Note from BW of Brazil: So what is another headline making piece about Brazilian racism without a ridiculous statement by our dear “King of futebol”, Pelé? Before I get into Mr. Nascimento’s latest and predictable idiotic statements about racism, let me share with you a recent conversation that reminded me of the influence of someone like Pelé in the daily discourse of the population. To be clear, I’m not saying that the following incident can be traced directly back to Pelé himself, but I will say that the stance of Pelé and others of his ilk on issues of race were clearly promulgated widely throughout Brazil for a number of years to the point that one could say this attitude and reaction seems to be in the water.
A few days ago, I had a conversation with a 30-something year old black woman who works as a hairstylist in a popular salon in São Paulo. I asked her if she’d heard about the controversy involving the new Globo TV show that debuts on September 16th called Sexo e as negas. I told her that many black women were outraged for a number of reasons about the show, even though it hasn’t even actually hit the airwaves as of yet. She responded that this was ridiculous and people who think in this way are “radical”. She went on to say that blacks are hardly on television and with this new show, what was there to complain about. When I said that the issue was due to images of black women always being presented as hyper-sexual “mulatas” or maids, she responded that there is also prejudice against gays and Asians and dismissed the whole issue.
So, rejecting the exhibition of another TV program that surely plays a role in the ways that everyday people perceive of women of African ancestry is something “radical”? The woman went on to say that there is also prejudice against the Japanese and gays and if people don’t like the show they should just change the channel. She wouldn’t address the fact that as Globo TV is the most dominant TV channel in Brazil that is known for manipulation and its steady programming of sex and scandal to stay on top, not to mention the fact that millions of people won’t simply turn the channel; after all, the stereotype of the sexually lascivious mulata has long been woven into Brazilian consciousness. So, if most people won’t turn the channel, exactly how would this fight stereotypes? To be sure, there most likely millions of other women who take the same stance to such questions. Which brings me to this latest gem from Mr. Edson Arantes do Nascimento.
As we’ve already dealt with the “Pelé issue” in previous posts (here and here), for any one whose has paid attention to the man’s opinions on racial/social issues over the past decades, this latest episode is nothing surprising. Opining on Pelé’s opinions on social issues, former futebol star and current congressman Romário said, “Pelé has no fucking awareness of what’s going on in this country.” I, for one, don’t actually see it in this way. I truly believe that any hugely successful black public figure has been bought and paid for by “the machine” that helped to create him or her. That includes YOUR idol as well. Let’s face it. It’s part of the price of fame and fortune. Most of these figures simply aren’t going to risk a luxurious lifestyle to speak out and consistently position themselves on social issues. It’s simply career suicide on one side, life-threatening on the other. It’s really not that hard to tell.
Now for the latest on “The King.”
Pelé minimizes racism in futebol but says it should be curbed
by Marta Nogueira
On Wednesday, futebol legend Pelé downplayed racist abuse of fans, but stressed that it should be curbed and that he was the target of racism when he was a player.
“I think it has to be curbed, but we have to know to what level. Because they are natural explosions, that are not going to change. If this was so, the Brazilian team couldn’t play in Latin America because we would have to stop all the games,” the former player told Reuters in Rio de Janeiro.
“If a person is called Japanese or German, it’s the same thing,” he added.
Racism in futebol was in evidence in Brazil in recent days, after which fans of the Grêmio team called Santos’ goalkeeper Aranha, “macaco” (monkey) and imitating the sounds of the animal, on the 28th of August in Porto Alegre. Aranha complained to the referee and expressed his outrage after the game.
The Rio Grande do Sul team was excluded by the Superior Court of Sports Justice (STJD) from the Copa do Brasil (Brazil Cup) because of the episode, but appealed the decision.
“I don’t want to criticize Aranha, because he’s an excellent person, my buddy, he’s calm, pure, but was caught by surprise. If he did the same thing that Daniel (Alves) did when they threw a banana (at him) there Europe and he ate it, you saw that no one said anything more,” said Pelé, about the Brazilian player’s gesture that occurred in the Spanish Championship in April, which generated worldwide repercussions.
Pelé believes the reaction of goalkeeper Aranha contributed to “all this promotion for those who have this kind of racism.”
The three-time world champion with the Brazilian seleção (national team) also said that when he was a player he was a victim of racism several times.
“In my day, everywhere we played in Latin America, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, they called me negro, monkey, everything. The explosion of fans even here when we would play in the interior (in the country), they insulted and it was not just me,” he said.
“They insulted us every name. I think, of course, we have to curb it, it’s a thing of racism and unfortunately, racism is not only against blacks, it’s against the Japanese, against the poor. It has to be curbed. But I think things have to be taken differently.”
