Note from BW of Brazil: For years my position of the situation of Brazil’s racism that ‘doesn’t exist’ or that is a ‘lighter’ version than that in the US is that Brazil is every bit as a racist as the US. The difference is that the ‘racial democracy‘ myth that has been divulged for so long makes people just slightly more hesitant to proclaim themselves open racists. The ideas of white superiority and that black people deserving to always be maintained in a lower social position are strong sentiments as the numerous articles on racism posted on this blog will attest.
When you take a close look at the situation, all of the excuses for why Brazil isn’t racist just simply melt away. ‘We never had a KKK type group in Brazil’, many will say. Well, in fact, Military Police, both on and off duty, and the death squads often consisting of these police kill far more black people than the KKK ever did. In fact, when we look at the existence and rise of neo-Nazi groups all over the country, and even a few KKK-influenced groups (see here and here), you have to wonder how anyone can realistically believe isn’t hostile toward its black population. The sheer numbers of black males being murdered year after year has long been labeled black genocide.
‘We are all mixed here and in the US, you don’t mix, even my grandmother was black, so how can we be racist?’ As I’ve pointed out numerous times before, in many ways, Brazil’s high rates on interracial unions are precisely proof of the country’s differing style of racism. Whereas in the US, segregation always sought to avoid intermingling with ‘tainted’ black blood, in Brazil, miscegenation was preached in order that after a few generations, whole families would disappear in a pool of whiteness. And in terms of claiming a black grandmother, sure, a mixed Brazilian will acknowledge this a bit, as long as no one classifies him as black.
With the rise to the presidency of the extreme right president Jair Bolsonaro, it seems that people who harbor racist sentiments and all sorts of hatred-driven ideologies have become more brazen and proudly showing it. I can’t even say that Brazilians have taken off the gloves but rather they’ve taken off the other glove, because blatant racism has existed as long as Brazil itself.
It may be too early to say, but one has to at least consider that the assailant that recently attacked a black university professor may be a follower of Bolsonaro’s violent rhetoric. What do you think?
‘People have lost the shame of being racist,’ says assaulted black professor
by Arthur Stabile
On the November 20th Black Consciousness Day, Juarez Xavier, 60, was called a monkey and struck twice with a utility knife by a stranger
University professor Juarez Xavier, 60 years old, has been teaching journalism at Unesp (Universidade Estadual Paulista) since 2011. Beloved by students and colleagues at the university, Juarez is keen on the militancy of the anti-racist struggle, so much so that he coordinates the university’s Núcleo Negro (Black Nucleus). On Wednesday (20/11), on Black Consciousness Day, the professor fell victim to racism and aggression by a stranger
Juarez was called a “macaco”, meaning ‘monkey’ on the street. Being struck with two utility knife blows, he needed five stitches for both wounds (three in the back and two in the shoulder). More than physical injuries, the professor says that the case highlights the “intolerance taken from the caves”.
“It is an absurd act stimulated by past elections. People have lost the shame of being racist and prejudiced,” says Juarez to Jornalismo Ponte.
Check out the full interview below
Ponte – When did the offense and aggression happen?
Juarez Xavier – I was coming back from the doctor, I went to make an appointment. I was walking home in Bauru and this man was pointing something at me, like a car key or gate control. I was waiting for him to pass me, he was being very offensive, I was looking at him. Then he crossed the street, raised his hands and called me a macaco. My reaction was to take satisfaction in knowing why he had called me that. By then he had already turned with the knife in his hand. He came to assault me, I tried to contain it, I threw it to the ground and held his hands, only then did I see that I had been struck in the left shoulder and the right side of the back. I couldn’t see it at the time. People arrived, he was restrained, arrested, and I went to the UPA to do all the treatment and then register the police report.
Ponte – How serious are the injuries?
Juarez Xavier – A surprise he didn’t strike me in that way, they weren’t deep, two centimeters. He got the arm muscle and upper back near areas of vulnerability. A palm up and it was around my neck. It would be something more serious. The doctors classified the lesions as medium in size. The treatment is tranquil, yesterday [Wednesday] I got stitches, three in the back and two in the arm, I’m taking medicine and applied tetanus vaccines and others. It’s a basic procedure done with white gunshot wounds. I went through everything, people were super attentive. I’m not having pain, but when the adrenaline went down I had discomfort.
Ponte – Is it more impactful that the aggression happened on Black Consciousness Day?
Juarez Xavier – It was serious and on the date… It was more emblematic for that. I had a surprise. When he cursed me, I thought it was a banal provocation on Black Conciousness Day. I had posted an international slogan on social media that says, “Monkey is monkey, banana is banana, and racism is a crime.” It wasn’t a person I knew or anything. There was a series of reports saying calling blacks monkey is offensive, which may have spurred him to do what he did. It was an act of overt provocation in broad daylight. He knew the nature of the day, knew how offensive it could be. It caught attention as it happened and I acted as any anti-racist militant would act: I went to get satisfaction. I didn’t think he could be armed. I didn’t want to be on my back, it could be worse. I remembered what happened to Mestre Môa [killed by a voter of Jair Bolsonaro in Bahia]. I tried to contain it, thought I had been successful, but felt absolutely nothing. And when I went to have a drink of water, I saw that I was bleeding. It is a situation of great tinning, but understanding the nature of Brazil’s racism, this structural thing, it has affected blacks all over the country.
Ponte – What happened to your attacker?
Juarez Xavier – He had custody hearing. I was informed that the guy paid bail and left. It is extremely serious for him to be free and we will maintain the argument that it was an attempted murder linked to the crime of racism, which is an unenforceable crime. He has responded for bodily injury and racial injury, paid a minimum wage and is back on the streets.
Ponte – Do you consider that the hate speech and attacks that dominated the electoral period and then continued encouraging this kind of attitude?
Juarez Xavier – I have no doubt! It’s been a worldwide phenomenon since 2008: Germany has had it with a Nazi fascist party, it happened in Italy and it was so in Brazil. The treatment given by the press was bad at capturing this far right as it did. It encouraged people to lose the shame of being racist and prejudiced. There is an article in the Folha de São Paulo by Federal Deputy Hélio Lopes (PSL-SP), denying racism in Brazil. This only shows how it is necessary to confront the racial issue. The elections stimulated this group, gave arguments and created the courage to come out of the caves. It’s an intolerance taken from the caves. It is an absurd act and undoubtedly stimulated since the presidential elections. It is fundamental for the defense of the democratic rule of law to guarantee the rights of the black population. The fight against racism is important with public policies that also ensure the fight against machismo, maintaining all the achievements of blacks, women, LGBT +, etc. We need to maintain and reach more achievements.
With information courtesy of Ponte Jornalismo