“Where’d you buy that slave?”: Police investigate case of internet racism in reference to interracial couple

Polícia de Minas apura caso de racismo na internet.1

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.

In comments, one reads, "where'd you buy that slave", while another reads that the photo looks as if it was taken in the slave quarters while still another reads, "sell her to me"
A few of the comments: 1st) “where’d you buy that slave”, 2nd) “sell her to me”, 3rd) looks like you’re in the senzala (slave quarters), 4th) are you the owner? 6th) I think you stole the white guy to take the photo, 11th) mess around and she turn into Nescau (chocolate milk)

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.

Note

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.

Source: Guia Muriaé, EM

About Marques Travae 2897 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

5 Comments

  1. I need clarification on somethings. Maybe this is me looking at it from a U.S. perspective, but the people most Brazilians consider white are no where near it. For example, the guy she is with in the picture. His complexion is borderline yellow to dark. I’m just curious as to how he could have been considered “white”? Then there are the other images of people who consider themselves white, which I have seen on this site. For example, the law students who were suspended or expelled from college for racial hazing. That guy holding the woman in a link chain would not be considered white in America.

    Again, I need clarification. Maybe there is something I don’t know. Please correct me.

    • Hello…Good to receive your message…

      First, let’s understand that the idea of race is dependent upon one’s concept of race. What may be black or white for you may be somewhat different in other areas of the world (even it’s a myth). Brazil, as most of Latin America, lives under what we call a “dictatorship of whiteness” in which whiteness is presented as the ultimate aspiration of millions of people. The media is dominated by persons who many would consider white even in Europe. There are also millions of people who one could call “Brazilian white”, those types of people who could only be seen as white in Brazil.

      Some of these people get the shock of their lives when they arrive in countries like the US and learn that they are not seen as white. Brazil’s long time plan/dream has been the elimination of all traces of blackness from the country’s realm. This has been promoted by Europeam immigration and the encouragement of interracial relations. The funny thing is that it seems that 19th century elites who thought up this plan didn’t consider in their goal of whiteness through mixing that while it presents a lighter skinned population, it would also present a “white Brazilian” population that’s not quite white.

      In the southern states of Brazil, one finds millions of Brazilians who are descendants of Germans, Italians and Polish immigrants who are clearly white, a whiteness that a large percentage of “white Brazilians” don’t quite have. Many aspire for this white ideal, identify themselves as such and, as it is the ideal for so many, they are often accepted as such.

      Hope that answers the question…

    • ” For example, the guy she is with in the picture. His complexion is borderline yellow to dark. I’m just curious as to how he could have been considered “white”?”

      That Brazilian guy in the picture would not be considered Black in the U.S. Living in California I have seen Hispanics darker than him who are not considered Black in the U.S.

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