Note from BW of Brazil: Sometimes I really have to wonder what goes on in the minds of black elites. I mean, some of the things they say and do make you wonder if they really are bought and paid for by the white elites who employ them or whose circles they find themselves in. Is their mentality a sort of “Thanks,
master boss for letting me be near you”, just expressing their loyalty for being in the position they were allowed to play? A little over a month ago, popular musician provided yet another example of his membership/loyalty in elite negro class.
A judge on The Voice Brasil talent reality show, Brown greeted Isabel, a black contestant who is from the Congo. Making reference to the fact the young woman had the same name as Princess Isabel, who signed the Golden Law in 1888 officially ending slavery in Brazil, Brown said the princess “brought us an exclusive liberty” and that she was “a sensible woman, with white skin, that freed blacks from slavery.” Black Brazilian scholars have long challenged the vision promoted by Brazil that Princess Isabel’s simple signing of the law made her some kind of benevolent woman who cared about the lives of black people while totally ignoring the roles of black people in making abolition a necessary act (see here, here and here).
Over the years Brown has earned a reputation for making eyebrow-raising statements, such as when he co-signed on the controversial TV series Sexo e as Negas on the Globo TV network in the face of heavy black protest calling for the end of the series. Rapper Preta Rara pointed this out in her post on the subject writing:
“How ingenious my people, what did you expect from Carlinhos Brown? This embarrassment on his part is an old affair, he is more of a softy for white people saying that yes ‘we are all equal’ and that racism does not exist,” and added, “Not every black public person is militant or attentive to our issues and probably believes in meritocracy, Santa Claus, unicorns and that the issue is social never racial.”
Which leads me to the most recent example of a member of the black elite saying something that makes you go, “WTF?” Luislinda Valois’s name has appeared on this blog several times over the years and usually, the posts presented her in a positive light. Valois is the first black woman to have ever become a judge in Brazil, not a small feat, but also very revealing race and inequality that it took so long for any black woman to accomplish something of this magnitude. Unfortunately, this is the second time this year she is being featured here for saying something that didn’t sit well with the Afro-Brazilian population.
Back in April, Valois turned heads when she referred to the current and extremely unpopular President, Michel Temer, as the “godfather of black Brazilian women”. Temer’s austerity measures have led to various protests, the ever popular cry of “Fora Temer” (get out Temer) and he has miraculously survived two attempts to remove him from office under corruption charges. As such, he’s obviously not a man most black Brazilian women want to be associated with. Now Valois is making headlines for saying that her current salary of R$33,000 per month is analogous to slave wages.
And if you’re not aware of the reality of the average Brazilian, you may wonder why I place Valois in the small class of Afro-Brazilians who are a part of the country’s elite. Well, consider the following. Minimum wage, or salário minimo (minimum salary) is calculated in Brazil per month. Currently, the minimum salary is R$937 per month. In 2014, 79% of Brazilians earned up to three minimum salaries per month. Three minimum salaries per month currently add up to about R$2800. On the other hand, according to the same report, Brazilians who earn up the 20 minimum salaries per month are less than 1% of the population. 20 minimum salaries currently adds up to R$18,740. We can draw several conclusions from these numbers.
1. Valois earns a little more 35 minimum salaries per month. 2. She earns more in one month than 79% of the Brazilian population earns in a whole year. 3. Based on a 30-day month, Valois earns more money in one day (R$1,100) than a Brazilian who earns minimum salary makes in an entire month! Does she know how many Brazilians buy Nike gym shoes through installment plans? I could go on and on, but you get the message.
The point here is, how does Valois make such a statement surely knowing that 1) in some parts of Brazil, there are people who are still working in conditions equal to that of slavery and 2) she earns in a day more than what 32.7% of all Brazilian workers earn in a full month? To say that someone is a bit out of touch with reality would be an extreme understatement.
Mind you, I have nothing against the judge/minister earning what she deserves, but I have a major problem with her comparing her privileged life to those like Simone Batista who are REALLY living something close to the life of a slave. How is it that black folks reach a certain level of success and then seem to forget where they came from as well as the people who are REALLY still stuck in the struggle of a cruelly unequal society? Worse than that, Luislinda Valois is currently the Minister of Human Rights, a position one would think would make it impossible for her to utter such ridiculous words. In the country that was the last the abolish slavery in New World, no less.
Dear Judge: Your words were clearly a bad judgment. Perhaps you should think about how you express your disappointments a little more in the future.
Luislinda, the black minister who used slavery to do well in the country of slave labor
By Marcos Sacramento
Comparing small daily obstacles with the martyrdom of black slavery is a recurring practice here in Brazil. Though reprehensible, it is understandable. The torture imposed on millions of blacks over more than 350 years has never been considered a scourge in the country’s history.
Inadmissible, however, is the comparison coming from someone with a duty to fight against slave labor and for reparations for the consequences of the slave-owning past, such as Human Rights Minister Luislinda Valois.
A retired judge, Luislinda filed a 207-page request to the government to add to her salary as a minister, the retirement benefits of R$ 30,471.10. Adding the two, she would receive R$ 61,400 at the end of the month.
