In response to racism, Brazilian soccer player eats banana thrown at him; the “we are all monkeys” campaign spreads through social media

The "We are all monkeys" campaign promoted by various celebrities
The “We are all monkeys” campaign promoted by various celebrities

Note from BW of Brazil: Brazil, Brazil….So, this is how you fight racism? If you haven’t already heard, over the past week throughout Brazil, a “campaign” has sprung up promoted through social networking sites as a response to a racist act that happened to a Brazilian soccer player in Spain.  Note that the word “campaign” is in quotation marks. A little background is probably necessary here. If you’re not familiar with issues of race/racism in Brazil or in soccer stadiums worldwide, here’s a snapshot. 

1) In Brazil, calling someone a “macaco” or “macaca” (monkey) is a very common means of insulting persons of visible African ancestry. 2) For many years in European and South American soccer stadiums, black players from all over the world (including of course Brazilians) have been the targets of racist fans who make monkey chants or throw bananas in their direction. 3) During a recent game, Daniel Alves, a Brazilian who plays for the Barcelona team in Spain, responded to a fan who threw a banana at him by picking up the banana and eating it. 4) Since the incident, Brazilians and non-Brazilians alike started an action that quickly caught in social networks.

Daniel Alves picks up and eats banana thrown at him during a recent match
Daniel Alves picks up and eats banana thrown at him during a recent match

With seeming intent to support Alves against this umpteenth act of racism, countless people, famous or not, took pictures either holding a banana or eating a banana and posting the photo online. So, surely this is a serious attempt to address a worldwide problem, right? We will address this topic in a later post, but for now, below you will see the video of the incident as well as a few reactions from black Brazilians about the reaction to the incident.

(Photo above features people such as soccer superstars Neymar (with his son) and Marta, singer Ivete Sangalo, TV hosts Luciano Huck and wife Angélica and singer Michel Teló among others)

Daniel Alves responds to racist fan by eating banana thrown at him

For the Minister of Racial Equality, Neymar’s phrase against racism can reinforce stereotypes

Minister for the Promotion of Racial Equality, Luiza Biarros
Minister for the Promotion of Racial Equality, Luiza Bairros

Luiza Bairros, however, praised the attitude of Daniel Alves eating a banana.

Expression #somostodosmacacos spread in networks in support of the athlete.

By Renan Ramalho

Although it appeared with the good intention of combating racism, the campaign launched by soccer player Neymar (Alves’s teammate in Barcelona) spreading the phrase “#somostodosmacacos” through social networks could have the opposite effect of reinforcing a negative stereotype associated historically with blacks. This is the opinion of the Minister on the Promotion of Racial Equality (SEPPIR), Luiza Bairros, who expressed to the G1 website her reservations in relation to the viral that emerged on the internet.

“This image of the monkey associated with black people is a very powerful image. And if you take this image as valid, it also runs the risk of reinforcing the stereotype. I understand the campaign and the motivation of the campaign, but it is not possible to ensure that it having the necessary success to reverse the negative representation that the word ‘macaco’ has when associated with black people,” said Bairros.

While acknowledging that the phrase refers to the idea that “todos são iguais (everyone is equal)” – as Neymar himself said – Bairross maintains that “it doesn’t manage to be more powerful than the original meaning.” “I recognize the good intention, but this image is a too powerful image. One has to work on it more to be able to descontruct it,” she said.

The spontaneous campaign came after the Barcelona player Daniel Alves, ate a banana thrown by a fan during a match against Villareal in the Spanish league championship. The “#somostodosmacacos” expression quickly began to be reproduced in social networks by famous people, anonymous, children and foreigners shown in photos eating a banana.

