Note from BW of Brazil: Ahh, yes….’Coisas do Brasil’ (things of Brazil). I must say, if one were to read and analyze this one story, it would be possible to understand the complexity of the race issue, racial identity issues and part of the reason for the situation of black Brazilians. Many of these issues are discussed on this very blog on a daily basis, but whether you’re new here or a regular reader, today’s piece will make you just shake your head and wonder, “what’s really going on in Brazil?”
Once again it features the rising star Ludmilla, whose musical success has exploded since her debut underground hit a few years ago. But along with her success, the young woman has faced a number of cruel verbal assaults that have come along with her fame and growing fortune. The singer was recently once again the target of a racist comment through a social networking site. But this one right here is…well…There’s a lot to say on today’s piece, but before that, let’s get to the story.
Author of offenses against singer Ludmilla confesses to the crime
Courtesy of Extra
The author of the racist offenses against the singer Ludmilla confessed to the crime, on Tuesday, to the Delegacia de Repressão aos Crimes de Informática (DRCI or Bureau of Suppression of Computer Crime). Hélder Santos, 31, gave testimony and, according to Chief Alessandro Thiers, head of the special crime unit, will be indicted for the crime of prejudiced injury, with the penalty increased because the crime was committed on the internet. The police investigation will then be forwarded to court. Hélder – who is a resident of Rio – will respond in freedom.
The accused of offending the singer posted on a social network, two prejudiced phrases: “I hate this criola nojenta (disgusting nigger)” and “The ugly one thinks she’s…she’s ugly as hell”. Ludmilla vented soon after, asking for help from the authorities to identify the author of the offense and stating that it had not been the first time he posted racist comments.
“Can any authority help me identify this man? It’s not the first time he’s done this. So I blocked him, but he keeps saying these things (…),” wrote the singer.
Suspected of racist attacks on Ludmilla: ‘I assume (responsibility), but it was not for her’
Hélder Santos testified on Tuesday, 24, to the Delegacia de Repressão a Crimes de Informática and can be indicted for Racial Insult.
By Lucas Pasin
After being identified by the Delegacia de Repressão a Crimes de Informática (DRCI) of Rio de Janeiro and giving testimony on Tuesday morning, 24th, taking responsibility for the racist attacks on singer Ludmilla, businessman Hélder Santos, 31, spoke with the EGO website late on Tuesday and talked about the offenses written on social networks. The report team had access to the suspect through a source that is a friend of Hélder.
Hélder told EGO that he wasn’t in the mood to talk about what happened, but that it’s ‘tranquil’ in regards to the accusation and that he took the responsibility of insults on the internet but that he was not referring to the singer Ludmilla. “I’m calm. But there was nothing (directed) at ‘Ludi’. I wrote it, yes, but it was not for her. I was responding to a girl gossiping on Instagram, with post that had a photo of Ludmilla. And they printed it and me ‘turned it into this thing,'” he said, talking about having assumed (responsibility): “I had to take (responsibility), but it was not for her. I responded and then throw it against the media”
Still insisting that he had no intention of offending Ludmilla, Hélder adds: “It was a big misunderstanding. I assumed the mistake, but it was not for her, because I’m (a) good (person). I was being called names by her fans. I just want to cool my head of this misunderstanding.”
In an interview with Ego on Tuesday afternoon, Chief Alessandro Thiers, responsible for the case, said Hélder presented several versions during his testimony. “Ludmilla came yesterday (Monday, 23) and reported the facts. The police investigated, approached the man and sought to depose him. Hélder Santos was taken by police,” he said.
When asked about racist attacks by investigators, Hélder told different stories about what happened. “First, he said they stole his cell phone. We told him that we have techniques and that if it were a lie, we would find out and it would be worse. Hélder Santos said he was talking to a friend and that they stole the phone. Until the time he confessed that he published messages,” said the chief. “The investigation was completed and sent to court. Now it’s up to the courts to decide. The police have identified him. He will be indicted for Injúria Racial (Racial Injury/slur) with cause of an increase because of being propagated on the Internet,” detailed the chief. “He could be imprisoned for up to four years,” the chief completed.
Also according to the deputy, Hélder will respond to the process in freedom, but this may change at any time. “The police saw no need for jail because there was no physical violence. But if the police find that there is a need, he will be called again. It’s important to think before posting anything on the internet and knowing that comments with religious intolerance, homophobia, racism and other things can have consequences,” warned the deputy.
Responsible for racist attack, says he is a fan
The accused is responding to an attempted murder in 2009 and on social networks, he used to share photos even in Batalhão de Operações Policiais Especiais (BOPE or Special Police Operations Battalion) of Rio de Janeiro uniform. “He says to people that he is police, but never was. He has a photo on social networks with the BOPE shirt. We don’t know if it’s there, because his Instagram was deleted and gradually he’s erasing everything. He was asked about it and said he borrowed it to show off,” said the chief.
