Note from BW of Brazil: So what can be said about today’s post? Well, it’s simply another example from a Brazil in which most people will downplay any racist displays of racist sentiments by simply stating “we are all equal”. Question: how many times do we have to see incidents such as the one below before people can admit that Brazil is as racist as any other country? This latest example took place in southern Brazil, which is statistically the whitest part of the country. What I will say is that at least the author of this message had the nerve to openly say how he or she felt rather than hiding behind the idea that “we Brazilians don’t see color/aren’t racists.” The other, perhaps more important question would be, how long will black Brazilians continue to deal with this before they decide to starting organizing their communities to fend for self?
Black woman receives anonymous letter with racist offenses in Paraná
The confectioner Janete Martins, 44, who lives in Araucária, in the metropolitan region of Curitiba (capital city of the state of Paraná), needed psychological treatment after receiving an anonymous letter with racist offenses in her mailbox with various insults about her color. “I’m proud of my color, I’m proud of my Afro hair, I even thought about remaining silent but we know a lot of people go through this, so that’s why I decided to talk.”
“The person who wrote this letter was very angry, I imagine. Because she talks about pessoas de cor (people of color), who will never be equal to the white, that I will never be received in the same places as a white person. That I will never earn equal to the white. And it’s best that I accept (it) because I have a slave’s DNA in my blood. It weighed on me a lot. It hurt,” said Janete.
A photo of the letter was shared on Facebook and the post quickly went viral due to the severity of the content.
“I passed by here at your house just to leave a little message … You know that most white people do not like people of color like you, pity that few have the courage I have. Most people say they are not racist. The truth is that no white gives the same value to a person of color. You will never earn like a white, you will never have the same value as a white, you will never be received like one of us … You carry in the blood the DNA of a slave and will always be treated as such.”
According to Janete, the situation left her indignant and very sad. “I don’t know who wrote it, but that person needs to know that they can’t act like that with another human being. Everyone deserves respect and can’t be offended,” she said.
The confectioner was shocked by the message and also said that the offenses not only affected her psychologically, but her whole family. “It has messed with my emotional (being) a lot and it still messing with me today. Not only with mine, but the whole family. It ends up shaking up the whole family,” she added.
To make matters worse, a few days before she had been visited by a woman in her company, who also embarrassed her. “She saw me and asked to speak with the owner. When I said I was the owner, she said she had come because of a friend’s recommendation, but that friend had hadn’t said that I was a person of color. Then I told her I was really black (see one), and she got in the car and drove away,” she said.
Janete doesn’t know if this woman was also responsible for the note, but she and her daughter posted the “letter” on the internet in order for the subject to reach the woman’s friend. “I didn’t imagine that there would be such impact. I have received messages of support from all over Brazil and abroad. I’m suffering a lot and I felt very embarrassed, but I hope that my example will make a difference in order to end this,” she concludes.
Racism is a crime punishable with one to three years of imprisonment. Ombudsman Olympio de Sá Sotto Maior stressed the importance of reporting cases to the police and prosecutors.
“The overcoming of racism, the overcoming of these prejudiced practices, of discrimination will only occur when you actually confront it. So if you take it as a mere joke, as if it didn’t have an animus of offending, because in fact, it offends,” said the prosecutor.
- Interesting how Martins’s rejection of the term “pessoa de cor” or ‘person of color’ and definition of herself as negra, black, seemed to be the spark that truly offended this person. This is perfect example of why the realization of a black identity is so important and why this blog features so many articles dealing with the topic.