Classmate said he would never get a girlfriend because he is “preto, sujo, feio e fedido (black, dirty, ugly and stinking)”; the boy had been verbally abused by a colleague at least twice in one month.
Note from BW of Brazil: Although this incident happened about two weeks ago, its still a story that was necessary to share as another example of the cruel reality of how black children are treated in Brazil. With this sort of treatment, is there any wonder why so many children (and adults) grow up with identity issues? In regards to the racial situation, is it any wonder why the little black boy in Rio said he “this is why I don’t like being black” a few weeks ago? How would you react if your 4-year old son or daughter was called a hideous black or a chimp? Such is the experience of black Brazilian children. Such banner behavior for a country that will soon host the Olympics and World Cup! Here’s how one mother dealt with the situation.
by Isabela de Oliveira and Raquel Morais
Disagreeing with the way a private school in the Federal District dealt with a racist insult directed at her son, Maria Paula Andrade took the case to the police.
She registered a police report against the La Salle do Núcleo Bandeirante school at the 11th Police Precinct (Núcleo Bandeirante), which is investigating the case. According to the mother, the boy was only eight years old and was called “black dirty, ugly and stinking” by a colleague at least twice in a month.
The offense was witnessed and reported by the teacher who didn’t explain what the crime of racial discrimination was to the 4th grade class. The press sought the La Salle Education system but received no response although the institution says it does not accept prejudiced attitudes.
“She said she saw a classmate telling him he’ll never get a girlfriend, no one will ever like him because he is black, dirty, ugly and stinking,” said Maria Paula de Andrade. “I am a black woman and I represent black women. I will not let my son go through this. He is black and is beautiful. The school must teach that people should be respected,” said Maria Paula, who said that her son “is very sad, just crying. He wrote on his agenda that he hates school….He asks me if he is ugly or stinks, and this hurts me.”
According to the mother, La Salle sent a statement to the parents of the classmate about the aggression, but hadn’t prompted a meeting of the two families to discuss the issue. Maria Paula said that she will go to the Delegacia de Proteção à Criança e ao Adolescente (Precinct for the Protection of Children and Adolescents) with her son so he can talk to a psychologist.
According de Andrade, however, nothing has been done. “The institution has not taken the proper position, only that this is a crime. Racism is a crime. I said to the supervisors: I’m here because my son was discriminated against and racism is a crime.”
The educational counselor Caroline Giani de Carvalho said that the school often talks to children in this respect. “We will not accept this kind of situation, we have this issue of diversity very well discussed in the classroom. But to talk about racism is heavy. We treat this as an offense, unfortunately done at a wrong time,” she said.
The Civil Police of the Federal District said it will pass the case to the Guardian Council. The organization also said that the school may be civilly liable for the occurrence. Data from the Department of Public Safety show that there were 31 cases of racial slurs in DF in the past year.
Note from BW of Brazil: Maria Paula de Andrade in a journalist in Brazil’s Federal District of Brasília and was once featured on the cover of the country’s only magazine targeting the black population, Raça Brasil. She posted the following response on a social network in response to the incident. Her response was covered in the national media. Here is her full response translated in English.
As a black woman I know in the skin and in the soul what racial discrimination is. As a mother, this pain of discrimination becomes superlative. Mothers want their children to live in a better world! Mothers want their children to feel respected, welcomed (and) loved!
Mothers want their children to smile, play, have fun, learn, are be dignified human beings, love their fellowmen (and) respect their brothers in the journey! Mothers want their children to have a good education to grow healthy, ready to face life with courage, determination, kindness, firmness, intelligence (and) consistency!
Mothers want (this)…. I, a woman, black, separated, worker, MOTHER: I want (this)!
And what do I see happen in a private, expensive school, that says it’s prepared to face the challenges of raising healthy young people who will lead this country one day? I see racism happening with my son of only 8 years. (What) I see happen (is) a teacher who cannot deal with this type of adversity and educating her students in the only sense of being human: Respect!
(What) I see happen (is) an unprepared school, closing its eyes to racism, turning a deaf ear to discrimination and reluctant to accept and combat the discrimination, intolerance and racism that occurred on the premises of its institution…
The La Salle School in Bandeirante, doesn’t have a dynamic of education that offers to their students, their small students, a secure guidance regarding differences (and) respect for differences. For weeks I’ve been trying with this school to offer a lecture, a course for parents, for students, however, they responded to me with feigned understanding eyes and phrases made to accommodate blacks in blacks’ place (i.e., the place society reserves for blacks)!
We have seen this happen in this country for centuries. And the little change that we’ve had, has been absolutely slow. So slow that my son, only 8 years old, in the XXI century, was bound to hear from a classmate of class that he was a “dirty, stinky, black …………….”, this was said in front of the teacher, who did not take a stance, nor held a debate, a conference, a lecture, or whatever it takes to show her students that discrimination is a crime, that it is wrong to treat others differently and offend the other for any reason, particularly if the motive is the color of the skin.
This is my rant as a mother! I know that thousands of mothers feel this way: aching, hurting, wounded, sad, helpless, unable to offer their children a better world, better human beings. But who knows, together, black mothers, mothers of homosexuals, mothers of special needs children, all of us, together, we can help change this world a little bit more.