Note from BBT: Every now and then I wonder what goes on in the lives of some black people that make then come across as more anti-black than the most racist white person of the extreme right. Such is the case of the President of Fundação Palmares (Palmares Foundation) Sérgio Camargo. Let me emphatically state that there are things of which I can agree and disagree on coming from both sides of the political spectrum and thus I can’t throw my full political support behind either side, but the rhetoric and actions of some black folks of the political right just make me scratch my head sometimes.
For those of you living in the US, names such as David Clarke, Clarence Thomas, Larry Elders, Jessie Lee Peterson, Allen West or Juan Williams may come to mind when the term black conservative is mentioned. At one point or another, when thinking of the aforementioned names, you will probably be reminded of the controversial Uncle Ruckus character of the Adult Swim cartoon The Boondocks. This is not to say that sometimes these people may actually be right on certain topics, but as they come across as hating black people to such a degree, sometimes people can’t even hear what it is they’re saying.
These types of black people also exist in Brazil. We have folks like São Paulo city councilman Fernando Holiday, Congressman Hélio Lopes, journalist Paulo Cruz and by far the most controversial of them all, the aforementioned Sérgio Camargo. Again, I do feel the need to point out that, even though I probably disagree with 90-95% of the things that these guys say, every now and then, they’ll say something that I fully agree with it. For example, when Camargo called out a guy who looked like a white man after he defined himself as black and entered the race for São Paulo city council, I agreed with him. But trying to find other areas in which I agree with him is usually simply not possible.
Due to his controversial rhetoric since appearing on the scene in 2019, I’ve devoted a number of articles to the journalist. Since being placed at the head of the Fundação Palmares, Camargo has gone on to regularly infuriate the Afro-Brazilian population with his extreme right views. With some of the inflammatory things he’s said since last year, whenever something controversial comes out of his mouth or from his Twitter account, Afro-Brazilian social media platforms usually explode with comments that express the outrage people feel toward him. It’s like, “What will capitão da mata do/say next?” For sake of context, a “capitão de mata”, literally, ‘captain of the forest’, was a black slave hunter back in Brazil’s slavery era. These days, black Brazilians define black people that they consider to be “samb*s” or “Uncle Toms”. In memes in social networks, at one time or another, the faces of these types will be paired side by side with the Stephen character portrayed by actor Samuel L. Jackson in the 2012 film, Django.
In past article, I go into more detail about Camargo, including the fact that his father, Oswaldo Camargo, is one of the important literary figures in Afro-Brazilian History. The elder Camargo has found it difficult to even speak on the radical views of his controversial son. As I’ve stated before, Sérgio Camargo says and does things that seem to be the type of actions President Bolsonaro would take himself, but, being so outrageous, it would better to have Camargo do them as he is black in order deflect accusations of racism.
Against this backdrop, Camargo has once again stepped forward to raise the collective blood pressure of Brazil’s black population once again. This time using his authority at the Fundação Palmares to remove important Afro-Brazilian cultural and historical figures from the website’s honorees list.
Fundação Palmares is a public entity connected to the Federal Government’s Ministry of Cultural and acts to “to promote the preservation of cultural, social and economic values resulting from the black influence on the formation of Brazilian society.” As such, Camargo’s latest controversial act is somewhat akin to removing important names from a museum dedicated to black historical figures.
Side note: The photo above featuring Camargo with a Nazi swastika on his forehead is a photo he tweeted himself after someone said they had the urge to paint the word “racist” on his forehead. In his view, the photo represented “one of the racist attacks on my honor”.
More on the story below.
Controversial black president of Foundation removes the names of 27 important Afro-Brazilians from website’s honoree list
With material by the Claudia, Brasil 24/7 and Extra newsrooms and Igor Carvalho
The president of the Fundação Palmares (Palmares Foundation), Sérgio Camargo, announced last Wednesday the names being excluded from the list of Black Personalities of the Fundação Palmares. In all, 27 personalities were excluded, such as Benedita da Silva, Elza Soares, Conceição Evaristo and Gilberto Gil.
Camargo even released a list with 29 names, including those of Madame Satã (João Francisco dos Santos), an artist who became an LGBT symbol in Rio de Janeiro, who died in 1976, and Melânia Luz, a sprinter, the first black woman to participate in a Brazilian Olympic delegation. The list, however, has been updated and the names have been deleted.
The Fundação Palmares stated that the exclusion is in compliance with a decree that came into force this month, instituting the criterion of posthumous honors – that is, only black people already dead can be honored.
In his social networks, Sérgio Camargo said that the Fundação Palmares pays posthumous tributes “to those who have value” and celebrated the debut of Mussum and Nego do Bope on the list. The policeman died in January after being shot in a confrontation in the Caju community, a port area in Rio de Janeiro.
Sérgio Camargo: “The new list of black personalities will be a posthumous tribute to those who made a historic contribution in their area of expertise. Mussum, Wilson Simonal, Luiz Melodia and João do Pulo will be added, among others. Brazil will finally be able to be proud of the Fundação Palmares gallery.”
