Criminalization of the black male: In photo of campaign against pedophilia, São Paulo buses use image of black hands grabbing a little white girl



Note from BW of Brazil: Ya know, sometimes I really do believe that people and organizations do certain things, the more outrageous the better, precisely to garner a reaction from society as a whole or certain segments of the society. Today’s piece is a perfect example of this. First, check out the story and I will chime in with my opinion later…

Black organizations repudiate racism on São Paulo buses

Pedophilia is a crime. Racism is too!

By Jornalistas Livres

Entities, activists and partners of the Movimento Negro (black movement) repudiate the divulging of propaganda against pedophilia, on buses that is circulating in the city of São Paulo. Under the responsibility of the CET, SPTrans and the City, the advertisement shows a black man grabbing a little white girl, helping to crystallize the criminalization of the black population.


Jornalistas Livres contacted SPTrans and received the following response: “We clarify that the choice of tonalities of the illustrations is only intended to contrast the infant figure with the adult figure. There was no other direction. Regardless of this technical aspect, we inform that this edition of the bus newspaper was removed.”

Unfortunately, the explanation given by SPTrans was very bad. Racism, it is known, expresses itself precisely in the choice of a light tonality to identify attributes of goodness, purity, and character. The dark tone, on the other hand, is chosen by racists as an attribute of evil. This is where racism manifests itself.

The City of São Paulo should apologize. It would be more worthy of its human rights record. SPTrans itself has already given examples of action against racism and for the inclusion of all citizens. It did this, for example, with the creation of the Bilhete Único (bus/subway card) with a print alluding to Consciência Negra (Black Consciousness), released in 2014. Or with the Bilhete Único to Fight Violence Against Women, 2015. Also when it was a pioneer in the recognition of the use of the social name in Bilhete Único.

Below, the full of the repudiation note signed by black entities

“Entities, activists and partners of the Movimento Negro, we come to the public to repudiate the publicity of the institutional propaganda of public transport in the city of São Paulo, the responsibility of CET, SPTrans and City Hall.

This deals with the periodical Jornal do Ônibus, precisely the publicity piece numbered 1.016 from December 6 to 19, 2016. Apparently it is a harmless and legitimate campaign to combat pedophilia. There is no doubt that this is a very important and necessary campaign, but the problem is not this. The problem, then, is the way the question is presented: um homem negro agarrando uma garotinha branca (a black man grabbing a little white girl).

In Brazil, the criminalization of the black population is not something recent. Firstly, it is important to remember that black people were never included in the project called Brazil. Ideas like those of Lombroso, who said that we black women and men, because of our phenotype, are “naturally inclined to crime”, reaffirming a whole process of exclusion, persecution, intolerance, in the structure of super-exploitation that has always been the tone of social relations of races in Tupiniquim (Brazilian) territory, including that there was even an attempt to whiten the population, a process of eugenics to “clean Brazil”. The laws that criminalized our traditions, which prohibited our circulation in public spaces, such as the “law of vagrancy”, all this is to say that even then, before the famous and dubious “abolition”, saying “negro” and say “crook” was basically the same thing.

Time has passed, but we are still these “natural suspects”, potentially “dangerous”, the Brazilian State has not yet fully inserted us into the concept of citizenship, even today the persecution of our traditions, especially religious, is a concrete fact. We who have been pushed through history to occupy the peripheries, militarized territories, depend on the public service, we are under-represented politically, we don’t run the big companies, we are a minority in the Judiciary, we are almost not in the public universities, we are the majority of Brazilian population and pay more taxes than the rich.

Enough criminalization!

Even today we are dying and being imprisoned, this is the solution of a state that is the stage of an ongoing genocide.

This racist publicity of the city of São Paulo is on all buses and terminals in the capital and will reach millions of people, reinforcing an idea of criminalization, which in our country has its own history, sexual violence, started as a state project by the first European colonizers and mainly the violence against children should be combatted with force, it’s a fact today in modern societies that the most dangerous place for children, women, the elderly is within the home, domestic violence that hampers the combatting, which exists in all social strata, regardless of color, creed or bank account.

Therefore, it does not justify the deliberate choice of using a black man’s image grabbing a little white girl.

We demand that propaganda be withdrawn, and in addition to retraction, we consider fundamental a compensatory action to combat racism and discrimination within buses and terminals, after all, just as the effects of black slavery in Brazil are irreparable, the effect of such propaganda can be deadly; just remember the young black man who was lynched in the street tied to a pole, “mistaken for a crook”.

We do not accept an accomplice state!”

Signees of this note:

Círculo Palmarino, corrente nacional do movimento negro (national chain of the black movement)
Rede Antirracista Quilombação (Quilombação Anti-racist network)
Coletivo Sócio-cultural Simbiose Urbana (Urban Simbiose Social-Cultural Collective)
Espaço Cultural Carlos Marighella (Carlos Marighella Cultural Space)
Brigadas Populares (Popular Brigades)
Coletivo Kilombagem (Kilombagem Collective)
Núcleo de Consciência Negra da USP.(Center of Black Consciousness of the University of São Paulo)
Coletivo de Entidades Negras – CEN (Collective of Black Entities)
Agentes de Pastoral Negros do Brasil (Agents of Black Pastors of Brazil)
Movimento de Luta nos Bairros, Vilas e favelas (MLB) (Struggle in the Neighborhoods Movement)
Coletivo Opá Negra (Opá Negra Collective)
Insurgência (Insurgency)
Coletivo Rosa Zumbi.
Sônia Regina Nozabielli.
Lúcio Flávio Rodrigues de Almeida – departamento de Política Puc-SP
Givanildo M. da Silva-Giva.
Luiz Henrique Pereira da Silva.
José Henrique – Militante Anti-Racista (anti-racist militant)

Note from BW of Brazil: Well, you can’t really get much more blatant than this in connecting black people, specifically black males, with criminality. And if you’re new to this blog and think this is just an isolated incident, allow me to point the fact that Brazil has a long history of this. Just in the past five years on this blog alone, we’ve seen several examples of this. Remember when the makers of the film Cidade de Deus chose a very dark skin Afro-Brazilian actor to portray the villainous character Zé Pequeno when the real life person had much lighter skin? Or how about when a Military Police captain gave orders to approach black and brown suspects? Or the Afro-Brazilian Ph.D candidate who was detained for several days after the death of an Italian tourist  even though there was no just cause to see her as a suspect? Or how about the black man who was wrestled to the ground because people believed he was attempting to steal his own car? These are just a few examples of Brazil’s automatic assumption that dark skin = suspect. There’s really no need to deny this connection as the 2007 book A cabeça do brasileiro pointed out how skin color affects the way Brazilians think of people.

The creators of the advertisement clearly knew of this connection. Consider the weak excuse used to justify the choice of the photo when the representative stated that “the choice of tonalities of the illustrations is only intended to contrast the infant figure with the adult figure”. Simply showing a larger figure dressed in a suit, as depicted in the photo, would have been sufficient to show the difference between a child and an adult. As such, there is absolutely no other reason to show black hands grabbing a white child unless attempting to play on the public’s perception of what color constitutes the “criminal element” of Brazilian society. It’s enough to remember the well-known phrase that a “branco correndo é atleta negro correndo é ladrão” (a white man running is an athlete, a black man running is a thief) to see what’s going on here. For me, this is clearly the case. Can you suggest another interpretation of this incident beyond Brazil’s racist ideologies? 

Source: Jornalistas Livres

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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