Note from BW of Brazil: Today I must share an emotional, inspiring conversation I had with an Afro-Brazilian man. The guy (who I will just call “Santos”) is in his mid-40s and is a department director at a prominent advertising agency in Brazil’s largest, most economically important city, São Paulo. The conversation came about in reference to an incident involving Brazilian Popular Music legend Jorge Ben, who was recently the target of a racist insult while performing in Rio de Janeiro. Speaking about his goals for 2016, he listed thinking more about the race question as one of his resolutions for the still young new year. When I asked why, he spoke with passion about how much the music of Jorge Ben means to him, blacks and all Brazilians. He went to say how black Brazilians didn’t have many black music superstars in the era in which he grew up, and because of that, Ben was Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Sly Stone and many other black American music superstars all rolled into one.
His sentiments were similar to what this writer posted in first report on the recent, headline-making incident. He also mentioned how the incident took place at Circo Voador, in Rio de Janeiro, which he referred to as “Jorge’s house”, as the artist as played the venue so many times over the years. “Man, if someone can call Jorge Ben a ‘crioulo sujo’, what does that say about racism in our country?” He also expressed how racism was getting to point in the country where it can push someone over the edge and make them want to retaliate physically against such aggressions. I couldn’t agree more and this is exactly what today’s material is also saying. Black Brazilians have dealt with racist sentiments, insults, expressions, jokes and institutional racism for centuries but Brazil has managed to escape the type of open racial confrontations that most people associate with places such as the United States and South Africa. But with a growing rejection of Afro-Brazilians facing such treatment, calls for respect, demands for rights and a rising racial consciousness, Brazil may be headed for turmoil as its black population grows more and more frustrated and unforgiving in the face of the second-class citizenship it has endured for so long. No one knows where this is all leading, but if history is any sort of indicator, we know that oppressed populations often explode and take action once they’ve decided that enough is enough.
Why offenses against Jorge Ben opens wide racism in Brazil
By Luiz Roberto Lima
Jorge Ben was called a “crioulo sujo” (dirty nigger) and almost came to blows during a show at the Circo Voador on Saturday (13), in Rio de Janeiro. Cases of racism, previously suffered in a veiled and disguised way in the relations of false cordiality, are now more explicit.
It’s strange, but in some way this is positive:
It is important that racist Brazilians show their face. In fact, it is essential because we have to deconstruct the myth of racial democracy and harmony, based on the theories of the cordial relationship between slaves and masters, when each had their defined role. So masters and slaves could “live together”.
And unfortunately, this is believed until the present day. So why are we going to talk about racism if we live well like this?
The construction of the myth of racial democracy is so deep and enrooted in Brazilian culture that any cases of racism is vehemently discouraged. There has been a systemic machine since colonial times that deconstructs denouncements and delegitimizes the discourse on racism.
People even know it exists, but prefer to pretend that it doesn’t. For what are we going to talk about it now? Ignore it.
The press approaches it as an isolated incident. In court, the victims are usually treated as crazy and/or uncontrolled; and rarely are there cases of convictions. Journalist Maria Júlia Coutinho, known as Maju, suffered racial slurs on Facebook. It was the first time that the biggest broadcaster of Brazil (Globo TV) positioned itself. Maju said ‘prejudiced ones bark, but the caravan passes.” In truth it’s actually the contrary, “the caravan goes by, but the prejudiced ones remain- , distilling their hatred against blacks.”
Although Brazil has adopted quota policies, of the 39 ministries of the federal government, only one position is occupied by a black person – and also has the right to – the Secretariat of Racial Equality -; being that more than 50% of the population is black.
According to Amnesty International in “2012, 56,000 people were murdered in Brazil. Of these, 30,000 were young people between 15-29 years of age and of those, 77% are black. Most homicides are committed by firearms, and less than 8% of cases came to be judged.”
From 2004 to 2007 in Brazil 170,000 people were killed, while in the same period, totaling the deaths occurring in countries at war (Iraq, Sudan, Afghanistan, Colombia, Dem. Rep. of Congo, Sri Lanka, India, Somalia, Nepal, Pakistan , Kashmir, Israel/ Palestinian Territories) there were 194,000 killed, according to Amnesty data. In Brazil, just in Maceió (capital city of Alagoas) the rate of homicide per 100 thousand inhabitants is 372.6 black to 24.3 white. It is undeniable that exists a culture of the extermination of black youth.
Recently, during the halftime of the SuperBowl, Beyoncé made history by putting on a political show denouncing violence against blacks in American society with her performance of “Formation”.
According to the American map of violence, US police killed a black person every 26 hours in 2015. According to these data, a black has 3 times more likely to be killed than a white. And in the year 2015 there was a total of 336 killed in the country.
In Brazil racism is secular, and most difficult in combating it has always been the fact that Brazilian society states that it does not exist. It is important that this changes, the more explicit but easier to combat.
Racism begins on things “banal” and subjective, like a seal that is placed only on products for black or by the lack thereof in the markets, and goes to the extreme of the killing of young black men, that always has their image associated with gangsters and bad people of bad character.
Due to the influence that artists, athletes and politicians have on society, it would be crucial that they take a stand and raise their battle flags.
It’s necessary to remove the veil, and put it on the agenda.
It’s past time that the Brazilian artistic class addresses the issue openly, and this includes, mainly the black ones. We need to stop pretending that racism in Brazil doesn’t exist, because black artists are not immune to it.
Source: Brasil Post