A 17-year old second year high school student at Centro Educacional IV, in Sobradinho II in the administrative region of Brazil’s capital city recently accused a philosophy teacher of racism.
“In a high tone he shouted from the front: ‘Oh neguinho, shut up.’ Then I said that he was my teacher two years ago and very well knew my name. Then he said he had forgotten my name, but the roll call was in front of him.”
As we discussed in previous articles, the terms neguinho (masculine) or neguinha (feminine) are common diminutive forms of the term negro or negra, meaning black, in Brazil. The term would be loosely translated as “little black (guy or girl)”. In the 2002 film Cidade de Deus (City of God), the name of the Neguinho character was actually translated as “little blackie”. For some, these terms can be accepted as affectionate nicknames, as confirmed recently by veteran journalist Glória Maria, but as Maria also stated, how the term is received can depend on the tone of one’s voice, the gesture (1) and also the situation.
Increasingly, more black Brazilians are seeing the terms as racial slurs. The student in this case registered an incident report at a police station in the city. The teacher will respond to an accusation of the usage of a racial slur.
The student registered an incident report at a police station
“I feel humiliated because he said something like that in a room of more than 30 students. And just a day after the Day of Black Consciousness”, said the student.
According to the pedagogical coordinator of the school, the teacher apologized to the student, in public, and in the classroom. Moreover, the coordinator said that the school board punished the teacher with a written warning. The student’s family will also be called to discuss the matter.
Jan.-June ‘202 – 120 cases of racism reported, 35 in 2012, 19 in Plano Piloto area of Brasília
According to Public Security Bureau, between January 2010 and June 2012, 120 incidents of bias-related crimes were registered in the Federal District. This year alone, there were 35 cases with the majority reported in the Plano Piloto region (19). Other students at the school also confirmed to have been victims in similar incidents.
Other students confirm similar incidents
In honor of the Black Consciousness Day, the Secretariat for Racial Equality launched the Federal District “disque-racismo (dial-racism)” system. Starting next year, every resident of the Federal District will be able to denounce acts of racism by telephone and follow-up on the progress of each report.
The teacher was contacted for comments on the incident but was not reached at press time. Journalists also went to the school in Sobradinho, but the teacher was not there at the time.
1. Brazilian Portuguese frequently adds suffixes to root words that give the word a diminutive or augmentative meaning. For example, the word caixa, meaning “box”, could become a “big box” by add the suffix -ão at the end of the word thus making it caixão. To make the same word signify a “small box”, the diminutive suffix can be added thus making it a caixinha. Diminutive or augmentative suffixes are often applied to names as well. In an example used by the flight captain Piatã, he is considered a black man. In Portuguese, black man is translated as negro or more specifically, homen negro. In that example, Piatã is called ‘neguinho’ which would mean ‘little black man’. While Piatã and some black Brazilians accept terms such as ‘neguinho’ (masculine) or ‘neguinha’ (feminine) as affectionate terms, others see the terms as racist and reject its usage. Neguinho is also the nickname of the famous Samba School singer Neguinho da Beija Flor.