Note from BW of Brazil: You see, this is one of the reasons why African descendants around the world need to be able to communicate with each other beyond cultural and language differences. Earlier today we brought you a story concerning the Brazilian gymnast Arthur Nory Mariano. His name first appeared on this blog after a racist incident in May of 2015 in which he compared his black teammate to a trash bag. The article posted earlier today pondered why this guy made the Olympic team as a mediocre gymnast while his black teammate, Ângelo Assumpção, who has won numerous medals and had been named champion multiple times over the past six years, wasn’t on the team. The incident seems to be yet another example of how white-skinned privilege bestows advantages upon those who, often times, don’t even deserve them.
One of the most talked about athletes at this year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro has been the African-American gymnast Simone Biles, and for good reason. The young woman has racked up numerous medals in recent years (14) with 10 of those being gold. So one can understand how any and everyone would want to be associated with the young dynamo, even if just in a photo. Which is why were discussing this Mariano issue once again.
Recently, Biles, probably in a friendly, joking manner, tweeted that Mariano is her “Brazilian boyfriend” in reference to a photo in which two appear together embraced. The tweet caused a fury of American and Brazilian news outlets to cover the message and discover/discuss the athlete to whom she made reference.
One might look at the story and see it as just a frivolous story not even worth discussing. But the plot thickens once we remember Nory Mariano’s past racist comment and his black teammate not even being invited to participate in Brazil’s men’s gymnastics team. I didn’t analyze every single website reporting on the story about Biles’s tweet, but the ones that I did check, both Brazilian and American, conveniently omitted this little tidbit from Nory Mariano’s past. One might expect this on American sites as most probably don’t even know who he is. But Brazilian sites are probably well-aware of his racist joke as it was headline making news in the media last year. Before going further, let’s take a look at how one Brazilian website reported this “cute friendship” between Biles and Nory Mariano.
Olympics: We’re loving this cute friendship of gymnasts Simone Biles and Arthur Nory
By Felipe Gomes
The international press is pointing to the gymnast Arthur Nory as the affair of Simone Biles, one of those responsible for winning the gold medal for the United States in artistic gymnastics at the Rio Olympics. The rumors started after Biles posted a picture with the athlete on Twitter and wrote “My Brazilian boyfriend” in the caption.
Well, if they are together or not, we don’t know, but what matters is that we are dying of cuteness because of the declarations of friendship between the two on social networks. In March, even before the Olympic Games begin, Nory posted on Snapchat a tribute to the anniversary of the American gymnast. “Parabéns, Simone rainha Biles” (Congratulations, Simone Queen Biles) he wrote.
To US Weekly (magazine), he denies having something with Simone. “We’re just friends. Whenever we saw each other ourselves in competition, we sent cell messages to each other,” he said.
One more reason for us to love and still follow the Olympics, right?
Note from BW of Brazil: It’s actually understandable how the Brazilian media glossed over Mariano’s racist past; it’s the Brazilian MO: denying or down-playing racism. But fortunately, nowadays, because of blogs and independent media, more black voices are popping up to expose these little details that the mainstream tries to ignore or forget. Here’s how Hypeness exposed this little “oversight”.
After episode of racism, athlete poses embracing black colleague
Courtesy of Hypeness
You wake up and find in your news feed, by chance, a picture of two embraced athletes in a super cute way. Wow, how they so loved, right? Que amoooor (such love)! ♥ Only that one of the athletes is black. The other athlete is white – and starred in a case of racism in social networks just a year ago.
Of course people can change a lot and we sincerely hope that the seleção brasileira gymnast Arthur Nory has evolved since the publication of a video full of racist comments on Snapchat. The original video is no more, but it was reproduced in a report from the O Globo newspaper.
During publication, Arthur and the athlete Fellipe Arakawa made prejudiced comments next to their colleague next on the, Ângelo Assumpção, who is black. “Your phone broke: the screen when it works is white…when it’s broken what color is it? (Laughs)…The supermarket bag is white…and of the trash? It’s black!” he comments in the video. At another point, athletes go to Ângelo’s room, where he had been upset with the attitude and called his companions of “fake”.
After the impact of the case Arthur Nory published a video on Instagram clarifying the case and gave interviews saying that it was a joke that had been misunderstood by the public. [Pause to breathe here: since when racism is a joke, people?]
