Note from BW of Brazil: In today’s post, we revisit a pair of incidents that went down late last year that provides us with still more insight into how the issue of race plays out in Brazil. The fact is, no matter how much evidence that one points out in terms of how black Brazilians are treated, people will continue to deny it, minimize it, or if neither of these work, accuse victims of the abuse of playing the role of victim in a matter that isn’t so bad. As it turns out, skin color can even influence how people perceive who is truly a victim and thus worthy of sympathy and those who are simply whining and need to just “get over it”. Just to set the piece, let’s remember the cases at hand.
Last year, for the second time, Titi, the adopted African daughter of acting couple Giovanna Ewbank and Bruno Gagliasso, was the target of racist insults. In the second case, actress Taís Araújo explained at a TED Talk event how the color of her son’s skin could cause people to treat him differently. The absurd thing about this is that, people showed empathy for the white mother of a black child but attacked the black mother of a black child for merely stating that such a thing exists. Question: Regardless of whether Taís Araújo’s son was or wasn’t the actual victim of racism, doesn’t the fact that it actually happened to Giovanna Ewbank’s daughter prove precisely what Araújo was saying? Hmmm…
Two mothers denounce racism, but only one is taken seriously
By Helena Vitorino
“In Brazil, the color of my son is what makes people change sidewalks, hide their bags and bullet proof their cars.”
It was with these words that the mother of two black children denounced structural and contemporary racism in a lecture in São Paulo. In describing in detail the various situations in which her children may be considered offenders or marginal, the actress Taís Araújo uncovered the most hypocritical and fetid wound in Brazil; the classic social disease of which all are ashamed, but which is hidden by various cloths and disguises trying to go unnoticed.
At age 39, the mother of João Vicente and Maria Antônia drew the attention of everyone who stopped to listen to the lecture “How to raise sweet children in an acid country”. Using her closest examples, her two children warned that not even a family made up of two Globo TV actors at the height of their careers is free of going through the most vicious episodes of racism.
In less than two weeks, another mother reported an episode of explicit racism committed against her daughter, a black child as young as three. Actress Giovanna Ewbank was surprised by a video with racist offenses directed at her daughter, freely. And although the revolt and the indignation are analogous, and although the accusations have been made by Globo TV actresses, only one of them has been taken seriously.
The black mother
Taís Araújo, at the invitation of TEDx, illustrated her talk with personal examples to remind us that we are not free from racism. And even applauded by many of those who followed her powerful words for video, the actress received an avalanche of malicious comments, ridiculing her speech and relativizing her complaint. Saying that her son’s color caused people to change sidewalks and hide their bags, Taís stated that racism of skin color is a reality that does not choose social status, surname or intellectual ability. But many people interpreted her speech as vitimista (playing the victim) hypocrisy, arguing that her children, surrounded by nannies, drivers, employees, and resources are not subject to racism and discrimination. In short, Taís Araújo had her speech dismissed, not only by social network commentators but by EBC President Laerte Rimoli and by Rio de Janeiro Secretary of Education, Cesar Benjamin. According to him, the actress’s speech is a “racial idiocy that has prospered.”
Translation of comments
Elisângela – Wow! Where do you live? My family is of blacks! My son studies in a private school! She already went to a public school (She had to leave because of the terrible teaching), at 13 she is a great Triathlete! Wherever she goes, she’s loved! I think it’s a lot of mimimi (whining)! Racism, many times starts inside of the couple! Have shame in your face woman! I am poor and I unveil myself for mine! You, rich, suffer racism? (see note one)
Anderson – Again she’s making a poor little thing of herself, I don’t see (journalist) Glória Maria crying crocodile tears. I think that Glória is the type to defend herself she responds in the same manner.
Sandro – Spare me Taís! It may even be that people turn away from blacks or even whites as beggars and “suspects”, but this is not necessarily connected to color. How many white people live on the streets of this country, in rags, and this owed to the violence of which we are all victims shocks a little. But with your son? I doubt it and much. By your positions on Saia Justa (see note two) your victimhood becomes clear. Sometimes prejudice lives in us.
André – If I see this woman certainly I would change sidewalks and not because of her color but because of her victim-playing behavior. I want distance from people like this.
The white mother
When a rough video began to circulate through social networks, less than two weeks after Taís’ speech, racism against a child was again the theme of the Internet. Little Titi, daughter of the actors Giovanna Ewbank and Bruno Gagliasso, was called a “macaca” (monkey) by a person who does not even know her, and who already has a history of gratuitous assaults on famous children. Equally deplorable for the acts suffered by the children of Taís, offenses against the three-year-old girl filled the internet and social networks to support their parents, who formally denounced the author of the video.
