The site dedicated to Brazilian women of African descent
Note from BW of Brazil: Sometimes it seems that it would be more difficult to simply make up these types of stories, and the absurdity of today’s feature definitely fits into that category. First, let’s take a look at the story and later in this post I’ll offer my comments…
Couple not able to register with daughter with African name and believes it’s due to racism
The couple failed to register her daughter with the name you chose
By Cíntia Cruz of Extra with additional information from R7
With just one week of life, little Makeda is already facing the first fight of her life: having a civil registry. The name Makeda Foluke means Grandiose that is at the care of God, but even so, the girl, who was born on the 16th in the Casa de Parto David Capistrano Filho (House of Labor David Capistrano Filho, in Realengo, in the West Zone of Rio, still can’t be placed on her birth certificate. All because the registration office of the 2nd district of São João de Meriti, in the Baixada Fluminense region, understood, according to the girl’s parents, that the name would cause embarrassment for the child in the future. Makeda’s family believed they were the victim of racism.
“It’s a form of racism that takes place in Brazil: the racism of subtleties. It should be very natural a man and a black woman adopting an African name, as the country is made up of three races. It is difficult to prove. Only those in this skin is knows,” lamented the child’s father, Cizinho Afreeka, 44.
Cizinho, which is a public servant and is depending on the registration to have a maternity leave, also said that he and his wife, the Physical Education teacher Jéssica Juliana, 27, thought about the issue of name pronunciation before choosing it:
“It’s not a name phonetically alien to Portuguese, we thought about it. There are African names that change the pronunciation and cause greater estrangement.”
Makeda was what the Ethiopians called the rainha de Sabá (Queen of Sheba). Foluke is a Yoruba name. The girl’s name was decided early in the pregnancy.
“We decided together quite in early in the pregnancy and we came to call her Makeda. Family and friends already speak naturally because we were inserting this. What’s the problem with naming her Makeda if they register so many European names,” asked Jéssica.
Cizinho came to speak to a civil registration official, Luiz Fernando, by telephone, but a petition was necessary so the name could be analyzed:
“He said he thought the name was beautiful. They already knew that the name was African. They searched the internet before giving a negative. I made a petition and took a statement from my wife authorizing, but it was denied. The notary suggested I put a name in Portuguese in front. But I will keep on until the end. Either it will be Makeda Foluke or she’ll be with no registration.
“The procedure is necessary with any name that can be used to leave the child in a vexatious situation or bullying. You have to filter. These procedures are normal, no one refused to do the registration,” said Luiz Fernando. “It is not the name, not the meaning. It’s pronunciation, diction. Racism is really in people’s minds,” he finalized.
According to the Internal Affairs Division of the Court of Rio, the registration office submitted to the judge in charge a procedure of doubt. The prosecutor’s office issued an opinion against the use of the name because they considered it likely to cause future problems for the child, suggesting that a pre-name be added to the other names such as Ana Maria Makeda, for example. If the judge does not authorize, it will be up to the party to appeal the decision in the procedure in the proper registry office that will forwarded to the Council of the Magistracy.
Parents want their daughter to be named Makeda
Also according to internal affairs, “when pronouncing the name in Portuguese it makes no sense at all, except for coming out wrong, which could provide possible future suffering for the person in social life.” The criterion used is “the analysis of the magistrate and the Ministério Público (public prosecutors) who act to protect the child. Law 6.015/73 gives that power to avoid registrations with names that may affect the social life.”
Read the response of internal affairs in full:
“The prosecutor’s office issued an opinion against the use of the name because they considered it likely to cause future problems for the child, suggesting a pre-name was added to the other names…such as Ana Maria Makeda or something like this.
If the judge does not authorize, it will be up to the party to appeal the decision in the procedure in the proper registry office that will be forward to the Council of the Magistracy.
When you pronounce the name in Portuguese it makes no sense at all, except for coming out wrong, which could provide possible future suffering for the person in social life.
The criterion is the analysis of the magistrate and prosecutors who act to protect the child. Law 6.015/ 73 gives this power to avoid registrations with names that may affect the social life. The criteria are the social and historical phonetics of Portuguese, verifying the sense that the name may have to be spoken or read, must meet in these criteria elements that can classify it as vexatious. Thus are considered vexatious historical names of bloodthirsty dictators or persecuted characters or execrated over time, the objectification of the name or the phonetic pronunciation, which seems to be the case, because it will not make any sense to those who do not know its origin and its translation, favoring acts as “bullying” or discrimination. Several cases where the lack of care of the registers and deeper analysis produced cases that later forced people to go to court to change the first names are notorious due to the embarrassment caused in childhood. One of the most famous was that of the daughters of Baby and Pepeu (1).
The request is being examined by the responsible judge, but it is an analysis at the administrative level that provides for its consideration on appeal to the Judicial Council through a specific procedure.”
Note from BW of Brazil: As I wrote in the intro, absurd! Is it racism or does the registration office have a point? It is true that we cannot define this case as absolute racism, but we also cannot dismiss the possibility. Why? Brazil has a long history of anti-Africanism. We’ve seen it in how it treats African immigrants. We’ve seen how at one time the government actually banned the entrance of more Africans into country after nearly four centuries of slavery and an official ideology of whitening the country through massive European immigration and the promotion of miscegenation. We’ve seen it in how remains of African slaves are dealt with. We’ve seen it in the way followers of African-origin religions are treated. Need we say more? There’s more…
Any Brazilian or anyone who has lived in Brazil for some time knows how common first, middle and last names are in the country. As the country literally has millions of Pedro Paulos, Marcos Antônios, Júlio Césars, Maria Aparecidas, Ana Maria and Ana Rosas, it’s shameful that a couple that sought to give their child a more original name is made to endure so much bureaucracy. As we’ve seen, anything that connects Brazil to its European heritage (in this case, names) is admired while anything re-connecting it to Africa is frowned upon. Although we cannot define this case as definitely racism, notice the attempt to steer the couple into naming the child Ana Maria with Makeda being pushed into third. If it isn’t anti-African bias, why not suggest another African name? Why suggest the couple simply introduce the ten millionth Brazilian Ana Maria?
Let us also remind you that there is at least one man in the country named after Germany’s National Socialist leader Adolph Hitler. YES! In a story featured here in February of 2014, a judge in the state of Minas Gerais named Hitler Eustásio Machado Oliveira presided over a case of racial discrimination. So apparently, having an African name is even worse than a “vexatious historical name of a blood thirsty dictator or persecuted character” as the registration center itself put it. Even with much of what people actually know about the German chancellor being minimal, Hitler Eustásio Machado Oliveira hasn’t felt the need to change his name, so why the need to force this couple to Europeanize their child’s name? Neither Makeda nor Foluke are even difficult to pronounce (as if that really matters)! Also note how the registrar tried to minimize the possibility of racism in this case with a typical comment such as “Racism is really in people’s minds”. Not that we need any more evidence, but Professor Kabegele Munanga was clearly right when he said that the “myth of racial democracy is part of the education of the Brazilian.”
Brazil Brazil…you really go out of your way to prove how much you dislike Africa!
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