Note from BW of Brazil: Over the past few months we haven’t posted a lot of stories that report occurrences of explicit racist attacks, insults and aggressions. But this is not because they don’t happen. As with the murder of a black youth every 23 minutes, if necessary, there would be enough incidents of racism, racist assaults/attacks, etc. to post several times per day if this were a blog that only covered racism. But as there is so much to cover from the perspective of race, there are often other interesting stories to feature here. But sometimes cases of racism/racist occurrences are so absurd that it’s necessary to post for our readers to comprehend the everyday experiences of being black in a country where so many people continue to deny the very existence of racism or their own culpability. In my own view, I tend to see racist sentiments being as natural in Brazil as watching futebol and novelas. The reason that we don’t see it in every moment in every region of the country is because it is not always provoked. But at any particular time and place, the way people really feel often comes out, as in the case below that happened in the nation’s capital, Brasília.
Elderly woman arrested after spitting at a black producer and police chief
Taken to the police station for a racial offense and racism against an audiovisual producer (photo) in a supermarket, she also insults a police chief
By Carlos Carone and Tatiane Barbosa
A retired servant of the Ministério das Relações Exteriores (Ministry of Foreign Affairs), 77, will spend was to spend Tuesday night (6/28) in jail accused of the crimes of injúria racial (racial injury/slur) and racism. Terezinha de Oliveira Silva was involved in a confusion in the Super Adega, in Cruzeiro, pulling the hair of audiovisual producer Elizabeth Braga, 38. Annoyed, Elizabeth complained to the woman, who insulted her with the words “negra do cabelo ruim, negra nojenta e mal educada” (black woman with bad hair, disgusting and rude black).
The producer decided to call the police after the Foreign Ministry assistant spat at her feet, as she prepared to go to the cash register. “This lady (Terezinha) approached me in a curious way and asked if I was wearing wig or if my hair was natural. Then she pulled my hair. Respectfully I asked her not to do this, and she had a fit of rage,” said Elizabeth.
Even after verbal attacks, the producer decided to walk away but was again confronted by the woman in the supermarket parking lot. Irritated, the woman said that she didn’t like blacks and spat again at the feet of producer. “After that, I decided to call the police. She even tried to physically assault me saying she was a black belt in karate and asked me to fight. Of course, for respect of her age, I contained myself,” she said.
In a Facebook post, Elizabeth reported occurrence in the establishment. “She called me gentalha (riffraff/troublemaker) and asked the security how they let women like me enter the supermarket. Ah! She even spat twice in my direction. That type of spitting that occurs when one wants to show contempt for someone,” she says (1).
Confusion at police station
After the confusion, police from the Special Commission for the Repression of Crimes of Racial, Religious or sexual orientation Discrimination or against the Elderly and Disabled (Decrin) sought the retiree at home to take her to the Department of Specialized Police (DPE) . However, the uncontrollable Terezinha also didn’t respect the police chief who made the auto de prisão em flagrante, or arrest during or immediately after the crime.
She went on to offend the adjunct police chief who made the report, Maria do Carmo Correa, who is black. “I don’t like black people”, said the woman, who once again spat on the ground. Terezinha ended up being fined twice for the same crime. According to the deputy head of Decrin, Gláucia Cristina da Silva, the retiree will respond to the charge of racism, which establishes a penalty of 1 to 3 years in prison. “As it is non-bailable, she will sleep in Deam and then attend the custody hearing. If the judge understand that she should remain imprisoned, she will go on to the complex of Papuda and will stay there until the trial,” she said.
The chief noted that, unfortunately, such cases are still common, but only recently have assaulted persons started to denounce them (2). “We ask that every victim use the reporting channel of the Civil Police by telephone (number) 197. So we have a valuable tool to touch the investigations,” said Gláucia.
At the police station, a video recorded the moment n which the woman received an order for imprisonment. “But I haven’t committed a crime. So and so comes to report me, they go there, get me at my house and I’m arrested. I didn’t know this was Brazilian police,” she lamented.
Woman arrested for spitting at police chief
- If we are believe everything that Braga related of the incident, it speaks volumes for the way that white Brazilians continue to harbor a lack of respect for black people. To pull the hair of a person one doesn’t know, as well as spit at and insult the person shows that race relations in Brazil are still very much rooted in a racial hierarchy from a slavery era that lasted over 350 years. The woman’s actions simply mirror what she would later admit: she doesn’t like black people!
- This is a point that this blog has made in numerous previous posts. The fact is that racism in Brazil is nothing new and goes back to the colonization of the country back in the 16th century. What can be defined as new (at least on a wide level) is the courage of the black community to stand up and fight back against such aggression.