Note from BBT: To begin today’s story, I will request that you file this one in the ‘Brazilians aren’t racists’ folder. You’ll see why in a minute. Today’s story actually started 4-5 days ago when I was scrolling down recent posts on my Instagram profile. Where my life is these days, I must say that I simply don’t have the precious time to spend looking at the sometimes mundane videos that people post. Sometimes, I will run across something that makes me laugh or think, but honestly, most of the content doesn’t do that.
The video that caught my eye a few days ago of which I will discuss today, in some ways, wasn’t anything special. I mean, another video of a Brazilian saying or doing something racist. So what else is new? As I’ve seen such incidents for years, I didn’t really even trip on it. And as with other incidents that I see, I wasn’t even really thinking about covering it. But then, after I saw the reaction that the incident provoked as well as the history of what the young man featured in the story had already gone through, I decided that I needed to look into this story.
Before I get into the incident, let me first introduce the young black man involved in the story. Eddy Jr. is a humorist and musician who found fame via social networks with his witty, humorous videos and motivational phrases. Eddy also displays his musical talent in his videos, singing and playing instruments.
28 years old and a resident of the west zone São Paulo, several of his his videos have gone viral with some of them featuring famous Brazilians such as the futebol legend Ronaldinho Gaúcho. Having started posting his videos eqarly in 2020, Eddy Jr. earned a following relatively quickly and today he has more than 1.8 million followers on Instagram and over 2 million on Tik Tok.
So, with such an impressive ascension in social media, you would think my coverage of Eddy Jr. would be for something positive. Well, not quite. To tell you the truth, before this story broke, I didn’t even know who Eddy Jr. was. That was until one particular woman brought him even more fame, and not for a good reason. And if this one incident weren’t enough, as it turned out, Eddy had been the target of one of his neighbor’s harassing actions for some time. In fact, such incidents had been occuring since April of this year. A timeline will show this.
On May 24th, the neighbor who has been harassing him sent an email to building management to issue a complaint about animal urine and security camera issues of the condominium where they lived. She mentions Eddy Jr.’s name and accused him of making all sorts of noise late in the night, distubing her sleep.
The very next day, May 25, the woman sent another text message to management, complaining yet again about noises she said were coming from Eddy Junior’s apartment. The woman said she had also complained to the building janitor and said that she would file a lawsuit against the Eddy Jr.
About a week later, on June 2nd, the same resident, Elizabeth Morrone, complained once again about Eddy, this time claiming that other residents in the building were also bothered and considered going to the police station and filing a report. In fact, no other resident confirmed what she claimed to be true.
The saga continued on June 15th when the woman made an accusation that the night janitor had lied when he stated that she was offending the building’s porters and then going on to make the claim that the records in the condominium’s denunciation book, made against humorist-musician Eddy, had suddenly disappeared.
Then, on September 1, security cameras recorded a sequence of videos in which the woman’s son showed up at the door of Eddy Junior’s apartment. The man was seen welding a knife in his hand with a somewhat disturbed appearance. One has to ask, what was the woman’s son planning on doing with that knife. I’ll leave that for you tho consider, but if someone showed up at your door waving a knife, would you open the door? What would you do?
One week later, on September 7th, images once again taken from the building, show scenes of the same man in front of Eddy’s apartment. Later that same night, he came back with a knife at his waist, this time with his mother who was seen carrying a bottle of wine in her hand. Maybe the bottle of wine wouldn’t be a big deal, but then again, with this history and her son now showing up twice with a knife, I imagine that a bottle of wine could become a weapon, but that’s just me. If that’s not enough, what eddy said happened during the incident in September.
“There was one night when I was lying in bed, and my doorbell rang. It was about 3 o’clock in the morning. I got up, and this neighbor’s son already started screaming, saying, ‘I’m going to kill you.’ He came with a huge knife in his hand, kicking on my door,” he said.
More than a month later, on the night of October 17th, the building’s security cameras recorded the moment when the Eddy Jr. and his dog attempt to enter the elevator but are attacked by the woman, who refused to allow him on the elevator because she didn’t want to be on the same elevator as him. With this reaction, minutes later, in the building’s garage, the woman began yelling a series of insults demaning that he leave.
“Get out, monkey! Move! Get out! You’re filthy. You’re dirty, shit, sucker,” said the aggressor. “I don’t want to be with him,” said the aggressor, saying she didn’t want to share an elevator with the artist. At that point, Eddy Junior decided to post a video on his social networks, speaking out against the resident, telling his followers what he was going through.
Eddy moved into the building in February and said the problems started about two months later. “The neighbor said that I ‘hacked’ the internet of her house, I turned off her stove, that I entered her house and stole things,” says Eddy. As if these baseless accusations weren’t enough, Eddy Jr. also revealed that the woman didn’t think he had the means to be able to pay the rent of the condo through legal means also telling him, “This is a family building, not a bandit building,” as well as asking him where the money to pay the rent came from.
