“That’s prejudice, (it’s) just because we’re black! When will we be respected in this country?” says a black woman accused of theft in a store; subsequent search finds nothing

Le Biscuit de Camaçari é acusada de racismo

Two women accused the establishment in Bahia of having practiced racism against them on Saturday, April 6th. An employee of the establishment charged the customers Áurea Santos and Dulce Santos of theft, according to witnesses, the women were forced to open their purses.

Le Biscuit

Note from BW of Brazil: Two more black women personally witnessed how Brazil treats it black citizens. They also recognized the association of black skin with criminality even in a state where people like them are the vast majority. This type of racial profiling has had dire effects on the young, black population who are referred to as suspects of “the standard color” by the police in Rio which leads to the genocidal numbers of police homicides perpetrated against this segment of the population. Racial profiling is often so blatant in Brazil that even a child can recognize it, and although this sometimes leads to despair, it also leads to more black Brazilians fighting back, like the Santos sisters in this story. but Below is how the story was reported:

Two women accuse the Le Biscuit store of practicing racism against them on Saturday, April 06 in Camaçari, Bahia, in Brazil’s northeast. An employee of the establishment charged customers Áurea Santos and Dulce Santos of theft and, according to witnesses, the women were forced to open their purses. After removing all objects from their purses, nothing was found that indicated that they had stolen anything.

Outraged, Dulce accused the store of prejudice. “That’s prejudice, (it’s) just because we’re black! When will we be respected in this country?” complained Dulce. Dozens of people gathered to see the situation and started screaming. “É preconceito, é preconceito (It’s prejudice, it’s prejudice).”

Le Biscuit - Duas irmãs, Áurea e Dulce Santos, acusam de ter sofrido preconceito racial por parte da Le Biscuit, de Camaçari, enquanto olhavam produtos na loja
The Santos sisters were looking at products and accused the store of prejudice

According to the chairman of the Comissão de Promoção da Igualdade Racial da Câmara de Camaçari (Commission for the Promotion of Racial Equality of the Congress of Camaçari), Councilman Marcelino (PT – Partido de Trabalhores or Workers’ Party), “This is another demonstration that racism is still strong in our society. The fact proposes a reflection on the issue so that people understand that this reality must be changed. As president of the committee, I will convene Dulce and Áurea and the store representative in order to be heard,” said the councilman.

Racism is not a “misunderstanding”, it’s a crime: What does the “Le Biscuit case” teach us?

Racism is not a “misunderstanding”, it’s crime! Before even releasing an ‘official notice’ from Le Biscuit, possibly justifying the unjustifiable, a common practice in cases involving charges of racism, we must anticipate the initial exclamation. Racism is a crime, without bail, it’s not a misunderstanding.

The case of the Santos sisters, Áurea and Dulce, one, ironically, with the name of the law that “abolished” slavery in Brazil (1), who claim to have suffered racial prejudice within the Le Biscuit store in Camaçari, by an employee of the establishment, is revealing of this portrait that many deny, saying it’s “hysteria” of “unoccupied militants”: there is still racism in the country.

It is common that we witness reports like this. The citizen is black, is in a certain establishment, and then someone doesn’t trust him or her and soon the person is apprehended in a discriminatory manner, as if skin color was “proof of guilt”. This scenario ended up in an unfortunate manner with the Santos sisters.

Many of these Brazilian citizens, the majority population according to the IBGE (2), blacks account for more than half of the nation, are hostages of this common practice, of being accused of “theft”, violating their constitutional rights of defense, and led to the “departments of the store” to be searched and shut up.

The Santos sisters didn’t, blowing up the spot where they were discriminated against, called attention and embarrassed the employee who certainly didn’t make that decision alone.

Police were called – another important fact that should be followed every time someone feels that they are a victim of racism. I repeat, it is a crime! Who unfairly incriminated, should be incriminated and denounced.

It must be like, prejudice must be denounced, revealed, because it shows the face of a society that poses as ‘egalitarian’, but hides its vile colonial and post-colonial legacy.

The ‘Casa Grande (Big House)’ succumbed before the ‘Senzala (slave house)’. As if the Santos sisters had personified the heroic Zumbi of Palmares in that moment.

They’ll have to give explanations to the Comissão da Promoção da Igualdade Racial e Políticas Públicas para as Mulheres (COPROME or Commission for the Promotion of Racial Equality and Public Policies for Women), at city hall – here it’s fitting, in the first act, the observation of the speedy action of Councilman José Marcelino, and second, the observation that the noble councilor needs to monitor more closely local media outlets;  that they published (at least three of them) the event immediately at its occurrence. The speed in finding the facts is another issue of importance in combating racism on the part of authorities.

The protagonists of the act certainly should have to respond to the courts also, as the sisters were already advised to initiate lawsuit against the commercial establishment.

And before some closeted supporter of racism rushes to say, “ah, but blacks are prejudiced too,” I anticipate in reaffirming that all, blacks, whites, Indians and ‘derivatives’ (persons of mixed backgrounds), are part of an exclusionary, racist, prejudiced society in which our education was and is forged and is following this rancid, macabre mold from the slave era experienced in the country.

Of course this does not justify indiscriminately committing racist acts. No. Instead, the legacy of racial prejudice, hovering over Brazil, should be viewed with embarrassment, to foment individual and collective desire to fight it.

As the court must be fair, Le Biscuit has the right to defend itself. But mostly, like any self-respecting institution, and I believe this to be the case, it has a duty to fight against any practices that affront the dignity and rights of any citizen, even if they are its customers.

Let this episode serve as a lesson and warning. A lesson that black skin is not synonymous with criminality, that racism is not a misunderstanding, that black people, equal citizens, must be respected. And also warn, so that other ‘Santos’ and ‘Silva’ etc. sisters or brothers always “blow the whistle” loud and clear whenever any attempt at racial prejudice tries to victimize them.

Notes

1. Refers to the Lei Áurea, or the Golder Law, which was sgned by Princess Isabel in 1888 and officially ended slavery in Brazil.

2. Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística or Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics

Source: Camaçari Fatos e Fotos, Bahia Alerta

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About Marques Travae 3203 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

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