Brazilian Daniel Alves of Barcelona soccer team, the latest to be insulted with a banana
Brazilian Daniel Alves of Barcelona soccer team, the latest to be insulted with a banana

Daniel Alves himself joined in posting, “My Brazilian Brazil, Green, yellow, black, white and red. We are a happy people with samba in the foot, and it is with joy and boldness that we have to manifest ourselves. Look at the banana, look at the banana vendor… I am Bahian, I am Brazilian… we’re stronger than ever, the smile is our protection, the music is our sword.”

Despite reservations to the phrase, Luiza Bairros believes that Daniel Alves had a positive attitude in reaction to the fan who threw the banana, already identified and banned by Villareal.

“With his gesture, he emptied the discriminatory attitude of the crowd at that moment. As a response, for the moment, it was perfect. It’s a way that you have of using ‘good humor’ in quotation marks, to ridicule the racist attitude,” she said.

New campaign

The minister also said that the government is in discussion about an antiracism campaign to be launched in the World Cup. Although not having details of the format and theme, she said the message should reinforce the value of diversity.

“For us at the Seppir the important thing is the fact that racial diversity has been a key element of futebol excellence, in any corner in which it’s played and especially here in Brazil. This idea that diversity produces excellence in futebol has to be spread to the whole of society and to any other sector of activity,” she said.

Another action that could be launched still before the World Cup, according Bairros, is a “disque-denúncia” (phone hotline) service similar to Disque 100 (Dial 100) to report human rights abuses, specifically to combating acts of racism.

According to the minister, Seppir has already contacted agencies in the states, such as defenders, prosecutors, police and NGOs to form a service network. The idea is that with a discriminatory act, the person that is a victim of racism is oriented contact such an entity to report the crime.

Monkey?! A banana! We are not monkeys, no!

by Elias Candido

Popular television host Xuxa and singer Cláudia Leitte pose with bananas for "We are all bananas" campaign
Popular television host Xuxa and singer Cláudia Leitte pose with bananas for “We are all bananas” campaign

Monkey, a banana!

Daniel Alves is an excellent player of this time. Barcelona is a great soccer team, and would be in various eras. Prejudice has always existed, while racism, from the historical point of view, is more recent. At this current time, Daniel, prejudice, racism, and Barcelona met in a soccer match. And it was not the first time. The attitude of the Brazilian player, eating a banana that had been thrown with offensive objectives was thoughtfully spontaneous.

A response given in seconds for an assault that has lasted for centuries. Aggression, this one, which manifests itself in objects thrown at people, in unjust police stops and of the most diverse outcomes, in efforts to keep people in menial jobs, no schools, no health care, homeless, landless, without citizenship; manifests itself, commonly in the form of insults, racist name-calling made ​​from a safe distance, but that fulfill their function of reducing those already overwhelmed by a planned out racialist scheme.

Prominent colleagues of of Daniel’s profession, journalists, TV hosts, politicians and others, some well intended, others not, rushed to launch the campaign: “somos todos macacos” meaning “we’re all monkeys.”

This is a campaign of which I couldn’t join for various reasons, but the simplest one is: I’m not a monkey. I am a person.

A frustrated and criminal fascist fan, from the other side of the world is unable to convince me otherwise.

Prejudice and racism are fight politics of inclusion, really harsh punitive laws and easy to apply policies, and with a lot of education, in every aspect that this concept has. Silly and cynical campaigns only hinder the combat of this complicated human problem.

I don’t know who started this stupid idea, of animalizing all based on acts of psychopaths in football stadiums (which has many nowadays). But the fact is that it will serve varied interests, none of them good.

I see people who have businesses and/or television programs that could employ at least one black person in an important position joining the campaign. I see journalists who fight hard against the the (university) quota program or any affirmative action joining it too.

And why? Taking out Alves’s comrades of the profession, of which the only perspective that I feed in relation to, is a good performance in the World Cup and were guided by an advertising agency that said that the best way to combat prejudice is to end the word, whatever that means, who are the others?

I have never seen the readiness of certain sectors in supporting an anti-racist action without compromise or requesting “radicals” to calm down.

