Note from BW of Brazil: In reality, there’s nothing unusual here. Disappointing yes, but very common in a country where one’s appearance is judged according to their proximity to a more African or European aesthetic with the latter providing often unearned benefits while the former taxes the person with penalties. It is for this reason that is should be considered an accomplishment when Afro-Brazilians, women in particular, develop the courage and pride to wear their hair in the manner in which they were born. For as we have shown in numerous posts, hair texture is one of the characteristics of which black women most often attract negative attention and comments. Today’s story also provides yet another example that debunks the idea that once black people get an education, a good job and salary they will be free of racism and racist sentiments (1). Of course, this in a country that often denies that racism even exists in the first place.
Doctor suffers racism because she wears dreadlocks
Courtesy of the Ofensiva Negritude Facebook page
Good evening coordinators of the Programa Mais Médicos (More Doctors Doctors)
I am Brazilian doctor educated abroad and revalidated, allocated in (the state of) Paraná in the city of Santa Helena on second call.
This afternoon, the municipal Secretary of health, Miss Teresinha Bottega and her secretary, Cristiane, called me so that we could organize the activities to be carried in the health strategy of the family. But on entering the health secretary room, the same verbalized that she was sorry to for verbalizing this, but there was one problem: my hair. That patients were accustomed to a standard of doctors, and I could run into difficulties of prejudice that my patients could have with my hair. Miss Cristiane asked if I wore an accessory, and that my hair gave off a strong, strange smell, and Therese added that she was incensed. I said that we are in a society where 50% and more of the population is black, and the socio-historical context in which we are placed of racism, discrimination and prejudice, causes people to have racist, discriminatory and prejudiced reactions, however these facts would not influence my professional capacity and doctor-patient relationship.
Yes racism exists and that as an intellectual and professional of health, I could not answer other than intellectually and only demanding and emanating respect as a human being and professional, and that differences are meant to be overcome as best as possible. And I would not want to have any comment in respect to my hair, just that. Each person must be respected regardless of their hair, skin color, beliefs or personal choices, and that the same cannot interfere with the professional quality, so it shouldn’t even be a point of a meeting for definition of work.
Sincerely I felt discriminated against, since what they think about my appearance, I am notifying that what they think in respect to my appearance is personal, of each individual, but should not necessarily be verbalized unaware that may have consequences beyond legal, psychological, physical, mental and spiritual.
I am black, African, a woman, with dreadlocks and a doctor. Like it or not.
At the end of the issue, we continue with those things really relative to the work, without any type of retraction of both because of their unfortunate ascriptions.
I await the position of the Ministry of Health.
Thatiane Santos da Silva
General Internal Medicine
Source: Jornal GGN
1. As we have seen in previous cases here, here and here, professional status doesn’t protect Afro-Brazilians from facing discriminatory or prejudicial situations based on race, color or some attribute marking them as members of the black population. In other words, blacks that ascend socially continue to suffer racism.