Note from BW of Brazil: Of course in case such as this, it’s always a mistake to jump to any quick conclusions without more precise information, but even so, this case is so typical of incidents involving race in Brazil. Let’s get to the case first..
Miss Esperantina is target of racism for Miss Piauí and files a lawsuit
By Carlienne Carpaso
The Miss Esperantina 2016, model Kayra Nascimento together with a representative will go to the Ministério Públic (Public Ministry/public prosecutor) of the state of Piauí and the Civil Police to investigate the crime of racial slur, in good faith of the of Miss Piaui 2016 contest; besides this she is requesting compensation for moral damage. Information is from Kayra’s lawyer, Laís Marques.
“I went in search of transparency in the contest procedure. Along with the other candidates I fought hard to get there and it’s not fair that all the effort has been in vain, it was the dream of many there, some had to give up many things. Nothing against the winner, to the contrary, I recognize her effort and her worthiness. We just want clarification in this 2016 contest,” Kayra said.
The Miss Piaui 2016 contest was held on 10 September. According to the lawyer, the audios in which a person talks about the attributions of the scores and calls Miss Esperantina “negrinha” (twice), which were released after the date of the event is the main motivation for beginning the suit. The audios were leaked by Whatsapp and are said to be that of the organizer’s authorship.
In audio, the voice that the model says is Nelito Marques, is talking to a person and reporting a dialogue, speaks on Kayra’s name and then uses the word ‘negrinha’. “The scheme is this. Now you (talking to a person), when in Outubro Rosa (Pink October), wherever you were, will not tell Kayra, that the person said: ‘She’s saying because she knew that the ‘negrinha’ isn’t going to win,’ the voice said.
At another point, the voice returns to use the term pejoratively. “And this business of complimenting some from the group; except the ‘negrinha’. Because then they’ll think. Ah! And don’t worry because they won’t say it was wrong, but they will…if they tell me…but they’ll never say it was sold.” In both quotes, Kayra says Nelito refers to her.
“The audio came to light after the completion of the contest, all candidates had access to it. When I heard it I felt upset and outraged by the treatment in front of the others. The audio is clear that I am being discarded because of color and being treated pejoratively,” commented Miss Esperantina, adding that at no time during the contest did she perceive any practices of racial prejudice. She also said that this is only a barrier to be broken and that she will continue her modeling career.
According to the Miss Esperantina’s lawyer, Laís Marques, she is gathering the necessary documents to initiate with representatives a case against the organizer of the competition, Nelito Marques. She also said that her client doesn’t seek the cancellation of the contest from this action, but to make it so that other candidates don’t go through the same embarrassment.
“Kayra has already filed a request for measures with the OAB (Ordem dos Advogados do Brasil or Brazilian Lawyers Guild), and we are currently collecting materials to enter with criminal representation together with the competent police chief and the public prosecutor for the crime of injuria racial (racial injury/slur) committed by the contest presenter. We are also gathering information on the issue of the fairness of the competition,” said Laís.
About the event, the organizer Nelito Marques said that the contest took place in good faith and has no relation with the audios that have been disclosed. For him, the candidate should go after the jury, not the Court.
“I have nothing to do with it. I’m not guilty of anything. I’ve already made a B.O (police report) about this that they are saying I am, they will have to prove it. I want to know if the audio has my name; if it’s my voice. Let’s go to court. I was in the theater and didn’t get any voting form. I didn’t get anything. There is an audit and there are auditors adding up the votes, I didn’t get anything. If this audio was mine. It has to have an author, the voice is not mine. You can only make a contest audit if you were in second place, she was almost the penultimate. This doesn’t exist. It’s just crazy. She who goes after the auditors and judges, I have nothing to do with this,” said Nelito Marques.
According to the model, the audio came to light after the completion of the competition and she wants clarification. “All candidates had access to audio. Hearing him, I felt upset and outraged by the treatment in front of the others, because the audio is clear that I am being discarded because of color and being treated in a derogatory manner. I wish for the audio to be clarified. I want people to receive equal treatment, regardless of color, race and religion,” said the model.
Note from BW of Brazil: This case may be a little difficult to prove. After all, it will require a judgment as to whose voice was recorded making the statements on the recording. It seems pretty clear that the audio is speaking of the contest and the voice is also referring to a black contestant, which is a case in itself beyond the legal ramifications. This is because, as we’ve seen in past posts, terms such as ‘negrinha’ and ‘neguinha’ are often seen as pejorative in reference to black women. But again, as in those previous posts, for some, the terms aren’t necessarily offensive while for others what determines whether the usage of the term is pejorative or not is the tone of voice and whether the term is being used in a negative manner. The other point worth mentioning here is, again, the idea that pretas (black women) and pardas (brown/mixed women) should not be categorized together. Although this is an old topic, today’s case once again leads credence to this blog’s and the Movimento Negro’s position on the issue.
The model at the center of this case clearly recognized the existence of preconceito de cor (color prejudice) in the situation. Nascimento is obviously of African ancestry, but there will be those who will insist that she is not negra (black) but rather morena, mulata, parda or mestiça, all meaning she is brown or of some degree of racial mixture. But the fact is, again, in the eyes of the person judging her, her mixed ancestry didn’t disqualify her from being categorized as a ‘negrinha’. Similar to a case we featured yesterday, in Brazil, people are free to define themselves in terms of race in however manner they see fit (1). But as another beauty contestant discovered, how mixed one is doesn’t really matter if their physical characteristics bear obvious signals of non-European ancestry. I mean really, isn’t it obvious by now?
- Fitting to remind readers of the famous 1976 Brazilian census in which citizens used over 136 different terms to define themselves in terms of color.