Note from BW of Brazil: Similar to yesterday’s post about a guest on a popular morning talk show finding it appropriate to appear in blackface, there’s no use in denying the racist elements of today’s post. Why? Well, just yesterday’s story was just the latest in Brazil’s apparent obsession with blackface, the country also has a history of discriminating against its black population when members of this group are simply trying to enjoy their right to frequent shopping malls. You will remember that ‘shopping while black’ was the whole point of the so-called ‘rolezinho’ gatherings as a form a protest against mall racism a few years ago. As always there will surely be those who will interpret what happened in the story below as anything but racism so check out the story and come to your own conclusion. For me, it’s just business as usual, right down to the mall’s official note denying the accusation.
Young people denounce racist act in Belo Horizonte mall; establishment denies accusation
Protesters claim that security guards approached a group that were circulating at the place because of color prejudice
By Larissa Ricci
“Get the racism out of the way I want to go by with my color,” reads one of the posters of young people protesting this afternoon at the door of Shopping Cidade, in the capital city’s downtown. According to the protesters, three black women and two teenagers who were circulating through the shopping center on Friday were allegedly followed by security guards at the establishment, which provoked the protest.
The 22-year-old pedagogy student, Ayana Amorim, said that officials had tried to expel the two teenage girls who were with her. She maintains that from the moment they arrived, they were observed by security guards. “That’s when I asked, ‘Why is this happening?’ and the security man said, ‘Your presence is threatening the safety of the mall,’” she said.
According to Ayana, during the discussion, one of the officials pushed one of the boys in the back against the window of a store. The student states that they have suffered discrimination due to the color of their skin and claims to have made an Occurrence Bulletin (BO or police report). The complete report was published on the university’s social network page:
December 17 at 2:27 am – Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais
“Pretos (blacks) can’t walk around at the mall. I’m arriving now from the police station after being barred with two (female) friends and two (male) friends inside Shopping City. From the moment we entered Rua Rio de Janeiro (street) we were followed, we found two friends who were already being prevented from circulating in the establishment without justification, we told the security guards that they were with us and from that moment all the security of the mall began to follow us, when we were leaving, one of the security guards pushed two of our friends out of the place. Asking why they were doing this, they said shouting that our presence was threatening the security of the establishment, from there we suffered verbal aggression while our friends suffered physical assaults, all this for no reason. The Military Police officers who were solicited by me said the whole time that I should put myself in my place (1), that I didn’t know what I was saying, asking who I thought I was, being extremely aggressive and arrogant with me and my other friends. When I said that we had suffered a crime of racial discrimination, they said that I didn’t know what it was because I hadn’t studied Law and that racism is what is in the constitution not what I say it is. I told them that I indeed knew because I was suffering it up close and that Brazil is a country with the myth of racial democracy, racism was veiled, that it doesn’t come from the front, it comes from behind and attacks us in the back and only those who feel the pain of this crime up close can tell if it happened or not. We registered the BO, stating that there was a crime of discriminação racial (racial discrimination)! ‘It is the saga of the people that repeats itself and never stops.'”
The Military Police (PM) were on the scene and, according to the registry, the fact that the teenager was pushed was confirmed. According to the registry, security officials said the boys were “playing” on the banister of the establishment’s escalator and were therefore approached by security guards. The young people told police officers that they felt constrained by security.
With microphone in hand, posters and shouts of “racist mall” the group caught the attention of the audience. “If they were with white people, that would not have happened,” she said. At one point, the group decided to enter the shopping center. “The people who passed by supported the demonstration, and other people used the microphone to report cases of racism,” she says. According to the organizers, about 200 people were part of the act.
Shopping Cidade made it clear through a note that it has always acted with respect to its customers, shopkeepers and employees, regardless of race, color, religion and sex. “And we have as a mission to guarantee the safety and well-being of everyone who goes to the mall. For 25 years we have been directed by the motto ‘Para todos. Para Você’ (For All. For You), which reinforces our democratic position and acceptance of diversity,” read the text.
- What must ask what security meant here suggesting that she recognize her ‘place’. After all, we’ve seen numerous past examples of the idea of black Brazilians knowing ‘their place’.