What is confusing in the two seemingly similar cases is not action, but reaction. Titi and João Vicente are black; are children, and children of public figures. Both were victims of explicit racism, and both had their mothers as mouthpieces for allegations of racial crimes. But only one case has the real recognition that racism is, in fact, an evil to be treated. Giovanna Ewbank, unlike Taís, was not called a victimista or mimizenta (whiner) in defending her daughter. No memes were created mocking her and her offspring, and no secretary or president of a media company took a minute out of his day to expose on the networks how pathetic she was for protecting her girl. On the contrary: a tide of solidarity and support, massively reinforced by Globo TV artists, supported her denunciation. Giovanna’s speech was recognized, supported and worthy of respect, in the so-called “selective solidarity”.
Translation of comments
Katia – She’s beautiful and it’s not because she is your daughter, no. She is beautiful because God made her beautiful! She is all beautiful!!!! God bless you and take every measure possible. We are already tired of seeing such barbarity and nothing happens to change this. It’s revolting to know that racist people still exist. Get outta there. Blacks are also people and beautiful people! She is an imbecile that speaks a lot of nonsense, using innocent children. She needs to stop!
Ana – I thought it was great (that) you didn’t share the video and not even cited names because if the person was not totally deprived of intelligence, she must be wanting spotlights!!! Give her what is her right, i.e.: a beautiful lawsuit. I don’t understand such difficulty of people giving away love! The world needs much love. A great Sunday to you all!!!
Rodrigo – Only love Gi
Thamires – That’s really it, this woman has to go to jail. Beautiful Titi.
The reactions to the two cases only prove that the cancer of Brazilian racism is far from being extirpated because society refuses treatment. There is no doubt that the two children suffered racism, but only one of them had their claim recognized. And what explains the difference of reactions to Giovanna and Taís is, again, racism. The black Brazilian is strictly forbidden to announce that he suffers racism, and totally unauthorized to demand a dignified treatment as a human being. When he points out the act, exposes the situation and denounces the individuals, his speech passes through a filter of validation, and very often it is reversed into “bantering implication.” When a black person affirms that he has suffered racism, the prosecutors of legitimate discourse emerge from the earth to emphasize “but again this history of racism?”, “the one who has racism is the black himself!”, “Brazil is a país mestiço (mestizo/mixed race country), whites, blacks and morenos are subject to this situation.”
The same does not happen when the one who denounces the act has pele branca (white skin), speaking on behalf of a black person. The solidarity that moved the internet is not for Titi, but because their parents, Giovanna Ewbank and Bruno Gagliasso, do not carry the color of “victimization” on her skin. And similar examples rain down a BUNCH. The president of Bayer (white) was astonished to learn that his friend had been dismissed from an interview under the words “I do not interview blacks”. The world and the media, however, were only interested in this story because the publisher was not Jorge, the black man dismissed from the interview, but Theo, the white man who commands Bayer in Brazil. If Jorge had made an outburst about this episode, it would just be another black man “trying to get attention”.
Brazil is far from fighting racism because, basically, it does not want to admit that racism exists. Admitting its existence is recognizing that there is a debt to be repaired, and that part of its repair will come from sharing privileges. With an irony that only countries with veiled racism can balance, the problem is returned to black people themselves: if they feel racism and suffers offenses, it is not the fault of society, but of them. It is their minds that are conditioned to focus only on what is bad and negative, and because of that, they are incapable of evolving in the discourse and it’s only in that of racism here, racism there. But the truth is that, as a society, we are much closer to the girl who offended Titi than we imagined. Even if you don’t insult someone calling them a monkey, you disown the one who does not want to be called a monkey anymore. Selective solidarity is just a beautiful name for subtle and sweet racism that pervades all Brazilian society. Whether it is that a child looks like an animal, or crossing a sidewalk to see a child we identify as marginal, the coup is unique, accurate and real: it is racism. And no person, adult or child, who cries against it must be undeserved. Only then will we have the strength, the humility and the space to fight the encircled racist who lives there hidden inside of us.
Source: Lado M
- It’s pretty amazing that people continue to believe that fame and/or money or a prominent position automatically make people immune from experiencing racism. This is particularly ridiculous when we consider the high profile case involving Taís Araújo in 2015. Without going into all of the cases that prove that this sort of thinking simply isn’t rational, consider the cases of lawyer Josefina Serra dos Santos, actor Vinícius Romão de Souza, or futebol goalie Aranha.
2. Saia Justa is GNT TV talk show series featuring all female hosts in a format similar to the American CBS TV program The View. The program debuted in 2002 and Araújo was briefly a co-host in 2017.