Note from BW of Brazil: So what else is new? Another day, another racist incident. Correction, two reports on the same day in the same region, the nation’s capital. As racism is a regular feature on this blog, there are a few things to take note of, both in general and in the cases below. One, the numbers of reports of racism or racial injuries are determined and narrowed down by a special office that deals with such incidents. Some are accepted as cases of racism, others are labeled as the lesser crime of racial injury and others are disregarded. To be noted here are the fact that so many calls are being made in the nation’s capital region alone as well as the stimulating incidents. What one should take from the reports is that people often assume, especially in a country like Brazil that for many years defined itself as “racial democracy” (even with so many reports to the contrary) that racism is not a serious problem.
Here’s the thing, no one knows the negative thoughts people have of particular people or groups until a moment of confrontation arises. As such, it is possible to believe that racism is not a problem if confrontations are rare or one is never personally a victim. When these incidents do in fact occur, many people are caught totally off guard either because it never previously happened to them or because they didn’t believe racism actually existed. It would be fair to assume with the number of reports on this blog alone that Brazil clearly fits into a category of a country with strong racial overtones as well as a place where persons with white skin (consciously or subconsciously) see themselves as being better than those with darker skin.
The other thing of note here is an undercurrent belief that “pardos/mulatos/browns” are treated in a manner completely different from “pretos/negros/blacks” and thus should be recognized as a completely separate group. On this blog, our stance follows the understanding of “race” as advocated by the Movimento Negro (black movement). If a person is subject to racial discrimination based upon physical appearance, regardless of whether that person sees him or herself as “preto”, “negro” or “pardo”, it is the African origin that stimulates such racist aggression. The two women involved in the separate cases below attest to this. While one would generally be regarded as a black woman, the second, according to some standards, could be considered as “brown”, “pardo” or “mixed”, etc. But notice, in the heat of confrontation, the second woman was insulted as a black woman regardless of the amount of non-African DNA she may possess. An author of a recent post commented on this facet of identity and classification in a way that clearly speaks to this debate. Anyway, on to the stories in the land of “racial democracy” and “we’re all equal”.
See the video at the bottom of the page that captured scenes from one of the incidents as well as comments from the victims and specialists (1)
Two women are victims of racism in a beauty salon in capital city region
Woman refused to be tended to and insulted a black manicurist
Courtesy of R7
Racist offenses ended in confusion in beauty salon is Asa Sul region of capital
Two women complained that they were victims of racism on Friday (14) in a beauty salon in Asa Sul, located in the central region of the Federal District Brasília. The aggressor was a customer.
According to the salon’s receptionist, Sara Arruda Lopes da Silva, the woman who is suspected of racism went to the salon to get her nails done and asked not to be served by one of the victims, a manicurist who is black.
“She looked at her and said, ‘does it have to be this one here? Can’t it be that other one with the lighter highlights in her hair?’”
The manicurist, who declined to be named, didn’t understand the reason for the rejection and said she was offended by the client.
“As I was in front (of her), she asked for me to move because my presence was bothering her. I felt rejected, worthless.”
There was an exchange of words, screaming and confusion in the salon. One of the employees recorded everything by cell phone. Another black customer who was also being served saw the offense and decided to defend the manicurist. She was also a victim of racism.
“I said I thought it was absurd what was happening and she said: ‘I don’t understand why people of your color, of this bad race think they have the right to talk to me.’”
The salon’s owner, Eliete Lima de Carvalho, had to intervene.
“I called her and told her to apologize to my employee.”
Police were called and the occurrence was recorded in the 1st police precinct.
According to police, the woman accused of racism is the Australian Loise Stefani Garcia Gaunt, an employee of the CEB (Companhia Energética de Brasília or Energetic Company of Brasília) that has lived in Brazil for five years; she has several offenses for drunk driving. As she offended everyone at the station, she was arrested by an agent.
“I felt very humiliated, I had never experienced this. I didn’t think it was right that she comes to my job and humiliates me. I never thought I’d go through this.”
After everything she suffered, the manicurist said she had no problems in returning to work after the aggressions. “It wasn’t difficult because my coworkers gave me a lot of support and a lot of strength for me to not give up the profession,” she said.
