According to the child’s mother, Fátima, the girl was insulted by the grandmother of a boy who was disgusted by the fact that her grandson had danced with a black child. Police are investigating the case. Fátima says that her daughter felt inferior for being black and she will seek psychological care for the girl.
“I want to know why they let a hideous black square dance with my grandson.” Thus, according to what has already been reported by the police, that the grandmother of a nursery school student in the town of Contagem of Metropolitan Belo Horizonte (state of Minas Gerais), referred to a 4-year girl in a case of racism which angered officials at the Centro de Educação Infantil Emília (Emilia Nursery School Center) and led to the child’s mother to report the woman to the police. The school was accused of having done nothing to prevent racist abuse and had even tried to hush the case up.
The incident occurred on July 10th, but only yesterday, supported by non-governmental organization SOS Racism, did the girl’s mother, marketing official Fátima Viana Souza, reveal details of the case. She only learned of the attacks because her daughter’s teacher Cristina Pereira Aragon, 34, who witnessed everything, dissatisfied with the situation and the the school director’s lack of action, resigned and sought the girl’s family to denounce what had occurred. Another teacher confirmed to the child’s parents the complaint made by Cristina.
Fátima recalled that the Festa de Juninha (June Festival) was on Saturday, June 7, and that her entire family went to honor the girl. According to the police report to which the State of Minas Gerais had access to, on Tuesday, July 10th, the boy’s grandmother invaded the school shouting, wondering why they let a “hideous black” dance with her grandson. “My daughter witnessed everything and was called ugly black. Her classmates in the next room heard and went to see what was happening,” said the mother, crying. “My daughter was quiet in a corner of the room and the teacher defended her by saying that this woman’s attitude was a crime. Still, my daughter continued feeling insulted”, said Fátima.
The mother said that she was not informed of the incident. On that day, her husband sought her daughter in school and everything seemed normal. She recalled that on that Tuesday the girl returned from school upset, didn’t eat dinner and could not sleep. “I thought she had played too much and was tired,” said Fátima. The next day, the girl vomited in the classroom and the principal told her parents that she had eaten too much at the school picnic. The teacher, who had resigned, sought the parents and told them what had happened.
“I was desperate. It was horrible. I think my daughter vomited in fear. I talked to her, and she kept saying all the time that she didn’t do anything, feeling guilty. Racism against an adult is intolerable. Against a defenseless child, it’s even worse. And I wasn’t there at that moment to defend my daughter”, complained Fátima, who will take the girl out of the school and wants the aggressor to punished. “I will fight in court for my daughter and so many other black kids who go through the same situation and nothing is done,” he said. Fátima said she would provide psychological care for her daughter. “She’s feeling inferior, that what’s good is to be of another color,” she concluded.
Indignation and resignation
The teacher Cristina said that she was outraged by the school’s lack of responsible attitude and resigned. “The director said he would not communicate anything to the girl’s parents nor call the police because this type of problem occurs in any school that if you were to fight with every prejudiced family you wouldn’t have anyone studying in your school. I was angry and preferred to leave the school so that I wasn’t colluding in a criminal act”, said Cristina. She added that she tried to prevent the girl from hearing the offense, but the woman pointed a finger in her face and told her to shut up, saying that the teacher received a salary to teach to her grandson.
The police chief of Contagem’s 3rd Precinct, Antônio Fradico de Araújo, initiated the investigation and will subpoena the grandmother of the boy, identified only as Mariinha, and others involved in the incident to testify. The Coordinator for the Promotion of Racial Equality of Contagem contacted human rights organizations and also the Public Ministry requesting action.
Escalation of aggravating factors
The SOS Racism’s lawyer and law professor at PUC Minas, José Antônio Carlos Pimenta, clarifies that the penalty for the crime of racism can be up to nine years in prison. But in the case of the offended girl in Contagem, the court may consider it a racial insult, which has a maximum penalty of three years. “But there are two aggravating factors in this case and the penalty may increase. The crime was committed in a school and the victim is under 18 years old,” said the lawyer. Those responsible for the school could also be held civilly liable because they had a legal duty to protect the girl, said the lawyer. The director of the Centro de Educação Infantil Emília, Joana Reis Belvino, was sought for comment, but declined to issue a statement. Police did not provide information allowing the identification and location of the woman accused of racism.