Note from BW of Brazil: In reality, this is so typical of Brazil’s media and how the nation itself deals with issues concerning race. The story about the young fan being caught on camera screaming “monkey” at a black goalie has remained a topic of discussion ever since it happened last month. The repercussions of the case reveal are every telling. Similar to the “we are all monkeys” “campaign” that started when a banana was thrown at a Brazilian player in Europe, this latest incident is also peculiar. The aftermath of the case simply proves once again that Brazil doesn’t want and perhaps doesn’t know how to deal with such a disgraceful part of the culture. But, also, is it possible that these people in the media know EXACTLY what they’re doing. Keeping Afro-Brazilians silenced, invisible or presented in stereotypical manners is something the Brazilian media has mastered for many years. Today’s post is the perfect example of this. How does a talk show intend to discuss the most recent case of Brazilian racism (although clearly no one is racist) and not have one black activist or psychologist on the show to represent a wide range of views on the topic? You know, someone from the group that is discriminated against??? It’s better to call the white expert with the Ph.D to discuss this, right? I guess so…On this note, with Brazil’s adoration of whiteness, all of the notoriety that Moreira has received from this incident and our celebrity-driven media, I wouldn’t be surprised if she ended up on a new reality show!
by Yure Romão
I have been following the course of the case of racism against the goalkeeper Aranha through blogs, newspapers, websites and television programs and believe that good debates and discussions have been put into play, especially with regard to racism within the sport and racism that operates incessantly in Brazil, either through insults, humiliations, arrests and daily systematic genocides that don’t stop.
In this text I would like to address the special morning program of host Fátima Bernardes’s program Encontro on Sept. 9, with guest Patrícia Moreira, the “Grêmio fan, above all” to give her “explanations”. I want to analyze the program as a whole, especially the discourse and the presence of a doctor.
First, what jumped out at me in a program that discussed racism, was the fact that there was no black person on the stage where they would be the guests. No blacks. This fact already gives us firsthand the intent of the program, which certainly was not willing to have a debate, but an amplification of a monologue softening of racism, where each speaks only seeking to strengthen and to support the comments of another.
Starting from the popular commotion, the sensationalist use of the image of a poor white girl, with teary eyes, trembling lips, who above all loves her team and asks for forgiveness, was to be expected and did not cause me any dismay. It’s television, and paraphrasing the playwright Augusto Boal about the novelas (soap operas), it only takes a certain amount of empathy between character and viewer for the machine of guilt, sin and redemption of sins and a happy ending starts to work. Of course, inside the television.
The discussion of the program would then limit itself to sensationalist appeal, placing racism as an intrinsic evil, that could only materialize in evil people, of hideous appearance and horns on their head could – “A girl that is a dental assistant, who loves futebol like all Brazilians, who asked for forgiveness and is crying on national television cannot be mean to that point.” Period! You are ready for the trap!
Only those who want to come in can enter. The only ones who fall into that trap are those who don’t want to see that racism in Brazil is far beyond good and evil, which in fact it is ingrained in all relationships and all institutions, from nursery schools where black children are seen as “future marginals”, “hyperactive”, “with learning difficulties”, “incarnations of evil”, up to the maximum punishment of our social institution: jail, where blacks are piled up like animals, as is the case of Rafael Braga, a black man, a homeless man who was arrested (and already serving time) for possession of cleaning materials, during a demonstration in Rio de Janeiro. This of course, if not tried and sentenced to death before reaching the courts, as was the case of the two minors led by two policemen in the city’s downtown recently with one of them being executed in the Tijuca forest. The arrests and deaths are planned within our racist institutions and propagators of racism. They are mitigated and often naturalized.
Being racist is independent of the nature or character of the person, regardless of having black friends or not, if you have sex with blacks or not. At the time that the “bicho tá pegando” (“something’s about to go down”) and you’re in the middle of it, racism does not simply appear. It doesn’t spring up from nothing as something thoughtless and unconscious, but is the result of something working and repeating every day, everywhere and necessary for “white modus operandi white” to remain on top and the relationship remains vertical. We are dealing with just an instantaneous result of an institutional and everyday racism.
