Note from BW of Brazil: Ya know, some of the worst forms of racist sentiments often come disguised as “a joke”. It is one of the best ways for people people to express how they really feel about certain groups while attempting to deflect criticism for such beliefs by denying that such expressions are mean any harm as they should be taken as purely humor. But what happens when an entire society subscribes to such sentiments? Would this still qualify as a “just a joke”? What does it mean when people consistently associate persons with very pale skin with prestigious jobs such as judges, doctors and scientists and associate menial labor such as street sweepers, maids and janitors with persons with darker skin? Of course, there’s nothing wrong with being employed in such occupations, and in the case of singers and futebol players, they can even be highly compensated. What’s hidden in these associations though is the idea that certain groups are naturally only suited for such positions while the “more important roles” should be and are rightly reserved for the privileged group.
The costume at the center of today’s post and the meaning connected with it has appeared in various previous posts. Of course we’ve seen the fact that Brazil seems to have a strange (not so new) obsession with the usage of blackface makeup but equally disturbing is the degrading of black men with the image of the enormous black penis. More and more black men are beginning to awaken from their slumber based on a perceived positive stereotype that due to their race, they must be “good at sex” or that they carry around “third legs” (see here, here and here). In one previous post, I remembered asking a black male friend that if it were possible for black men to be seen as full human beings rather than walking stereotypes in the eyes of society and all that would be necessary was to reject the idea that all black men are “packing like porn stars”, would he be willing to leave that image behind. In the Carnaval costume at the center of today’s post, we once again see why black men as a whole should really begin to second guess whether such stereotypes are in fact “positive”.
A big dick, but subjugated: there will be humiliated blacks, yes
By Djamila Ribeiro
From the stereotype of the “well-endowed” to marginalization, Brazil shows itself to be the country of scorn and violence
I have written several times about how the black population is dehumanized. From representations that place it as inferior, violent and objectified to the violence that exterminates a young black every 23 minutes. I think it is important to discuss representation, because the imposition of these images justifies even death. No wonder black men are the prime suspects and targets of the police. Debating racism is broader than you can imagine, since violence occurs in a variety of ways.
Let’s look at recent cases. The producer Padrão Carvalheira, from Recife, holds a costume contest every year. The winning “costume” was that of white men wearing blackface and huge penises, embodying the racist stereotype that black men are “well endowed,” or rather, reducing human beings to their genitals. In addition to being offensive because it is blackface, it dehumanizes the black man by animalizing him.
White people are never represented in groups. If person dresses up as Hugh Jackman or television host Luciano Huck, for example. The individuals are represented. In the case of black people, they think that they can reduce a whole group to only one type of representation as if diversity were a monopoly of branquitude (whiteness).
Like white people, we are tall, short, fat, thin, people with penises of varying sizes. But this is one of the keys to dehumanization: homogenizing. Recalling that black men were used as reproducers in the colonial period to “supply” enslaved labor and keep exploitation profitable. It is absurd that people still feel empowered to commit such violence.
Those responsible for the production will dodge the issue saying that the winners were elected by the public, but they should not even have allowed entry to the competition because it is a case of racism. There is no possible justification, because in addition to authorizing it, they rewarded them with a trip to the Fernando de Noronha islands and posted the photo on a Recife-based blog.
They use black people as a mockery, to be ridiculed, while legitimating violence.
Another recent case. On Twitter, a man who calls himself a cultural producer praised the way cops approached a boy suspected of stealing a cell phone. The boy was handcuffed and laid on his back, evidencing the truculence of the action. Even if he were a suspect, does it justify being treated that way? (see note one)
(Translation of caption in above photo: “Another thief captured in downtown Rio. An attempted assault for a cell phone and the police did their job. Congratulations.”)
This bloodthirsty impetus toward black men is what causes many to be tied to posts and beaten while white men who commit crimes are treated differently. There is only thirst for vengeance when it is for the black blood to be shed. The naturalization of violence is shocking.
Last week, another case moved me absurdly. A black woman is assaulted by supermarket security guards because she was suspected of stealing food. The men go on humiliating and assaulting her. In one of the most unequal countries in the world, a woman is punished for stealing to feed herself. And, worse, by people who are also exploited.
These men failed to realize that they are at the service of the same logic that also violates them. The video is extremely sad, the way a woman is doubly dehumanized: for living in hunger and for being beaten for living in hunger.
Brazil is the country of violence and scorn. During Carnival, they humiliate themselves by “dressing up” as black and the rest of the year contributing to the marginalization. A pau grande (big dick), but head hung low, preferably on the ground. That’s how they want us. But what moves some sites is a white woman saying she can’t wear a turban. The hashtag of this country is: there will be humiliated blacks, yes.
Source: Carta Capital
- In past posts, I have asked this same question in regards to the common practice of lynching throughout Brazil.