Note from BW of Brazil: A few hours before the incident above, the following occurrence happened on a bus…
Bus cashier is a victim of racism after a bus exit door jams
“I was so angry. I wanted to beat this woman,” said the clerk
by Matheus Teixeira
Last week, Brazil embraced the cause of the soccer player Paulo César Tinga, a victim of racial prejudice during a soccer match in Peru. Leaving the field, he said he would trade all the achievements of his career for a more equal world. A few days later, Brasília was the scene of a similar case. The address changes, but not the feeling: “I could just cry. It gives a sense of powerlessness thinking that there are still those who judge your character by skin color,” said Viação Pioneira bus cashier Claudinei Gomes, 33, who was called names while working last Friday (14), on line 255, which makes trips to Santa Maria/M Norte.
There was a breakdown on a bus in which the door was stuck at a stop in Taguatinga, an administrative region of the Federal District. It was 12.40 pm, the sun was strong and about 20 people were trapped inside. Nervous, a woman considered using the emergency exit, but she would then need to break the window. The driver explained that she would have to pay for the damage. The passenger asked Claudinei for the name of the driver, but she didn’t want to say: “That was when she started calling me names. She called me a negra ordinária (ordinary black) and a preta safada (black bitch). She wanted for me to reveal his name to denounce the company,” she recalls.
The cashier highlights that she had never been the victim of prejudice. “I was so angry. I wanted to beat this woman, but, as I am a rational being, unlike her, I restrained myself,” she recalls. At the same time, the Pioneira employee called the police to report the assault. When the door finally opened, the passenger was the first to get off. “She still screamed: ‘The police don’t come for blacks, no.’ The scene of her walking away unpunished was horrible,” she says.
Federal District records an average of 11 cases of racism per month
High demand for Disque-Racismo (Dial-Racism) service proves that this crime is still recurring. Australian who had assaulted black manicurist in the Asa Sul area was released by order of the court
The bus cashier Claudinei Gomes was called a “negra ordinária (ordinary black)” on a bus and went to record the occurrence with the police.
In less than a year, the Disque Racismo (Dial–Racism) in the Federal District received approximately 8,000 calls. Of the total, 126 were classified as racism – an average of 11 cases per month. The crimes occurred between March of last year and this month, in different areas of the Distrito Federal. In 2012, according to figures from the Secretaria de Segurança Pública do DF (Department of Public Security of the Federal District) there were 407 reports of racism and racial insults. Only last Friday, at least two women were victims of intolerance and prejudice because of skin color. In one case, the accused, an Australian woman, was caught and arrested. Less than 24 hours after being detained she was released. In the other case, the woman has not been identified.
Cases recorded by Disque-Racismo indicate that, every month, at least 11 incidents of racism are registered in the DF. Not included in these complaints are cases of racial injury. Employees who receive the calls are prepared to listen to the case, clarify doubts and classify complaints according to what is reported. The program is coordinated by the Secretaria Especial da Promoção da Igualdade Racial do DF (Sepir-DF or Special Secretariat for the Promotion of Racial Equality of the Distrito Federal).
The secretary of the folder, Viridiano Custódio, explains that he has worked on projects to combat racism. Lectures are held with society, with the aim of ensuring the culture and history of black culture and Africans. Custódio disapproves of offenses suffered by the two victims on Friday and says that the women will be sought out by the team. “We will offer a tracking service. We have an agreement with the Defensoria Pública (Public Defender) and the Ordem dos Advogados do Brasil (Order of Lawyers or Lawyers Guild of Brazil). It’s important that people register an occurrence. Today, we are in a process of making the society conscious to not tolerate this type of crime,” he says.
Coordinator of the Movimento Negro Unificado (Unified Black Movement) of DF, Jacira da Silva says that it’s necessary to put a stop to all kinds of racial discrimination. She explains that racism always comes after an offense, a disturbance or a quarrel. “But the discriminated person seeks their rights, making a police report and calling the police. The victim must report it. Whoever discriminates needs to answer for what they did,” she says. Jacira states that any discrimination affects a group far more than just the victim him/herself. “They are attacking our history. It’s a little bit of each. When someone is discriminated against, all the Brazilian people are discriminated against. Our origin is African. We must put a stop to this intolerance,” added the coordinator of the movement.
1. Toward the end of the video, the report also makes reference to another racist incident that happened in the nation’s capital last year.
News report of two incidents (in Portuguese)