Note from BW of Brazil: I’ve been saying this for some time. Even if you haven’t done a lot of research on the issue of race and racism in Brazil, if you’ve just been a follower of this blog anytime since 2011, you would have to ask, in terms of race, why does the white Brazilian think he/she is so different from white Americans? I mean, you take an honest look, you’ll see all of the elements of a white supremacist country. You’ve got racial insults. You have a belief system that says “black people should know/stay in their place“. You’ve got physical violence (see here, here or here). You have an obsession with the usage of blackface. You have an apparent system of genocide targeting young, black males. You have a society in which everything about whiteness is deemed superior. You even have a history and current allegiance to the most villainized figure of the 20th century. And that’s just scratching the surface!
Some of the reasons that people continue to cling to the idea that Brazil is not as racist as the United States are also quite weak once you analyze them. They’ll tell you that, Brazil never had any legalized segregation. Well, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. himself said that some of the worst racism he ever experienced came from the northern states of the US where segregation wasn’t sanctioned by law. Northern US states operated in a manner similar to Brazil. As long as black people “stayed in their place”, there was no need for legalized segregation and black people remain on the bottom of society. Brazil has a high rate of interracial marriage whereas these types of unions were once outlawed in many US states. Well, one, today, interracial unions and mixed children continue to grow in the US even with open declarations of racist sentiments and two, Brazil’s objective of promoting interracial unions was, in fact, the eventual disappearance of the black race. “I have black friends”, some people will tell us. OK, but how many of your black friends are politicians? How many attend your expensive private schools? How many times have you ever been treated by a black doctor?
Yes, all of the indicators that Brazil is every bit as racist as the US are all over the place. But because white Americans seem to be more bold with proudly declaring how they feel publicly, the US maintains the image of the racist country. The Brazilian may harbor the same beliefs about black people as Americans, but a decades-long mythology of racial harmony/democracy and public denial of the existence of racism may possibly play a role in why you don’t see such blatant, unified displays of white supremacy in Brazil. It doesn’t mean it’s not there. These voices surely speak out on the internet when insulting black Brazilians, showing a strong rejection of affirmative action policies or when they see black people where they don’t think they belong.
Yes indeed, in terms of race, Brazilians in many ways are equal to their neighbor to the north…Just don’t tell them that!
Charlottesville is here: why does the Brazilian think he is different from the American?
By Joice Berth
Brazil is a country of open exaltation of whiteness. Europe is loved and exalted as the immaculate cradle of civility, because it is white, Caucasian in the purest state, with people of color and traits reproduced all the time in the media and who set the standard of current social acceptability present.
We hate Brazil. Porque o Brasil é negro (because Brazil is black). The second largest contingent of black people outside the African continent. The little Africa of the primitive peoples and the crude and grotesque ways that we criticize so much here. We curb any and all vestiges of expressed Africanity, except those that are convenient or picturesque, those that corroborate with the exotism so vaunted as a characteristic inherent to black people.
- not originating in the country in which it occurs; that that is not native or indigenous; foreign.
- that which is weird, eccentric, extravagant.
We do not like to see black people except when they are in a chronic state of social suffering. We enter the places where brancura (whiteness) is the rule and we feel very good, never noticing the absence of pessoas negras (black people) in these spaces, except when it is to criticize the failures in politics.
Why does the Brazilian become shocked at American racism and not look at himself?
We use black people as a laboratory rat, “researching” favelas as if they were natural phenomena or caused by the very people who are socially confined there, “researching” genocide of the população negra (black population) and police violence between politicians and white thinkers, exempting themselves solemnly exempt of the guilt for 4 centuries of enslavement of black people, inherited from white ancestors and who are still against affirmative action of equalization from the exploitation employed as economic structuring of this country.
We don’t hear black people. We don’t read black people. We don’t even admit that a black-skinned human being can think and produce knowledge, both academic and empirical, that can be used as an intellectual guide and reflective contribution to diverse situations, both political and social.