Also in his testimony, Hélder said he was sorry for the racist attacks. “He said he is a fan of the singer and does weight training listening to Ludmilla’s music. He works selling food supplements on the internet and it hurt him because people are waiting for him to recant. Hélder said he was sorry and said he didn’t know why he did that. He also said he’s not racist and that he has an avô negro (black grandfather),” detailed the chief to Ego, on Tuesday the 24th.
Note from BW of Brazil: Needless to say, Afro-Brazilian-oriented social networking communities had a field day on this latest peculiar example of racial issues in Brazil. Below is how one group’s members reacted to this story when it first broke. (Comments in original Portuguese at bottom of page).
Marília: But how is this? Doesn’t he have a mirror at home??
Giceliaf: A black man who doesn’t assume his race and also disseminates hatred. It’s very sad and revolting to deal with the prejudice of whites..but from another???????
Edison: There really are blacks who don’t conform themselves to their condition of black!!! Total disgrace to our race!!! Trash, scum!!!
André: What a shame, a black reproducing racism, there’s nothing worse to me, I get twice revolted because from whites you expect this right here, revolting, but you know what comes now is a black hurts more, a completely colonized mind, he should know his history and value his people.
Dandara: A black that REPRODUCES racism. He doesn’t benefit from the racist structure, people. He reproduces it in an alienated form.
Edison: Imagine trash like this having black children what would become of them!!!
Andréa: This Ludmilla girl suffers too much from offenses, of whites and blacks, male and female, it’s something hurting inside, freely attacking the girl, they have no respect, pure racism and prejudice
Luana: What a ridiculous man, who becomes an example for racists 👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏
Marília: But how does a brother of color come to this point people? I can’t understand…did the system, the society brainwash him??
Bruno: He’s only putting weight on earth. It’s true that this is one of those that in the circle of white friends, he is making self-deprecating jokes just to put a smile on the face of white partners. The famous court jester, he’s a joke and doesn’t even know it, and must only like white women.
Leonel: This seems to me an attitude of a “psycho fan.” Those people who are not content with the limit established in a relationship and start to act in a negative way trying to get the attention of others. This guy must have some degree of schizophrenia. People like that are dangerous for social life.
Gilberto: He is black!!! What the hell. This I didn’t expect, I thought it was a branquelo (white boy), how sad.
Roseli: Now I don’t understand anything, the guy is black and made racist offenses against Ludmila??? Can someone here explain this to me??? I am astonished. ..
Debora: It’s that he is a lighter skinned black ahahah. He doesn’t have a mirror, doesn’t have consciousness.
Quell: Then behind this fallacy everybody imagines a white playboyzinho scrotum and PAH, the guy is black. Fuck.
Rodrigo: Lighter-skinned black man likes to show off with the darker-skinned blacks, we see this today with Angolans living in Brazil and the guys strip show watermelon….I get tired of seeing this…but in that case the boy was a circus for the pale faces.
Daniel: I see that he doesn’t even know his own ethnicity, unacceptable pure ignorance!
Renata: This is what the self hatred and lack of many who do not know their real racial identity
Renata: He must not know that he’s is black! Because of having light skin.
Alex: Besides embarrassing us, this man only reinforces what whites say about racism, “The black is racist to himself”. Regrettable, we still have a lot of evolving to do.
Micheli: I saw a report with him where he said with a straight face that he’s not prejudiced because his grandmother is black…he thinks he’s white that’s another crazy thing in the society
Erica: Same skin tone and same nose, right?
Humberto: Who is this woman in the photo?
Erica: Ludmilla before the whitening imposed by the media
Erica: Unfortunately it’s the only way for her to realize that she’s black, and will suffer the same racism even with this embranquecimento (whitening) nonsense.
Flavio: The guy vacillated ugly…he has the features and the same skin tone as the singer, or he did he do it because of really not liking her, or because of thinking that being black, nothing would come of the insults… Anyway! It’s unfortunate we see events like this, but we can’t see him as our enemy.
Quilôa: I’m not a bit surprised, unfortunately there are many black people who think they are not black just because of presenting a lighter skin tone that already has a long history, someone taught him that black is dirty, inefficient, poor etc. being black is not just a skin color but of the spirit.
Carlos: racism is above all a cultural issue, unfortunately. The non-acceptance of blacks and mestiços (people of mixed race) in Brazil is still great. I, a black man, was at a bar with a friend also black. We were discriminated against by another black that we met there.