On Wednesday, October 19th the civil police registered the case. Then, on that same day, a number of residents protested in front of the condominium, coming to the defense of Eddy Junior and calling for the exit of the aggressor from the building. During the protests, they were seen carrying signs that read #FORARACISTA, meaning ‘get out, racist’.
With all of this going down, Eddy Junior decided to leave the building, not because he wanted to, but for his own safety. The artist though it would be better to let allow legal and police actions develop, or possible, until the woman leaves the building. According to reports, the aggressor will be forced to pay a fine, and pay an amount corresponding to ten times the value of the condominium’s rent. In addition, if her harassment were to continue, she could be thrown out of the building. Personally, with everything that’s already happened, I would think that she should have already been forced out.
Days after the reports of this story hit the press, another resident in the building, a black woman who works as a lawyer would also weighed in with her own experiences with the aggressor. Nayara Cruz recounted similar incidents as Eddy.
“She approached me asking why I was in the gym, because the use of the gym is restricted to residents. I said I was a resident and then she asked me how much I paid for my apartment,” Nayara told Globo, Brazil’s top television network.
The lawyer went on to say that the woman referred to her son as “a vagabond’’ that he shouldn’t be in the hall of the building”. “There was another episode in which she was aggressive with my son, who was in the hall of the building playing with other children. She called my son a vagabond and said he wasn’t supposed to be in the hall of the building, that he couldn’t stay there.
In this story, once again, what we see is a long time belief on the part of a parcel of Brazil’s white population Afro-Brazilians do not belong in certain areas of which, for decades, white Brazilians had a near complete monopoly. As such, when they encounter black people, the automatic thought is that they are ‘out of place’, a thought that has been covered at Black Brazil Today for years. Note that in the case involving both the comedian and the lawyer, the aggressor questioned their class status and how/why they were there, the notorious question of, ‘what are they doing here?’
The next question should probably be, how did and how should black Brazilians react to this sort of behavior? For those of you not familiar with the Black Brazil Today blog, disrespect of Afro-Brazilians has been a consistent topic. From everyday racist comments and jokes, to an apparent mission of Brazil’s Military Police to significantly decrease the black population with its regular invasions and police actions that have led to the deaths of tens of thousands of black Brazilians.
Now that I have broken down what happened, I now want to focus on perhaps the best part of this whole ordeal and that’s the reaction to the incident. In recent years, we’ve seen Afro-Brazilians rise up against decades, in reality, centuries of oppression. From slowly adapting a specifically black identity, to refusing to continue to acquiesce to standards of beauty that reject natural kinky-curly hair, to protesting in the streets, the slumbering giant, the Afro-Brazilian population, has taken on a stance of NO MORE.
We all know the stats. Every 23 minutes a black or brown man is killed in Brazil, non-whites are the majority in the country’s prisons, they are more likely to be stopped by police, followed around by security in shopping malls and regularly featured as the criminal element in novelas, films and television series. Finally beginning to cut through the fog of confusion which is Brazil’s deceptive methods of covering up or denying racist intent, more and more black Brazilians are standing up and demanding an end to exclusion, genocidal politics, everyday racism and open disrespect.
In reality, much of the push back has been led by Afro-Brazilian women, but we are increasingly beginning to see a call for action from Afro-Brazilian men. Following a movement that was led by black women early in the 21st century, more black men are confidently growing out their hair and proudly rocking braids and afros in numbers that have never been seen before in Brazil.
Some black Brazilian men are calling for the need for Afrocentric love and relationships which is a huge development in the context of a country in which black people were always taught to desire white women for long term relationships. In a show of solidarity, a few years ago, when medal-winning gymnast Ângelo Assunção lost his sponsorship to continue his training after denouncing racist treatment publicly, a group of black men came together to raise funds for the athlete.
In this same spirit, prominent black Brazilian men recently issued a manifesto against the nation’s treatment of the black population, specifically black men. Organizing and participating in the event were a number of prominent black men who came together to issue a strong statement which was spark not by just this recent disrespect of one black man but countless black men in recent years but also in the distant past.
‘‘We will no longer be defeated’’: black men launch a manifesto against racist attacks
In response to the assault on Eddy Junior, a group of black men, formed by intellectuals, artists and activists issued a manifesto against not only the racist attacks against the comedian, also the injustices suffered by the black population in Brazil. The manifesto was issed the day after a protest in front of the building where the comedian had experienced several displays of racism and harassment. The building is located in barra funda region of the city, as area that was a ten minute drive from the house I once lived in in São Paulo.
The manifesto which was titled “Esse é um comunicado de homens negros organizados no Brasil”, meaning, “This is a statement from black men organized in Brazil”, was published on social networks and was presented as a collective statement on the position that black men and black people as a whole would take from that moment on in terms of actions dealing with racism that that have been making headlines for years: “In continuous response to all the chaos produced and maintained by you, which threaten our lives and the well-being of our community, now it’s gonna be like this”, read the message.
