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Note from BW of Brazil: And now for the story that has only gotten bigger since gymnast Arthur Nory Mariano took was awarded a bronze medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. This story has been featured on numerous Brazilian sites and blogs and has even been discussed on American sites due to a connection with American gymnastics sensation Simone Biles. This case speaks so much of the nature of how racism has always functioned and continues to express itself in Brazilian society: Racist joke, laughs, displeasure, weak apology.
But what’s even worse about the case is how institutionalized racism apparently continues to go unchecked with the perpetrators continuing to advance in their lives and careers while the person who was victimized is pushed backstage/off stage. What really infuriates me about this case is the fact that millions of people who have tuned into the 2016 Olympics may now be familiar with Arthur Nory Mariano since he claimed a bronze medal in men’s gymnastics, while the name of his black teammate, Ângelo Assumpção, is still mostly unknown. Mariano became another vision of pride for Brazil and was seen posing for photos with Biles, also black, who affectionately referred to him as her “Brazilian boyfriend”.
This blog still hasn’t been able to confirm why Assumpção didn’t make the men’s gymnastics team while Mariano went on to gain the fame and glory, but from the article below, we see that he is still not over the incident and judging from comments on social networks, neither are other black Brazilians.
Why Brazilian gymnast congratulated (Diego) Hypólito and ignored (Arthur) Nory
Target of racist jokes on the part of Arthur Nory, Ângelo Assumpção sent a message of congratulations to (other medal-winning gymnast) Diego – and only to him
Courtesy of Veja
The gymnast Angelo Assumpção, who sat out the final call for Rio-2016, was one of many Brazilians that celebrated in social networks the result of the solo final of the male artistic gymnastics that brought silver and bronze medals to the country. Assumpção, however, ignored Arthur Nory and only congratulated Diego Hypólito. “Today your dream is realized, a lot of sweat and struggle … Congratulations on winning this long awaited medal,” he wrote on Instagram, along with a photo in which he embraces Diego. An episode from 2015 helps explain why the gymnast did not name his colleague who took the bronze.
When Arthur Nory began to stand out in Rio 2016 – and became the darling of social networking – a case of racism involving the Brazilian gymnast resurfaced. In 2015, he and two other teammates, Fellipe Arakawa and Henrique Flores, released a video on Snapchat in which there were racist jokes about Assumpção, who is black. “Your phone broke. The screen when it works is white when it’s broke, what color is it? It’s black!”, they say in the video, looking at Assumpção. “The grocery bag is what color? White. And the trash (bag)? It’s black,” they continued.
The episode earned a 30-day suspension for the athletes involved – the case ended up being arquived at the Tribunal de Justiça Desportiva (Court of Sports Justice), and Assumpção didn’t file a complaint in the civil courts. Days later, the three gymnasts released a new – and short – video next to Assumpção in “sincerely apologizing” and saying “it was all a joke.”
Despite claiming in writing that he accepted the apology, Assumpção later revealed that the Brazilian Gymnastics Federation “gagged” the gymnasts. “They didn’t want me to talk,” he told O Globo newspaper in July 2016, one year after the event.
In the interview, Assumpção made it clear that the episode still bothered him. “The relationship with the athletes is still strained. Mainly, with the one who caused all this, which was Arthur Nory. He was my friend for over 10 years, I always knew that he couldn’t have exposed me in that way. The video he made was the last straw. Afterward, he still thought everything was normal. I didn’t accept his apology completely.” (1) Selective congratulations on Instagram show that the pain continues.
Asked directly about Nory’s bronze medal, Assumpção told the website UOL that he cheered for his colleague, but added: “I admire those who won a podium at the Olympics, but I like even more those who can also shine outside of the competitions.”
Singer Tati Quebra Barraco remembers the episode of racism after Arthur Nory’s bronze medal: “I don’t congratulate him, he doesn’t deserve it.”
Courtesy of Extra
Funk singer Tati Quebra Barraco hasn’t not forgotten the episode in which Arthur Nory made racist statements about another gymnast in a video, and recalled the case in commenting on the bronze and silver medals won by him and Diego Hypólito respectively on Sunday. On Twitter, the singer said Nory doesn’t deserve to be congratulated.
“Congratulations to @DiegoHypolito and the other one called Nory, rethink a lot about the racist jokes that you made. I don’t congratulate you, you don’t deserve it,” she wrote.