Racism is not a feeling that arises at certain times, as people are trying to say. It is nothing more, nothing less than the non-sense for that that is considered a non-human at the time of the assault. Racism is present in our lives 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. There is no talk without intention or not having a notion of the weight of something that has been said and propagated for over 500 years in this country. The intention is extremely strong, heavy and old, even if pronounced with sweetness and affection. Those who claim to say something unintentionally racist, are doubly wrong: one for the racist insult and another for the little thing that they make of the effect of this insult and the weight of it, using this justification.
Let us return to Fátima Bernardes program. After the appealing crocodile tears and some nonsensical phrases, said by Patrícia and possibly dictated by her attorney, comes in the character that caught my attention: the Doctor. The voice of science.
If at first he tried to make us swallow that there was an “inconsistency” in the fact that a girl with an “angelic” air did a racist act by appealing to our beliefs and images of goodness with cabelos lisos (straight hair) and pele branca (white skin) that we reproduce in the television game, magazines, video clips and the like; in a second moment we have the science to stamp the passport of innocence and purity of Patrícia, using the argument of “Unconscious” or a possible “mass hysteria” that, when taken by impulse, the young woman was almost obliged to insult the goalie Aranha. In both explanations, Patrícia was not in control of her actions. In the words of the “Doctor”:
– “This is not the first story, there are many stories of people who engage in confusion, manifest a belief that is often times not theirs and end up paying the consequences for being caught or detected […]” (Dr. Fernando Gomes Pinto – neurosurgeon and neuroscientist);
The “Doctor” continues his explanation, softening the situation by saying that it is not the first time that this behavior happens. A dramatic pause. I’ll be damed! If this is a behavior that is repeated, it should shock us and disturb us in finding a solution to this shit and not appease ourselves, naturalizing the seriousness of the situation, including what generated legal consequences for the team and for the fans. Again the voice of the program is screaming in our ears.
What does the doctor did in this speech and in this specific program, whose theme was racism is absurdly grotesque. It simply legitimizes a racist attitude of any person, on the grounds that in such situations the brain is no longer controlled by the person and starts to act alone. Biology is once again controlling the social actions of human beings. I say “again” because in the early twentieth century, based on scientific discourse, the world believed for many years that biological factors determined whether one has criminal tendencies or not and because of that, people with broad noses, darker color and thick lips had more propensities to being criminals or committing crimes. “Proven” studies at that time, studies said the brain of the black was smaller black than that of the white man. Racism disguised as science. Now the argument is the same, but with the goal of making innocent one who commits crime and interestingly it is not black, but a white girl.
To finalize, I would like to share with you readers the strategies that my eyes and my ears could not afford to omit from this program that proposed to talk about racism. With only white guests, the program displays the image of a helpless, overwhelmed and regretful young woman, does not promote a real discussion about racism, about its consequences for the victims of aggression and legitimizes the racist attitude of young people screaming “monkey” influenced by the euphoria of the masses and heat of the moment. All this stamped and signed by the presence of a doctor that justifies and naturalizes the attitude of the girl within a given context.
Note that this program does not put in doubt whether the act was racist or not, but tried the whole time to ease the situation facing the population, saying that it is a frequent act in situations like this. It’s time that we directly attack these strategies of calming, softening and relativization of racism that we end up accepting often times in our lives because of the complications and headaches that they can cause us. Our heads have been the prize for a long time with or without pain. No matter what we do we always find a way to invert the situation to ameliorate it. We then attack these mechanisms of appeasement, these strategies of inversion, these pre-finished structures that discuss racism and say that do not have anything beyond explanations and justifications for racist acts, these tables of debate that only have one voice and they say contemplate all under the fantasy of neutrality.
We wrestle with this neutral that silences us in all political spheres, this “Somos todos da raça humana” (We are all of the human race) which includes all only until the moment we are dehumanized, animalistic and then the discourse of equality of human beings goes down and rights stop existing. Calling someone “macaco” (monkey) inside a stadium is an act of animalization through discourse, but that goes beyond the sphere of the same whenever blacks huddle themselves in prison cells, always that “Candelárias” repeat themselves whenever “Cláudias” are dragged through the city streets, whenever they speak for us, about us on television programs and silence us or pretend not to understand what we say as if we were animals. The call someone “monkey” is much more than a simple oral offense. It is a reflection of an entire thought of the animalization of blacks since the period of slavery and that endures to this day. There’s nothing for us to soften up, the case is much more serious than we thought and the hole is much lower. We will make our voices heard!
NO STEPS BACK.