Note from BBT: It seems that there’s no end to the absurdities that come out of this guy’s mouth. One of these days, I need to just stop wasting my time covering the latest diarrhea of the mouth he lets loose. If you’re not familiar with Sérgio Camargo, check out some of the past material I’ve posted about him. He is basically an extreme right, anti-leftist black man who was placed at the head of a government-supported foundation that is supposed to “promote the preservation of cultural, social and economic values resulting from the black influence on the formation of Brazilian society.” If he were in the United States, most black folks would probably label him a “co*n” or a “samb*”.
Camargo’s rhetoric is so shameful that I don’t even really see many black folks wasting their time talking about him anymore. I think people kind of see him like they see President Jair Bolsonaro. They’re counting the days until the next election to send them both packing.
Today’s post was going to be about his comments that provoked a young black man to become the target of racist attacks online, but then I read about his latest comments so I thought I might as well include them. Camargo now says that he isn’t an Afro-Brazilian and that no black citizen born in Brazil is.
According to him, the term was created by the “slave-driving left” and that the prefix “afro” would be the reason to foment rancor and divide the country. For the President of Fundação Palmares, “Blacks are 100% Brazilian and will help to make Brazil a better country, free from the slave-driving left.”
Camargo, typical of many right-wing black folks, has consistently denied the existence of structural racism in Brazil, regardless of all of the reports and studies that show just that. Last November 20th, on Black Consciousness Day, he once again criticized black rights movements, saying that it should be a priority to read author Monteiro Lobato’s work instead of listening to artists such as rappers Emicida and Mano Brown.
Books such as Lobato’s O Sítio do Pica-pau Amarelo, are classics in Brazilian children’s literature, but is also one of his works that have been labeled as racist. Throughout the work, the character Tia (Aunt) Nastácia appears in the works as a “negra beiçuda” (big-lipped black woman) and other pejorative terms used to inferiorize her because of her color. Lobato was a supporter of the American terrorist organization the Ku Klux Klan and lamented that Brazilians didn’t have the courage to create such an organization.
Lobato’s own great-granddaughter, Cleo Monteiro Lobato, recognized the offensive excerpts in the book and removed the racist terms in new editions of the book.
Now in terms of Camargo saying he’s not an Afro-Brazilian, I actually have no problem with that, that’s his choice. In reality, the term Afro-Brasileiro isn’t really that popular among black Brazilians as African-American is among black Americans. But I understand why some people use the moniker.
Camargo obviously will always deny the FACT that black Brazilians are treated differently than those not defined as black, thus as he is a believer in the “all Brazilians are equal” rheotoric, I can understand his viewpoint. But identifying this difference in treatment is one of the primary reasons that people choose terms such as negro, preto (both meaning black) or Afro-Brazilian. If Camargo doesn’t define himself as such, no problem whatsoever, but he also can’t speak for millions of people who may in fact identify with the term.
The other thing is, he DOES identify himself as black, so I would ask, if he rejects the Afro-Brazilian label, why accept the term “negro”? If you accept the idea that all Brazilians are just Brazilians, how is it that being Afro-Brazilian is divisive but labeling yourself as negro/black isn’t?
In terms of his supporting an uncritical reading of Lobato’s literature, again, in the context of everything else he has said and what he stands for, I think we know whether Camargo would have been in the house or the field if this were the 19th century.
Now, getting to the latest controversy….
On December 18th, Camargo used a Tilt (website) report to lead a wave of attacks on afro textured hair on social networks. After sharing the text “What headphones fighting with afro hair say about diversity”, which dealt with the challenges faced by people with afro hairstyles when wearing headphones. Camargo, who is bald, recommended that blacks get rid of this type of hair. “Cut your hair, dammit,” he wrote.
From then on, his followers began to target racist attacks on the singer and content producer Guil Anacleto, 27, who appeared in the report. The singer was the victim of offenses on the web such as one that wrote his hair was like “a cotton swab to clean a orelhão (pay phone)”. Quite shaken, Anacleto told Tilt that he was taken aback by the attacks: “I was very scared to see so much hatred and lack of empathy focused directly at me.”
“When you are in the target of the cannon, it’s much more frightening than when you see it from the outside. Although painful, I hope that this case shows people that racism does exist and is very cruel. I will continue with my art. If I was bothering these people, then I am on the right track.”
Sérgio Camargo also shared a photo of himself wearing headphones with the following caption: “I have nothing to complain about, here’s the key”.
“They teach blacks to defend their ‘afro hair’, instead of indoctrination-free education and the Paulo Freire method. Then, with their vast hair, they complain about the lack of opportunities for blacks in the job market,” he added.
At the end of Friday afternoon, he also provoked: “Baldness is launched. Bald lives matter,” he wrote, referring to the Vidas Negras Importam (Black Lives Matter) movement, which fights the violent deaths of young blacks around the world. Sought by the report via call and e-mail, the Fundação Palmares did not comment on the case.
On December 18th, Camargo even joked that “from this moment on, máquina zero is mandatory for all blacks.”