Ângelo and Arthur were friends for years, but the episode shook the relationship between the two. Ângelo decided not to sue his colleague (for racism), but preferred to distance himself from the friendship. Later, the athlete said he had been prevented from speaking about the case by the Confederação Brasileira de Ginástica (Brazilian Gymnastics Federation or CBG).
Recently, Arthur Nory seems to have forgotten the case of racism and posed for pictures with the American gymnast Simone Biles during the Olympics. The image, released by some sites, didn’t pass by unnoticed on social networks. A Facebook user denounced the hypocrisy of the media with the case – the original report has been deleted. It was speculated that the two athletes are dating.
Note from BW of Brazil: And here’s how another a site made sure this little detail wasn’t forgotten…
A Brazilian racist and the new American sensation the Olympic gymnastics…
By Julia Noiz
The past of this young man condemns him and Simone Biles hardly knows that she’s being used as a souvenir for this young man who was one of those responsible for the elimination of the only black athlete of the seleção brasileira olímpica (Brazilian Olympic national team). Of course, after this episode Ângelo Assunção was not the same and wasn’t even on the team but the racists are thinking that everything was in past. Of course we haven’t forgotten and nor could we forget this fact because of what it all means for us here that, in a certain way, live out of orbit, because everything that happens to this band (of athletes) is suffocating and turning into jokes of bad taste. But the marks forever remain with their victims.
We don’t know if the press agents of the young athlete sensation are aware of the situation or if they were told that this guy’s a racist and can only be wanting to clean up his image using a preta (black girl) as a souvenir.
We also hope that this unfortunate episode doesn’t disturb the young woman’s performance because she is as much a reference for all black Brazilians regardless of being American.
Note from BW of Brazil: Well, to say the least, there are many angles to consider when dealing with this story. First, as mentioned previously, the fact that this Mariano made a racist joke about a teammate who has the same skin color as Simone Biles and is now being seen in photo with her doesn’t sit well with me at all. Another point is that, as written in a previous post, it seems that he only got a place on the Brazilian team based on his skin tone because his black teammate, Ângelo Assumpção, didn’t manage to get a sponsorship to continue his training. Now while this appears to be the reason that Assumpção wasn’t on the team, we still don’t know this for absolute fact. But if he wasn’t invited to join the team and it wasn’t due to a lack of sponsors, what is the reason he was left off of the team when his achievements are clearly more noteworthy than those of Mariano?
My question would be, did anyone make Simone Biles aware of his racist joke? Does she know that Mariano had a black teammate who was clearly better than he but was left off of the team? If she were to learn of this controversy now, how would she feel about her “Brazilian boyfriend”? Too many questions and not enough answers for them but there does seem to be something at play here that we simply cannot rule out. As we’ve seen when certain men or women get certain jobs (see here and here), certain men and women are chosen to host international events and certain women who sweep streets for a living manage to attract media attention, often times these people receive these advantages not because they are necessarily better, but simply because their skin is white(r). In Brazil, the privilege of white skin (even though this guy isn’t exactly white) (1) often guarantees that certain people will appear on TV, while it penalizes those who don’t have it. In this situation, it once again seems that a guy got an opportunity to shine (in an international event no less) because he happened to be much lighter-skinned than his better, but darker teammate (2). Of course we can’t prove this beyond a shadow of doubt, but given Brazil’s history, does it sound far-fetched?
Considering Ms. Biles’s overwhelming success over the past few years, this little incident will not take away anything from her well-earned success. But perhaps if we continue on our paths of success and we know such things, maybe one day we, as a global people, will be in a position to do or say something in order that this doesn’t continue to happen.
- As pointed out in a previous article, anyone looking at Nory Mariano would conclude from his appearance that he is of indigenous ancestry and not exactly white, at least by North American and European standards. But in Brazil, persons with light-skin and straight hair can “pass” as white. And even if he isn’t exactly white, by his referencing a joke in which he compared a white supermarket bag to a black trash bag, he is clearly attempting to partake in the privileges of whiteness.
- We must also wonder why he would pose with a black girl if he harbors thoughts comparing black people to garbage bags. Would this be his way of saying, “See? I’m not racist!” And if Assumpção didn’t make the team because he couldn’t get a sponsor after having already earned so many top rankings, what does this say about the idea that the US is more racist than Brazil, when Biles herself, one of the most successful gymnasts in history, is from the US?