When sambos take power: New president of one Afro-Brazil’s most important foundations insults numerous Afro-Brazilian public figures, says slavery was a good thing and believes Black Consciousness Day should be abolished

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Palmares Foundation president denies racism, criticizes Zumbi and calls for an end to the black movement 

Sérgio Nascimento Camargo, the new president of the Fundação Palmares, is latest black man to present himself at the service of white supremacy

Why does there always seem to be some ‘knee-grow’ who is willing to do the dirty work of white supremacy? You know the type. This type of black person who say some of the worst things about other blacks, will say things about black people publicly that many whites say behind closed doors, or, worse, will play the role of the anti-black so that the white supremacist can use him and deny being racist because the black guy said it or did it? In the US, people are often accustomed to calling this sort of person a coon or a sambo. The sambo stereotype is depicted as being a loyal, docile and contented servant for white people. The coon, on the other hand, was often depicted as the jive-talkin’, lazy, good for nothing  watermelon-eating, chicken stealing dimwit who always maintained his position of inferiority in front of his ‘boss’.

In Brazil, there have long been a string of tried and true black stereotypical figures in the telenovela genre. A few weeks ago, I discussed the so-called ”capitão do mato” historical figure whose task it was to hunt down, capture fugitive slaves and return them to their masters for a reward. In novelas, as soap operas are called in Brazil, we have the figure of the ”Fiel Jagunço”, who is basically a male version of black empregada doméstica, or maid, who is always willing to do anything for the white bosses.

According to actor Lázaro Ramos and director Joel Zito Araújo, and the nó de oito website, the Fiel Jagunço is

”a very loyal black employee dedicated to his white boss. He is more common to appear in soap operas that take place in rural areas, but not infrequently we see this character also in urban areas, in roles such as bodyguards, drivers, secretaries and personal helpers. Regardless of the scenario, one thing does not change: he is a character who reproduces without fail the image of the submissive black man, who only treats his white bosses with love, loyalty and dedication, and never questions the oppression he suffers. Because the way power relations between whites and blacks are sweetened in soap operas, this oppression is almost never portrayed as such.”

As I delve into today’s story, keep this in mind. Before I get into this, I need to briefly discuss the foundation known as the Fundação Cultural Palmares, or Palmares Cultural Foundation,  a public entity linked to the federal government’s Ministry of Culture, instituted by Federal Law No. 7.668 of August 22, 1988. In theory, its mission would be to reinforce citizenship, identity, action and memory of the ethnic segments of the groups that form Brazilian society, besides promoting the right of access to culture and the indispensable action of the State in the preservation of Afro-Brazilian manifestations.

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In Decree No. 6.853 of May 15, 2009, which regulates the institution, the Palmares Cultural Foundation “aims to promote the preservation of cultural, social and economic values arising from the black influence in the formation of Brazilian society. Among the objectives is to “support and develop policies of inclusion of afro-descendants in the process of political, social and economic development through the appreciation of the cultural dimension.

Here it November, the Month of Black Consciousness in Brazil and the Federal Government’s Secretary of Culture recently appointed a new person to head the Palmares Foundation, Sérgio Nascimento Camargo. Although black, the new president of the body is openly racist and usually attacks personalities and issues that are important to the black movement.

A journalist and right-wing activist, Camargo has a long history of clashes with blacks on social networks and has already criticized rap, funk, capoeira and its supporters, in addition to saying that “left-wing blacks are stupid, they are slaves.”

Besides positioning himself against the Day of Black Consciousness, the list of black personalities attacked by Camargo is long. He has said that he was in favor of “some blacks being forcibly taken to Africa,” and cites actor Lázaro Ramos and wife, actress Taís Araújo (who he classified as the “queen of victimhood”) as an example. “I suggest the Congo as a destination. And let them stay there,” he said. Legendary, respected samba singer/composer Martinho da Vila is another one who should “be sent to the Congo”, because, according to Camargo, he’s a “vagabond”.

Camargo even attacked the memory of Marielle Franco, the Rio councilwoman who was assassinated in a professional hit in March of 2018. Since her murder, Franco has become a symbol of Afro-Brazilian resistance. According to Camargo, Franco “wasn’t black” and was an “example of what blacks shouldn’t be”.

Now suprisingly, considering his political slant, the new president of the foundation also believes that slavery was good because blacks would live better in Brazil than on the African continent. “The first white man to put a militant black man in jail for the crime of racism deserves a statue, medal, and their portrait on money,” wrote the new president of the Palmares Foundation.

