Note from BW of Brazil: I have long maintained that while it is quite obvious that racism has always existed in Brazil, in recent years, racial conflict has begun to get more and more blatant. In the view of many right leaning conservatives, racism never existed until affirmative action policies were implemented in federal universities over a decade ago. Needless to say, that viewpoint is an mythical as the idea that the country is and always has been a ‘racial democracy’. What we are seeing here is that affirmative action and more open militancy on the part of Afro-Brazilians is stimulating expressions of anti-black sentiments to be expressed in more blatant manners.
Although black militancy has always existed in Brazil (dating back to slave revolts up to modern day organizations/movements), for most of the 20th century, such militancy was, for the most part, found only among a small group of activists; today, black identity and militancy is much more widespread in general terms. And as so many of these activists are demonstrating that they have no plans of backing down, oppressive attitudes that formerly expected black Brazilians to “stay in/know their place” are lashing out. Today’s story shows that these opposing ideologies are coming into more and more conflict. Tensions are rising as the university featured in today’s post has seen yet another flare up. Earlier in the month, we saw another headline-making incident at this university:
“The walls of a room located on the ground floor of the Community Center of the Federal University of Santa Catarina (UFSC) were marked with the swastika, a Nazi symbol and other graffiti related to the topic.
Named the sala Quilombo (maroon room) (2) by students and used mainly for black students in ethno-racial and cultural activities, the inscriptions were a cause for complaints to the Ombudsman of university, which promises to investigate the case in order to identify and, if those responsible are found to be students at UFSC, punish the perpetrators of Nazi and racist demonstrations.”
Note from BW of Brazil: Against this backdrop, we bring you today’s story…
White student assaults black women during Virada antiracist at UFSC
Courtesy of Catarinas
On the day of an anti-racism protest at UFSC (Federal University of Santa Catarina), today (25), hatred against black people once again showed its perverse logic. Two black women that made interventions in the Restaurante Universitário (RU or University Restaurant) were assaulted by a Mechanical Engineering student. The white man threw water and spit in the students’ food. One was assaulted with a slap in the face. The Virada “ANTIracista” (meaning ‘turn racism around’) event with a conversation roundtable, public classes, workshops and interventions is a protest against graffiti with homophobic and allusive messages to Nazism that have occurred recently in the Quilombo room, used by black male and female students.
“When we left the intervention at the RU, a woman followed with a megaphone. Out of nowhere, a guy threw water on it. She questioned why and he threw the plate with food on it at her. Another student climbed onto the table, he spit on her and slapped her. It was the trigger of the confusion. He tried to leave and we were all behind him, some temporizing to prevent a lynching,” says Cauane Maia, a member of the Coletivo Poder Para o Povo Preto (4P or Power For Black People Collective).
Adriana Silva, a black student and quilombola student from Museologia, says he was having lunch when she saw the act and went to lend support. When trying to film the argument generated after the attack, she had her phone snatched from her hands. “I started filming when I saw the argument. A white student appeared and snatched the phone from my hand. He said I couldn’t film,” she says.
Cauane Maia reports that after the assault, the protesters chased the attacker and called the UFSC’s Security Department(Deseg). The assaulted students and the man together went in the UFSC’s Security Department van to the 5th Precinct Police Station in the Trindade. The other protesters went by bus to the location and waited for the registration of the police report outside the station.
“The UFSC security didn’t monitor the complaint. They just left the girls with the aggressor at the police station and left. When we returned with the police report to also register it UFSC, they asked us come back later or tomorrow, because those responsible for security officer were not there,” the student criticized.
The crime of racism according to Law. 7716/1989 is non-bailable and imprescriptible. The penalty is up to five years in prison.
Mess with one, you mess with all
Through her profile on Facebook, student Wellem Christina reports that she was participating in the interventions in academic centers and restaurant when she witnessed the assault. “In the RU, a racist and sexist male student threw a water on a mana (girl) from our group, the same racist and sexist male student spat food in the face of another mana preta (black girl) and even slapped her in the face. We had no other reaction but being us for us forever. Mess with one, you messed with all.”
According Wellen, other silent forms also expressed the racism of white students during the act. Her report reveals that prejudice is a routine for black male and female students at the university. “Looks of disapproval, non-black people walking out of spaces, whispers, in the end, nothing new in this place. But we keep and won’t remain silent,” said the activist.
“You can ask for any black woman and man you know, she and he will have a story of racism at the RU. Well, today, in the day the anti-racism event, we were victims of a racist attack from a mechanical engineering student”, was how student Azania Nogueira who also attended the demonstration expressed her anger.
- There are several other messages written on the walls, with most, one would assume, written by the black students themselves. Some of the messages include “Long live Zumbi”, in reference to the legendary 17th century Afro-Brazilian leader, “Sala Quilombo” and “Black Territory”. In analyzing the grafitti, I noted the actual word “Nazi” was also written, apparently by someone outside of the group, and also a Communist symbol although it is not clear who drew it. The Communist is often a symbol used in leftist circles so it would difficult to know who scribbled it. The article above says that there was a swastica symbol but in the photo this is not apparent although the word “Nazi” is visible. Also visible are the terms “bicha” and “viado”, both derogatory terms for homosexuals.
- In reference to the societies of escaped slaves where Afro-Brazilians mounted their own settlements. These societies would spring up across the Americas under names such as maroons in the US and palenques in Spanish America.