In Brazil, máquina zero is the lowest level of the clippers when one is cutting hair with the end result being a completely bald cut. As I’ve explained, it’s only been in recent years that black women and black men have accepted the fact that afro textured hair is also beautiful. For decades, perms and hair straighteners were a regular part of life for black women while máquina zero or máquina zero baixo/alto (one or two levels above bald) was the norm for black men.
Sought for comment, Twitter and Instagram reported that they are analyzing the wave of virtual attacks.
Note from BBT: You have to really wonder where someone like Sérgio Camargo is coming from. Most of the things he says I can’t really agree with even though occassionally, as with all black conservative extremists, ocassionally, he’ll say something that may have an ounce of truth in it. It’s rare, but it happens. I can agree with anyone whose objective is the uplift of the black community, and, in reality, I don’t always get that from the political left. It’s true. But with his latest comments, Camargo again comes across as being more anti-black than the most racist white conservative.
Black Brazilians have struggled for decades to finally come to point where they don’t feel shame of their physical attributes. I’ve documented this transition into black pride in numerous articles. We have black women finding the desire and courage to go through the “big chop” to get rid of all of the processed hair that they have long been conditioned to believe was more attractive than their “ugly”, “cabelo ruim” (bad hair) to wear their hair as it naturally is.
Black men, who have long shaved their heads as low as possible to avoid ridicule, just to appear “presentable”, followed the path established by black women and began to wear huge afros, braids and dreadlocks, proudly displaying their naps, kinks and curls in the face of a society that says this type of hair was unacceptable (of the many examples, see here or here).
All of this struggle to demand a change in the nation’s singular standard of beauty and here comes another black man saying exactly what white supremacy has long basically forced black Brazilians to believe: Your hair is ugly. In one tweet, he actually wrote: “Don’t be proud of your ‘afro hair’, be proud of your conquests”. To further emphasize his point, he writes: “I’m bald, as everyone must have already noticed. However, if I had any, my hair would not be an afro. Black hair is nappy.”
This is the point where I can’t find any reason whatsoever with Camargo’s thought process. He basically says “Go cut your nappy ass hair” and opens the floodgate for other people, white and probably alienated blacks, to mane the same sort of racist verbal assaults that have long provoked black Brazilians to be ashamed of their hair in the first place.
There are certain standards that we all have to live with that are just part of the game. In the search for employment it makes sense that one be prepared and have the right skillset to apply for certain positions. But under the standards that people like Camargo agree with, he might as well as say, “I don’t hire blacks” as some people have already heard while others sensed this attitude.
In a recent post, we saw yet another example of a black woman being harrassed on the job because she chose to wear her hair natural. She ended up getting fired although she managed to win against her former employer in court, which is often not the case. Having to cut or straighten our hair means we must conform to the anti-blackness of a racist system. Following this line of thought, are we all to start using dangerous skin bleaching creams to lighten our skin as well?
The views of someone like Camargo have existed in Brazil since the first Africans were enslaved in the 16th century in the land that would become known as Brazil. The fact that such thoughts come from a black man show how successful white supremacy has been. Getting back to the article…
It is not unprecedented the reaction to the criticism of black influencers to headphones. Earlier this month, Splash columnist Andreza Delgado, 24, was also a victim of the same attacks when posting a photo of the broken accessory.
“This reaction is not a surprise because I just experienced something similar,” said Andreza.
“Who has never complained about the design of a product like pants that didn’t fit or an accessory that didn’t please you? But when the criticism is made by a certain group of society, then it becomes a problem,” she says.
According to a study of the University of Southampton, by Brazilian Luiz Valério de Paula Trindade, PhD in sociology, the internet has become an increasingly hostile environment for black people.
In the book resulting from his doctoral thesis, No Laughing Matter: Race Joking and Resistance in Brazilian Social Media, he shows that black women are the most common victims of racist hate speech on the Brazilian internet.
Attacks are more frequent against young people aged 20 to 35 on a path of social ascension. Deprecating engagement can be attracted up to three years after publication.
“The consequence of this phenomenon is to amplify the negative impact of the content on the victims’ lives”, explains Trindade.
“In the collective imagination, it is naturalized that positions of leadership, command and social prestige are held by white people. Therefore, when raising their voices on social networks, men and women are the target of attacks, because, for aggressors, these people must remain in their ‘legitimate’ position of social inferiority. “
Hair offenses are also not just casual or aesthetic opinion, he says, because the hairstyle is a visible racial marker.
“Attacks that negatively explore the aesthetics of afro hair are racist because they aim to devalue it. These speeches aim to place blacks in a condition of inferiority”.
Trindade explains that the attacks are no less serious because they were initiated by a black person: “Racist ideologies are not necessarily associated with skin color,” he explains. “If a person believes in the assumptions and in the naturalization of white supremacy, he will defend this type of idea in any context.”
Controlling derogatory racial comments has become an increasing challenge for platforms like Instagram and Twitter. Sought by Tilt, social media responded that they are investigating the case.
In a statement, Twitter said it “prohibits abusive behavior and hateful conduct. In fact, the update of the policy against hate conduct that recently included language that dehumanizes someone due to their race, ethnicity or origin, was the result of a formal public consultation that we conducted with people to understand how to improve our rules.”
Source: UOL Tilt