Note from BW of Brazil: Needless to say, the whole situation that this woman went through seems totally unnecessary. In the past decade or so, I’ve read numerous stories of completely unacceptable treatment of people in their 70s and 80s in airports. These types of stories make me wonder about the direction we’re heading in coming years in terms of fine lines between security, personal space, respect and violations of human rights. This is the story that I referenced a few weeks ago after introducing the woman at the center of today’s story in a previous post.
Barred at the airport, Brazil’s first black woman filmmaker says: ‘It happened because I’m not white’
By Pedro Willmersdorf
The first black woman filmmaker to direct a feature film in Brazil, Minas Gerais native Adélia Sampaio was barred from boarding her flight, in Porto Alegre (capital of Rio Grande do Sul), to Rio, where she lives, on Monday (November 21st) morning.
Adélia was the first black woman to direct a feature film
Adélia, who has metal prostheses in her spine and one knee, didn’t pass through the metal detector. She was taken to an enclosed room, and there, an employee at Salgado Filho Airport that should must remove her clothes and get on her knees.
Under the accusation of a vexatious frisk and racist behavior, the denouncement was made to producer Iliriana Rodrigues, of the collective Criadoras Negras RS (Black Creators of Rio Grande do Sul), who accompanied Adélia, 72, on her return to Rio, after an event held in the Rio Grande do Sul capital city at the end of week celebrating the Day of Black Consciousness on November 20th.
“Aconteceu porque eu não sou branca, né?” (It happened because I’m not white, right?) It’s cultural. When she asked me to remove my panties and open my legs, I was indignant and left the room,” says Adélia, who missed her flight and was reassigned to board a 6:00pm flight on Monday at no additional cost.
Subsequently, two agents of the Federal Police were called. Adélia and the employee were then referred to the PF (Federal Police) delegation at the airport. There, Adélia affirmed having undergone a new embarrassment.
“At the time of signing the paper, I noticed that in the box for color the police chief informed me that I was white. (1) And in that of profession, it was completely empty. I refused to sign. Later, the part on color was corrected, but the profession remained without anything written down,” says the filmmaker, who came to be questioned if she had attacked the employee, an accusation that she denies vehemently, as well as affirming not having defied anyone during the whole ordeal.
In addition to support of the producers of the Criadoras Negras RS collective, Adélia also appealed to her lawyer, who lives in Porto Alegre and went to the airport to assist her.
“It’s the first time I’ve faced this kind of situation at the airport, I’ve always traveled and used prosthetics for some time. But of course this is not the first time I have suffered prejudiced. I don’t know if I will take legal action, I confess. I just want to go back home for breakfast …” says Adélia, the director of the movie Amor maldito (1984).
Translation of above text
Criadores Negras RS – Monday: “URGENT!!! About the racism we face daily!! Adélia Sampaio is at the Salgado Filho airport, trying to board. She was barred by the Federal Police in addition to the discrimination she suffered and had her human rights violated. At this moment we are following the outcome with our lawyer Luana Pereira.”
By note, an Infraero denied the accusations and stated that Adélia underwent a standard procedure. The registration was made by the Civil Police Station at Salgado Filho Airport and there was no record of the occurrence by the Federal Police. See below:
“Regarding what happened at the Salgado Filho Airport, in Porto Alegre, this Monday, Infraero clarifies that there was no request by the Civil Aviation Protection Agency (Apac) and the team for a removal of the undergarments of the passenger Adélia Sampaio.
The procedures of followed by the team followed what is established in paragraph X of art. 3 of Resolution 207 of the National Civil Aviation Agency (ANAC) of November 22, 2011, which defines that passengers can’t be inspected by means of metal detection equipment. The parameters of personal search, in turn, are defined in paragraph 1 of art. 17 of the same Resolution, such as a search of a person’s body, their clothes and other accessories, carried out by police authority or by an agent of civil aviation protection, in this case, with the consent of the inspected.
The occurrence is being investigated by the Police Department, which is in the process of being registered by Apac through the Ocorrência Bulletin (B.O.) and for its supervision through the Daily Record of Occurrences (R.D.O.).”
- Intriguing how this story went down. Adélia clearly feels that the treatment she received was due to the fact that she’s not white, but then airport personnel listed her as white. How does one explain this? In my view, there are a few possibilities. One, maybe this didn’t happen due to racial discrimination, but because of international security policies in a post-9/11 world that violates the rights of everyday citizens. Two, racial classification is not always agreed upon by different people. If race did figure into this case, perhaps the person who first suspected her of something saw her as non-white while for another person, the one filling out the report, she appeared to be white.