Black women’s organizations and website protest and demand public apology for display of black boy mannequin with shackles on its feet in supermarket

"How ugly, huh Pão de Açúcar?" Statue of a black child with shackles on the feet decorates Pão de Açúcar Supermarket in the Vila Romana neighborhood of São Paulo
“How ugly, huh Pão de Açúcar?” Statue of a black child with shackles on the feet decorates Pão de Açúcar Supermarket in the Vila Romana neighborhood of São Paulo

BW of Brazil: Who comes up with this stuff? Sometimes one really has to wonder if these types of things are oversights, carelessness, lack of respect or simply blatant not giving a….Let’s just say, totally not caring. I mean, how else can one explain the continuous disrespect of the black community in negative depictions or references to black women, the sexuality of black women, and Afro textured hair (here and here)? In reality, in a country where the lives of black youth are so disregarded, it should come as no surprise that someone didn’t see a problem depicting a black boy wearing shackles on his feet in a country with a 350 year history of black slavery. Well, Brazil does it again!

Pão de Açúcar Supermarket Sugarloaf causes outrage after installing a black mannequin with chained feet

A statue of a black mannequin with shackled feet inside a Pão de Açúcar supermarket in the Vila Romana neighborhood in São Paulo has caused outrage in social networks since August 19.

The black community was offended and considered extremely distasteful the image of a black child being used to “decorate” the area for bakery products in the supermarket. After the picture was posted on a profile in Mundo Negro (Black World), a flurry of outraged comments were spread on Facebook.  On Thursday (22), the image had almost 4,000 shares, and the majority of reviews had negative evaluations directed toward the company.

The initial posting of the Mundo Negro site lists the reasons for “não gostar dessa imagem (not liking this image)”: the fact that a black child has shackles on the feet refers to slavery; the size of the basket and effort required to carry it is a defense to child labor; and the fact that the child is black, which denotes racism. Furthermore, the inclusion of shackles on the child’s feet, reminiscent of slavery, besides the unfortunate choice for using, once again, a black child in these conditions be used to “decorate” an area of ​​general circulation of the supermarket.

Pão de Açúcar is a chain of supermarkets targeted at Brazil's upper and middle classes (classe A & B)
Pão de Açúcar is a chain of supermarkets targeted at Brazil’s upper and middle classes (classe A & B)

Despite the company’s profile on Facebook already having apologized for the unfortunate gaffe and informing that the subject had already been removed from the store and that it is reviewing the process of selection of decorative pieces, the protests – and criticism – on the social network continues.

After the controversy, the Pão de Açúcar released a statement stating that “the statue in question was acquired as part of a collection of decorative pieces of the store without intent or condoning any kind of discrimination.”

The director of Mundo Negro site, Silvia Nascimento said the justification of the company was insufficient. “Some terms have to be understood correctly: it is not a matter of discrimination but of condoning slavery. It would be discrimination if a person were prohibited from entering the store, for example,” said Silvia.

“Pão de Açúcar used a symbol of a very strong emotional and historical nature, and in a trivialized way. If it was a Jewish child in a concentration camp, the image would be considered shocking. It’ sad, I have cousins ​​who look like that kid of the statue,” she said.

With the repercussions, Uneafro (União de Núcleos de Educação Popular para Negros or Union of Centers for Popular Education for Blacks) got in contact with the site offering support. Uneafro’s legal department is studying a class action lawsuit against Pão de Açúcar. “Pão de Açúcar offended an entire community that has been a victim of slavery,” said Silvia.

AMNB expresses outrage regarding the statue of a black boy in a Grupo Pão de Açucar Supermarket 

In a letter organizations affiliated with the Articulação de Organizações de Mulheres Negras (Joint Organizations of Brazilian Black Women or AMNB) expressed outrage regarding the statue of a black boy, with shackles on the feet, on display in the Pão de Açucar supermarket in the Vila Romana neighborhood in São Paulo.

The AMNB demands that Grupo Pão de Açúcar make a public apology about the fact.

Below read the full document.

Mr. Enéas César Pestana Neto

Chief Executive Officer

Grupo Pão de Açúcar

“Mr. Director,

“The Articulação de Organizações de Mulheres Negras (AMNB) is a network of black women’s organizations, currently consisting of 28 organizations spread across all regions of Brazil. Our mission is grounded in addressing racism and social and economic inequalities of this country.

