Note from BW of Brazil: You see, this is precisely the problem when there are multi-racial school systems under a system of white supremacy. Brazil has always prided itself on a being a country that isn’t racially segregated by law as with what happened in other multi-racial societies. The problem with this is that, as the country is structured in a racial hierarchy in which those with more European features are overvalued while those with more African features are depreciated, the former group will always see itself as superior and express an air of superiority in ways that can be devastating for those outside of their group. This is particularly true for black children.
On this blog, we throughout the year, we often present stories that expose everyday occurrences of racism in Brazilian society and, as November is celebrated as the Month of Black Consciousness, we pose the question: What use is it to brag of never having had racial segregation (by law) when the structure of the society supports racial discrimination/ hierarchy and does little to alter the situation? In a sense, the situation is even worse because when those who grow up being taught that “we are all equal” come face to face with racism, they are often unprepared to deal with this cruel reality. Hopefully their families will be able to help the girls in today’s story cope with Brazil’s ‘dirty little secret’.
“She scrubbed herself in the bath,” says mother of 4-year old girl who was a victim of racism
Senior assistant Gabriela Gaabe is the mother of Lorena, a five-year old girl. Before completing four years the child suffered racism for the first time. On that day, the mother came home from work, her daughter looked at her and said he didn’t want to be black.
By Giorgia Cavicchioli, R7
The mother was surprised and tried to understand what had happened that day. The answer was that the racist act had taken place within the school and came from other children who were studying with the girl. When Gabriela asked Lorena what they had said to her, the following account came: “They say my color is of dirty people and my hair is an animal nest.”
Gabriela talked with her daughter and called the school. When she spoke with the director of the institution, the answer she received from him was that it “was not a school thing, he doubted that the children were saying that and that it could be coming from inside the home.”
“I said it didn’t. There is no prejudice in my house. I thought it was aggressive of him saying that prejudice came from inside my house.
Lorena’s mother says it was the child’s first contact with the problem of racism and that it was also the first time she had witnessed something of the type with her daughter.
“She scrubbed herself in the bathroom because she thought the color would come out.”(1)
To help her daughter overcome the trauma and make her strong and able to face other times like this, the mother began working with the girl’s self-esteem, seeking representation. She shows her daughter important black women, so that she can see herself represented in other successful people.
“Once she asked me why there were no black princess and black actresses in plays for children.
Gabriela always attended theater plays with her daughter. Even providing cultural moments for the child, she didn’t recognize the characters. Thinking about it, the mother decided, at age 28, to start studying performing arts.
“I got into the theater for my daughter and other children who need this visibility. I want to show her that there are black princesses and that she can be whatever she wants.”
Girl suffers racism in school in Acre and doesn’t want to go to class anymore, says aunt
Aunt says that school gave no attention to the case and treated it as ‘nonsense’. Director says that he deals with the case seriously and that students were heard.
By Irya Rodrigues
A girl, aged 10, lost the will to go to school after undergoing a supposed racist abuse made by classmates, in Rio Branco, the capital city of the state of Acre. According to the child’s aunt, Cristina Caetano, she had been called ‘filthy and dirty black’ several times, and the directors of the school treated the case as “nonsense.”
The event took place at the Escola Álvaro Ferreira da Rocha (school), in Rio Branco. The directors confirmed the case but denied that it wasn’t dealing with the case seriously.
According to the girl’s aunt, Cristina Caetano, after allegedly suffering the offense the child arrived at home very upset and crying.
The aunt said the girl was always cheerful and smiling, but that it has brought a change in behavior. “On Friday , she came home crying. Over the weekend, we had a schedule and she didn’t want to leave, and Monday  she didn’t want to go to class. She has been sad and unwilling to go to class,” says the aunt.
Aunt demands a positioning of the school
“I asked that something be done. I waited until this Friday (20) and nothing. My niece said she and her colleagues went to the directors to tell what had happened, but the director said it was all that was nonsense and that to be considered bullying the situation would have to have occurred again and again and not only once or twice,” she complains.
The girl would also said that this was not the first time that her two colleagues had made racist insults against her.
‘We orient them that children cannot mistreat colleagues’, says the director
Sought by G1 (news), the school principal, Raimundo Martins da Silva, denied having said that the issue was “nonsense”. He said that the children were heard and that those responsible will be called for a meeting next week.
“In conversation with children, Eduarda said she wasn’t called this every day. At no time do we treat the case as nonsense, on the contrary, we orient the children that they cannot mistreat colleagues,” says the director. (2)
Silva said that during the conversation with the students he came to question Eduarda about the reasons for the offenses. “Could it be that your colleague didn’t say that because you were playing and you interpreted it otherwise? She said she didn’t know. So I said I would call the parents so that this doesn’t happen again,” he says.
According to the director, the two students confirmed that they were kidding when they called Eduarda “black and filthy.” “She didn’t come to us before saying to her aunt what happened. If she had come to me, I would had immediately informed the parents,” he says.
About the girl’s behavior being different, the director says that at no time did the girl distance herself from colleagues who said those words to her. “They continue the same friendship. So I said I have to review the motives for the words,” he concludes.
- In research, we’ve come across this reaction of trying to “scrub the black off” by black children in numerous studies such as the book by Geni Guimarães or in this report about black foreigners in Brazil.
- The verdict on this situation is still out but as we’ve seen in past posts, Brazilian schools are notorious for doing nothing when black children complain of racist treatment. See here, here and here for examples.