The supermarket: The place where black Brazilians are always the “usual suspects”

supermercado - negro - capa

Note from BW of Brazil: One thing we have seen consistently throughout Brazil is the routine disrespectful treatment accorded to the Afro-Brazilian population. It doesn’t matter if one is male or female, middle class or poor or the region of the country. Racism is everywhere. In today’s report we see four different incidents of racism and they all have a common location: the supermarket. As officials and security are trained to see all black Brazilians as “suspect”, a simple trip to the supermarket or the shopping mall can lead to all sorts of embarrassment, harassment and regular reminders of second-class citizenship. The second feature of these situations shows that it doesn’t matter what your rank, position or title is; in Brazil, one is treated according to skin color. The four episodes below, occurring in three different states and the nation’s capital, illustrate this point. 

Map of Brazil: Circled are three states Maranhão (MA), Rio de Janeiro (RJ), Espírito Santo (ES) and the Federal District (DF)
Map of Brazil: Circled are three states Maranhão (MA), Rio de Janeiro (RJ), Espírito Santo (ES) and the Federal District (DF)

Court condemns man for racism against supermarket manager in Federal District (DF)

Man sentenced to two years in prison and to pay R$4,000 in compensation

R7 with MPDFT

October 2, 2014

shopping 2

Supermarket manager will be indemnified for damages after being the victim of racial slander

The NED (Núcleo de Enfrentamento à Discriminação or Center for Combating Discrimination) of MPDFT (Ministério Público do DF e Territórios or Public Ministry of DF and Territories) obtained a conviction of a Brasília man in the 1st Criminal Court of Taguatinga for the crime of qualified injúria racial (racial insult or slur). In the decision, the judge sentenced the man to two years in jail replacing it with restriction of rights, securing the payment of R$4,000 in reparations of moral damage caused by the infraction.

According to the complaint, the condemned went to a supermarket to buy diapers, but because of a price difference between an advertisement and the value found in the supermarket, he started an argument with the manager. The accused called the manager of “thief, black bastard, manager of shit” in the presence of several people.

The prosecutor Thiago Pierobom, coordinator of NED, considered the judge’s decision peculiar.

“It’s the first case in which the Center manages that the Judiciary recognizes that a conviction for the crime of racial slur requires the fixing of compensation for moral damages to the victim, as established in Article 387, IV, of the Criminal Procedure Code.

Last month, the TJDF (Court of Brasília) also condemned the psychoanalyst accused of offending an employee of a movie theater in a mall in Brasília, due to the skin color of the victim. The judgment convicted him of “offenses to the honor of the victim, consistent in the use of elements of race and color.” The amount of damages was R$50,000. The defendant appealed the decision, which will be judged on appeal.

Black youth is a victim of racism in the supermarket in Rio de Janeiro

Courtesy of R7

September 3, 2014

Teen accused of shoplifting in Rio
Teen accused of shoplifting in Rio

Wearing his school uniform, a black teen went to a supermarket to buy some things for his 15th birthday party. Shopping with friends, all with light skin (1), when leaving the establishment, he was approached by security. He was the only one searched. After being searched, it was discovered that nothing had been stolen.

Jovem negro é vítima de racismo em supermercado do Rio de Janeiro (3)

“He said also that he had confirmed there that he had seen me picking up a bottle, opening my backpack. I was scared, I felt nothing, I felt like I was really a thief.”

A customer, shocked by the situation, sided with the boy and called police.

Group asks manager for an explanation
Group asks manager for an explanation

Afterward, a group, including the customer and the boy’s mother, approached the store manager about the situation but the manager refused to give an explanation of security’s actions. The family of the young man will sue the store for illegal embarrassment and racism.

Mother: “I taught my son how to act, to study, to respect others, respect older people, I am outraged...he wasn’t picking up things, he was paying.”
Mother: “I taught my son how to act, to study, to respect others, respect older people, I am outraged…he wasn’t picking up things, he was paying.”

