Note from BW of Brazil: Sure there are millions of Brazilians out there who still swear up and down that racism is not a problem in Brazil. “We are all equal” many continue to believe. Yesterday, I had a friend tell me that she believes that Military Police in Brazil brutalize all Brazilians regardless of color. Even though I know that many Brazilians still live in a sort of “Alice in Wonderland” world, I was still a bit surprised that she thought this way. But then, why would I be surprised? She is a middle class woman with white skin. VERY white skin whose experience is most likely very different from that of a black male, of any class status, but particularly those from lower class poor neighborhoods.
I then showed her yesterday’s report, “The irrefutable proof that Brazil tolerates the killing of the poor and black” that asked for people “with all due respect, for an effort of abstraction.” The writer went on to ask the reader if they could imagine seven white bodies stretched out in front them after having been massacred by the police and how society would react. The point was that these types of massacres usually victimize black bodies and society’s reaction is normally nothing precisely because they ARE black bodies. People will always find some excuse to minimize these bloodbaths and the relation to skin color. After all, that is how racism and racial inequality has been downplayed in Brazil for so long.
But another inbred issue that blatant and institutional racism create is another facet of this damage: the psychological destruction. From time to time people who comment on blog posts or the pages in social media will ask something like, “why don’t black Brazilians do this or that?” in reaction to the everyday traumas Afro-Brazilians experience due to white supremacy. But what these comments often don’t consider is the psyche that 400 plus years of slavery and racism have created. The shame. The lack of self-esteem. The vulnerability. The low self-worth. These are all results of generation after generation of being belittled, disrespected and taught, blatantly or subtly, that they are nothing because they have dark skin or afro-derived hair texture. Sometimes this low self-value plays out in attacks on others in the same group. Sometimes in shamefully blatant examples. It is this sentiment of inferiority that must be dealt with before Brazil’s black population can really be able to advance as a whole.
“Because I’m black”
By João Paulo Porto *
I have an 8-year old black patient who is absurdly intelligent. From a poor family, his mother, also intelligent, did on their own, their family tree, in an organized manner, in a notebook, full collages and showed it during the consultation.
It turns out, four generations ago, the grandfather of her grandfather was a slave. Shortly after the abolition of slavery, he was expelled from the farm where he worked for being too old and ended up living on the street, with a family of 4 people, until he died of tuberculosis.
The father of her grandfather, his son, had to support the family doing odd jobs and committing petty crimes, so he was arrested soon after the mother of her grandfather got pregnant, leading, of course, to her grandfather.
This grandfather was born without a father, because he died in prison, when he was 8 years old. He grew up without the possibility of an education, having to work from a young age to support his mother and three younger brothers from another of his mother’s relationship. These four children were alone when he was 15, after her death. Working on farms, he had five sons, the fifth, her father.
He never went to school, grew up on the farm and became a made-man, married and had four children, including her mother. She also grew up on the farm and had no chance to go to school. Today she does cleaning work and makes sure that her children go to school.
– You are very intelligent – I said to the boy.
– Thank you.
– You already know what you will be when you grow up?
– I’ll be a truck driver.
– But don’t you think of anything else, you have so much capacity, you can be anything!
– Well, I wanted to be a doctor…
– Well, so be one!!
– I can’t!
– You can’t? Why can’t you?
Imagine why he thought so. Imagine how you would be after 5 generations of slavery having influenced the history of this family and the current condition of this child. Imagine how decades of prejudice undermined the chances of that family to give their offspring a better life than they had…
Imagine now, how much you are absurdly privileged in relation to them.
Now, try again to fill your mouth to say that the race issue is no longer relevant, that quotas are not fair, that income distribution programs are for bums and you have what you have today really because of your merit…
Source: Brasil Post
* – João Paulo Porto is a Pediatrician and Child Neurologist