Note from BW of Brazil: OK, so where should we start here? There’s so much here that re-affirms everything that we discuss on this blog. Well, for me, another racist comment against funk singer Ludmilla. Nothing shocking there. First of all, everyday black women are verbally assaulted with racist comments everyday and this is also not the first time Ludmilla has been the target, so nothing surprising there. The thing that caught my eye reading the comment “criola nojenta”, which can loosely be translated as ‘disgusting nigger’ and the appearance of the guy who say it. As one of the comments about read, I also expected such to have been said by someone who considers him/herself to be white. But then I looked at the photo. Ummm…excuse me…isn’t he black too???
OK, let’s be honest about this. Anywhere there are descendants of Africans who lived under the brutal system of slavery starting in the 16th century carries elements of black self-hatred in their character as a group. That is exactly what the system of slavery imposed on the black psyche and what maintains the black population in psychological bondage to this day. In the United States, it’s very common to hear African-Americans refer to each other as ‘niggas’ (a slight variation on the racist term ‘niggers’), both in affectionate and pejorative manners. So this case in fact shouldn’t be particularly surprising. But there’s more to analyze here.
First, I would totally ignore the guy’s claim that his comments weren’t directed at Ludmilla because the singer affirmed that the same guy had posted ugly comments directed at her before. His denial is most likely a lie he resorted to after being caught making such a comment. The other reason I disregard this excuse is that, even if he weren’t directing the comment at Ludmilla, it would mean he was in fact insulting another black woman in the comments section. The fact that he did or did not direct the comment at Ludmilla doesn’t erase his practicing a form of black on black depreciation. But what got my attention was at the end of the article in which he claims that he’s not racist because he has a black grandfather. Here we go again!
For those of you who are unaware, denying that one is racist after being caught saying or doing something racist is a very common line of defense uttered by countless Brazilians in the heat of the moment. But buried within such a comment is an attempted escape from blackness. Referring to one’s parent or grandparent as black carries a sort of double denial in which the person uttering the phrase appears to attempt not defining him/herself as also black. I don’t always interrupt people who utter this phrase but sometimes when I do ask what they consider themselves, the answer is usually “branco” (white) or “moreno” (brown/mixed). In reference to the accused in this story, Hélder Santos looks black to me as well as others commenting on the topic, but perhaps he doesn’t see himself as such, another phenomenon that is very common in Brazil. Looking even deeper into this, Santos had to go back two generations to claim someone in his family that he thought of as black, which makes me wonder what his mother and father look like. If Santos had to go back two generations to find someone he considered black, this would most likely mean that he also doesn’t consider one or both of his parents to be black either. And people wonder why this blog focuses so much on the issue of identity.
The second thing that caught my attention in this case refers to a situation we posted earlier today, also involving Ludmilla. In that case, the singer sued a blond host/socialite who compared her hair to a “brillo pad” during Rede TV’s coverage of Carnaval back in February. After learning of Ludmilla’s actions, the TV network banned the singer from any appearances on the network or even the mention of her name on the channel. Thus, we have a situation in which a guy who is (apparently) black is arrested by authorities for a making a racist comment while when a blond does the same thing, Ludmilla is the one who gets punished. As stated in the previous post, this is a clear example of the maintenance of white supremacy. Instead of punishing the white woman for making such a statement, the punishment goes to the black woman for seeking to have her punished! The message here is that Ludmilla should know ‘her place’ as a black woman. It is this power to decide who will and won’t be punished that those who deny the existence of racism don’t understand. It is a power that Ludmilla and millions of other black people simply don’t have.
The third point I will bring out here is Ludmilla herself, which was not lost upon people commenting on the case. As we’ve documented in other cases, including that of Ludmilla herself, in order to reach a certain status, it seems that black women (including light-skinned persons of mixed race) in Brazil must submit themselves to a whitening process. This process often includes the usage of wigs (sometimes blond or platinum), colored contact lenses, and some sort of skin lightening product. It is also not surprising that many of these women also establish romantic relationships with white men (a topic we will explore in regards to Ludmilla in a future post; please DO see the report on her music video for the song “Hoje” in the meantime).
All of these details once again demonstrate the precarious situation of black Brazilians. Many recognize the existence of racism and vow to fight against, but even so: 1) Many still don’t see themselves as black and often harbor the same prejudices against black people that whites maintain, 2) The system of white supremacy continues to re-enforce its strength while millions of Brazilians continue to deny being racist, two huge facts of society that maintain the racial hierarchy and, 3) Even in the fight against white supremacy, many Afro-Brazilians continue seeking to approximate themselves to the very standards of whiteness that continue to victimize them. Because of these points and many others, we maintain that racism in Brazil remains a perfect crime!
Comments in original Portuguese