Note from BW of Brazil: The 2014 World Cup may be officially over, but the long time “war”/rivalry between Brazil and its South American neighbor, Argentina, will apparently live on. Of course, the Brazilians were humiliated in their worst World Cup performance ever, losing their last two games by a total of 10-1. To add injury to insult, the team and Brazilians in general saw their greatest rival go on to play in the Final against Germany. The Argentinians, as everyone knows by now, lost a classic battle to Germany by a total of 1-0 in the second extra period after a goal by German midfielder Mario Götze. But the drama of the Cup is far from over. First, as expected, after their disappointing performance, Brazil’s coach Luiz Felipe Scolari stepped down as the national team’s coach. Then there’s the chatter in Brazil that the team’s performance may eventually lead to President Dilma losing her bid for re-election later in the year. And then there’s the recent explosion of internet racism by Argentina’s fans. Below is how the story has been reported in Brazil. We would also like to send a message of solidarity to the photographer and friend Carlos Junior who was also the target of racist Argentinians as the article points out. Carlos has contributed various photos to this blog in the past. BW of Brazil will comment on the current story at the end of the article below.
After World Cup loss, Argentine fans post racist comments about Brazilians in social networks
by Breno Boechat
After seeing Messi’s Argentina lose the final of the World Cup to Germany, Argentine chose Brazilians as the target of name-calling on social networks. Shortly after the end of the game at the Maracanã stadium in Rio, dozens of racist comments were published on the Internet, especially on Twitter.
In the offenses, Brazilians were called “negros malditos” (black bastards), “macacos” (monkeys) and other unprintable names. Immediately, Brazilian internet users responded with ironies and jokes about the runner-up of the “hermanos” (brothers).
This is not the first racist offense of Argentines against Brazilians recorded during the World Cup. Last Saturday, the photographer Carlos Junior was the victim of racism while working in the Terreirão Samba, which served as the location for the hosting space of the fans who came from the neighboring country. The reporter would report the incident with the Municipal Guard to record the occurrence, but refrained from doing so after the aggressor apologized.
Note from BW of Brazil: Wow! So much going on here. First of all, as mentioned in the first paragraph, Brazil and Argentina have been rivals for many years. When it comes to futebol, there continues to be a debate of who should be considered the better all-time player: Brazil’s Pelé or Argentina’s Maradona. But if one doesn’t live in Brazil or already read a little of the history of the rivalry between the two countries, this may seem trivial. Throughout the game between Germany and Argentina, it was common to hear many Brazilians thinking out loud, “Argentina CANNOT win in the Maracanã (stadium in Rio)”. In other words, it would be unbearable to see the nation’s greatest rival take home futebol’s most coveted prize on their home turf. As such, it was common throughout the final game to see Brazilians cheering every move the Germans made as if Brazil itself was playing. Even the German fans understood this feeling as the photo below clearly shows.
But on the topic Argentina’s fans, what do their comments tell us about how race is understood in Latin America? How does it relate to Brazil’s own understanding of how race works? This is important because the topic of racial identity and racial classification is a continuous debate here on the blog. For the record (again), this blog will point out that the infamous North American “one-drop” rule has NEVER been this blog’s ideology in terms of race. “One drop” literally means that a person who for all intents and purposes looks white but is considered black because of some distant African ancestry. The infamous case of Mrs. Susie Guillory Phipps is a perfect example. 1983, Phipps had to go to court to fight for the right to change the racial classification on her birth certificate from “colored” to “white” because in that state (Louisiana), 1/32 African ancestry was enough to consider one to be “colored”, “black” or “non-white”. Utterly ridiculous!
For those who consistently accuse this blog or practicing the “one-drop” rule, let’s be clear (again). For this blog, persons who have an appearance that denotes African ancestry to the degree that they may be subjected to racism, racial discrimination or racist insults, can be classified as black or negro as racism, racial discrimination and racist insults are based on a social understanding of race in which those deemed to be black are penalized while those deemed as white are recipients of certain advantages and privileges. This DOES NOT mean that persons who have visible African ancestry accept an identidade negra/black identity as classification and identity are not always the same thing, particularly in Brazil or Latin American in general. The reactions of Argentina’s fans are perhaps a perfect example of this. How so?