“According to data collected by the Pesquisa Nacional de Amostra por Domicílio (National Survey by Household Sample or PNAD, 2011), Brazil has about 192 million Brazilians, of these, 51% are self-declared black men and women, which makes Brazil, the country with the second largest population of blacks worldwide – 97 million, behind Nigeria, with approximately 160 million.

“The identity of a people is built from their social relations. The Brazilian state, a slavery state for over three hundred years, left extremely strong marks on this population, these marks that are enhanced by the maintenance of such attitudes.

“It leaves us extremely astonished the fact that we became aware of the statue decoratively displayed in the Pão de Açúcar Supermarket in the Vila Romana neighborhood in the city of São Paulo, which depicts a black child with shackles on the feet carrying a basket of bread (attached).

“We want to draw attention to two aspects: (1) This image contributes to the maintenance of racism, it is the embodiment of the collective unconscious that always puts blacks in the social and symbolic place of submission; it is not by chance that this boy continues with shackles on the feet, a symbol of enslavement. (2) It also condones and authorizes, in a subliminal way, child labor, which in Brazil is carried out by a majority of black children.

“Another great injury is the negative impact of this image to the self-esteem of black children and for a construction of a positive reference of self, which leads them to feel themselves on equal conditions in the company of white children. How do you think black children who attend this store feel?

“We, black and indigenous women, saw being treated, under slavery and racism, as objects, vulnerable to all kinds of personal and structural violence. We know, therefore, the deep pain of violence that affects us. And we fought over the centuries in the history of Brazil, for justice and reparation, and for the right to live in full citizenship.

“It is in this sense that we direct ourselves to you, CEO of Grupo Pão de Açúcar, Mr. Enéas Neto, to say that we are hoping that this group makes a public apology, even having removed the statue placed in its store, recognizing in this act as a strengthener of racism in Brazil.

“It is necessary, and we are available to contribute with this institution, the construction of a restorative action to sensitize customers and employees, across your network, towards a country where difference is understood as a positive value.”

Simone Cruz
Secretária Executiva AMNB

Organizações Integrantes da AMNB (Member Organizations of AMNB)

(Note: Mulheres Negras means Black Women in Portuguese; the letters to the right represent various states where these organizations are based in Brazil)

ACMUN – Associação Cultural de Mulheres Negras – RS (Rio Grande do Sul)
BAMIDELÊ – Organização de Mulheres Negras na Paraíba – PB (Paraíba)
CACES – Centro de Atividades Culturais, Econômicas e Sociais – RJ (Rio de Janeiro)
Casa Laudelina de Campos Mello – SP (São Paulo)
Casa da Mulher Catarina – SC (Santa Catarina)
CEDENPA – Centro de Estudos e Defesa do Negro do Pará – PA (Pará)
CRIOLA – Organização de Mulheres Negras – RJ (Rio de Janeiro)
CONAQ – Coordenação Nacional de Articulação das Comunidades Quilombolas – MG (Minas Gerais)
GELEDÉS – Instituto da Mulher Negra – SP (São Paulo)
Grupo de Mulheres Negras Felipa de Sousa – RJ (Rio de Janeiro)
Grupo de Mulheres Negras Mãe Andressa – MA (Maranhão)
Grupo de Mulheres Negras Malunga – GO (Goiás)
IMENA – Instituto de Mulheres Negras do AP (Amapá)
INEGRA – Instituto Negra do Ceará – CE (Ceará)
Instituto AMMA Psique e Negritude – SP (São Paulo)
IROHIN – DF (Distrito Federal)
KILOMBO – Organização Negra do Rio Grande do Norte – RN (Rio Grande do Norte)
Maria Mulher – Organização de Mulheres Negras – RS (Rio Grande do Sul)
Mulheres em União – Centro de Apoio e Defesa dos Direitos da Mulher – MG (Minas Gerais)
NZINGA – Coletivo de Mulheres Negras de Belo Horizonte
Observatório Negro – PE (Pernambuco)
ODARA – Instituto da Mulher Negra – BA (Bahia)
OMIN – Organização de Mulheres Negras Maria do Egito – SE (Sergipe)
Rede Mulheres Negras do Paraná – PR (Paraná)
Uiala Mukaji – Sociedade das Mulheres Negras de Pernambuco – PE (Pernambuco)

Source: Articulação de Organizações de Mulheres Negras, EXTRA, UOL Economia

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

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