Angela Davis, one of the main exponents of black feminism, who recently spent an extended period of time in Brazil, was called “worthless” and a “mocreia”, a term used to describe a woman who is very ugly, rude, inelegant and irritating. The singer Preta Giland the actress Camila Pitanga were called “racist thieves” because, according to him, they said they were black “to make political money and make speeches playing the victim”. Musician and former Minister of Culture Gilberto Gil, singer/congresswoman Leci Brandão, rappers Mano Brown and Emicida and the federal congresswoman Talíria Petrone and congressman David Miranda (both from the Franco’a PSOL-RJ party) were all called “parasites of the black race in Brazil”.

He defended the extinction of the November 20th Day of Black Consciousness holiday by decree because it would cause “incalculable losses to the country’s economy” by honoring who he called a “fake black hero,” Zumbi of Palmares – that the very foundation he now presides over is named after.  In his view, “Black Consciousness Day is a shame and must be fought tirelessly until it loses its relevance and disappears from the calendar. He went further stating that the holiday was tailor made for the “black idiot” who is a “useful idiot in the service of the progressive ideological agenda.”

Camargo also expressed the idea that racism in Brazil is not that serious.  On Facebook, where he has a daily updated account, the journalist and new president of the institution said, in September 2019, that “Brazil has nutella racism”, and that “real racism exists in the United States. The black masses here complain because they are imbeciles and misinformed by the left”.

Proclaiming himself a “black of the right”, Camargo says those of the right are contrary to victimhood and political correctness. “Left-wingers shit in the street and shove crucifixes up their anus. But for them disrespect is the right to use the word denegrir (denigrate/blacken),” he wrote in another post.

I will say that in my own analysis of the leftist political ideologies, I do agree that black activists and their followers are being mislead by aligning themselves with leftists agendas. In my own political development, I have come to believe that black people cannot be completely of the left nor the right, because neither side represents full liberation for black citizens but often seek to exploit the black struggle to advance other movements while keeping the black masses, ultimately, powerless.

As I have covered the topic of racism for so long here, and have consistly provided examples of how Brazil is as racist as the United States and, in my view, that Brazil’s particular brand is actually more effective than that practiced in the US, I won’t even debate this issue.

For the new president of the Palmares Foundation, those who enslaved black people were blacks themselves and, therefore, there should be no historical reparation. “Blacks have always been slaves. They still enslave in Africa today. Do you want historical reparation? Go and collect it in the Congo! Good luck,” he said.

In another post on social networks, Sérgio said that his work at the head of the Foundation will be guided by the values and principles that have elected and lead the Jair Bolsonaro government. You don’t say…Needless to say, such a black man would have to be appointed by the administration of a right-wing extremist who has been notorious for his brash, rude, insulting comments that have offended hundreds of thousands of black people and women. In reality, in my view, Camargo simply says things that Bolsonaro probably says behind closed doors or similar things that this president is already on record saying (see here, here and here). Always more effective when you can get a black man to say the same things that a white man already thinks, right?

Just since his taking of presidential office, we have seen a slew of actions and proposed actions that seem to have as a goal the derailing of the socio-economic progress Afro-Brazilians have made over the past decade and a half under the presidencies of the Lula da Silva, who was recently released from prison, and his predecessor, Dilma Rousseff, who was impeached just a few years ago. For those in the know, both of these presidents were targeted with false allegations in order to put a stop to progressive policies that saw millions of people leave poverty and gain access to middle class status and college educations for the first time in Brazil’s history.

“I was appointed this Wednesday president of the Palmares Cultural Foundation, at the invitation of the special secretary of Culture, Roberto Alvim. Taking office will be a great honor and a challenge at the same time! Major and necessary changes will be implemented at the Palmares Foundation. I am grateful to God for this opportunity. My role at the head of the Foundation will be guided by the values and principles that elected and lead the Bolsonaro government,” he wrote.

The Zumbi dos Palmares Foundation reports to the Secretariat of Culture, which recently became part of the Ministry of Tourism.

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Online petition calls for immediate removal of the new president of the Fundação Palmares

As one can expect, Afro-Brazilians are none too pleased with the new president of the Fundação Palmares. Yesterday, via social networks, hundreds of black people expressed their dismay, disappointment and disgust with the new head of the foundation. It didn’t take long for this outrage to lead to calls for Camargo’s swift removal. By the end of the Wednesday night, an online petition had already been created with more than 8,000 people having signed it. At the bottom of the petition reads the following:

“With these allegations we see that this gentleman is unfit to occupy the position of president of the Palmares Foundation. That is why we have come to demand, through this petition, that he be immediately replaced by someone with the ability to hold a position of policy promotion for the black population.”

