Note from BW of Brazil: Question: Why do people always feel the need to participate in such shocking and/or disrespectful acts? The story we present below follows a number of questionable public displays that have taken place over the past few years in different cities in Brazil. A few years ago in Minas Gerais, we saw an upperclassmen ‘joke’ make use of Hitler and slavery imagery. During Carnaval, a number of men’s groups thought it was fun to dress up in blackface in ‘homage’ to black women. A few weeks ago, on another college campus, another group thought it was funny to hang a black cloth doll in a mock lynching. After repudiation of these acts, the participants usually deny any sort of hateful or disrespectful intent. You know the routine: “there’s nothing racist about this”; “it’s just a joke”.
My thing is, why must people always use images or make public spectacles that shock and can possibly be interpreted in negative ways that people don’t find humorous? In the case below for example, even if the group behind this act really didn’t intend to provoke comparisons to a notorious American terrorist group, what is the fun in dressing up as masked executioners? For me, it speaks to the illness of society and an obsession with violence and morbidity. I ask this speaking of a Brazil where thousands of young black males are killed or disappeared by death squads who also hide their identities with hoods and masks as well as a Brazil that has a substantial neo-Nazi following.
In city of Botucatu, college students wear black KKK outfits to welcome freshman
The “Protection network for victims of violence in universities” released photos from the party
From the newsroom of Correio 24 Horas with Mariana Bonora
Medical freshmen at the Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP) in Botucatu, SP (1) were received at a party by upperclassmen who wore clothes similar to the Ku Klux Klan, a US sect that preached white supremacy. The case was registered at the party “Batizado da Medicina” (Christening of Medical students) on March 5th and denounced this week by Facebook.
The “Rede de proteção às vítimas de violências nas universidades”, meaning Protection network for victims of violence in universities, released photos from the party. “The KKK is an example of hatred, eugenics, intolerance and death. What are we to think of doctors that predispose themselves to emulate things which were the worst in human history?” asks the text published on the page.
The students of 48th class of medicine, responsible for the party, said in a statement that the event takes place annually and that the 6th current year is responsible for creating a costume that gives the festivity a “mysterious character”. “In the case concerning our class, the costume theme chosen was “Carrasco” (meaning ‘executioner’) using black clothes and masks. The costumes were used only for the entry of the group, and then were removed after the entrance, and then socializing with the freshmen at the event began,” the statement said.
The Faculty of Medicine at UNESP said it would establish a commission to investigate the facts. “The Commissioner for the investigation must gather information, confronting its veracity, obtaining names, dates, times, inspecting the existence of cameras, photos and requiring measures that are necessary and which may result in substantial evidence,” the college said in a statement.
A CPI in the Legislative Assembly of São Paulo this year heard testimony from students, including from UNESP, on physical and sexual abuse at parties for freshmen. A report was completed in early March.
Sixth-year students responsible for the event claim that the reference to the KKK was made out of context and sought the university for appropriate clarifications. “The conclusion that we were dressed as the ‘Ku Klux Klan’ was inferred by the way the images were released, fully de-contextualizing the costume and inserting images so that the readers came to that conclusion. We only withdrew the pictures because people who were in the pictures began to be threatened,” adds the note.
The publication divided the opinions of internet users in relation to the fact. Some students argued that it was just a joke and that even after the reception, the costumes were removed and there was fraternization among all. But others have condemned the attitude of the veterans.
According to one of the students of the course, who prefers to remain anonymous, there was no violent hazing, but the students’ costumes drew attention and many were shocked. “It’s an absurd reference and the justification is not true. Many commented that they did a tribute to the veterans,” says the student.
1. Botucatu is a city in the southeastern region of Brazil and is located 224.8 km from São Paulo,the Capital of the State of São Paulo. According to the 2010 census, the population of the city is 115,600. Source