We don’t want to know the culture that derives from the presence of the African peoples in our country and when we do, we are cynical in usurping, distorting and excluding the African cultural component that is the former of this culture.
We boldly stimulated, still in 2017, the continuity of the regimes of criminal and historical miscegenation, now embranquecendo (whitening) the black presence that helped to build the history of the country, erasing all the remnants of black production both in Africa and Brazil, and encouraging the objectification of corpos negros (black bodies) and the affective confinement of black women in the role of sexual subservience, by the fetish or concealment of human qualities in detriment of this practice which is also historical.
I could write a book about how racism works around here.
Another one, among so many that already exist in vain, for in no discussion circle made up of white people, is racial self-criticism present, none of these literary references are even considered important.
We studied Friedrich Nietzsche, but we forgot that Abdias do Nascimento existed.
We watch passives, the largest broadcaster in the country, propagate the fallacious and misguided reverse racism in a program that proposes to conduct serious discussions, through the use of racial unconsciousness planted by whiteness as a tactic of alienation and acceptance of the place of inferiority we constructed for black subjects.
All this is done without the slightest necessary self-criticism, which starts from the fundamental understanding of how our society is structured and structuring social relations that remain hierarchical, in the name of a supremacy that is white and that rests tranquilly in the splendid cradle of the constructed privileges at the cost of social and political vilification of a minority (black and indigenous) who have been systematically denied access to fundamental rights and the enjoyment of the comforts that their labor produces.
Why do we think we are different from the white supremacists of Charlottesville?
If we are in a looping of systemic oppressions, producing and enjoying the privileges that it creates in all social areas, we are practicing à la “jeitinho brasileiro” (Brazilian way), all the acts that we are executing, horrified to watch via networks and means of communication, what happened in the US.
We are the backyard of US imperialism and we clearly aim to be like them, placed supposedly closer to civilization and European superiority.
Every day, young blacks are harassed and murdered by the police that we support and we are not surprised by that.
Quilombolas and natives have been massacred and in the name of the monopoly of lands and riches that belong to them, by real right and not recognized until today, but we are not surprised by this. We witness passive, various Nazi-fascist violence, as much verbal as symbolic and physical, directed at black people, and we don’t go beyond the “repudiation” uncritically and cynically exempt from any concrete revision of the micro and macro social behavior of branquitude (whiteness). And what about the disregard for all the Rafael Bragas, imprisoned in physical or symbolic prisons, such as professional passing by or anonymous movements inside the universities against the cotistas (affirmative action students) That is, except for cowardice and what is in the intimate of the common Brazilian and that prevents us from taking the initiative to look critically at ourselves, as a nation that propagates and feeds fascist ideals historically, I as a black person, see no difference between the conflicts in Charlottesville and the Cabula slaughter in Bahia. Or even among the white supremacists who show their faces and attack black people on the street and white supremacists who attack famous or anonymous black people via the web, including calling virtual lynchers who respond against the passive racism of white people of notoriety and social prestige. We also have the white supremacists who provide unconditional support for the dismantling of public policies, timidly implanted by the pseudo-left (who is also supremacist only with the veneer of progressive social struggles), such as the bolsa família or various affirmative actions or of the parties that in their interior, make a movement of exclusion and erasure of black political figures that could bring experiences and knowledge that would serve as leverage for truly equalizing and restructuring initiatives.
I am afraid here every day because this country kills black people in different ways and in different places, like someone who takes a detox juice on the way to work. White people here are no different from the Charlottesville supremacists. They are just sly. Brazilian racism is sly and indulgent. Cowardly and sneaky and that makes it even more dangerous.
Joice Berth is an Architect and Urbanist from the University of Nove de Julho and owner of a postgraduate degree in Urban Law from PUC-MG. Intersectional Black Feminist and member of the Coletivo Imprensa Feminista (Feminist Press Collective).
Source: Justificando Carta Capital