Pele’s mind is still trapped in a slave quarters
By Marco Antônio Araújo
Another work can be incorporated into the collection of the Pelé Museum: an audio edited with the greatest nonsense that the King of Futebol pronounced during his existence. In this collection cannot be missing miss the imbecilities that the Athlete of the Century thinks about a topic that would would be costly, but that in his mouth is sold at a bargain price: racism.
They perceive the refinement of reasoning that didn’t manage to leave the senzalas (slave quarters: “If I were to want to stop the game every time they call me monkey or crioulo, all games would stop. The fan, from animosity, he screams. I think we have to curb racism, but it’s not in a public place that will curb it. The more attention you pay to it, the more you sharpen it.”
If it were a white man saying this was a heap of nonsense, it would be lampooned by public opinion. In the mouth the greatest player of all time, it’s a source of shame and sorrow. When Pelé opens his mouth, we set the struggle for equality, justice and civility back centuries.
No, we are not all monkeys. We are human beings. And whoever thinks differently is abdicating his humanity. When a black omits himself or worse, accepts prejudice as something natural, unavoidable, he’s doing the dirtiest work, of putting himself beneath racist people.
It is as if they said, these ignorant slaves: racism is not a major issue, and the world was always so unfair and cruel. It’s a whipping in the face of society. Pelé should urgently review this cowardly and subaltern thought. Someone needs to put this guy in his deserved place: to the side of blacks side and the good people. In the meantime, he could at least shut up – and spend his fortune in silence.
Pelé never was a black man of his generation
By Marcos Romão
Pelé says racism should be ignored.
Pelé’s generation is 10 years older than mine. I learned as a youth, listening to black women and men who were 10 years older than me that Pelé was an enigma, that it seemed that he didn’t see what black men and women his age saw around, racism and apartheid in Brazil.
The black men and women his age didn’t understand how a black man who won worldwide fame, in the same era in which civil rights struggles of black Americans emerged, that would play ball in countries that fought against the racist European colonialism that dominated Africa and could see what was happening and remain silent about racism and apartheid in Brazil and in the world..
In this same era that Pelé says he was insulted all the time on the field and that if he would have stopped the game there wouldn’t any more game, he was both the greatest pitchman to sell the image of Brazil as country of the racial democracy. Pelé was living proof that racism did not exist in Brazil.
Photos of Rei Pelé (King Pelé) were posted in the halls of entries of all the embassies and Brazilian consulates, next to coffee advertisements, pictures of Ipanema and baianas selling acarajé.
To the sound of Bossa Nova every foreigner who would get the visa, received the impression that in Brazil, the harmony between the “races” flowed like the black and white colors of the sidewalk curves of Copacabana.
Pelé already knew since 1960 that there were black men and women paulistas (São Paulo residents) who denounced Brazilian racism and who did not accept discrimination and organized themselves to fight it. I have reports of several activists who sought him out and he changed the subject.
Pelé was not like the blacks of his time, he never was before and not even now. Pelé as a player will continue forever as King of the Ball. Pelé. It becomes increasingly clear, he made his choice for the path of his life long ago. He decided not only not to speak of racism, he opted to be a reactionary who sought to hide it. He is exactly that: a reactionary, conservative black man.
After all, we blacks can be whatever we want and we assume the consequences for our choices. We just cannot say that this or that because we are following the crowd, like the racist girl from Grêmio.
As a famous 73 year old black man, he knows each of his words hold great weight. The weight of a verdict which teaches an entire black youth, that in order for one to succeed you must be yes man, lower your head, get on your knees and everyday take the complimentary pat of the black kid in pursuit of success.
Pelé, as he made his choice, that then carries the weight of being a non- solidarity reactionary to Brazilian blacks and those of the world. Like the old racist, the old black that accepts racism has no way, Pelé is on a path of no return.
We worry then with education and saving thousands of black youth and children, victims of Brazil’s genocidal racism, from death. Racism that feeds itself on this perverse philosophy that l King Pelé represents so well: “That doesn’t matter to me. I don’t pay attention to racism.”
Note from BW of Brazil: For many years, the Afro-Brazilian community has expressed disappointment in the way the futebol legend consistently avoids taking a stand against racism. A number of people making comments about Pelé’s latest ridiculous statement wrote that, “A silent Pelé is a poet.” Below are just a few of the other comments people who are all too familiar with Mr. Nascimento’s mindless comments have made. (Below in original Portuguese with English translations beneath)
Jessica: “Pelé, my dear…I wanted to tell you so many times, but really it would only be a waste of my time. Shut up, please.”
Ana: “Steve Biko said: ‘The most powerful weapon of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed’, but I don’t think this even applies to Pelé…He enjoys himself too much with all of this…”
Alyxandra: “People, Pelé always was an imbecile on race questions since always. Stop giving him your ears.”
Alexsandra: “Edson (Pelé) is a black racist, he doesn’t accept himself.”