Note from BW of Brazil: This has got to be one of the strangest cases I’ve come across in some time! In reality, in Brazil, it is very common that black mothers are often mistaken for being the nannies of their own children because they are black and their children look white (or something close to white). Sometimes I wonder why this would be so in Brazil. Brazilians know full well that racial mixing has been going on in the land that would come to be known as Brazil since Europeans, Africans and Native Brazilians first came in contact with each other in the New World.
Thousands of families across Brazil have children, aunts, uncles, etc. that have varying phenotype from black to white and everything in between, so why would any Brazilian not believe that a brown-skinned black woman could possibly have a white-skinned child? In fact, as I’ve mentioned in numerous posts, the disappearance of the black race by means of miscegenation has been a stated goal of Brazil since at least the end of the 19th century. But race issues set aside, it must be a horrifying experience for any parent to almost lose their child and then have to prove that they are in fact the child’s mother or father.
Woman denounces attempt to kidnap her daughter and racism at BR-381 post
Black mother experiences moments of desperation in avoiding the kidnapping of her baby, who is white, by a woman who used her skin color to try to convince people that the child was hers
By Simon Nascimento* and Larissa Ricci
I saw myself losing my daughter simply because of being black she was not,” said 22-year-old Jamille Edaes, reporting that she had been a victim of racism at the same time a woman tried to steal her baby from a bus stop at BR-381 (highway) in Perdões, in the Center-West region of (the state of) Minas Gerais, on Monday night. Jamille, who is black, said she was accused by workers of “kidnapping” her own daughter, aged 1 year and 5 months, who has pele branca (white skin). She only didn’t lose her because she carried all her documents in her bag and a video of her birth on her cell phone. Yesterday, she recorded a boletim de ocorrência (incident report) on the “desperate” episode. According to the Civil Police, the case will be investigated by the Rio Vermelho police station, near where the crime occurred, and the contents of the victim’s testimony will not be disclosed.
According to Jamille, she spent the weekend with her husband, who lives in the capital of São Paulo, and embarked to return to Belo Horizonte on Monday night. After four hours of travel, the bus stopped at Perdões and she got off with the baby to have a snack. “It was then that I went into the bathroom and a girl gave her hand to my daughter and started to play. M. is a very quiet child, everyone plays with her and I didn’t concern myself. But all at once the woman began to shout, ‘This is my daughter!’” said the victim. Frightened, she took the girl in her lap.
It was at that moment, says Jamille, that a cleaning lady at the cafeteria asked the other woman, who is about 30 years old, “Did this preta (black woman) grab your daughter?” “It was when everyone questioned if I was the mother of the child,” says Jamille. She says the woman who tried to kidnap M. had a birth certificate for a girl named Jéssica, who was 1 year and 8 months old. At that moment, she reports, the woman continued to shout that M. was her daughter and accused Jamille of kidnapping. “The cleaning woman snatched M. from my lap and handed it to the woman. She said that M. could never be my daughter because she is white and I am black,” she said. According to Jamille, three other cafeteria employees – two women and one man – helped snatch her out of her lap. The woman put the child inside the car and placed her in a baby seat.
“I was terrified and didn’t know how to prove otherwise. The driver of the bus asked me how I had managed to get on board with her and I remembered that the RG and the CPF (ID documents) were in my bag,” said Jamille. According to Jamille, it was necessary to show to several people all the documents, as well as a video of the child’s birth that was on her cell phone to prove that the child is her daughter and manage to get them to help rescue her. She says she tried to immediately record an incident report and denounce racial discrimination and attempted abduction. “When everyone believed in me, the driver said he could not wait for me. I was so terrified and scared that I left,” she said. When trying to register the occurrence at the bus station, there was one more problem. “They (the police) mocked me and said it was impossible without the woman’s data. I didn’t even have her name.” The occurrence was only finally registered in the Women’s Police Station of Betim.
Jamille’s husband, Roberto Edaes, 25, says the case exposes the racism in the country. “Unfortunately, it will not be the first time or the last time that this kind of situation will occur,” he says. “Those absurd stories that our parents tell us really happen.” As Renato Russo said, vivemos em um mundo doente (we live in a sick world).
He even considers that people may have acted that way because it was a woman. “If it was with a black man and the white daughter would there have also been that same questioning? We need to debate this, we need to be attentive,” he added.
“The suspicion of motherhood is only a fragment of the recurring scenes of racism and racial discrimination that occur daily in Brazil. The latest census shows that interracial marriages, for example, between blacks (self-declared pretos/blacks and pardos/browns) and whites are not as common as they seem. Inheritance of racism, black men and women when they have phenotypically white sons and daughters are treated as ‘caretakers and caregivers’ of these precious things,” says Aline Neves, a black activist, teacher of Basic Education and Researcher of the Affirmative Action Program at UFMG. “At school, in the restaurant, in the playground, in many places, it will be the black woman placed in suspicion,” he says.
For the expert, what happened to Jamille Edaes presents two fragments of suffering for the woman: the risk of losing a child and the racial offense, due to the genetic difference between the two. “It is not difficult to imagine the fear of (the name of the victim) in the face of the risk of having her daughter stolen. Between the two bodies fighting for the right of the child, and the fragility of the speech of a black woman whose daughter does not have the same phenotype as she, it’s racism by definition of maternity. How can a black woman have a white child? The imaginary does not allow us to approach, for even beauty is hierarchical, feelings are hierarchized and everything goes in favor of this mulher branca (white woman). The humiliation of having to prove that her daughter is her, (the name of the victim), is similar to those who have their children separated from them by the fact of vulnerability, especially in Belo Horizonte – orphan mothers.”
According to social scientist Robson Sávio, a member of the Center for Sociopolitical Studies of the Pontifical Catholic University (PUC Minas) and the Brazilian Forum of Public Security, a thorough investigation is necessary, attentive to the dangers of the highway. “You have to look at whether it’s a one-off situation or if that woman who would have been trying to kidnap the child was part of a gang. Another option is for her to have fascist principles that believe in white supremacy, and to think that removing that child out from a black crib would be a ‘favor’ for her,” he said.
He ponders that roads become places conducive to this type of crime, due to the lack of articulation between police. “There is a lack of coordination between federal, state and military police. In addition to trafficking in persons, drugs and weapons are constant,” he says. What’s more, all the difficulties faced by the victim in registering an incident report also discourage people from doing the same,” he says.