Note from BW of Brazil: Well, this should in fact come as a surprise to no one; at least people who have followed the content of this blog closely for some time or paid attention to reports concerning race in Brazil. Many people, Brazilians and non-Brazilians have long argued that racism in Brazil is more of the veiled, more subtle variety. But we have long argued that, while veiled racism does indeed exist, blatant, obvious racism is also very common. Perhaps even more so in this day and age when people freely express racist sentiments in social networks. We see it in the racist comments and racist insults that people say everyday across the country. So it’s been a while since we’ve needed to put yet another myth about Brazil to rest. The last time we mentioned the rapper Dexter was when Malaak Shabazz came to Brazil to speak on the parallels between the situations of Afro-Brazilians and African-Americans last November, so it’s good to hear him drop some reality on folks who still view Brazil through rose-colored glasses!
Dexter: “For some time now, racism is no longer veiled in Brazil”
by Juca Guimarães
The rapper, who is preparing the release of a new album, said in an interview that the internet has allowed many “to declare their mediocre racist essence”
With 36 years down the road in music and militancy in hip-hop, rapper Dexter makes a blunt assessment about the facet of racism that is revealed in the country with the popularity of social networks in recent decades.
As in the US, Brazil advances very little to combat racism and attacks of hate are increasingly violent and frequent. Tensions are only increasing. In Dexter’s view, the construction of the self-esteem of crianças negras (black children) is directly related to positive role models and an urgent reform in the school curriculum.
Recently, the rapper Negra Li, of the group RZO, was the victim of a cowardly and anonymous attack. Her page was hacked and published the photo of a monkey.
Dexter defends reparations through the quota system and regrets that many black personalities don’t assume themselves as black, which could do much to combat racism.
The theme of racism doesn’t appear much in current rap lyrics. Has hip-hop turned his back on the problem?
Dexter – I agree that it’s not the main theme of the lyrics, but hip hop never turned its back on this and addresses this issue in daily lectures, chats on the streets and in songs.
What needs to change in Brazil so that the fight against racism really works?
Dexter – It’s necessary to invest more in education, from pre-school and principally in the home. People have to know our history, be it black, red, yellow and white. You only respect a people when you know their past, present, and struggle.
The contribution of black people to the development of Brazil is not recognized. For example, the great black personalities of the country are not remembered in the school books. Do you think this has contributed to racism in Brazil?
Dexter – Certainly, when you do not value the heroes of the people there is no identification. While one doesn’t tell the true history, we can’t change this. Children don’t have any references that they need, you must have greater representation. Unfortunately in Brazil, there are several black personalities who are icons that can occupy these places, ie, be references however they don’t assume themselves.
In the US there are openly racist groups like the KKK, do you believe that Brazilian society is heading down the same path?
Dexter – In Brazil there are have always been racist groups. Brazil is racist in the extreme, Brazilian society is racist! We blacks suffer veiled racism in Brazil, but for some time now, it’s no longer so veiled. Racists express themselves daily in the streets, but also on the Internet, which today is a vehicle that can indeed hide his face, but can also perfectly provide that declare your mediocre racist essence.
What can be done to increase the self-esteem of black children so that they value and admire their origins?
Dexter – Education, tell the real history of black people. Show and tell them about the references: Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Zumbi, (historian) Clóvis Moura, KL Jay, Zezé Motta, Abdias do Nascimento, Dandara of Palmares, among others.
Do you favor that the history of Africa being part of the school curriculum?
Dexter – Yes, I am totally in favor, not only the history of the continent of our ancestors, but also the history of hip hop. Brazil is the second blackest country in the world, only losing to Nigeria. How is it that our true history is not told in our schools?!
What is your opinion about the system of quotas for blacks in universities and in public competition?
Dexter – Brazil owes much to black people after all, who constructed this country and nothing gained in return? I think the quota system is legitimate and don’t come to me with the story of “coitadismo” (victimhood), the balance never weighs equally. We are speaking here of reparation!
What’s new about your new album? The prediction was to come out this year, isn’t it?
Dexter – Flor de Lótus (Lotus Flower) is a disc divided into two parts: it depicts the end of the exile and the beginning of my freedom, is a very important transition. The new thing ranges from the production to the way of singing of this new world in which I am living. Yes, the album still comes out this month.