Note from BBT: Brazil isn’t the United States. In Brazil, white, black and mixed people lived harmoniously without all of the racial animosity there is in the US. Well, that’s what we’re supposed to believe. Of course, when we look into day to day life in Brazil, we find numerous examples that prove that this simply isn’t the case. I mean, what conclusion would you draw if someone said to you, “I’m the biggest racist on the planet and I hate the black race”?
One of the main differences that I used to note when considering the racist behavior of white Americans that would make headlines in comparison to the racist behavior of white Brazilians is that white Americans didn’t express any sort of embarassment, shame or regret of their actions. It is quite plain to see that many of them didn’t like, despised or flat out hated black people and they didn’t care who knew.
On the other hand, white Brazilians, even being caught doing or saying racist things, would still deny being racist or harboring racist sentiments. Sometimes I would see people put clothing, towels or other articles over their heads to hide their identities when they were caught doing something judged as racist. The key here is that I wrote I used to note this. Nowadays, it seems that this has changed.
In recent times, I’ve seen cases of Brazilians acting in racist manners in which they openly assume their racist behavior. “Yes! I AM racist!”, they seemed to be saying, sometimes verbally admitting this or even daring someone to call the police on them (see here, here and here). Recently, I came across another example of this.
To me, these sorts of things, as well as the everyday references to slavery suggest that psychologically, Brazilians still black people as persons who are subservient and inferior to white people. This attitude is something that has never really been dealt with. How could it have been dealt with? For decades, Brazil as a whole denied that these sorts of sentiments even existed. The truth is that, when there is denial that something exists, it’s impossible to really deal with.
Of course, there have been implementations of polices such as affirmative action created to address historic racism in Brazilian society, but this still doesn’t affectively address the issue head on. In a recent example I have yet to write about, it is plain to see that there are perhaps millions of Brazilians that vehemently reject the policy of affirmative action to address past inequalities. When we consider all of these examples, my take is that Brazil knows its black population has been the target of injustice and racial/social inequality since the 16th century. If you sit and think about it, you may have to conclude that people continue to believe that it’s supposed to be this way.
Keep this in mind as the read the following report.
“I’m the biggest racist on the planet and I hate the black race,” says a woman in a bank agency
Video: “I’m the biggest racist on the planet, I hate the black race, they’re all bandits,” screams a woman in a bank agency. She ended up caught in the act, but has already been released after posting bail.
A woman was arrested in the city of João Pessoa, the capital of the northeastern state of Paraíba, on Wednesday (10) after making racist statements at a bank branch in the city. A video shows the moment when a man is verbally assaulted by her.
Even being alerted that she was being filmed, and with the presence of police officers, the woman was not intimidated and continued to scream racist offenses. The crime was committed against Daniel Lima, who is a tour guide.
“I’m the biggest racist on planet Earth”, “I hate the black race” and “you’re bandits, thieves” were some of the offenses said by the woman, whose name is Luzia Sandra de Medeiros.
Daniel says that he arrived at the agency to make a deposit and, while he was going through the procedure, the woman was in line for another service. “She asked why the bank had closed (a deal) with someone of the black race. She was referring to a black person who was featured in the agency’s promotional ad. According to the Boletim de Ocorrência (Police Report), the woman also said that he should be in the senzala (slave quarters).
In a conversation with the Correio news site, Daniel revealed how the offenses started. “I was entering the agency to make a deposit and when I was finishing the procedure, this lady called an employee and asked why the bank had contracted this raça negra (black race) to do the promotion. When she said this, I imagined that it would have been the musical group,” she recalls. One of Brazil’s popular samba/pagode groups is the group known as Raça Negra.
But when se looked at the publicity material, the guide realized that it wasn’t the pagode group. “When I finished making the deposit, I saw that it was a person with black skin who was part of the bank’s ad. With this, she started to practice racial insults, she started to curse. Then I stopped, looked at her and asked: ‘I don’t understand lady. Then she pointed to me, accusing me of being a black bandit, a black thief. Saying ‘I’m a racist, you’re a bandit’,” he said.
Due to the situation, the Military Police were called in. But not even with the presence of the officers did the woman stop the offenses, says Daniel. “I stayed outside solving my situation. I saw another black person entering the agency and she also started cursing him. We both went to make a report”, she says.
If it wasn’t enough to have gone through all this embarrassment, what was revolting to Daniela was that, after the woman was arrested and detained in the Civil Police downtown jail, the woman was released the same day after paying BRL 350. She will respond in freedom for the crime of racial insult. The Penal Code, in its article 140, provides as a penalty for the crime of racial insult the imprisonment of 1 to 6 months or a fine.
This is pretty much the norm in Brazil. There are numerous examples I’ve covered on this blog of white people behaving badly towards black Brazilians, being arrested, taken to jail, paying a fine and walking free. Perhaps Daniel Lima wasn’t aware if this.