According to official IBGE census reports, if one only considers pretos (blacks) as being black in Brazil, then the country is only 7% black. Another 42% of the country considers itself pardo (brown). For activists of Brazil’s Movimento Negro (black rights movement), pretos and pardos face racial discrimination is similar ways and according to socio-economic statistics, they are nearly identical and equally at disadvantage in comparison to Brazilians that consider themselves to be branco (white). Adding the 7% to the 42% in combination with other groups gives Brazil a 50.7% non-white majority. For this blog, subjection to racial discrimination is the determining factor of racial classification but fully respects anyone’s personal choice of identity even if the society’s power structure may not necessarily agree with that personal identity. We also cite the fact that a number of Brazil’s social scientists see pretos and pardos as part and parcel of the população negra (black population). It would appear that Argentina’s population sees it in this manner as well.
Several years ago, Argentina’s then-president, Carlos Menem was asked if there were black people in Argentina to which he infamously replied, “Black people do not exist in Argentina, Brazil has that problem.” Racist as his statement was, it speaks volumes about race, privilege and white supremacy. Argentina has long considered itself to be an extension of Europe in Latin America. According to some figures that are often disputed, Argentina is a 97% white country, a figure that Argentines often use as a mark of superiority over their neighboring country. The comments posted after the World Cup seem to support this. Argentina’s racial arrogance toward its neighbor is also nothing new. In a 1920 editorial in the newspaper Crítica, Brazilian futebol players were portrayed as monkeys dressed to play futebol in a cartoon. But there are other questions to consider here.
First, in a few of the comments above, we see Argentinians referring to Brazilians as “monkeys” and excrement. In one of the comments, someone saw Brazil as being “full of monkeys”. As we know, white Brazilians have nothing to brag about in this regard as the favorite Brazilian racial insult is “macaco” or “macaca” meaning ‘monkey’. But if Brazil is only 7% preto, how could their neighbors see the country as being “full of monkeys”? Answer: If Argentina sees itself as an extension of Europe in the tropics, then certainly this implies a certain ideal of “racial purity”, real or imagined. And if this is the case, the only way that one could see Brazil as being “full of monkeys” would be to consider all persons of visible African ancestry (pretos + pardos) as negros as it is not the person of a European appearance that is historically compared to monkeys (the exact same argument against the ridiculous “we’re all monkeys campaign” slogan).
Also as Brazil imported more African slaves into the Americas than any other country, the question of racial origin continues to play a prominent role in the rivalry between the two countries. Brazil is simply not a white country; Brazil knows it and the rest of the world knows it. I would argue that this is one of the reasons that the country’s media goes so far out of its way to present its population as white whenever possible. There are at least two immediate goals of projecting a European Brazil to its own population and around the world. 1) It shows the rest of the world that there are Brazilians who are as white as populations in Europe and the United States. 2) A constant bombarding of whiteness in the media manipulates the non-white population into desiring to whiten itself, voluntarily helping to reach 19th century elite goals of whitening the country.
The comments of the Argentina fans also re-visits another question posed here a few weeks back. When a Brazilian woman in Italy was compared to a monkey, the question we posed was, “does Brazil’s concept of race function in a vacuum completely separate from the rest of the world?” Again, this is not to deny anyone’s personal racial identity, but at the same time, does Brazil’s surface rhetoric of “we’re all mixed, not black” do an injustice to persons of visible African ancestry when they are confronted by racism from a non-Brazilian or a Brazilian after being taught for so long to believe that they are not in fact black? A number of Afro-Brazilians who have faced racism or racial insults at some point during their lives are not very dark-skinned (as can be noted in some stories on this blog). Many are quite light-skinned. So, again, is the question that journalist Charles Martin once asked in regards to the difference between a black woman and a “mulata” still valid? Because if it is, it simply validates a point this blog has been making from the beginning.
Source: Extra, Black Women of Brazil