The former president of the Palmares  Foundation, and current president of the Pedro Calmon Foundation, Zulu Araújo, lamented Sergio’s speech and complained that blacks “are not privileged in the attack,” because several sectors of culture are being destroyed at this time and all public policies of culture in the country are at risk.

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Former Palmares Foundation president, Zulu Araújo. Musician and former Minister of Culture, Gilberto Gil, appears in the background

For Zulu, the Brazilian black movement has made an enormous contribution to social promotion in Brazil. [“The movement has collaborated with] Democratization in Brazil, and especially for racial equality in Brazil. And why is that? Because Brazil, unfortunately, has a slave-driven heritage, which has cost the lives, suffering and pain of millions and millions of African descendants. To deny this is to be aligned with those who have dehumanized Africa, dehumanized the descendants of Africans and committed the greatest crime that humanity could know: slavery,” he explained to a popular website in the state of Bahia.

President between 2007 and 2011, Zulu reinforces that the practices at the time of slavery were characterized as a crime against humanity by the United Nations (UN). “It even included these two crimes as the most heinous crimes that can be committed on planet earth. It is written. Therefore, to deny that slavery, slave trafficking and racism are heinous crimes is the same as denying humanity and civilization”, he analyzed. “It is such a crazy and caricatured speech. We have to affirm what is put into all the civilizing canons of the world. It’s in the UN, in Unesco, it’s in the Brazilian constitution”, he added.

An icon of the resistance movement, the 17th century leader quilombo Zumbi dos Palmares, lends his name to the foundation, was also the target of the new president. The importance of Zumbi in the history of the black struggle in Brazil cannot be underestimated, as numerous organizations across the country use the leader’s name in the names of their organizations, including not only the Palmares Foundation, but also Brazil and Latin America’s only black college, Faculdade Zumbi dos Palmares, in the city of São Paulo.

Zulu sees Zumbi as a symbol that represents the struggle, the desire, the will, and the sign of freedom, not only in Brazil. “Any human being who fights for equality, from an economic, racial, and social point of view, will undoubtedly be making an enormous contribution so that our society can live in harmony. He is a hero because he defended what human existence is: freedom. A person who has the courage, in leadership, putting his life at risk to defend something that is inherent to the human being has to be considered a hero”, he stated. Zulu preaches that the cultural sector should resist. “Culture is, above all, transformation,” he concluded.

But with all of the details, outrage and shocking comments of Sérgio Camargo, perhaps the most surprising of all is the fact that he is the son of author, poet, short story writer, researcher and journalist Oswaldo de Camargo. One of Afro-Brazil’s most respected figures, Oswaldo is perhaps the greatest Brazilian authority on black literature. Since he was 17, the 83-year old Oswaldo has dedicated his life to literature and in terms of his own literary collection, he is one of the most brilliant when the subject is blackness. He is one of the principal Afro-Brazilians responsible in the struggle for the inclusion of black literature in the cultural circuit of Brazil.

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Oswaldo de Camargo

For his essay on black literature, he received the Cruz e Sousa Medal of Merit from the Secretary of Culture of Santa Catarina, and the Zumbi dos Palmares Medal, from the City Hall of Salvador (Bahia). Today, Oswaldo Camargo is the literature coordinator of the Museu Afro-Brasil (Afro-Brazilian Museum) in São Paulo.

Wadico with father, Oswaldo de Camargo. At right, his brother, Sergio Nascimento, the new president of Palmares Foundation
Wadico with father, Oswaldo de Camargo. At right, his brother, Sergio Nascimento, the new president of Palmares Foundation

Sérgio’s brother, Wadico, an activist of the black movement, is the idealizer of the group “A Rede do Samba” (samba network). Asked about his brother’s comments and position as President of Palmares Foundation, Wadico was direct and to the point: “I’m ashamed to be the brother of this ‘capitão do mato'”, referring to his brother with the term that Afro-Brazilians use today to define black traitors of the race. As it turns out, Wadico released one of the the petitions for his brother’s removal. By this morning, the petition I spoke of earlier had reached 15,200 signatures. Now, it stands at more than 39,000 signatures.

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Petition for Camargo’s removal has already reached more 39,000 signatures

Let’s keep this moving. Sambos and Fiel Jagunços cannot be tolerated.

With info courtesy of Revista Fórum, R7 and Brasil 247

 

About Marques Travae 3244 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

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