Note from BW of Brazil: The story is getting to be pretty common. Black women. Brazilian. Prominence in the media. Racial insult. Actress Cris Vianna is simply the latest in a sickening trend in Brazilian-based social networks. But what do these racial attacks tells us? Is there an underlining message that goes beyond simply an attempt to denigrate these individual women or is there a deeper message that we should take away from these incidents? Of course there is and it’s not hard to see. Below, Laura Astrolabio interprets the messages and what they say about Brazilian society.
Why did they attack you, Cris Vianna?
By Laura Astrolabio
Cris Vianna, we live in a country with a history of slavery. A place that bought our ancestors as if they were goods and treated them as non-human. A place that has a society that screams “somos todos humanos” (we are all human) but doesn’t miss the opportunity to call us monkeys.
It hasn’t been long since abolition took place, though many try to silence our voices when we touch on the subject, when we speak of the cursed legacy of that dark past.
Slavery didn’t leave “only” poverty and margins of society as a legacy for us. Slavery left racism, this racism that in recent years isn’t being intensified, but denounced.
With the advent of social networks, they can no longer silent us and thus the visibility of this horror spreads. Many of us grew up believing that we suffered social prejudice, but we ascend socially and the ficha cai (coin drops/reality sets in) on having always been racism and it still continues today.
With the struggle of the Movimento Negro (black movement) we have gained strength through our empowerment with our demands for the maintenance of representation in the major media and because of major advances in this direction, racists are angry, they are filled with hatred.
“How do they reach an entire people if not attacking those who are in focus since when thousands who suffer racism in this country are invisible and they suffer an attempt of silencing?”
The genocide of black people is then and it’s not from today. The taint that all blacks are poor, villains, dirty and smelly is then and it’s not of today. The imposition of the Eurocentric standard of beauty in a country with a majority black population is then and is not today.
They are not happy at being forced to share the elevator with us.
They are not satisfied with the fact that we are no longer in the media just as police headlines.
They are no longer satisfied with the fact that we are writing in the papers, we are in attendance as doctors, we are on the runways, we are on the covers of magazines that dictate fashion, we are in clinics practicing medicine, we are demanding that black artists not only play roles of slaves, servants and bad guys in novelas (soap operas).
They are not satisfied even if these advances are minimal compared to what we deserve, to what we dream to be rightfully ours.
Cris Vianna, when you are in the media, on the runways and in all other areas, you’re positively representing a people who were taught to hate themselves, to dislike the texture of our hair, skin color, and features. You inspire a people, you are one of the positive representations for black women who never see themselves anywhere.
So Cris Vianna, when you suffer racist attacks, these women are being attacked as well. It’s a way to attack an entire people, to reduce an entire people, wanting to say to a whole people:
“We do not accept you! For us you are not human! Go back to where you should have never left! We think you are ugly! I don’t want you taking up spaces that were reserved for us since ever.”
But when you are attacked, Cris Vianna, voices are raised to say that #somostodoscrisvianna (we are all Cris Vianna) but they are the same voices that try to silence us every day when we discuss racism in this country.
Those who say #somostodoscrisvianna today (1), tomorrow will be giving bananas to black men on the street in honor of the Day of Black Consciousness (2) but paying 800 reais and getting away with the crime of racism that society is camouflaging itself as a racial slur.
If multiple voices are silenced every day, may yours, which has the maximum volume, be heard.
We can move forward together in the certainty that we are for us, that we feel racism up close in our day to day and that the hypocrisy of #somostodoscrisvianna is silenced by #nãoqueremosmaiscomoçãoseletiva (we don’t want any more selective commotion).
- Statement makes reference to the numerous, superficial “somos todos…” (we are ….) hashtag campaigns that spring up when a racist incident, usually involving a famous person, makes headlines. As we have argued in past posts, these “campaigns” are usually short-lived, void of content, objectives or actions and are very selective of whom these hashtags are created for. A good example is when we saw in a headline-making case involving the sexual abuse and slave labor of black girls back in April, there was no expression of outrage and protest within the general population.
- Refers to a story from November 23rd, a few days after the annual November 20th celebration of the Day of Black Consciousness. The manager of a restaurant in the north zone of Rio de Janeiro was caught red-handed for a racial slur after offering bananas to three black drink deliverymen black. Ascendino Correia Leal, manager of Garota da Tijuca, intended to make a “tribute” to employees on November 20th, the Day of Black Consciousness.
According to the G1 website, the crime happened during the employees’ work time. “He went up to every one of us and offered bananas and said it was in honor of the Day of Black Consciousness. And also added that ‘it’s one for each of you, who are all of the same race,” said Leonardo Valentim, a driver truck.
The manager still would have tried to soften the “joke” coming into the restaurant laughing. However, the employees argued with Leal and called the police. Leonardo said he came to think of assaulting the man, but reconsidered and came to the conclusion that it would transform the criminal into a victim. Since the incident, the manager has been discharged from the establishment.
Leal paid bail of R$800 and was released the same day. If he were judged, he could get from one to three years in prison in addition to fines. “We see it happening on television, with futebol players, and even artists such as Taís Araújo, and we didn’t imagine that such a thing would happen to us,” said Leonardo.