Note from BW of Brazil: One has to seriously wonder how Brazil was able to pass itself off as a ‘racial democracy’ for so many years. Especially as numerous books dating back to the 1950s have documented the types of incidents such as the one featured today. Although it would be ridiculous to argue that all Brazilians harbor such sentiments about its black citizens, you must really wonder, exactly how many people think this way? How many of many people harbor racist sentiments but carry themselves as ‘normal’ people in everyday life, that is until something provokes such sentiments to come out.
A few days ago we followed up on a controversial story in which a woman was caught on video hurling several detestable comments at black women who she defined as ‘mulatas’ on a Rio beach. Today, we find another white woman, this time in São Paulo, stating how she feels about black people at an unsuspecting woman on Avenida Paulista, one of the city’s most important streets.
Before getting into today’s story, I must first explain a term that was used that many of our readers may not be familiar with. Macumba was the name used for all non-Abrahamic religious practices in Brazil during the 19th century. In the 20th century, these practices re-aligned themselves into what are now called Umbanda and Quimbanda. The term “macumba” became common in Brazil and it is used by non-practitioners as a pejorative term meaning “witchcraft” (1). Macumba has some similarities with aspects of what people associate with voodoo, which is why the term was used in the headline. This latest incident also once again brings to the fore the Brazilian attitude toward religions associated with Afro-Brazilians.
“All blacks will be condemned for the Macumba they do.” Elderly woman insults and kicks black psychologist on Avenida Paulista
By Silvia Nascimento
Racists don’t have an age and a growing number of complaints of this type of crime are committed by the elderly. Yesterday, leaving work at around 9pm, the psychologist Maitê Lourenço (2) heard a lady looking in her direction uttering words in a preaching tone saying that the African-based religions will cause the condemnation of all blacks. Outraged, Maitê took out her phone and asked the criminal to repeat herself. “All blacks will be condemned for the Macumba they do, it’s written in the Bible,” (3) said the woman identified by witnesses as Silvia Aparecida Crescencio. She then approached the black psychologist with kicks that hit the Maitê’s purse bag as she was aided by a black friend who was also verbally abused by the criminal, being called a macaco (monkey) and ladrão (thief).
Even with the presence of the police, that strangely showed great kindness in dealing with the woman and disregard for the complaints of Maitê and witnesses, Silvia continued uttering racist phrases, calling the victims “useless” and even saying that he would rather be arrested than be black.
In spite of the elderly woman having shouted in the street and continuing the racist attacks even in front of police, for Maitê this attitude can’t be classified as a mental disorder. “In no mental disorder does the person subdue the other, not even the schizophrenic puts the other in the place of subjugated. She acted that way because she well understood her role as a mulher branca (white woman). She’s racist,” said the psychologist.
The criminal and the victims went to the 78th Police District in Jardim América where Maitê testified and made a police report. Silvia was detained at the police station. Details on the investigation of the case are being kept confidential until the psychologist chooses a lawyer.
- Taken from the Wikipedia page on Macumba
- Maitê Lourenço was featured in a previous post entitled “In Brazil, solitude has a color – Is there a solution to the continuing problem of the ‘single black female’?”. She is yet another of an influential group of black women psychologists who deal with the race issue.
- One thing that’s not addressed in this incident is the reason why this woman felt compelled to attack Lourenço and why she assumed she practiced Macumba. Was Lourenço wearing something that signaled that she is a follower of an Afro-Brazilian religion or did the woman just automatically assume Lourenço practiced a certain religion simply because she’s black?