The words of the manifesto also stated that black men would come together to take a stand against racism in an organized way: “We, organized black men, will organize with our people and be everywhere, to protect our community from your cowardice. Cowardly racists, we will treat you like this. Cowards”.
Prominent men such as the lawyer Ewerton Carvalho, the comedian Yuri Marçal, the actor Taiguara Nazareth, the social network influencer Roger Cipó and the director of anti-racist organization ID_BR, Tom Mendes, also took part in the act last on Thursday, October 20.
The following is a translation of the manifesto from Portuguese into English
“This is a statement from black men organized in Brazil
Now it’s gonna be like this!
In continual response to all the chaos produced and maintained by you, who threaten our lives and the well-being of our community, it’s gonna be like this.
In fact, this is how it is now.
It’s nothing new, because our people have always fought to exist.
Now, we’ll get more people together. We’ll be more.
We’ll tear up the repudiation notes.
You, agents of our misfortune, will receive all our hatred and no more peace.
Now it’s gonna be like this.
We, organized black men, will organize with our people and be everywhere, to protect our community from your cowardice. Cowardly racists, we’ll treat you like this. Cowards.
We won’t talk. We won’t accept an apology.
There are no negotiations
No more shouting names of our dead.
We will expose you, your homes, your places.
You pose a danger to our existence.
You must receive our hatred and utter contempt, since it is the only feeling this society has for us black men.
You, white criminals who drive the massacre, incarceration, illness of our brothers and sisters, will receive our answers and will have no more peace.
You cowards who rape children, kick teenagers out of schools, and criminalize the existence of young blacks, receive our hatred.
Today, signs, warnings. And when they least expect it, they’ll burn.
It’s not a song sentence, it’s a message, because now it’s gonna be like this.
We will stay on the streets and close your doors to expose and disrupt your villainy. In our own way.
We organized black men will not rest and will no longer be defeated by barbarism.
Receive our hatred and our message.
And whoever is not with us, against us, they will be.
Which is nothing new, because we’ve always been on our own.
We’re in the war you created.
Your peace is over!
It’s gonna be like this!.
#AgoraéAssim” – Now it’s like this!
The event attracted hundreds of protesters with the sign that was displayed on the building with the phrase “Agora Vai ser Assim”, a new hashtag created by the movement especially for social networks. The phrase became one of the most shouted phrases of the night.
The host and comedian Paulo Vieira attended the venue and talked about Eddy’s situation and also remembered that singer-actor Seu Jorge, had also recently been in media after being the victim of racism at a show in Porto Alegre, which is the capital city of the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul in the same week.
“We had a week with many cases that went to the media and cases against public people. These cases expose to us the cruelty of racism, and it falls once and for all, for those who still believed in some lie of meritocracy, that racism stops crossing you when you gain success, money, fame. If you’re black, racism will always cross you. We know that an act does not change things, but it is another important step in the search for this ‘enough’ that we are so looking forward to,” he said.
Popular standup comedian Yuri Marçal, who lives in Rio de Janeiro, made a trip to São Paulo to parrticipate in the event and called upon the presence of fans in São Paulo on social networks. “We are preparing to make this noise, to do what I am calling retaliation because it will no longer go this way. That’s how we’re fighting. Because now it’s gonna be like this. And whenever this case happens – because we know that racism will not end, we will act this way. Whether with five people or 50,000.”
Attorney Ewerton Carvalho, also participated and expressed legal outrage at letting criminals remain free. “We are experiencing a moment where the Head of the Executive Power gave legitimacy so that people could say what they think under the guise of freedom of expression. This crime happened earlier this week and they haven’t been arrested yet. According to information she (Elisabeth) still went to work out this morning. It is the height of impunity in this Brazil”, he emphasized. The Head of the Executive Power refers to the President Jair Bolsonaro who many feel have emboldened persons with racist sentiments to freely express themselves in the years since he became president.
“This is also a ‘get out Bolsonaro’ act because we have an openly racist president. It was after him that racism became more explicit as well. I still get followed around the mall when I’m walking. Being followed by the police when I’m with my girlfriend. Now it will be an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,” says Carolina Iara, the only trans deputy elected in São Paulo, by the Feminist Bench.
With posters that read “#ForaRacista”, neighbors revealed that Elisabeth Morrone’s attacks against residents of the building are commonplace and that they are also worried about their own safety, after the aggressor’s son knocked on the comedian’s door making threats with a knife in hand.
To reiterate, I’ve seen a number of these sorts of attacks just in my time covering the race issue in Brazil, so this is nothing new. What is becoming increasingly common is a collective black Brazilian rage that screams for the end of this disrespect of black life and its very existence, particularly if Afro-Brazilians manage to escape poverty and enter into areas, professions, etc. That have traditionally held by white Brazilians. As this story continues to develop, I will be keeping my eye on it.