Here once again, we have another situation that came down to police having to choose to define the case as an a racial slur/injury or racism, the latter of which as has a much lighter penalty. To the surprise of Daniel and the other person, the police chief Viviane Magalhães fined the woman for racial insult and not racism, which is non-bailable. “I was very sad about the situation. Because I, in my conception, am no professional in the field, but I believed it would be like racism, but no, it was racial insult,” regrets the guide.
“I would very much like for her to respond for racism. Because she has offended the black class, all blacks, existing here in the state and in the world. She has to pay for this crime that she did”.
The coordinator of the Nucleus of Afro-Brazilian and Indigenous Studies and Research of the Federal University of Paraíba (Neabi-UFPB), Antônio Novais, lamented the occurrence and recalled that violence against black people is frequent. He stressed that the woman in the video should be prosecuted for racism, not just for insult.
“For the way she referred to the black population, it is very clear to me that we have typified a case of racism there. There was incitement to prejudice and discrimination,” she points out.
Antônio Novais also commented on the lack of effective punishment against racist people. “There is a lack of sensitivity on the part of public agents when it comes to typifying, categorizing [the crime]. As long as we don’t have a more forceful action, the tendency is that this [impunity] continues to occur,” he lamented.
The fact that the woman was released after posting bail also did not please Daniel. “It’s very revolting a scene like this, in front of many people, she says what she wants. An act of total racism. Against the law. And you go to a police station and she is treated like a ‘normal’ person, paying a bail of BRL$ 300 and was released to do the same thing again,” he regrets.
The police chief claimed that since there was no exclusion or hindrance against the victim because of the color of the skin, it is not possible to characterize the act as racism. “For the bail, we take into consideration the financial situation, the gravity, the time of penalty and the health of the person. The value is one third of the minimum wage,” she said.
According to the Penal Code, racial insult consists of offending someone’s honor by using elements relating to race, color, ethnicity, religion or origin, while the crime of racism reaches an undetermined collectivity of individuals, discriminating against the entirety of a race.
Daniel, however, will not give up justice and has hired a lawyer to do so. “We are doing all the legal, judicial procedures, so that this woman can pay in court everything she did, the verbal embarrassment, the lack of respect, the racism itself that she did to me,” he says.
The guide doesn’t believe the version of psychological problems alleged by the accused’s husband. “I’m reassured because justice will ask for new tests, she will have to present other reports. I saw a lot of conviction in what she said. I work with tourism, I have worked with people for more than 10 years,” he says. “There were many things there that, in my conception, proves that she doesn’t have this psychological problem they claim”, he believes.
“We all have the same blood color: red. And we, because we are black, we love, we cry, we suffer, we smile… I think it’s a disrespect I hope this will serve as a lesson for other people. I hope these people think that if you are black, yellow, white, blue or whatever your color is, we are human beings, we are people who need to live. We fight for the things that are right, and I hope that everyone becomes aware that in the 21st century, the act of racism is unacceptable.”
However, the police chief reported that the accused’s husband presented documents showing treatments she has been undergoing and a disability request from September. Still according to Viviane, it was visible that the woman was out of control on the day of the attack.
Sought for comment, the Banco do Brasil (Bank of Brazil), where the racial offenses occurred, said it regrets the occurrence and repudiates any form of prejudice. “The Banco do Brasil values the diversity among its employees and clients,” read a note.
Note from BBT: Besides the woman’s behavior, there are at least four other things that jumped out at me in this case.
1) The victim, Daniel Lima, reacted in much the same manner that many black Brazilians react when something like this happens. Of course, he was upset about what happened, but then he immediately went into the rhetoric of “we all have the same red blood”, “whether you’re black, white, yellow or blue, we’re all still people.” I wish people would stop using colors such as blue and green when talking about people, because I’ve yet to come across anyone with this skin color. My point is, Lima said everything but “we are all equal” that so commonly uttered by black Brazilians when they are victimimized by racist behavior.
2) We have another case in which a person’s behavior was excused due the person’s psychological condition. I’ve said it before, I tend to think that regardless of whether someone is drunk or has psychological problems, these factors simply bring out the types of thoughts that people already have. My thing is, if people have thoughts that society judges as negative, we have to control these thoughts in order not to take action on them. But then when the person receives a stimulus that activates those thoughts, and they are drunk or experiencing psychological issues, the shields that may inhibit them from reacting are not as strong, so these thoughts end up coming out.
3) Once again, we see a case of a Brazilian acting in a racist manner, being taken to jail where the act was judged as racial slur instead of the harsher penalty of racism. They pay a fine and walk away a free.
4) It amazes me that it is the black population that continues to represent the most criminal group in Brazil in the minds of a large percentage of the Brazilian population. Whenever I hear this, my question is always, how is that black people have this image when the people that commit the most costly crimes, white collar crimes, are not black people? Of course, there are black people who commit crimes, usually of the petty type, but why is it that when white entrepreneurs, politicians and other people of highly influential positions in society commit crimes that are often far more detrimental to public trust and public coffers, no one connects their crime to race?
In the end, more proof that racism in Brazil remains the perfect, undefeated crime.