Note from BW of Brazil: This story just keeps getting better. It’s been over a week since it happened but I’ve waited for the followup stories to come out before touching on it again. If you haven’t heard about this story, here’s a short summary. In a futebol tournament, a white female fan called the opposing team’s black goalie a “macaco”, meaning ‘monkey’, because her team, the home team, was losing in the game. As fans calling black futebol players ‘monkey’ is a common problem in Brazilian stadiums as well as in other countries around the world, the goalie appealed to the referee. The sports channel ESPN’s cameras actually caught the woman yelling ‘macaco’ on camera. Since then, this latest episode of racism in Brazil and in stadiums has been a hot topic on countless news programs and websites. As if this weren’t enough, the plot gets better. The TV cameras at the game also caught black fans in the same group as the woman calling the goalie a monkey. So what could possibly top all of that off? Well, read on…
Black friends defend young woman that offended Aranha: “She’s not racist”
Patrícia Moreira will present testimony on Monday at the 4th Police Precinct in Porto Alegre to try to clarify the incident in the Arena in the match between Grêmio and Santos.
By Diego Guichard
Those who know Patricia Moreira, being investigated for screaming a racial slur (injúria racial) at the goalkeeper Aranha in the match between Grêmio and Santos, last Thursday, ensure that she does not have any signs that indicate that she is a “racist” person. This is what 23 year old woman’s black friends that live near her in the northern area of Porto Alegre guarantee. GloboEsporte.com visited the area on Saturday afternoon and spoke with the neighbors. The young woman has not been found for comment.
Lucas da Silva, 20, is one of the friends who defends Patricia. He thinks she was carried away by the “thrill of the moment”, after the Rio Grande do Sul team lost at home 2-0 in its debut for the Copa do Brasil (Brazil Cup) in the second round of the tournament.
“She’s good people, she goes roda de samba (samba circles) with blacks, she likes blacks, she goes out with blacks. It was the emotion of the moment, she is not racist. She is crazy for Grêmio, goes to all the games and is a member,” he affirmed.
The owner of a market located near Patrícia’s home, the merchant Marcio Batista Traslatti, 49, is another to come out in defense of the young woman. A former futebol referee, he also believes that the girl got caught up in the “excitement”.
“She’s not all of this they are saying she is, she’s speechless girl. At the time of the excitement, one pulls and the others follow. She followed and came out saying nonsense. She was in wrong place at the wrong time. Let’s not throw the blame on her,” he opines.
The opinion of friends, however, is not shared by all in the neighborhood. While the group gave an interview, one lady, also black, who declined to be identified, showed indignation at the episode in the Arena.
“You have to appreciate where you live, she devalued the neighborhood.”
On Friday night, the home of Patrícia Moreira, who was caught by ESPN cameras shouting the word “macaco” (monkey) towards the goalkeeper Aranha, was stoned. She took refuge in the homes of relatives and friends to avoid retaliation. Subpoenaed to testify, she will present herself at the 4th Police Precinct in Porto Alegre on Monday, as will another fan identified by Arena cameras.
Aranha case: lawyer of Grêmio fan minimizes incident and said: “she is not a racist person”
By De André Carvalho
The young Grêmio fan involved in the latest case of racism in Brazilian futebol will not be coming out of the spotlight anytime soon. Earlier on Monday (1st), Patrícia Moreira met with attorney William Abrão to begin to mount her line of defense. The first statements of Abrão, however, were disastrous.
Making the following remark “she is from a humble family, so she has black friends who never have any type of problem with her,” the lawyer ended up producing another phrase full of racial prejudice. For Abrão, the young woman’s offense directed at the young goalkeeper Aranha was an “unfortunate insult at a time of pressure in the game.”
“She wants to make an apology to the Aranha. She also wants to apologize to the Grêmio team and fans,” the lawyer said, adding that “it happened in the heat of the game.” For the lawyer, “she is not a racist person.”
Still according to Abrão, Patrícia Moreira has not defined how she will apologize to Aranha – the fan, who had stoned her house stoned and lost her job because of the incident, declined to speak to the media.
The quarter-final match between Santos and Grêmio was adjourned and a trial in the STJD (Supremo Tribunal de Justiça Desportiva or Supreme Court of Sports Justice) was been scheduled for Wednesday (3) on the same date that the two teams would face off in Vila Belmiro.
The Rio Grande do Sul team will be denounced in Article 243-G of CBJD (Brazilian Code of Sports Justice), which points to the following offense: “discriminatory practice or contemptuous outrageous act, related to prejudice by reason of ethnic origin, race, sex, color, age, condition of elderly or disabled person.”
If convicted, Grêmio could be fined up to R$100,000 (US$44,460, plus loss of points awarded for a win in the competition regulations.
Fan denies racism and apologizes to goalkeeper Aranha
by Lucas Azevedo
Patricia Moreira, caught by television cameras cursing Santos goalkeeper Aranha last week in a match against Grêmio in Porto Alegre, went public on Friday to deny having committed a racist act, using the word “macaco” to refer to the Santos player, and publicly apologize.
