“Filthy black you’re going to die”? Racist graffiti and swastika targeting black student found on university campus
By Marques Travae
So, surprise, surprise, we have yet another episode of blatant anti-black sentiments coming from Brazil, the place where everyone proclaims that “we are all equal”. Once again, the incident happened on a college campus, again a black student was threatened with death and once again there was a swastika drawn along with the threat.
This time the incident took place at the Universidade Federal de São Carlos (UFSCar), located in the city of Sorocaba in the state of São Paulo. The victima of the threats was 22-year old forest engineering student Thalita Suzan Souza. The racist threats were found in the bathroom on the UFSCar campus where graffiti that read ‘preta imunda’ (filthy black) and ‘vai morrer’ (you’re going to die) were found. Souza, a second-year student of the course was understandably shocked but as such occurrences have been quite common on university campuses since early in the last decade, perhaps she shouldn’t have been. The case was registered with local police, but the perpetrator has yet to be identified.
Souza, besides studying forest engineering, is quite active in a number of different student related groups and services. She is from the academic center, is a director of athletics, vice-president of the council of entities of the university, an affirmative action recipient as well as beneficiary of a scholarship. Her activism in the student movement has made her well-known on the campus which could be a movement of why she has been targeted. Black students at Brazilian universities have been targeted over the years for a number of reasons, including entering the institutions through the quota system, activism for black rights or just simply the growing presence of black bodies in places that just a few decades ago were overwhelmingly white spaces.
Upon discovery of the graffiti, Souza said:
“When I got the information, I was in shock. I didn’t expect so much hatred and I don’t know who could do something like that because I’m very active politically and a lot of people know me by my actions,” she says.
Wednesday, November 7th, university administration was alerted about the property damage by students who discovered the messages in two different buildings, both of which had no security camera monitoring.
Souza is now taking extra precautions to assure her safety as university officials proceed with investigations.
“My family came from home, I will continue as normal and I won’t be alone to avoid any problem,” she said. The student is originally from the city of São Paulo and has lived in the city of Sorocaba for two years with a friend and her boyfriend.
Again, in a reaction that is pretty much standard, UFSCar repudiated the racist messages and declared that such actions won’t be tolerated. In reference to the case, the Directorate of the Center for Human and Biological Sciences released a note saying, “unfortunately, our campus has entered the list of educational institutions with increasing unacceptable behaviors of hate, which have become more public and declared by a part of Brazilian society.”
If one were to believe the view of the average Brazilian, these sorts of things would only happen in an openly, historically racist society such as the United States. But as I have documented for a number of years, anti-black sentiments have ALWAYS been a part of Brazilian society but with recent socioeconomic advances of black Brazilians who have always been relegated to the margins of society, this rejection of their leaving “the place” reserved to them is becoming more and more pronounced.