With the negative repercussions, he (Nory) even published another video saying it was a joke, but the episode was also not forgotten by businesses. After the bronze medal, he commented that the episode made sponsors distance themselves. “Everyone makes mistakes. I committed it but I really regretted it. I suffered a lot and I regret it to this day, because I’m don’t have sponsorship, nothing. It was a fatality, forgiveness of my friend I already have. Even without sponsor, I came to give my best. I came to do what I dreamed of my entire life, with what I love. Now, it’s to celebrate with the people who are at my side, and believed in me from the beginning,” he said.
Note from BW of Brazil: Nory Mariano’s comments speak to the true nature of what he sees as really important in this matter. Notice he said that he regrets it to this day because he didn’t have a sponsor. As his career continued and went on to win on the Olympic stage, everything turned out well for him. So had his sponsors not backed off and he not received a minor 30-day suspension, would this mean that he wouldn’t have regretted anything? Why would he? Again, the way this incident was handled demonstrates Brazil’s unwillingness to deal with the plague of racism in a serious manner. Is it not obvious? To me, it seems that authorities simply consented to giving Nory a “slap on the wrist” and a promise to push this issue under the rug.
Why racism in in the form of a joke is not just a joke
By André Cabette Fábio
Some people refused to celebrate the bronze medal gymnast at the Olympics because of an episode of a year ago. Researchers analyze how such situations are no longer ignored and have became a target of strong reactions in Brazil
In an unprecedented achievement for Brazilian artistic gymnastics, Diego Hypólito and Arthur Nory obtained the silver and bronze medals, respectively, in the final of the male solo on Sunday (14).
The good news, however, brought to light a case that occurred about a year ago, which led many to not celebrate the presence of two athletes on the podium.
Hebert @heberthss: Arthur Nory is doing very well, he’s cute, but we won’t forget your racism. #GinasticaArtistica
In a video posted in 2015 in social networks, Nory, 22, and colleagues Fellipe Arakawa and Henrique Flores tries to make jokes with fellow teammate Ângelo Assumpção, 19.
The trio associates the athlete’s color, which is black, to bad things. They say, for example, the grocery bag is white and the garbage bag is black. In the images, Assumpção is clearly disturbed.
After the event, the Brazilian Gymnastics Federation requested an investigation and suspended the gymnasts – which included the suspension of their support and other financial incentives – for 30 days.
Nory apologized along with colleagues in another video. “This is a team and everything is fine. We exaggerated and took it past the limits. Here everyone likes everyone. Please don’t misunderstand us,” he said.
The Sports Justice said it was unable to judge the case, which was eventually arquived. In common law, nothing was done because Assumpção issued no complaint, something essential for episodes of racial insults to be determined.
Racist jokes are not new among Brazilians. But the strong reaction to them is. And it happened both at the time of the episode as much as now, with Nory winning the bronze medal.
Nexo (website) talked to the researchers Marcia Regina de Lima, sociology professor at the University of São Paulo, Juliana Serzedello Crespim Lopes, a professor of history at the Federal Institute of São Paulo, and Suelem Lima, a former member of the nucleus of ethnic-racial education of the City of São Paulo, about the subject from three central points.
1) Why this kind of joke is unacceptable, even among friends
“It was in a moment of a joke and you got it wrong,” (2) said gymnast Felipe Arakawa at the time, in one of the justifications for the episode involving his black colleague.
Marcia Regina de Lima Silva, professor of the sociology department at the University of São Paulo, says that it’s not so simple. For her, the argument of the “joke” serves to express racism, without having to suffer, at least immediately, the cost of being racist. “It’s a joke, but with racist markers. How many jokes do you hear about heterosexuality or branquitude (whiteness) do you know?”, she asks.
Juliana Serzedello Crespim Lopes, a professor of history at the Federal Institute of São Paulo, is of the opinion that a racist manifestation is never a joke. “They said that the person’s skin color is like a bag of garbage, that is, inside it has only debris. This is aggressive. When coming from of the physical characteristics of a person to reduce or disqualify him, it ceases to be a joke, and my freedom of expression is limited when it comes to aggression. I’m sure that Ângelo was not amused.”
In an interview after the victory and the return of the controversy over the comment from 2015, the Nory’s coach, Cristiano Albino, told “Globo Esporte”, of TV Globo: “If it were like this, I must go to court because they called me narigudo (big-nosed) in school.”
Juliana Serzedello points out the difference: “I’m not minimizing the aggression of a joke because of the size of his nose. But a huge portion of humanity has been enslaved for centuries because of its physical characteristic of being black. And today, the data of the IBGE [Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics] on housing, education, health or income, show the população negra (black population) below average. Sorry, but there is no racial ban for whoever has a big nose.”