“I ask forgiveness from my heart, I’m not racist. That word, ‘macaco’, was not racism on my part. It had no racist intent. It was in the heat of the game. Grêmio was losing, Grêmio is really my passion. I always drop everything to go to the Grêmio game,” said the fan, in a quick statement to the press at a hotel in the city of Porto Alegre, where she lives.
Without hiding the storm that generated the controversy that has gained international attention, Patricia wept with every word she uttered. She looked frightened. Sobbing, she guaranteed that she didn’t wish to offend anyone with racist acts. “I apologize to Gremio, to the tricolor (Grêmio’s ncikname). I apologize to Aranha, I’m sorry. Really sorry,” said the 23-year old.
According to the fan’s lawyer, Alexandre Rossato, it is the young woman’s wish to apologize to Aranha personally. “What she wants is to apologize personally to the goalkeeper Aranha,” he told reporters after she left the room.
According to the lawyer, his client is not racist and used the term “monkey” just to insult an opposing player. “Monkey in the context within the game of futebol doesn’t become racist, even more so with her intention. It becomes as insult. The term ‘macaco’ is another term used in futebol,” he said.
Rossato lamented the exposure that Patricia has been going through since the incident and claims that she didn’t receive more threats only because she was hiding. “She lost her life. Hence, she is no longer suffering threats, because she was no longer being found,” said the lawyer.
He called what the young woman is going through a “public trial”. “This case will be a landmark for effectively ending racism. We are being hypocritical only punishing Patrícia. Unfortunately she has already been judged socially. Racism is embedded in society, unfortunately it’s a social problem and we can’t throw it only on this girl.”
Note from BW of Brazil: So, what’s your take on this? Is it possible for a young white woman to use a dehumanizing term that has been used to humiliate a race of people worldwide for centuries? And what about her black friends who came to her defense? To be real, what happened here is in fact nothing new. Here’s my take. The woman in this case doesn’t have to be a hardcore racist to keep a term like “monkey” as her trump card. Even if she’s not a hardcore racist she obviously knew the humiliating effects of the word and the fact that she, as a white woman, would never be insulted with this comparison to a member of the animal kingdom of which scientific racism has also associated with persons of African descent. She will never feel the sting of this insult on the school playground when she’s the only one who doesn’t fit into the Eurocentric standard of beauty.
There is simply no excuse here.
But I DO agree with the second lawyer in the case: racism and the usage of the term ‘macaco’ is so common in Brazil that the entire society should be called out for the continued popular usage of the term. Instead, today, racism and the maintenance of the belief in blackness as a symbol of inferiority remain as endemic as ever. ‘Macaco’ rolled off of that woman’s tongue so easily because it is Brazil’s favorite term for insulting its citizens of visible African descent. Surely she wouldn’t have insulted the goalie with this term had he been white. Which again shows how ridiculous the “we’re all monkeys” slogan was initiated and popularized several months ago among Brazilians after a similar incident of racism happened in Spain against a Brazilian player.
But what about the first lawyer’s tired suggestion that the woman wasn’t racist because “she has black friends”? Are you serious? A well-paid professional is hired to defend someone against accusations of racism and he comes up with the most typical excuse that someone accused of racism would use? No wonder she has a new lawyer! But even so, let’s consider this excuse, as well we should since her black friends stepped forward and defended her. Here’s the thing. A person who accepts another person into their intimate social circle may or may not harbor beliefs about that friend based upon whatever social stigma he or she may have. In the same way that someone could be friends with or love someone who has whatever social stigma, the stigma could remain a social stigma in the mind.
For example, a person may have an intimate relationship with someone who has a physical deformity. The person who is friends with such a person clearly knows that that person has some sort of defect, at least according to society’s standards and, as such, they most likely would n0t trade their position of being “normal” according to these same standards in order assume the social defect of the friend. This is part of the reason why it would be difficult for me to accept her apology as I would know that such a term would always be lurking in the back of her mind, almost as a sort of knee-jerk response. Again, it is a “trump card”. In a Brazil that puts white women on such a high pedestal, how could she not feel a certain superiority? Her usage of this word makes her an active participant in the privileges of whiteness that one can note in all areas of Brazilian society. Regardless of whether she has black friends or not, there is no guarantee that she would never use such a term with any one of them. Which leads to my last point.
In director Spike Lee’s 1989 classic film about race relations, Do the Right Thing (released as Faça a Coisa Certa in Brazil), Lee’s character Mookie questions one of the white characters about why he uses the term “nigger” so much when some of his favorite entertainers and athletes are in fact black. He replies, “Magic (Johnson), Eddie (Murphy), Prince are not niggers, I mean, are not black. I mean, they’re black but not really black. They’re more than black.” The point here is that the closeted racist may feel a certain closeness and connection with certain blacks but still see blacks outside of their comfort zone as “others”. I mean, does someone really believe that sports idols such as Neymar or Pelé wouldn’t be treated differently if they were just Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior or Edson Arantes do Nascimento, regular everyday citizens? As good as the belief in the “we’re all equal” ideal sounds, socially, we’re not all equal and situations such as this one prove it over and over again.
In closing, I will say, no, this incident doesn’t automatically make this woman a rabid racist. But it is does make her a willing beneficiary of white supremacy and all of the privileges that come with it. Of course anyone can make a mistake, but if I were part of her circle of black friends, I’d definitely file this incident in “the vault”.