At least eight black women denounce cases of racial discrimination in nightclub in Belo Horizonte

Swingers Lounge
Swingers Lounge nightclub in Belo Horizonte

Note from BW of Brazil: Another day, another racist incident. So what else is new? Nothing really, but the outcome of this incident reveals once again that black Brazilians are not only recognizing racist practices but are taking action and winning in the courtroom. As usual, the guilty party denied any wrong doing but the follow up story and a subsequent court judgement found otherwise. The case shows that Belo Horizonte, besides having one of the country’s biggest populations, largest economies and vibrant Soul music venue, is also a common location of racist incidents (as two recent accounts – here and here – also showed). 

At least 8 black women reveal cases of racial discrimination in nightclub in Belo Horizonte

by Luiza Muzzi

Just over a week after the incident involving soccer player Daniel Alves, who ate a banana thrown at him during a Barcelona game, the debate over racial prejudice surfaced again in social networks, this time in Belo Horizonte. Through Facebook, women created a group to divulge the discrimination they suffered at the entrance of the Swingers Lounge club in Santa Lúcia in the South Central region the Minas Gerais capital city Belo Horizonte. Outraged because they say they received different treatment due to the color of their skin, being barred at the entrance, with some even planning to initiate legal actions against the establishment. The club, in turn, denies any discriminatory attitude justifying giving priority to customers associated with the club.

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The story reported by O Tempo spoke with eight girls who claim to have gone through similar situations and for all of them, the feeling is of anger. The most recent case happened on Saturday, when the law student Rafaele Ariel do Nascimento Santos, 21, was with her cousin to celebrate the birthday of a friend at Swingers. Of the 20 guests included on the birthday list, only Rafaele and her cousin, both black, were barred by the promoters of the club despite having arrived early and waiting hours in line.

“It was 10:30 and they called me saying they had been removed from the line because of the crowd. But I was inside and the club was not crowded. They explained that the house only reserves one-third of placing for non- members, but I started to ask each person that entered if they were a member or not and no one was. It was sorry excuse,” said the birthday girl Bruna Loures, 19, an architecture student.

Rafaele, one of the creators of the group, said she was most disturbed by the humiliation. “What is most striking is that there people who entered in the same situation as we and we were barred,” she says. When spreading the story a surprise came: “Suddenly there were a bunch of people saying they went through the same thing there, and we found out that it is much more common than you think. Even a security guard from inside who has worked in nightclubs in several cities said it always happens, but that Swingers is the ‘most disgusting’ with human beings,” said Bruna.

Belo Horizonte (dot), Minas Gerais, in southeast Brazil
Belo Horizonte (dot), Minas Gerais, in southeast Brazil

The teacher Tamires Giordana Moreira, 26, intends to take legal action. “We think that we’re in a democratic country, but they’re only looking at appearances. I don’t know if it was racism, but it is quite a coincidence (that) blacks didn’t manage to get in,” she pointed out.

Other side

Swingers reported that it works with reserves of 70% of the capacity of the house for members and 30% for non-members and, in cases of closure of lists, such as birthdays, all rules are sent prior to the birthday guest, warning of the possibility of overcrowding.

“We work with a system that, acknowledging that 30% is occupied, and tell whoever is at the gate to inform the people in the line. It’s a way to keep our loyal customers,” explained the manager of the establishment, Michel Lucas Tomé de Oliveira. “But people today are self-discriminating. Just look at our website to see that many black people attend. This is further proof, I have nothing to hide.”

Racism: The crime of racism happens when the offense is not directed at a specific person, but when there is the impediment to the exercise of rights to a group because of their race, color, ethnicity or religion. Under Brazilian law, racism is an inalienable and non-bailable crime.

Racial injury/slur: Injury, in turn, happens when there is an offense to a particular person because of their race. Racism as well as injury/slur are crimes involving discrimination, a concept that relates to the exclusion, restriction or preference to activities due to the color of the person.

Cases: According to the State Department of Social Defense, 147 instances of prejudice based on race or color were recorded in Minas Gerais last year, with 24 in Belo Horizonte. 2014 data were not available at press time.

Victim wins case against Swingers in court for racism

by Luiza Muzzi

In cases of racial discrimination at the entrance to nightclubs, the procedure, according to police, is to record the occurrence at the time of the incident. “Making it impossible for a person to have access to a public or private area incurs a crime of racism. The practice in these cases (nightclub) will depend on the context, but it could be considered a crime,” explains the deputy Margarete de Freitas, chief of the Divisão de Atendimento à Mulher, Idoso e Pessoas com Deficiência (Division of Assistance to Women, Elderly and People with Disabilities) and supervisor of the Núcleo de Atendimento a Vítimas de Crimes Raciais e de Intolerância (Center for Assistance to Victims of Racial Crimes and Intolerance). “In such cases, the procedure is to call the Military Police of the location, to draw up the occurrence and forward it to the police station for investigation.”

However, if this is not done at the time of the incident, the victim can still appear at center to record the incident which would be forwarded to the police station.

Indemnification. For the technique in electrical tech Fernanda Soares, 30, things didn’t go unpunished. After being turned away at the entrance to Swingers Lounge in August 2012, Fernanda, a cousin and a friend were able to secure, in court, a compensation of R$1,500 each. “We recorded the occurrence, alleging prejudice, and, after more or less a year, we won the case,” she says.

In more recent cases, even though some people confirmed that they registered a report, the Civil Police reported that they could not confirm, without the details of each occurrence, if there is ongoing investigation.

Source: O Tempo 1, 2

About Marques Travae 3224 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

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