Note from BBT: Above, Camargo listed a few of the names that he planned to add to the honorees list. They are actress Jacira de Almeida Sampaio, musician/humorist Mussum, singer/musician Luiz Melodia, musician Pixinguinha, singer Wilson Simonal, military man Marcílio Luiz Pinto, athlete João Carlos de Oliveira, better known as João do Pulo and Luiz Paulo Costa Silva (known as “Negão do BOPE”).
Sampaio is most known from her portrayal of Tia (Aunt) Nastácia on the children’s TV program O Sítio do Pica-Pau Amarelo. Of course, we must acknowledge that Sampaio was a talented actress, but we must also acknowledge that her role on this program was one that added to the association of black women with domestic work. The Tia Nastácia character, a farm cook created by Monteiro Lobato, is one that has been highly criticized by black activists.
In the series, she embodies the stereotype of the black woman as a maid or cook, in a sort of Aunt Jemima manner. She is presented as having thick lips, being illiterate, culturally inferior, but like “one of the family”. Lobato’s work, highly influential in the world of children’s lit, has been so strongly criticized for its racist depictions of black people that his great-granddaughter has recently altered passages of one of his most popular books in order make the Tia Nastácia character more humanistic.
The popularity of the musician/humorist Mussum (1941-1994) has only grown since his death, but the character he is most famous for (in the comedy series Os Trapalhões) is also problematic when we discuss stereotypes of black people in the media. Singer/musician Luiz Melodia (1951-2017), musician Pixinguinha (1897-1973) and singer Wilson Simonal (1938-2000) all made important contributions to Brazilian Popular Music. Pixinguinha is considered one the country’s greatest musicians/composers and is perhaps comparable to Jazz pioneers such as Louis Armstrong or Duke Ellington. Simonal was perhaps Brazil’s first black Pop Star and Melodia was known for his mastery of various styles such as rock, blues, soul and samba.
João do Pulo (1954-1999) was a record-setting athlete who won four gold and two bronze medals in the Olympic and Pan-American Games between the years 1975 and 1980. The one choice that I question of Camargo’s new list was Luiz Paulo Costa Silva, also known as “Negão do BOPE”. For those who don’t know, BOPE is the Battalion of Special Police Operations, a special operations force of the Military Police in the State of Rio de Janeiro. The battalion is known for its brutal tactics as portrayed in the film Tropa de Elite (Elite Squad).
Silva was killed in an ambush by drug traffickers in Rio in February, being shot at least nine times. Of course, no one likes to hear of anyone being brutally murdered, but I also wonder how poor communities of Rio feel about a Military Police officer being honored at Fundação Palmares considering the occupation type presence of the police in Rio and the senseless slaughter of hundreds of slum residents, most of whom have nothing to do with drug trafficking.
Bills ask for annulment of the ordinance
At least two bills in the Chamber of Deputies call for the cancellation of the ordinance published by the Fundação Palmares. One is authored by Congressman José Guimarães (PT-CE), who understands that the list only serves to exclude names that don’t support the government of President Jair Bolsonaro.
He also criticized the fact that the ordinance does not provide for the participation of civil society representatives in the choice of names that will be honored by the Fundação Palmares.
Another project calling for the cancellation of the ordinance was filed by deputy Túlio Gadêlha (PDT-PE) and four other parliamentarians from the House – Bira do Pindaré (PSB), Maria do Rosário (PT), Áurea Carolina (PSOL) and Perpétua Almeida (PCdoB).
Court requests that Sérgio Camargo explain the exclusion of personalities
On Wednesday, December 2, the Federal Justice of the 1st Region established a period of five days for the president of the Fundação Palmares, Sérgio Camargo, to explain the removal of names from the list of Black Personalities who were part of a list of persons honored by the entity.
Created in 1988, the Fundação Palmares must act for the promotion and preservation of cultural, historical, social and economic values resulting from the black influence in the formation of Brazilian society.
In her social networks, veteran actress/singer Zezé Motta repudiated the changes made by Sérgio Camargo.
Zezé Motta: “I never imagined that, after the dictatorship, we would go through this moment. I was at the inauguration of the Palmares Foundation, in 1998, which was born in defense of black culture. Yes, I said DEFENSE! This man is in the wrong place and as I said once, he is alienated!
There is no such thing as the Fundação Palmares removing ‘living names’ from the list of black personalities. There is no removing Gilberto Gil, Martinho da Vila, Elza Soares and many other names that I admire and respect.
With so many actions and measures to be carried out in favor of black culture, with so much work for him to occupy himself, why did Mr. Sérgio Camargo prefer to waste his time and that of a Brazilian public entity removing fair tributes to personalities who did so much for this country?
This is ridiculous.
This is Brazil, which we live in.
