When blacks oppress other blacks: Black men among fans yelling racist insults at black goalkeeper

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Note from BW of Brazil: We’ve all heard or witnessed this type of thing. Hundreds of years of racial oppression also contributes to African descendants insulting, oppressing or undermining those of their own group. This type of in group oppression occurs in various situations and takes various forms. It happens when the minority group adopts the values of the dominant group of which they are not a part but perhaps wish to be and help to pass on the same ideology. This group, having no power and identifying with the racist anti-black ideology of their oppressors unleash the same type of oppression on their own group as they don’t have the power to oppress the dominant group. There’s also the type of oppression of which people perceive themselves to be part of the dominant group (even if they’re not) and as such, ridicule members of the group that the dominant group minimizes. This type of behavior is more common than we like to admit, but also symptomatic of a racist society. 

The dynamics described above also seemed to be at play in the most recent display of racism in Brazilian society and in futebol stadiums

What were two blacks doing among the group of racist Grêmio fans?

By Marcos Sacramento

Fans of the Grêmio futebol team yell racist insults at Santos goalie Aranha
Fans of the Grêmio futebol team yell racist insults at Santos goalie Aranha

One detail caught my eye in the recording of the racist attacks against Aranha, the Santos goalkeeper in the win against Grêmio for the Copa do Brasil (Brazil Cup), on Thursday (28). In the group of fans who chanted “monkey” at him were two blacks.

The keeper himself mentioned this fact during a news conference. “Yesterday there were two blacks in the middle there insulting me too and I heard it all here. I said, gee, could it be that the blacks are outside (of the group)? And inside? You know, the guy has to be aware of what he does.”

It’s really hard trying to understand what leads two black men to racially abuse another black man. Denial of their identity? “Efeito matilha” (group behavior) caused by the excitement of fellow fans? Ignorance?

Seeing the Grêmio fans reminded of my days as a boy. There was a mischievous black kid and he called two other friends “macacos” (monkeys). His skin tone was a little less dark than the targets (of his offenses), negros retintos (blue blacks), but their other features were the same as those he offended. Being a little lighter, he thought of himself on a superior level than the others. Fortunately, his bravado faded away with adolescence.

It was the only case that I witnessed of blacks discriminating against other blacks. There were some light skinned pardos (browns) and cabelo crespo (kinky/curly hair) that tormented another black kid in the class. They sang the song “Homeless”, from the American series Roots, broadcast on SBT-TV at the time, and simulated strokes of the whip against the boy, complete with imitations of the cries of pain.

What is striking is that Grêmio fans don’t have the physical ambiguity that makes many believe that they are not black. Like Neymar, who when asked if he had suffered racism said no, “because I’m not preto (black), right?”

I believe that the offenses of the black Grêmio fans, just like the bullying of my friends at school and the unfortunate response of the then teenager Neymar are the result of misinformation. Certainly both ignore the unfavorable statistics against blacks and are unaware that of every three victims of homicide in Brazil, two are preto (black) or pardo (brown). Did they ever stop to think why there are few black directors (coaches) in Brazilian futebol?

Both are victims of a violent, slave historic formation that used the cloak of mestiçagem (mestizaje or racial mixture) to deny the racial contradictions. As quoted Joaquim Nabuco, “our character, our temperament, our whole physical, intellectual and moral organization, finds itself terribly affected by influences that slavery passed on for 300 years permeating Brazilian society.”

I don’t know the black fans who offended the Santos goalkeeper, but I’m sure they grew up hearing that their cabelos são ruins (hair is bad) and hearing bad jokes associating blacks with ugliness or crime. They experiencing lurking racism, just like me, Neymar and my childhood friends at school, but without the matter being discussed in schools or at home.

I turn here, once again, to a Mellody Hobson lecture at TED. A black woman and president of an investment group, she argues for the need to discuss racism and highlight the subject, however uncomfortable it may be, and thereby contribute to the end of preconceito de cor (color prejudice). Only then, with the subject in schools, in the mouths of fathers and mothers and even the bars, some blacks will come out of the blindness that makes them act like capitães do mato (captains of the woods) (1).


1.In Brazil’s slavery era, the main task of the black capitão do mato was to hunt down, capture and return fugitive slaves.

Source: Diário do Centro do Mundo

About Marques Travae 3747 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

1 Comment

  1. I really like your articles and the issues you deal with for your webblog. About this subject we can observe the same fact when African-American went to settle in West Africa (Liberia and Sierra Leone) in 18th and 19th centuries. They reproduced the same supremacist system in the West Africans societies. They felt superior in front the natives becoming new colonialists : the Black Nova Scotians.

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