Note from BW of Brazil: If anyone reads this blog for any amount time they would surely come away with the idea that whiteness is clearly overvalued in Brazil. Despite so much evidence in everyday discourse and conflict, Brazilians are quick to declare “somos todos iguais”, meaning ‘we are all equal’. But with proof of the adoration of whiteness and European features being abundant throughout the country, we can’t we all just admit that persons who are considered white in Brazil have definite psychological advances over those not considered white. Whether they admit it or not, white Brazilians know that white skin, blond hair and blue eyes are characteristics that most citizens prefer including a large portion of the black population. And if one doesn’t believe this to be true all said person would need to do is sit and watch as everyday people and media remind us all of the dominance of white supremacy in Latin America’s largest, most populous country. The incident below happened a little over a month ago but still provides yet another example of how perceived racial advantages play out in the country.
Movimento Negro goes to the public prosecutor against councilor
Entities want investigation into alleged racist act of Cid Ferreira (SD) after his comments at the public hearing held in the House
By Sarah Brito
Groups linked to the Movimento Negro (black movement) of the city of Campinas prepared a representation in the Public Ministry (MP) to investigate the practice of the crime of racism, prejudice and abuse of power on the part of councilman Cid Ferreira (SD) after his comments at the public hearing held in the legislature Monday, June 1st.
The parliamentarian, during an argument with a young black man, allegedly stated that the guy was ugly and that he was handsome, and that he had blue eyes, and that the other guy didn’t.
“And he made gestures with his nose showing how thin it was and I replied that I didn’t come to discuss beauty, but the amendment of oppression,” said Fernando Moraes, of the collective Raízes da Liberdade (Roots of Freedom), who was the one who ended up arguing with the parliamentarian.
Besides the representation of the movements, Councilman Paul Bufalo (PSOL) said on Wednesday (3rd) he filed in the House a request to access images and audio of the hearing to verify the contents of the discussion.
“The material was not being stored, so we’ll see what it has. And I make myself available to help. We need to have respect for the group of leaders and activists who come to the Câmara (House),” he said.
The groups also plan to file the document in the Corregedoria da Câmara de Campinas (Internal Affairs of the Chamber of Campinas) to investigate the case.
The discussion took place in a public hearing on the debate of the amending of the Lei Orgânica (Organic Law) that locks any discussion of gender ideology within the Plano Municipal de Educação (Municipal Education Plan).
The councilman Cid Ferreira denied that the offense was directed at the protester, but to all who were on the floor and were against the approval of the amendment. However, protesters and councilors who were close to the parliamentary confirmed that the offense was directed at the protester.
The Associação de Religiosos de Matriz Africana (Armac or Association of Religions of African Origin), the Saravaxé Collective and the group Força da Raça (Force of the Race) positioned themselves on social networks, stating that the document will be based on the directive of the movement, of combating religious intolerance, “that goes hand in hand with racism.”
In a statement, the collective reports that the role of the group is “to fight for respect, peace and social justice.” The comments of the councilor caused controversy in the Legislature. In the previous session, he divided the audience into “God” and “devil” and “heaven and hell”. “God is here and the devil is there,” he said.
In Brazil, acts of discrimination or prejudice based on race, color, ethnicity, religion or national origin, are crimes with a penalty of imprisonment. Law 7.716 was established in 1989, and the offense is non-bailable.
The president of Armac, João Galerani said the movement doesn’t understand how a councilman addressed a voter with contempt.
“We can no longer allow that these racist attitudes to continue to happen. Silence makes it so that racism doesn’t end, so whenever any act of racism, intolerance or homophobia happens, we go after the arrangements,” he said.
Councilman Carlos Roberto de Oliveira, known as Carlão of the PT (Workers’ Party), president of the Human Rights Commission of the Câmara, followed the discussion and said he feels embarrassed by Ferreira’s comments.
“I consider it a crime of racism, which must be investigated. I looked for the victim and he is willing to testify. We will also seek other people who heard the comments,” he said.
The councilman Cid Ferreira (SD) told Correio (news) that he was offended by the population and admitted he said “he was handsome and had blue eyes.”
He said, however, that he said the phrase to all participants, not just one. “They called me old, a ‘gagá’ (imbecile) and made obscene signs with their fingers. They said they would get me. The only solution I had was to say that they were ugly. But there were a lot of whites, whiter than black,” he said.
The parliamentarian said he was outraged by the situation and didn’t discriminate against blacks during the session.
“My best friends are black, I respect as much as any citizen. I don’t fear representation (in MP), they will have to prove it. I just have to mount a process,” he said.
Note from BW of Brazil: Almost boring to see that Cid Ferreira actually stated one of the oldest defenses against accusations of racism: “my best friends are black”. Does he really? Does it really even matter? The councilman’s statements reveal a lot about how he thinks and arguably any person who defines him or herself as a racist or denies the accusation. Here’s a breakdown of what.
1. Clearly Ferreira knows that blue eyes, white skin and a thin nose are considered the standard of which citizens of Brazil and the world are judged.
2. Having black friends or not doesn’t change the widespread acceptance/perception of European features as superior to all other races
3. Ferreira’s statement once again goes to show that having black friends doesn’t exempt one from being a racist or personally accepting the supremacy of white people. Even given Ferreira’s excuse that he was insulted first, his immediate declaration of his whiteness is evidence that he knows that regardless of his black friends, if he feels himself being at a disadvantage in any conflict with a person of color, he can always resort to his white supremacy ‘trump card’ and coming away feeling victorious because whiteness remains the standard.
4. Another of his excuses to deflect accusations of racism was his statement that there were more whites present than blacks and therefore he was speaking to everyone and not just the black protester. Another ridiculous claim. If Ferreira would have been arguing with a room full of only whites, declaring his whiteness as a ‘trump card’ wouldn’t have carried any weight. In other words, he declared his white privilege precisely because he was debating with a black person, a citizen of which Brazil treats with utter disrespect on a daily basis.
The bottom line here is that Brazilians know deep down that whiteness carries a high value in Brazil that is very obvious. Due to a long held belief in the ‘racial democracy’ myth, no one likes to admit it but its power is lurking everywhere, in the conscious and the sub-conscious of the population. And it makes its present felt every minute of every day.
Source: Correio Popular