Leci Brandão says that Sérgio Camargo, president of the Palmares Foundation, is ‘an imbecile’
State deputy (congresswoman) (PCdoB) and talented and renowned samba singer, Leci Brandão says that the president of the Fundação Palmares, who removed several prominent black figures from the list of black personalities, was chosen by Bolsonaro due to being alienated and an imbecile
About Camargo having decided not to celebrate the Day of Black Consciousness in 2020, the state congresswoman and singer says he is an imbecile.
“[Camargo] didn’t understand how happy the black population is, we feel that we are really part of the history of this country. We are part of everything that is there. You cannot look at customs, culture, art, and not talk about the black population. We are in all of this,” she says. “He is a citizen who weighs nothing, means nothing to me”.
Legendary samba singer Martinha da Vila says he was relieved to have his name deleted from the website of the Fundação Palmares, which today has Sérgio Camargo as president. In addition to the samba singer from Rio de Janeiro, singers Elzas Soares and Gilberto Gil also had their biographies taken from the Foundation’s website.
“I thought the initiative was great. Disconnect me from that guy (referring to the president of the Fundação Palmares). Disconnect me from that organization, because I don’t like it anymore. It has no more function. Soon, a new one will emerge. We have to forget these people. Our Brazilian flag was also damaged, as it became a symbol of the current government. We have to retake our flag as a symbol of all Brazilians,” said Martinho in an interview with Veja magazine.
Note: At the end of 2019, Afro-Brazilian activists were successful in having Camargo from the post of Fundação Palmares president, but he was reinstated when a judge overruled the decision months later. With Camargo’s latest controversial statements and act, Brazil’s Senate stepped in and are taking measures to make Camargo reinstate the names he removed from the entity’s honorees list. You know this has got to be a big deal when the Senate has to step in!
Senate approves a decree that returns blacks to the Fundação Palmares honoree list
Government leader votes against Sérgio Camargo: “It’s a political position of the Federal Senate against any form of racism”
The Senate approved, on Wednesday, December 9, a Bill of Legislative Decree (PDL) that overturns an ordinance of the Fundação Palmares that had removed 29 people from the list of black personalities of the entity. Among the excluded names were musicians Gilberto Gil and Milton Nascimento, environmentalist/politician Marina Silva, singer Alaíde Costa, writer Conceição Evaristo, singer Martinho da Vila, marathon runner Vanderlei Cordeiro de Lima, and others.
The vote ended with 65 favorable senators and only three against the decree proposed by Humberto Costa (PT-PE) and Alessandro Reis (Cidadania-SE), with rapporteur Fabiano Contarato (Rede-ES). Even Fernando Bezerra (MDB-PE), government leader at Casa, voted in favor of the project.
“This vote doesn’t discuss technical aspects signed by the president of Fundação Palmares. What is needed here is to make a political assessment of the moment we are living in and the repercussions of that vote, which constitutes a political position of the Federal Senate against any form of racism. I am in a very delicate position because, as a government leader, I would have to defend the Foundation’s decree, but, as a senator from Pernambuco, I want to ally myself with all the leaders and vote yes,”said Bezerra.
Author of the project, Costa also spoke during the session. “In Brazil, there is the production of different types of negativism. Among them, the denial of history. The people on this list, they have made and continue to make very important contributions in several aspects. Whatever the homage to the black population of Brazil will be insufficient, ” said Humberto Costa.
Senator Izalci Lucas (PSDB-DF) paid tribute to Senator Paulo Paim (PT-RS), who was removed from the list. “We have always followed Paim as a reference in the National Congress. It is unfortunate, in the middle of the 21st century, to have to vote on a matter such as this. The country already had to overcome this a long time ago with public policies.”
Now, the project will go to the Câmara dos Deputados (Chamber of Deputies or House of Representatives) If approved, the names of the 29 personalities will return to the list. Check the list of those excluded from the tribute.
Athlete Ádria Santos
Singer Alaíde Costa
Politician Benedita da Silva
Writer Conceição Evaristo
Singer Elza Soares
Sculptor/painter Emanoel de Araújo
Singer/musician Gilberto Gil
Educator Givânia Maria da Silva
Politician Janete Rocha Pietá
Basketball player Janeth dos Santos Arcain
Athlete Joaquim Carvalho Cruz
Politician Jurema da Silva
Actress Léa Lucas Garcia de Aguiar
Singer/Politician Leci Brandão
Judge Luislinda de Valois
Transvestite capoeira artist Madame Satã
Historian/environmentalist/politician Marina Silva
Singer/songwriter Martinho da Vila
Sprinter Melânia Luz
Singer/musician Milton Nascimento
Politician Paulo Paim
Educator Petronilha Beatriz Gonçalves e Silva
Singer Sandra de Sá
Boxer Servílio de Oliveira
Philosopher Sueli Carneiro
Paralympic athlete Terezinha Guilhermina
Athlete anderlei Cordeiro de Lima
Leader of bloco afro Ilê Aiyê Vovô do Ilê