Note from BW of Brazil: Just imagine. You’re enjoying yourself on a beautiful beach with your family. Everyone’s happy and enjoying a well-deserved break. Then suddenly, an unnecessary confrontation ruins the mood. A confrontation that has a foul stench of race connected to it. In previous posts, we gave a brief background of how beaches in Brazil are often glaring examples of how race, place, privilege and stereotypes play themselves out in Brazil. This incident only involves a single family as opposed to the widespread harassment featured in the other stories but nevertheless the timing and treatment is something that will probably stay in the author’s mind for some time to come.
Racism on vacation
by Daniela Souza
Originally posted on the Blogueiras Negras blog
My daughter was born in 2009 and when she was 1 year and 5 months I enrolled her in kindergarten, paid, because I couldn’t get a place in day care, and went back to work.
I worked for four years and seven months, and after many promises of a promotion that never came, I was passed over for a white woman and me decided not subordinate myself to that situation, I quit and since then, I dreamed of a family vacation.
And it came! Ah, vacation! Me, my husband, my daughter, in-laws, nephew and niece.
We rented a house in Mongaguá (state of São Paulo) and the seven of us went to enjoy sun, sand and coconut water. We chose a kiosk, sat down, ate and drank. It was my daughter’s first time at the beach and she was radiant, happy and all of us were happy to provide this moment for her.
We enjoyed ourselves a lot and decided to leave around 7pm, we asked to close our account at the kiosk and we took account of how much each would be, split up the bill, my niece took ten dollars and said “dad take this to pay the bill” and with this a girl passes by and asks “these ten reais (US$3.88) are yours or did you find them now?”, she responded “they’re mine, I’m going to pay my bill” – she left, went to her table, called her mother and the two came to demand the ten reais that her daughter lost, and accuse us of finding them and noting wanting to return the money.
Initially, we didn’t believe what was happening, my husband argued that she was wrong, that the money was ours, she continued shouting, accusing, wanting “her ten reais.” My brother-in-law stepped in and told her to shut up. She sat down and we stayed there laughing at the situation. We paid our bill, packed our things when the lady came back and said this “you need to give it back, I’m giving my ten reais to you, this is change for me.” We laughed because all of this didn’t seem like it was happening. She looked freaked out, and when our protest was more vehement, she hurried to get away quickly with her daughter, still screaming and accusing.
Racism? Obviously, we were the only blacks around and as soon she deduced this we were the culprits. In front of our table there was a couple with a friend, white people, another family at another table, white. She ignored them and came toward us immediately with accusations. Racism yes.
On the way home we were, we realized the severity of what had happened when my daughter said “mother, we didn’t take anything from the others.” We looked at her and our faces dropped, sadness came over all of us and went the rest of the path sad because we realized that we had suffered violence.
In Brazil, they destroy our identity every day, they try to stifle us, shut us up. We are persecuted in the malls, killed by the police and even on the beach, a so-called democratic public space, we are not treated with dignity, we are the ones to blame. Why? Because we are black and had ten reais in hand. We have to prove that our money is ours.
And Martin Luther King, we still don’t live in a nation where we are not judged by the color of our skin.
Black woman, married. I am currently a full-time housewife, but I’ve worked since I was fifteen. Always the rebel of the house since adolescence due to my unconformities, with the extreme poverty in which we lived, with racism at school, with the lack of opportunities that I was always taught to accept because it was the destination. I am hard-working, dedicated to the home and things and people that treat me well. The fight is daily!
Source: Blogueiras Negras