Note from BW of Brazil: Not all that surprising here as the internet has been a great tool for understanding how people really feel about various topics. Facebook and Twitter messages have been periodically featured here to gauge how people feel to provide insight for analysis. Through this avenue, we’ve seen a popular comedian make a racist joke, we’ve seen that people note a preference in the dating patterns of black futebol players, how fans react when a black Brazilian player or foreign player does something wrong and what Brazilians thought of black Cuban doctors coming to fill the doctor shortage.
As countless posts on this blog have made clear, Brazil’s slave history still plays out today in relations through daily social interactions and jokes from all over the country. And as this history is still so much a part of the social imagination, there really shouldn’t be any surprise when we hear jokes that still associate black women with the kitchen, the bedroom or the slave quarters. Lamentable, but let’s face it, it’s still a reality. Such comments, sentiments and insults are the result of a deeply embedded belief in white superiority. It was also the case in another situation involving the internet, a young black woman and a young white male back in August of 2012, coincidentally, in the same state as today’s story.
Police in Minas Gerais investigate case of racism on the internet
By Junia Oliveira
The Civil Police of the city Muriaé in the Zona da Mata region of Minas Gerais, initiated yesterday an investigation into allegations of racism committed on the internet against a 20-year old, a resident of the city. She, a young black woman, had her Facebook profile bombarded by prejudicial comments after a posting a photo last week in which she appears with her white boyfriend, 18.
After deactivating her account on the social network, the girl went to the Regional Police of the municipality yesterday to file a complaint. According to the press office of the local civil police, the investigations will be carried out by the 31st Precinct, which will request support from the Delegacia Especializada de Investigações de Crimes Cibernéticos (Department of Specialized Investigations of Cybercrime) of Belo Horizonte (the capital city) to discover the identity of the perpetrators of the offenses.
One message asks where the teen had “comprado a escrava” (bought the slave). Another asks if he is the young woman’s owner. In still another, a man says it looked like the two were in the senzala (slave quarters). The photo was published in another profile, “Pretinho do poder”, in which several people criticized the discrimination. By the early evening yesterday, the posting received almost 150,000 likes, 20,000 shares and over 34 thousand comments.
After all of the repercussion, the victim posted a message in her profile lamenting the fact. “There will be racism as long as people don’t understand that on the inside somos todos iguais (we are all equal),” she said (1).
In the city Zona da Mata, the climate is of revolt. The administrative assistant Tamires de Carvalho Santos, 24, is shocked by the prejudiced reactions. “It’s terrible, we’re shocked. Everything that’s on the internet is public, but not to offend people. It is uncalled for violence,” she said.
The lawyer Alexandre Atheniense, specializing in digital rights, points out that after the publication of the Civil Regulatory Framework of the Internet on June 23, providers such as Facebook are required to preserve all connection records, applications and registration information for Internet users who publish racist content.
He adds that the police may request information, capable of revealing the identity of who committed the crime. “Contrary to what people often think, the internet is not a lawless zone, which makes any publication of this kind occur without the possibility of identifying the perpetrators of racist acts,” he warns. Atheniense believes the crime may be characterized as an injúria racial (racial injury/slur), under Article 140 of the Penal Code.
In this case, discrimination is directed against a specific person, while in racism, under Article 20, offenses belittle a certain color, ethnicity or religion. “Injury attacks the subjective self-esteem and subjective honor of the victim,” he explains. Punishment is one to three years in prison, plus a fine. The attorney points out that with the new legislation, the chances of punishing offenders are even greater.
1. Again, we see another example of this phrase. As noted in a number of previous posts, it’s often amazing how automatic the phrase “we’re all equal” is uttered whenever a black Brazilian experiences something of a racist nature.