One of the most controversial stories from 2011 involved an exchange being singer Preta Gil and federal deputy* Jair Bolsonaro. On March 28th, during the television program, “CQC”, of the TV Bandeirantes television network, Bolsonaro participated in a video question and answer session with viewers entitled, “O Povo Quer Saber (The People Want to Know)”. Bolsonaro appeared to be sitting in an empty classroom and responded to questions submitted to him via video. Video clips showed the persons asking the question as well as a typed summarized image of the question that they asked.
After responding to several questions, singer Preta Gil’s image appeared as she asked her question, which also appeared digitally typed beneath the image of her and Bolsonaro. Gil asked the following question:
“If your son fell in love with a black woman, what would you do?”
“Preta, I am not going to discuss promiscuity with whoever wants to discuss it. I don’t run the
risk because my sons were very well-educated and don’t live in environments as lamentably as yours.”
Bolsonaro’s comments drew a hailstorm of reactions, comments and protests over the next few weeks from people voicing their opinions on Facebook, Twitter, online article comment sections that featured the article with various militants of Brazil’s black civil rights organizations (Movimento Negro) also voicing their outrage. The singer affirmed on Twitter that she would sue the deputy over his comments. On Twitter, she wrote:
“I am a Black woman, strong and will go to the end against this racist, homophobic, disgusting deputy. I count on your support. Not only do it for me and my family, who have been offended and defamed by him, but for all the blacks and gays in this country.”
Bolsonaro is considered by many to represent the extreme right political persuasion in Brazil and has been criticized for many of his declarations. Among them, he has said that:
- He misses and has fond memories of the years of Brazil’s brutal military dictatorship (1964-1985) in which thousands of Brazilians were murdered, tortured and disappeared, including the current president, Dilma Rouseff, whose experience of torture in the early ’70s is well-known.
- He has voiced support for the development of an atomic bomb in Brazil.
- Defends the use of violence
- Would support the death penalty in Brazil
- Has also said in an interview with Playboy Brasil magazine that he would prefer his son died in a car accident rather than his son be gay, that homosexual couples lower property values and that he would be incapable of loving a homosexual son.
- Also positioning himself against the system of quotas in Brazilian universities, Bolsonaro said he would not accept being operated on by doctor who entered college through affirmative action or ride on a plane operated by someone who learned to fly through a system of quotas.
In the views of many Afro-Brazilians, Bolsonaro’s response to Gil insinuates that black women are naturally promiscuous and expounds upon the historic stereotype of the black Brazilian women as being only acceptable for work and/or sexual relations. Luiza Bairros, the Minister of the Special Secretary of Politics of the Promotion of Racial Equality, considered Bolsonaro’s statements to be an “explicit case of racism.” In regards to Bolsonaro’s statement about quotas, Bairros said that one cannot confuse the crime of racial prejudice with freedom of expression.
Preta Gil is the daughter of legendary singer/composer/musician and former Minister of Culture, Gilberto Gil. It should also be noted that the word Preta means black in Brazilian Portuguese.
* – Brazil’s federal legislative body is composed of the Federal Senate (the upper house) and the Chamber of Deputies (the lower house). There are 81 senate seats, with three senators from each of Brazil’s 26 states and three from the Federal District serving 8-year terms. The Chamber of Deputies is composed of 513 federal deputies that serve 4-year terms.