is investigated, because otherwise, it’s one monkey in the crowd. We live in a backward country, the country of “carteirada” (2) where the child of someone or a last name of “respect” circumvents any suit and passes to the front. Let’s illustrate: If a black woman that serves coffee in the dressing room was called macaca by a Globo actor, would it have the same impact? Probably not. Here, the black and poor have no turn and no voice. Blacks in the university? They’re there by quotas. Blacks in the club? They’re security. A black person running in the street? A thief escaping. The taxi doesn’t stop, but the police truck comes along. And if the black rebels, they say they are playing the victim. Tremendous stupidity. Many black women are called macaca every day, but only Maju earned a hashtag. Many women have their cabelos crespos (kinky/curly hair) called a sponge, but only Taís Araújo had the right to be heard. Many girls had their intimate photos published on the Internet, but only Carolina Dieckmann earned a law with her name on it (3). Many black boys are expelled from establishments, but it had to be a “chique” store in Oscar Freire to provoke repercussions. (4) And now I ask myself: I who am an anonymous black person, how am I? Something to reflect on. #curvasepoesia (website) #chegaderacismo (stop the racism) racismoécrime (racism is a crime)# # # racistasnãopassarão (racists will not pass by) brasiléumpaísnegro (Brazil is a black country) #negrosim (black yes/indeed) #soltaajuba (let your hair down) #somostodostaisaraujo (we are all Taís Araújo) #somostodosiguais (we are all equal) #somosumso (we are one)
- McMahon, Lucy. “‘Para Ingles ver’ (for the English to see): the other side of the World Cup”. University of Cambridge website. July 5, 2014. http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/discussion/para-ingles-ver-for-the-english-to-see-the-other-side-of-the-world-cup#sthash.a8czlMwL.dpuf
- The idea that some people in society have more value and are more important than others. A sort of “pass” that allows certain people to get out of difficult situations in reference to the long held Brazilian ideology of “do you know who you’re talking to?”
- Refers to Lei (law) 12.737/2012 created because of a scandal involving model Carolina Dieckmann. In 2012, the actress took her computer to a shop for repairs. Her personal photos were stolen and published on the internet. She consequently sued Google and other internet services for divulging the photos. Nicknamed the “Lei Carolina Dieckmann” (Carolina Dieckmann Law), the law went into effect in April of 2013. Courtesy of UOL Tecnologia
- It should also be noted that this case probably became known because the boy’s father was American.