But I indeed know why. I heard a sertanejo singer say, while eating bananas in support of the cause, that these actions, as much for the player and the campaign, were perfect because they were following the teachings of Gandhi, to beat it without reacting.

The host agreed with an empty discourse as a humorist, also eating this fruit, it was a sign of approval.

The audience applauded as he received units of the same food.

Throughout the day, all kinds of people, I repeat, all kinds, presented themselves in the battle against evil with the only weapon required: a photo posted on social networks eating a banana. No, we are not monkeys. We think and we reason.

The national elite and the poor in spirit want to convince us that we are all equal , we are all “macaco”, we are a united people and the issue of racism resumes lacking of courtesy from fans in foreign lands.

It’s enough, however, to ignore or return the offense, preferably in a humorous way.

No, we are not monkeys. We are intelligent.

We know that the historical and current causes that made it so that one of the only ways of ascension of blacks was through soccer.

If it were to depend on the group of this campaign, even this wouldn’t be. Because they were and are against all policies aimed at reducing racial inequality in this country. But let’s be fair, they are also against reducing social, gender, regional or any factor of inequality that emancipate the poor, particularly if they are black.

No, we are not monkeys. We have common sense.

We know that many who adhered did so in good faith. But we know that the stars that appear in this moment don’t have in their advisory bodies any black people. Do a search.

The only person of northeast origin that they voted for was Fernando Collor (1). Do a search.

They think they are not racist because they have black drivers and security guards. Ask them if they could. They themselves would say that. No, we are not monkeys. We are what we are.

No racist will convince us otherwise.

Elias Candido is a professor and activist for Racial Equality 


by Felipe Soares

This joke of being called monkey always bothered me during childhood, mostly in school. It’s not easy to delete being called monkey during childhood and adolescence.

Now, from one hour to another, it’s cool to be a monkey…Now “we are all monkeys” because it was not you who was called monkey. Because today being called a monkey always comes with a derogatory meaning…

Now it’s cool? Not really. #EuNÃOsouMacaco (#IamNOTamonkey)

To paraphrase the Secretary of Racial Equality, Viridian Custódio, “This reinforces the stereotype that the black Brazilian movement has tried to fight for years.”

Another thing…this campaign was created by an advertising agency that works for (soccer superstar) Neymar (who does not consider himself black). Understand?

I bet whoever created this campaign is white and doesn’t understand the struggle of years of movimentos negros (black movements). They never felt up close the pain of prejudice.

At this moment famous people are inserting photos in their social networks eating a banana. With no discernment of what they’re really dealing with. The problem is that they are the reference for many of us tthat end up sharing this nonsense without thinking.

In a little over 24hrs the #SomosTodosMacacos even became a fanpage and already has over 2,200 likes; this besides (TV host) Luciano Huck’s designer brand already creating the shirt (with this slogan) and putting it online for sale.

Everything turns into marketing.

I would like to quote an excerpt from the book A guerra não declarada na visão de um favelado (The undeclared war in the vision of a slum dweller) by Eduardo Taddeo (rapper and former member of the Hip Hop group Facção Central, meaning Central Faction).

“I envy the ignorance of irrational animals, that haven’t acquired the knowledge that converts violence into business. I envy the ignorance of the irrational animals that have not learned to capitalize on the corpse of the most defenseless.”

Source: G1Portal Geledés, Vio Mundo


1. Fernando Affonso Collor de Mello was the 32nd President of Brazil from 1990 to 1992, when he resigned in a failed attempt to stop his trial of impeachment by the Brazilian Senate. Collor was the first President directly elected by the people after the end of the Brazilian military government. He is also the youngest President in Brazilian history, taking office at age of 40. Source. The point here is that while Brazil’s northeast has a heavy concentration of Afro-Brazilians, Fernando Collor, from the state of Alagoas, is clearly a man of European ancestry.

About Marques Travae 3747 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

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