Note from BW of Brazil: I have to admit, even after 17 years studying how racism and racial discrimination functions in Brazil, every now and then I’m still caught off guard by how deep racist sentiments are embedded in fabric of the nation. Propaganda is amazing thing. I am speaking on the fact that for several decades in the 20th century, Brazil successfully presented itself as a “racial democracy” in which people weren’t judged by the color of their skin and physical features. How could anyone believe this to be true in a country that received the most enslaved Africans in the Americas and established a cruel racial hierarchy that determined one’s value based on their phenotype? And of course we know that this association between blackness and criminality continues to play out everyday across the nation (see here and here, also)
OK, let me back up a bit. After all of the material posted on just this blog alone, I’m never really surprised by racist sentiments but it is sometimes shocking that people in such prominent, influential positions in society not only have strong racial bias, but are also brazen enough to make such racist statements in public. Today’s case stands out specifically because just a week and a half ago, some Afro-Brazilian university students blew the lid off of the racist sentiments of teachers and professors in Brazilian schools, colleges and universities with the hastag “#meuprofessorracist”, meaning ‘my racist professor’ going viral in social networks.
The other thing that strikes me about today’s case is that it only came to light because some students in an engineering course exposed it. As the university setting is still overwhelmingly white even after a decade and a half of affirmative action policies and the student body of a course such as Engineering is even more white, we have only leaned about this case because the students in this class decided to speak up. I can only imagine how many classes there must be in which incidents such as the one below happen and no one says a word!
UFRJ professor links crime to skin color in classroom
Courtesy of Pragmatismo Político with extra info courtesy of Jornal Floripa
“On the street, how do you detect a thief? First look at the color.” UFRJ professor still suggested a security system where only white people pass through. More than 20 students denounced the teacher
About 25 students of the engineering course of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) denounced a professor after a series of racist comments in the classroom.
According to the students, the professor said that a thief should be recognized in the street by means of skin color. The statements were made by the professor in the last month of March. The complaint was formalized this week.
“On the street how do you spot a thief? First you look at the color,” said the teacher, according to the complaint, pointing at his skin.
The teacher added: “If you have a security system where only white people pass through, when a black passes the system beeps.”
According to the Centro Acadêmico de Engenharia da UFRJ (CAEng or Academic Engineering Center of UFRJ), this was not the first time that the teacher behaved publicly in a prejudiced manner.
“Several other prejudiced complaints have been reported,” the Academic Center said in posting on social networks, adding that it repudiates the episode of racism.
A follower of the Academic Center page claimed that the professor deserved to leave the university directly to the police station. “That does not deserve a repudiation note. He deserved to leave the classroom in a police car.”
CAEng submitted the complaint to the board of the Polytechnic School and to the Ombudsman’s Office of UFRJ.
On its page, the Academic Center laments what happened and says that this is not the first case of racism inside the university. “We know that this was not the first and sadly it will not be the last discriminatory occurrence of race within the university, but we know that our struggle to change this reality is already being a differential towards a society free of racism and any other type of prejudice” , the statement said.