Black client suffers racism in Maciel supermarket in Maiobão

Supermarket manager tried to buy the silence of the housewife, afterward offering to pay for the items.

by Rilton Silva

September 16, 2014

Housewife Malu Costa was a victim of racism in a Maiobão supermarket.
Housewife Malu Costa was a victim of racism in a Maiobão supermarket.

Housewife Malu Costa, 42, went through an embarrassing moment in the Maciel supermarket in the Maiobão neighborhood of Paço do Lumiar (state of Maranhão) (2). The customer was paying for her merchandise when she was surprised by a store security. According to Costa, her five year old grandson five had taken a can of soda without her realizing it, and when she was passing her goods through the register, the security guard took the can from the child and simply threw it on top of the items and told her to pay for it.

The embarrassing scene was witnessed by many people and the housewife didn’t understand the rude attitude of the security guard. After examining the facts, Malu Costa, realized that she was dealing with racism, since her daughter and grandson following her were black. When reporting the incident to the manager of the supermarket, he tried to bribe her by proposing that her items were all paid for.

Note from BW of Brazil: This next piece is actually from February, but it serves to illustrate that it doesn’t matter what someone’s position or job is as we saw in the first story and in the cases involving a doctor and a lawyer back in December of 2012. Another long-time myth that is common in Brazil is that middle-class blacks don’t face discriminatory situations, which is clearly not true. Over the years, countless middle-class Afro-Brazilians have revealed their experiences with racism in restaurants, hotels, apartments, etc. In the case below, we have a case with a Military Police sergeant, himself part of the state apparatus that is constantly accused of violating the black population

Military Police soldier suffers racism: Sergeant says he was a victim of racism in grocery Victory

By Jamil Souza

February 19, 2014

The Military Police sergeant of Espírito Santo shows the two bottles of wine he paid for and for which he was accused of theft and constrained by security guards supermarket
The Military Police sergeant of Espírito Santo shows the two bottles of wine he paid for and for which he was accused of theft and constrained by security guards supermarket

The sergeant of the Polícia Militar (Military Police) o Espírito Santo said he was a victim of racism after he bought two bottles of wine and was charged with theft and constrained by security guards at a supermarket.

The sergeant of the Military Police, Edson Lopes, who is black, says he was forced to undress at a supermarket in Vitória, in Espírito Santo, to prove that he hadn’t stolen anything. “It’s a difficult situation. I wanted to die because of going through a situation like this,” he sighed.

Edson cried remembering what happened in the supermarket. He said he was wrongly accused of theft. On the evening of February 18th he bought two bottles of wines and saved the receipt. He said that after paying, he went to the bathroom and two security guards forced him to undress. “[The security guard said] Did you pay for this wine? Yes, I paid. He asked for the receipt and told me to undress. The citizen ordered me to undress, undressing in the bathroom was a very embarrassing thing.”

The sergeant was in flip flops, shorts, shirt and cap, and says he suffered prejudice. “Because I’m black, because I sometimes walk in flip flops and they mistook me for a thief. Maybe that’s why.”

The supermarket didn’t give an interview, but sent an email stating that “the fact didn’t happen and we are looking for pictures inside the store to prove and take it to court.”

The lawyer Bruno Duque said that Edson has proven that paid for the products, (and) the supermarket may have committed the crime of racism. “He is approached presenting the receipt  stating that he purchased the product and paid, he could not have been subjected to the embarrassment he suffered.”

Source: R7, Rilton Silva, R7 (2), Blog Bahia Geral

Note

1. It is unclear in this case if the young man’s friends were all white. According to the context, one could assume that they were, but the words translated from Portuguese are “pele clara”, which means “light skin” but is generally understood to mean “branca” or white.

2. Maiobão is a neighborhood in the city of Paço do Lumiar in the metro area of São Luís, the capital city of the northeastern state of Maranhão

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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