Note from BW of Brazil: For more than a decade now, the system of affirmative action at Brazil’s top universities has provoked more discussion on the existence of racism and privilege in Brazil than perhaps any other time in the nation’s history. The nation’s 350 year experiment with human bondage ended nearly 127 years ago but it didn’t end the huge social and racial inequalities that continue to divide the country into rich and poor, white and black. For millions of white Brazilians (and even some black Brazilians), the misfortunes of the Afro-Brazilian population are their own fault as even in the face of a documented history proving that this group was left to its own resources after abolition with millions of European immigrants given government-sponsored privileges, everyday Brazilians continue to believe that “we’re all equal”.
Since the first few years if this century, the system of quotas that has given Afro-Brazilians more access to education and employment than ever before in the nation’s history and historic (white) beneficiaries of higher education continue to lash out at descendants of African slaves who they believe are unfairly “stealing” their places. Both blatant and subtle, racism (that everyone denies) is evidenced in the everyday comments that people make when confronted with the presence of persons they believe have no place being in certain areas. And as a debate provoked by black militants at Brazil’s top school (University of São Paulo) recently showed, the college campus is and will continue to be a place where black Brazilians will demand their rightful place in society. In another example, a group of university students in the nation’s capital took the time to document some examples of Brazil’s racism that ‘doesn’t exist’.
AH, WHITE PEOPLE, GIVE ME A BREAK!
This photo essay is based and inspired by the photo campaign by black men and women students at the University of the Harvard in the United States (http://itooamharvard.tumblr.com).
The idea was to reproduce the experience at the Universidade de Brasília (UnB or University of Brasília).
Some people were invited to participate in the photo shoot, however, the vast majority of people were chosen randomly in places like the University Restaurant, ICC and other busy locations of UnB.
First I thank the availability of all the people who somehow contributed to this photo shoot. Thank you, the help of each of you was priceless!
I would like to give special thanks to the great Leonardo Ortegal for having made his camera, lens and accessories available, for the work to be carried out with the quality it deserves.
Finally, I thank the Abayomi Mandela, a dear fellow companion, for any and all help and support (technical and emotional).
The Tumblr #ahbrancodaumtempo is intended for people who argue even today about the non existence of racism inside and outside of the University.
Although in Brazil there are no of laws of a racist nature, in social practice it’s still recurring.
Everyday black students in Brazilian universities suffer hidden discrimination that stereotypes.
Although the vision of those who practicing the acts are “just a joke”, “an observation”, “an attempt to help”; For those who suffer it every day it’s like a wound that still hasn’t healed.
I hope that the statements expressed in images sensitize, cause reflection and engage in a dialogue in order that we become better people!
Universidade de Brasília project that debates racism and quotas earns a thousand followers on the web
Courtesy of Reporter News
Student produced series of photographs for the discipline of visual anthropology. She took photos of blacks on campus citing the most heard racist phrases.
The project of a student at the Universidade de Brasília (UnB) to provoke debate on racism at the university earned at least a thousand followers on the Internet, ten days after its release.
Called “Ah, branco, dá um tempo” (Oh, white people, give me a break), the site publishes photos taken of black men and women students at UnB, showing racist phrases they most often hear.
Released on the internet on March 19th, the blog has earned nearly a thousand followers as of Sunday night (29), according to the author of the project, Lorena Monique dos Santos.
According to the young woman, who is 21 and is currently in the fifth semester of social sciences, the goal of the project is to demonstrate that racism in Brazil is something subtle.
“Although racism is racism everywhere, it is expressed in different ways according to each situation.
In Brazil, there’s a thing of cordiality, of the racial democracy that are ways to hide the racist practices and try to make it so that black persons are excluded access to rights and to certain social positions,” she told the G1.
“The idea is to demonstrate to non-black people that racism is hidden is in subtle words and acts. Although in some photos we can see that it’s not so subtle way,” she explained.
Until Monday night (30), the site had more than 60 images. Recorded in various parts of the campus of UnB, they show students holding a whiteboard, always with phrases chosen by them.
Prejudice inside and outside of college
Daniella Leite, a history student at UnB, says that she suffered from a phrase that denied her black condition since childhood, within her family.
“I entered through quotas and heard that phrase again. A friend said this to me that when I took the vestibular (entrance exam).
She thinks that I only opted for quotas because it was be easier,” she said to the G1 website.
Estefany Alves, 23, is geology student at UnB, and also participated in the project.
She was photographed on the campus of the institution holding the board with the phrase “você tem sorte em ser negra, nem precisa, estudar para passar no vestibular” (you’re lucky to be black, you don’t even need to study to pass the entrance exam).
“I chose this phrase because it’s quite commonplace in the middle of the university, especially here at UnB, where the quota system is accepted,” she said.
Another project participant is Matheus Henrique Ramos, a math student, who chose a phrase related to his hair. “It’s a recurring question they ask me.
They always associate black power hair to poor hygiene, care, carelessness, not even seeking to know how much work it is to maintain the hair like this. Little do they know how much care must be taken,” he says, believing that people have a “pre-formed concept of cabelo crespo (kinky/curly hair) outside of the standard imposition, short.”
UnB was the first federal university to have racial quotas; quota students such as Estefany Alves, say that they suffer prejudice because of this.
Inspiration from Harvard
Lorena, the creator of the blog, explains that the blog idea came in 2014 from videos that she saw produced and published on YouTube, and a similar project done by students at Harvard University in the United States, that also debates inclusion and diversity on campus.
At the same time, she did a course in visual anthropology and decided to put the project into practice as the final work of the course.
The photos were taken in November, during the week of Black Consciousness.
“I handed out the whiteboard and the brush so that people could write their phrases. To help them made a list with about 20 phrases similar to the Harvard project phrases. Some people used the list of phrases, but the vast majority wrote their own phrases,” she recalls.
Most sentences concern prejudices heard at the university that quota students don’t need to study to pass the entrance exam. There are phrases related to skin color, facial features and hair type of each student.
“Your features are fine and your skin is not so dark”, “such an exotic beauty that you have,” “such different hair, can I touch it?” are some of the phrases that make up the project.
“Now I’m organizing a video on the mini-doc format to present a discussion on the subject,” says Lorena.
Matheus Henrique Ramos, a student at UnB, also allowed himself to be photographed for the project (Reuters/Lorraine Monique dos Santos)
UnB reduced the racial quota in 2014
The University of Brasília is a pioneer in affirmative action policies in Brazil. The UnB adopted the system of racial quotas in 2003 after a case of discrimination in graduate school gained notoriety.
The first entrance exam with 20% reservation of seats for black students was held in June 2004. At the time it was decided that the system would be re-discussed in 10 years.
“Discrimination has always existed. The difference is that before the quotas one didn’t talked about it and black people were outside of universities. Today, there is a considerable number of black people in universities and some of these people try to establish a frank and open discussion about it,” said the student.
In April 2004, the UnB decided to reduce the reservation of vacancies for blacks to 5%. Among the arguments is the fact that the federal quota law, which provides 50% of jobs saved for students coming from the public network, would increase this percentage of 5%.
Even with the experience in UnB last more than ten years, Lorena says the debate needs to be further encouraged. “There is still much resistance. Whenever we try to talk about it, the first reaction is to say that black people are ‘vitimistas’ (playing the victim),” she said.
She affirms that the impact of her project has been positive, even if there is disagreement as to the format and the chosen name. “Some people agree, others disagree, but we discuss the subject! Silence is something terrifying. Hearing these phrases and to imagining what this is all in the mind is maddening.”