“It is very important to emphasize that Nory is a public person. He has the duty to form an opinion of quality and can’t show a video demeaning someone because of their their race,” says Maria Regina Lima.
2) Why many people still find this sort of joke as something inoffensive
In a survey conducted in Brazil in 1988 and cited by anthropologist Lilia Schwarcz in her book Nem preto, nem branco, muito pelo contrário (Neither black nor white, quite the contrary), 97% of respondents said they were not racist. And 98% of them stated that they know someone who is racist. That is, it still doesn’t add up.
The anthropologist and columnist for Nexo is the author of a famous phrase: “Every Brazilian feels like an island of racial democracy, surrounded by racists everywhere.”
Suelem Lima Benício, professor of public school syste and former member of the nucleus of ethnic-racial education of the City of São Paulo, quotes a famous phrase by sociologist Florestan Fernandes that, in his opinion, summing up the Brazilian’s relationship to the problem of racism. “Brazilians are prejudiced of having prejudice,” he said.
For her, the national identity is formed around an idea of receptivity and harmony among the races that is extremely difficult to be broken. “The very opening of the Olympics reinforced the idea of a mestiço (mixed race) and harmonious country, united. But we are one of the countries that kills more blacks in the world,” she says.
For Juliana Serzedello, Brazilian racism is characterized by the fact that it doesn’t manifest itself directly. “The prospect of humor is a way for people not admitting racism. Nory himself must not think of himself as racist, but he finds it normal to call his friend a garbage bag. It’s a paradox,” she says.
Suelem Lima says it is important to hold Nory accountable for his position, since he is a public figure. But one should keep in mind that his attitude is the result of a repertoire that is present in Brazilian society as a whole. “One should make him responsible personally, but not penalize him, as something lost and unique in Brazilian society,” she says
She points out that black victims of racism themselves have difficulty countering this narrative, and often adhere to the discourse that “it’s just a joke.”
After the 2015 case and again during the Olympics, Ângelo Assumpção downplayed the offenses in a video together with colleagues, in which he said: “there’s no problem, we’re friends.”
But it was incisive in an interview with O Globo. “With Fellipe and Henrique, I was not so hurt. We met five years ago and I know it was an isolated case. But with Arthur I know it was not so. He always crossed the line, apologizing, but never showing a change of attitude. He always returned to tell the same jokes.” (1)
After Nory’s medal at the Olympics, Assumpção spoke in an interview with UOL of the necessity of his colleague “to set an example off of the platform,” but again stressed the friendship.
“I’m not hurt, really. We’re even very close. I cheered a lot for him. I’m very proud of Nory. Now I expect him to be a medalist also off of the platform. I admire whoever won a podium at the Olympics, but I like even more of those who can also shine outside of the competitions. We are athletes and we have to take advantage of the space that we have to give messages and set examples,” he said.
In Suelem Lima’s opinion, “people respond differently when they are victims of oppression. Some confront it, describe the questionable act, the violence, point out that someone changed sidewalks to avoid him because he is black. But it has a very big emotional and psychological cost. Being complicit is a different strategy to protect oneself. And in the case of the elite teams, they are always very close, very together. Imagine [Ângelo Assumpção] becoming the guy who kept pointing out his friend as racist.”
Marcia Regina de Lima points out the cost of countering this type of situation. “Those who suffer racism have a posture marked by a place of subordination. He is a young black athlete and is constructing a history. It would be very difficult for him to take a tougher stance against his network of relations,” she says (3).
3) What conditions made this kind of joke unacceptable?
In 2014, commenting on the cases of racism suffered by Santos goalkeeper Aranha, in a match of the Copa do Brasil (Brazil Cup), Pelé said: “If I were to stop the game every time they called me monkey or crioulo, there would be no game.”
Just as in society in general, racism has always been present in the sport, but it has been seen by more people as a problem to be confronted.
Juliana Serzedello believes that the Movimento Negro (black movement) managed to gain more visibility and adhesion in the democratic period that followed the 1988 Constitution – and what she considers interrupted by the ongoing impeachment process. “Chico Anísio and Os Trapalhões (4) cracked racist jokes, but we lived in a dictatorship,” she said.
Another determining factor for the visibility of the case of gymnasts was the internet. “The power of the reach and voice of those without access to large media changed with social networks,” says Juliana Serzedello.
“Previously, there was a presential sociability. Today people make their actions, their behavior and their thoughts more public at a time when blacks are demanding their place in Brazil. But it is important to remember that the Internet also has the potential to mobilize conservative ideas and exercise racism anonymously,” says Marcia Regina de Lima.