Note from BW of Brazil: In today’s piece, a recent article presented facts, data and personal experiences that confirm much of what we’ve maintained on this blog: the past decade or so has brought enormous positive changes in the lives of many Afro-Brazilians, but even so, the Brazilian way of not being able to confront, recognize or admit its prejudice continues to be a strong factor in the nation’s racial hierarchy. What this tells us is that, despite the legitimate gains made by the population that Brazil have always viewed as the undesirable element of society, attitudes continue to view these achievers as second-class citizens. In other words, even when black Brazilians begin to assume important, respectable and powerful positions in greater numbers, people continue to stereotype them into menial positions, which is viewed as their “place”.
Achievements yes, but racism persists
Blacks occupy new spaces have professional and personal gains…only that society does not reflect on its prejudice
By Silvânia Arriel
Beyoncé put black people on view at the Super Bowl. It ended up being a parody on Saturday Night Live, where whites are scandalized at realizing that she is indeed black, exposing the racial tension that there is there in the United States, and here, of a preta (black) and parda (brown) majority. Achievements in recent years, with the laws of quotas, which led to university seats of about 150,000 black students. They passed into other public courses in reparation of four centuries of slavery, exploitation, inequalities that persist and devalue, receive a little more than half of the wages of whites, inflate the numbers of violence, 2.5 times more likely to die from murder and no one complains and no one sees it. They become invisible: the bus driver that didn’t stop for social educator Pedro Henrique Afonso, accused of stealing his own car in the parking lot of a college in Belo Horizonte, as if he could not be entitled to one.
Calls to society for a debate so requested, in times of attacks on social networks, forgotten, throwing aside the so-called racial democracy, one in which we are all Brazilians and there is no distinction of race, already put in check in the 1950s, more than half a century ago. “As much as the local, state and federal governments have done in the recognition of the need for change, Brazilian society still acts in a refractory way. It has difficulty in assuming that it promotes racism and thus doesn’t establish its own cure,” says Dagoberto José Fonseca, supervisor of the Núcleo Negro da Unesp (São Paulo State University) para Pesquisa e Extensão (Nupe or Black Nucleus of Unesp for Research and Extension) and professor at the Department of Arts of the Universidade Estadual Paulista Araraquara (Paulista Araraquara State University). Not seeing one’s self as prejudiced, not seeing what happens in the day to day, the violence. “It eliminates the negra and parda (brown/mixed) population without establishing this profile. Those who die are Brazilians without color. This discourse is false because otherwise there would be no other social segments, which is not true.”
Going to the labor market, with boa aparência (good appearance), in which blacks are manual (labor), doesn’t develop intellectual activity. “It establishes the reading that he should earn less because he is an animal and maintains himself with little,” said Dagoberto José Fonseca. Overshadowing the achievements, always relativized with prejudice in the society that does not assume itself as such. “We are excluded from all that is good. Wealth is white, poverty is black. You can go to a penitentiary, the majority there is black. In the Câmara (Congress) of Belo Horizonte, there are 2 councilors, in the Assembly there are none,” argues the advertiser and journalist Etiene Martins. She sees a long road ahead to putting blacks in equality with the rights of whites, removing the color synonymous with violence, poverty, manual labor…
“We can never give up, we don’t have that right,” says Etiene. Demanding quality education in the public schools, where blacks are the majority, in order to reach the universities prepared, she defends the quotas now when there is still no further improvement in elementary school. “Go to medical school at UFMG (Federal University of Minas Gerais), there are no blacks.” There are almost none, confirms the sociologist Inês Teixeira, a professor at the Department of Education of UFMG. She adds dentistry and architecture: “It is an insignificant presence of students and professors. But, if it were at the socially less valued courses, there it’s impressive.” She sees the need to give support, taking away intolerance within universities. “There’s a discourse that they don’t realize, but this is prejudiced. Blacks never come, if they come and we receive them with that thought, they are already condemned.”
