Note from BW of Brazil: I often wonder. Beneath all of the rhetoric that people spew about uncomfortable topics or beliefs that aren’t true or things that they have an idea may not be true although they continue pretend it is, deep down inside, when no one’s around, how do they deal with the fact? This question could be applied to any number of topics. Religion. Politics. Betrayal. History. And this is so because so many things in this life have two sides of the coin. We have the myth and the fact. We have facts and we have lies. We can have two or more ways of interpreting a fact. We have affirmation and denial. But how do you deal with facts that go against something that you have held to be true for a long period of time? Do you deny it? Do you acknowledge it and keep on moving? Do you not deal with it because accepting the truth is simply to painful? Or do you still hold on to the faint possibility that there could be some mistake?
After reading today’s post, these questions came to my mind again because I truly sometimes wonder, do persons who are born with white skin and European features really truly believe that they don’t have any privileges simply because of this appearance? I mean, seriously, we live in a blatantly unfair, unequal society in which men have overwhelming control of the world’s resources, the average woman generally prefers taller men and millions of people have no health care plans. Regardless of how/why these things happen and any justification you could conjure up use to justify it, it just is. With that said, do people who are accepted as white really believe that “we’re (treated) all equal”? Do they really believe in ‘racial democracies’, ‘equal opportunity’ and ‘post-racial’ societies even when the evidence to the contrary is overwhelming? I mean really, do they think that it’s just coincidence that most people featured on TV look like them? Do they really believe that there is no difference in the mind of a police officer/soldier when they see group of black teenagers together versus a group of white teens? I could go on and on with these questions, but you get the point.
In past posts we’ve touched upon this through stories of how the media treated white homeless people and former drug users, besides general posts dealing with the topic of whiteness and privilege. In the piece below, one man acknowledged this privilege, and as such, I just wonder silently how many people are capable of actually thinking about such a topic and then being this honest with themselves.
He was approved in a selection because the other candidate was black. And recalls this story
Posted in Notícias
“No matter how overwhelming was the superiority of his resume compared to mine, I knew that I had finally gotten that job”
The text below was posted in Facebook.
It was September 1996. I was 21 years old, newly married and had an infant son. I was jobless and penniless. I was studying in the last year of my undergrad in History at USP (University of São Paulo). I had little professional experience and had sent my resume to a number of schools in the capital and greater São Paulo. In October, I received a phone call to the start of a selection process in one of the most traditional schools of São Paulo.
At 3pm one Tuesday, I and dozens of other candidates were confined in a huge class. I sat in the back, as I had always done when I was a student. A lady with a blue apron entered the room with a package of tests. The selection process began with a simple test of knowledge in the area of History. I was reminded, by the same lady, that any error would lead to the candidate being eliminated. With the help of some candidates the tests was distributed and we received all the time of an hour and a half to answer twenty vestibular (entrance exam) essay questions.
A week and a half after this evaluation it was communicated that I had been approved for the next phase of the selection process. Now I must undergo psychological tests. At that moment I developed a huge sense of contempt for this school and this selective system. Perhaps this was a method of self-defense, I don’t know…The truth is that I went to these tests with such great confidence and two days later I was informed that I had also been approved in this process.
The school was now down to between two candidates – so I was told by phone – and I would be interviewed by the school and the coordinator of the area. My interview was scheduled for 4pm. I went by subway to the Vila Mariana and arrived well in advance, at about 3:30pm (something typical of São Paulo, for the chaos on public transport always makes us be impeded and, because of this, sometimes we arrive very early or very late for an appointment, but almost never on time).
When I arrived, I was informed by the Secretary that the interview with the other candidate was not over yet. That meant I would personally meet my “competitor”. I confess I was nervous. I really needed that job … It would be a turning point for my career. I tried, however, to comfort myself – if I wasn’t approved – with the fact that I had gone so far for someone who didn’t even have a degree in History. However, this still didn’t calm me down …
It was 3:50 when the other candidate ended the interview and opened the door of the director. I knew him on sight. He was also from USP. Unlike me, he already had a degree in History. More than that, he had Master’s and Doctorate. He was a graduate student of one of the best professors of that school, Professor Elias Thome Saliba. I had already watched some lectures of my “rival” at that university.
He was smart, he spoke very well and was very well presented. When he saw me, he grinned and said, “Hey! Aren’t you History guy?” I extended my hands, greeted him warmly and said, “I am … You’re a student of Elias, aren’t you …?” He confirmed, we said goodbye and he left.
At that moment I felt absolutely relieved … More than that I felt happy … For now I was sure that I had gotten that job … Because as great as the professional qualities of my “opponent” were over my qualities, no matter how overwhelming was the superiority of his resume compared to mine, I knew that I had finally gotten that job.
All for one simple reason: my “rival” had a small difference from me, he was black. And I knew that that school – attended by the highest of the São Paulo elite, reactionary and white – would never employ a black as a professor, mainly because I, the other candidate, was white with green eyes.
I left the interview with a daily class schedule of 32 hours weekly and a great salary. Throughout the “interview” all my disadvantages become advantages. I was young and inexperienced, so – according to the director and the coordinator – I could become a teacher the way that the school wanted.
In fact, I was hired because I was white with green eyes and the other candidate was black with black eyes. I don’t deny my personal merits of having come so far. I studied (and I study) a lot, I had been cunning and eloquent.
But that candidate was far superior to me in all professional aspects that could apply. His only “problem” was being black. If it were I who was the doctor and he the promising youth, my “competitor” would not have even passed the psychological tests. He only went so far because despite being black, he had an excellent track record and was a formidable person.
After teaching at that school my life has moved forward…I moved from the city… I opened a short course in a room of my house that started with only sixteen students … Today I am a businessman and the school has over seven hundred students…It would be very easy for me to tell a beautiful story of myself of “entrepreneurship” and “genius” … But the truth is that all this was made possible by the collective efforts of all the professors and staff who have worked and work with me.
By chance, did I have some personal merits? Possibly yes … In other cases, some decisive, I’m sure I was judged by my appearance.
Everything leads us, finally, to a late afternoon in the city of Bauru. It was cold and began to drizzle. I drove down Araújo Leite street towards my residence. In front of me there was a BMW car. You could see clearly that the driver was white with brown hair, his wife was blond and his son (blond) was in the back seat supporting his arms between the front seats, indeed talking to his parents.
The car accelerated and passed a carriage driven by a couple with their child doing the same thing as the boy in the BMW, only the in the carriage were all blacks… they were in the open air and uncovered. While the BMW got in the front of the carriage I followed closely the scene closing and falling into place…All perfectly…As a continuous process in which I explained the tragic essence of this country, this society and mine and thousands of other lives…I saw everything through my green eyes…
Source: Bancários Rio de Janeiro