Note from BBT: Different day, same racism in Brazil. That’s about all I could really say after hearing about today’s story a few days ago. Once again I will remind readers that just because I don’t write about some sort of racist incident, it doesn’t mean that they don’t still go down, but rather that there are many other things to write about. It’s actually been a minute since I wrote about an ole fashion example of racist behavior anyway.
In a previous post, I once again explained why it’s not necessary to have segregation legislation to maintain a segregated society. Segregation doesn’t have to exist physically if it in fact exists in the minds of the people. How else would you explain someone telling another person that some article of clothing was “only for whites to wear”?
What really struck me about today’s story is that it happened in a store fast food service area. What I mean by this is that, in Brazil, it is often said that black people won’t experience discriminatory behavior in low-income areas. As it is the lower class that the country has always reserved for the black population, it is assumed that there would be no need to discriminate against black folks if they remain in “the place” that society believes they belong.
According to the logic, black Brazilians will only experience racism (that’s not supposed to exist in Brazil) when they attempt to ascend socially and frequent areas they are not expected to be seen in. But as today’s piece once again demonstrates, that’s not necessarily the case. I mean, this incident didn’t happen in a law office, a university or an executive business meeting. It happened in a fast food service area. I don’t say this to denigrate the work of people who work in restaurants or cafeterias (particularly as I used to work in one myself), but simply to show that the idea that members of one group people believing themselves to be superior to another has no geographical boundaries.
Again, legislation to enforce physical segregation isn’t necessary when the idea is in the mind.
Last year, explaining today’s Brazil in which a figure such as Jair Bolsonaro could be elected president, sociologist Jesse Souza explained that there are some classes of people in which “the only distinction these people have in life is the ‘whiteness’ of the color of their skin to display against the black.” Most Brazilians would have us believe that this isn’t true as Brazilians see themselves as “all equal”. But then, how can you all be “equal” when some people clearly believe some things are only for certain people and groups.
I thought this was a thing of the United States. Well, actually, I known for twenty years now that that isn’t case. For those of you who still don’t know, check out another example below.
“Only for whites to wear”: employee denounces racism in the market and gets fired
The kitchen assistant Nataly Ventura da Silva, 31, was fired from the Atacadão hypermarket in Rio de Janeiro after making numerous reports that she was being victimized by racism and religious intolerance in the workplace.
According to Nataly, since she started working at the supermarket, on March 6, she realized that she was being victimized by a colleague. According to the former employee, the complaints were brought to the head of the kitchen, who didn’t intervene on her behalf. She, in turn, was assessed negatively by her supervisor, who considered her to be an “influential” person.She also made complaints through internal service channels.
“I would arrive, he would tip the bucket and start drumming as if it were an atabaque (drum), in reference to candomblé. (see note one) One day, colleagues were talking about donating a cat. He said the cat would only serve if it were white, a black one he couldn’t adopt. He even said that since the day I went there [to the kitchen], he didn’t like me,” Nataly told Uol.
According to Nataly, despite her frequent complaints, the employee was never punished. The last straw for the victim occurred on the day of her dismissal, on June 28. When she left HR and returned to the kitchen, she found a message written on her apron. The message read: “just for white people to wear”.
“I felt really bad. The supervisor had to have taken the apron and sent it straight to HR, but she did nothing. She just crossed out the sentence, turned a blind eye the whole time,” lamented Nataly in an interview. “He is an outspoken racist, and she is even more so because she allowed everything to get to that point,” Nataly said.
Most of the employees who worked in the hypermarket’s kitchen were white, she said.
MPT asks for BRL 50 million for moral damages
According to the MPT (Public Ministry of Labor), the employee accused of racism also had problems with other employees. One report having shown he even hurt another colleague. For labor attorney Fernanda Diniz, the Atacadão hypermarket was silent and allowed the employee to adopt a stance of such racist and religious intolerance.
The MPT filed a lawsuit for collective damages totaling BRL 50 million after Atacadão didn’t accept the agreement proposed by the agency. According to the prosecutor, the employee accused of racism and religious intolerance was only dismissed from the hypermarket after the MPT intervened in the case. If the market is condemned, the amounts will be transferred to non-profit institutions focused on black causes.
“This employee said he didn’t like blacks. He was involved in the case of physical aggression against another employee and was never punished. In this case of aggression, the company even claimed it was an accident. So, I understood it’s the company’s silent attitude allowed him to do all of this,” said Fernanda Diniz, labor attorney.
“The company’s omission was clear. Strictly speaking, this dismissal of just cause was also wrong, because by CLT (Consolidation of Labor Laws), the just cause must be immediate. Not being so, it characterizes the employee’s forgiveness,”explained the attorney.
“He felt that he could do anything. He leaves his job incomplete for Nataly or other people to finish. They were treated differently and as Nataly confronted him, she ended up being dismissed from work.”
MP proposed rehiring the employee
Fernanda Diniz stated that she proposed to the company to re-hire Nataly, which was denied.
“I tried to resolve this without legal action, negotiating with them. I proposed to the company that it rehire Nataly, suddenly in another unit even in Santa Cruz. And I proposed that they hire a consultant of the black rights movement to consult with workers. The company again didn’t want to allow it, so that it would set an example for all teams.”
Due to the refusal to re-hire the employee, the prosecutor asked for collective damages of BRL 50 million. The value doesn’t benefit the professional. For individual moral damages, the former employee will have to file a lawsuit in court.
The other side
Sought for comment, the Atacadão hypermarket reported that it repudiates any type of discrimination. It further stated the employee was dismissed for just cause that when the incident became known.
“We clarify that the complaint was only registered when the employee’s experience contract had already been closed. We are working with the Public Ministry of Labor to collaborate with clarifying the facts. Atacadão has an exclusive channel for complaints. They are treated with the utmost rigor as they demand issues of prejudice,” the hypermarket said in a statement.
This report was unable to contact the employee accused of racism and religious intolerance.
Apron maker says it repudiates act of racism
The company Maicol do Brasil Indústria e Comércio LTDA, which operates in the manufacture and sale of Personal Protective Equipment (such as the apron in the image highlighted in the report), reported that it “repudiates and combats any act of racism and discrimination and during its 40 years of existence has always respected all races, creeds and sexual orientation, not agreeing with the attitude of the market employee reported in the report.”
The company spoke after the brand image appeared in the text illustration.
- Here we have yet another example of the negative manner in which black Brazilians are associated with the Afro-Brazilian religion of Candomblé, which remains highly stigmatized and stereotyped to this day.