On dark-skinned congressman, President Bolsonaro says he “came out a little burned” because he stayed in the belly too long, othewise, he’d look like him
By Marques Travae
And from the category of “Bolsonaro said what?!?” comes the latest from the president that many refer to as Bozo. I once honestly asked the question of, ‘is it possible that this man CAN’T be racist?’, because I always like to look at the evidence, the actions, comments, life, etc. before I can honestly say that someone is a suspected white supremacist. Well, of course I don’t know this man, but given everything he’s said (see a few ofthose comments here), what he stands for, his actions, I’d say it would be a pretty fair bet to say this man is clearly racist.
How much more evidence do we need? Don’t worry, as long as this guy is in the public eye, he’ll keep supplying the evidence. Take a statement he made a few weeks back, for example. During his weekly broadcast via social network, on January 23rd, in a video shown in social networks, Bolsonaro spoke on the Amazon Council and the government wanting to integrate Brazil’s indigenous people into society with the Minister of Infrastructure, Tarcísio de Freitas.
“The Indian changed, is evolving, the Indian is increasingly becoming a human being equal to us. So, to make the Indian more and more integrated into society and really own his Indian land. This is what we want here,” said Bolsonaro.
The obvious question for me here would be, who is the “us” that he’s talking about? Is he referring to Brazilians who live in the urban environment? Is he speaking of white Brazilians/people? Some could interpret the we as being members of his administration. You KNOW who I think he was talking about.
It seems that Indians took the statement the same way that I did as the organization for Indian rights, the Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB), released a statement saying it would sue the President for the crime of racism.
Sociologist Jesse Souza also makes a connection between the President, his family background and the class that he represents as clear signals of what Bolsonaro is really all about. In my own view, Bolsonaro simply uses Brazil’s own discourse of denying the existence of racismo even with the abundance of evidence of its existence in Brazil’s past and present. All of this brings me to his latest statement in terms of the race issue.
We’ve known for a while now that there are a number of black Brazilians who voted for and support Bolsonaro. We also know that there are a number of black people who consider themselves conservatives. Depending on what topic we’re actually dealing with, in some areas, there’s nothing wrong with that. But then there are areas of support that very problematic, particularly when the discussion is race.
Rio state deputado (congressman) Hélio Lopes has made it clear that he is one of President Bolsonaro’s biggest supporters. So strong was his allegiance to then deputado Bolsonaro, during Bolsonaro’s run for the presidency in 2018, Lopes declared his new name to be Hélio Bolsonaro. Besides his constant support and being at Bolsonaro’s side in numerous public events and photos, black Brazilians also took issue with his response to an activist who confronted him over his unwavering support for the President. For many black people, Lopes had proven himself to be a “sambo”, a “house negro”, a “capitão do mato” or a “Fiel Jagunço” due to his unwavering support of Bolsonaro and willingness to be the President’s shield against accusations of racism.
With this in mind, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised with Lopes’s reaction to Bolsonaro’s latest racial controversy.
On Thursday, January 20th, in a vídeo in which Bolsonaro appeared next to the new Minister of Citizenship, Onyx Lorenzoni, the President called Lopes to appear in the live vídeo broadcast. While commenting on the increase in the payment of per diems for soldiers, the president asked Lopes for an example of the food on the Army menu.
During this interaction, in a joking manner, Bolsonaro said: “The negão is Hélio, eh. My brother who took a long time to be born. It took him 10 months to be born. Helió got a little queimadinha (burned). Hélio got a little burned there. Otherwise, he’d have my face.”
Lopes gave a quick smirk and left from the scene. Just a little joke, right? When we consider the clear rejection of Brazilians to dark skin, I consider this to be a “joke” of bad taste. Brazilian society is notorious for insulting people for being black, and often times these insults are downplayed by the people using them when they defend themselves against accusations of racismo by claiming that they have black friends, black barbers, black cousins, black grandmothers or black spouses. Then we can’t forget the old saying/belief in Brazilian society that, when a child comes out dark, the mother must have had a “barriga suja”, or a ‘dirty belly’.
In a Brazil that has perhaps dozens of sayings that belittle the black population, most people are familiar with the saying. The Tribuna de Jundiaí listed the so-called “barriga suja” as number eight on its list of “15 racist expressions that you need to remove from your vocabular.” On the site, “barriga suja” is described as a term “used when the woman had a black son. If she had a black son, something impure, like a ‘dirty belly’. It’s one of the most despicable comments”.
Now, before someone makes the point, I know that Bolsonaro didn’t actually say that Lopes’s mother had a ‘dirty belly’, but implying that Lopes was born black because he stayed in the womb too long is something along the same line. By implying that Lopes, as his “brother”, was supposed to have looked like him, Bolsonaro again, indirectly, sets whiteness as a standard skin color. Using the same logic, if they were supposed to be “brothers”, why couldn’t Bolsonaro have been born looking like Lopes? Well, he would never say that and we know the reason. It cannot be denied that Brazilians, in general, don’t like dark skin and try to avoid having children with dark skin. It’s a fact.
Considering Bolsonaro’s long history of offensive comments, it’s understandable that black people saw racism in Bolsonaro’s little “joke”, and in the fashion of a faithful servant, Lopes was quick to defend his “master”.
Taking to social networks to comment on the controversy, Lopes said he didn’t need the press to come out in his defense because, for him, Bolsonaro said nothing wrong.
“You’re going to start with that mimimi (whining) speech of racism, wow. You’re no good. You used to say, “Bolsonaro’s walking around with a black guy because he was accused of racism. Do you know how long I’ve been friends with him? And you guys keep talking this crap,” said Lopes.
I’m not a person that throws out insults at the drop of a dime, especially without knowing the full story and background of a given scenario, but I swear, every time Hélio
Lopes Bolsonaro opens his mouth, he reminds me a little more of that Stephen character played so well by Samuel Jackson in the film Django. It would be curious to know if Lopes watched that film and what his thoughts would be on that character. He also reminds me of something Malcolm X once said. During the slavery era, the house negro “loved the master more than the master loved himself”. It goes without saying, had Lopes been born in times of slavery, we know what kind of negro he would have been.