Gains and prejudice
What blacks and browns, 53% of the Brazilian population, have achieved in recent years
Racism is a non-bailable crime in the Constitution of 1988
2.5 times more chance of a black youth being killed than a white youth
Quotas law went into force in 2012
Around 150,000 students in public universities
Law 12.990 of 2014 reserves 20% of vacancies in federal public competitions for blacks and browns. The law also exists in state and municipal governments
59.2% of the income of whites is what blacks earned on average last year. In 2003, it was 48.4%
Source: IBGE, Brazilian Forum of Public Security, Ministry of Education
Broadening the view, she believes it is necessary to extend the quotas to post-grad, taking this representative segment socially valued courses. “But we’ve come a long way, quotas are the fairest thing because unequal works makes unequal,” said Inês Teixeira. Putting this in evidence in the country, there was an advance with the approval of the project of racism as a non-bailable crime in the late 1980s. “It was a very significant moment to understand the movement of the black part in the social chessboard. In the newspapers, it comes out in the police pages (viewed as marginals), culture (pictured only as a sambista – samba musician) and sports to politics, economics, international,” recalls Professor Ricardo Alexino Ferreira, of the Núcleo de Estudos Interdisciplinares sobre o Negro Brasileiro (Nucleus of Interdisciplinary Studies on the Black Brazilian) at USP (University of São Paulo).
There was the ascension of the black intelligentsia; there is debate on the issue of diversity. “When you talk about change, they exist, but still at a slow pace. To deny them is not a good alternative,” says Ricardo Alexino, the first black person to defend a master’s degree at the School of Communications and Arts (ECA) at USP and the second Ph.D. He was also a pioneer as a professor in the communications department and one of the few that is part of the teaching universe of the University of São Paulo. He thinks there could be more, much more in this country, with the second largest black population in the world, after Nigeria. “All these spaces should have already been occupied by Afro-Brazilians.”
The place that is rightfully theirs in society is more in sight. The businesswoman Carol Caetano left the runway to be creative director of Minas Gerais (state) designer Cajo. “In the fashion world I never suffered prejudice for being black, my features even helped me, having a differential,” she says. She was raised in a way that she would consider herself equal to others and in this way she was in an environment with few blacks in the private schools where she studied. She felt discomfort when she opened Cajo and had to deal with suppliers. “They came and asked if I worked there, if I was the model. I do not know if it was because of being black or very young.” She skirted the situation, came out well, knows that there is prejudice, even from black themselves, and remembers Barack Obama as President of the United States.
She sees difficulties. The journalist Bruna Luiza da Costa Rocha, who has a college degree, but hasn’t found a job in the area. She works as an administrative assistant, where she was before going to college. “Only quotas don’t help.” She believes that society has to stop being intolerant, seeing blacks as inferior. “We go into chic shops and no one helps us. I get embarrassed, they think I’m going to steal.” Going elsewhere, continuing the struggle, won by advertiser Patrícia Esther Mendonça Soares, one of the first to occupy a chair at UFMG (Federal University of Minas Gerais) with a bonus in 2009, today employed in her area. She was also the pioneer of her family entering public college.
“We were 3 in the class of 50 students. They asked at which school I studied and where I lived: public school and in Contagem (Minas Gerais). Today the course has become popular, there are more with curly hair,” says Patrícia. She didn’t suffer prejudice in college, feels proud to have been able to graduate and work. She remembers intolerance in a nightclub, where she was barred in Belo Horizonte (capital of Minas Gerais). But this passed, now going to the middle of this multitude, where one finds educator Pedro Henrique Afonso, who drivers don’t stop for, accused of stealing his own car, who sees camouflaged racism, heated discussion on social networks. “They help the debate and at the same time, make the racist culture appear,” he says.
He sees education as the only tool to lead the society to see how prejudiced it is, to form citizens who perceive diversity on a daily basis. “People, drivers, even blacks are educated to be racist,” says Pedro Afonso. He comes from the position that it’s necessary to respect the next person, accept different hair, remove the image that blacks can only be store security, production assistant…Paths that he ran into until he came to be what he is, an administration for the third sector. “I am black and I am qualified in a job that, historically, was that of whites.” He still sees a lot of battle ahead for the transformation of society… “But it is irreversible. After some groups won rights they fought for more,” recalls sociologist Inês Teixeira. They will be much more visible, like everyone else, as it should be.
Source: Revista Viver Brasil