This amount exceeds the constitutional ceiling, today of R$ 33.7 thousand, and due to the so-called decommissioning-ceiling, the minister’s salary drops to R$ 3.2 thousand. The rule is clear and any pre-university student knows it.
The eloquent text of the law did not prevent the minister from making the request, a request that she has every right to do. The problem was to compare her situation to that of her black ancestors.
“Without a doubt, it is similar to slave labor, which is also rejected, peremptorily, by Brazilian legislation since the ages of 1888 with the Abolition of Slavery Act.”
No, no, Minister, it does not resemble it. The salary of R$ 33.7 thousand is greater than that of 99% of the population and 1757% of the floor of a primary school teacher of the Federal District, according to a salary calculator of Nexo Jornal.
In an interview with Rádio Gaúcha’s Timeline program, the minister defends her request with the following question: “How will I eat, drink and put on shoes”?
The answer is simple. Just connect with reality and look beyond the horizon of the Esplanada dos Ministérios, look at black women like her, who eat, drink and put on shoes receiving the $937 of the monthly minimum wage.
Many of these women still carry the social scars of the same slavery invoked by a minister in her request for a five-digit salary increase; so many live in slavery to this day in charcoal and crops.
In fact, the government of Michel Temer, called by Luislinda as “godfather of black Brazilian women”, signed a decree that hampers slave labor.
A tax auditor for the labor and responsible for operations that freed more than 2,500 workers in a situation analogous to slavery, Marinalva Dantas said in an interview with UOL that she cried for three straight days reading the contents of the ordinance, the size of the setback she represents.
These tears are the antithesis of Luislinda Valois’s lament. And to some extent, it has a connection with the light analogy registered in the minister’s petition.
From a government in which a black minister mentions slavery without paying attention to the weight of the word, it is not surprising that measures are being taken to perpetuate this practice on Brazilian soil.
The old saying goes that “the devil lives in the details”. The detail printed in the 207-page text helps to understand Luislinda’s presence in Temer’s ministry. In the end, as Camus said in O Avesso eo Direito, “everything is explained.”
Minister Luislinda Valois does not represent us
Entities of the black Brazilian movement detonated, in a note, Michel Temer’s government Minister of Human Rights, Luislinda Valois, who wanted to receive R$ 62,000 a month in salary, claiming that her current salaries of R$ 31,000 per month put her in conditions of ‘slavery’. In order to justify her request for a 100% increase in her salary, the minister said that at $ 31,000 ‘it is difficult to dress, feed, put on shoes and go to the beauty salon’.
For the black movement, “the minister is the voice of a government of privileges and the privileged that wants to end labor rights, the combat of slave labor and policies of racial inclusion.” In addition to remaining silent of religious racism and violence suffered by the people of terreiro and quilombola communities throughout the country.” Read the full note below:
The entities of the black Brazilian movement repudiate the declarations of the minister Luislinda Valois, who, as did STF (Supreme Court) minister Gilmar Mendes, referred to the tragedy of slavery that subjected thousands of blacks to a perverse and inhuman condition – a crime against humanity, declared by the UN – appropriating herself in a timely manner of this tragic historical fact to obtain her own benefits relative to her salary.
Nevertheless, we should not forget that this year Judge Sérgio Moro realized the salary above the constitutional ceiling for several months and the justification for such a collapse is the generous aid baskets and occasional extras commonly used in the judicial system to circumvent the constitutional ceiling and thus benefit thousands of judges in Brazil. This also represents violence for Brazilian society as a whole.
Turning to Minister Luislinda, we understand that demanding privileges and participating in a government that wants to end labor rights, the combat of slave labor and policies of racial inclusion, and remaining silent against religious racism and other violence suffered by the peoples of terreiro and quilombola communities throughout the country goes against good sense.
In addition to facing the dignity of the black population, the position of the minister is a complete statement of the lack of commitment to combatting racism and with true citizenship of black men and women. There is no doubt that we are experiencing a time when violence against women, blacks, LGBT groups, quilombolas and Indians is becoming naturalized and the minister’s misplaced position is a portrait of these attacks.
The appointment of this lady is revealing of the Temer government’s dislike of the black community and the very serious problem of racism in Brazil.
It is also symptomatic that President Temer looks at Brazil and can’t see the thousands of black men and women with a high level of political commitment to the desires and demands of the black population to occupy any position in the Esplanada dos Ministérios, or is he aware that most of us would never settle down with an illegitimate government that was instituted through oppression, disorder and violence?
The minister does not represent black people, she does not represent black women nor those who fight for the end of the racism.
We are on our own! The black people will not remain silent against racism!
Convergência Negra – Articulação Nacional do Movimento Negro Brasileiro
Associação Brasileira de Pesquisadores Negros – ABPN
Agentes de Pastoral Negros – APNs
Coletivo de Entidades Negras – CEN
Coordenação Nacional de Entidades Negras – CONEN
Rádio Exu – Comunicação Comunitária de Matriz Africana
Movimento Negro Unificado – MNU
Rede Amazônica de Tradições de Matriz Africana – REATA
UNEGRO – União de Negras e Negros Pela Igualdade
Enegrecer – Coletivo Nacional de Juventude Negra
Movimento Consciência Negra de Butia – RS
Setorial de Combate ao Racismo da CUT