Note from BW of Brazil: By now most of this blog’s regular readers know that Brazil has a serious racial problem. It’s been well-documented here throughout the existence of this blog and would be absurd for anyone to deny it. Just within this past week we’ve seen a black job applicant be told that the company doesn’t hire blacks, we saw a little black girl be told that her hair was ugly by a classmate, we saw a black woman get her her hair pulled and called a monkey by a man on a bus, and then in a piece in recognition of the International Day Against Racial Discrimination, we saw one black woman describe the effects of racism on her life in Brazil.
All of these stories are important, but as the writer of the latter piece told us, in the school system, children can be cruel. But this doesn’t apply to only the children; the treatment received by school faculty can also be devastating on the self-esteem of black children. Racist behavior among school employees has been documented ever since Eliane Cavalleiro’s ground-breaking study back in the year 2000. Unfortunately, as Brazil consistently shows it has no intention of doing anything about this among adults, it should come as no surprise that little black children will also continue to be exposed to such anti-black behavior.
I’ve posed this question before: In such a scenario that can be very damaging to the self-esteem of a child, would it not be beneficial for black children to be taught by black teachers in environments with all black children?
Police investigate racial discrimination in public day care in DF
The victim’s mother says the child’s teacher refused to wash her daughter’s hair, whom she asked not to return to class. Civil Police are investigating.
The Civil Police are investigating a case of racial discrimination in a public day care center in Samambaia, in the Federal District. The victim is a 4 year old girl. The mother of the child, Polyelle Conrado, said that on Monday (20), her daughter arrived crying at home because the teacher washed the hair of all her colleagues, except hers because it was “duro” (hard). The mother recorded an incident at the police station that now will hear the school’s statement.
The Centro de Educação da Primeira Infância Caliandra (Caliandra Early Childhood Education Center) is a public day care center that serves 136 full-time students. Every day, before returning home, children bathe with the help of monitors. According to Polyelle, since Monday her daughter hasn’t wanted to go back to school because she has “cabelo duro” (hard hair). The child asked to straighten her hair.
“I DON’T ACCEPT THIS. WHY IS MY DAUGHTER DIFFERENT AND THE OTHERS ARE NOT? SHE IS EQUAL TO ALL. I DON’T THINK MY DAUGHTER HAS CABELO RUIM (BAD HAIR). SO I’M VERY BOTHERED BY THIS.” – Polyelle Conrado
The director of the Education Center, Edvane Cosmo, said there was no discrimination, racism, prejudice or bullying, but a misunderstanding. According to her, all the educators are trained, the school is talking with the family and has already changed the class monitor.
“It wasn’t like that, a bad intention, not from the people, let alone the monitor not doing this washing.”
THE DIRECTOR EXPLAINED THAT SHE CONVERSED WITH THE TEACHER IN THE ROOM AND WITH THE MONITOR.
The director explained that she conversed with the class’s teacher and with the monitor. She even said that there was an informal comment from the mother, that she didn’t want the child’s hair washed. But there’s no record of this request.
The girl’s mother denies it. She said that on rainy days she even thought it was good that her daughter didn’t wash her hair at school. But as the situation repeated itself, she thought it was because of water rationing in the Federal District. Just this week the girl explained that the “teacher” didn’t touch her hair.
“I don’t accept this, I demand justice because I will not stay with my daughter in the house, without her being able to go to school without her doing anything. She sees the others now, she runs. Before, she conversed, she talked, she played, now she doesn’t want to,” said Polyelle.
According to the Ministério Público (Public Prosecutor’s Office), this year the prosecutors have already received ten complaints of racial prejudice or discord in the Federal District. Last year, there were 129 complaints. The professor at the University of Brasília (UnB), Suzana Xavier, who works on diversity, explains that the problem is veiled racism.
“Unfortunately, racism is not only trivialized, it’s denied every day. People have racist behavior, right? They don’t verbalize it, it is usually veiled and there are people who say they are not racist when they really are because they can’t recognize, say they are racist … But racism in Brazil is something that is implemented and that we have to combat,” says the teacher.
According to Suzana, cabelo para o negro é identidade (hair for black people is identity). When there is discrimination in childhood, she says, trauma can have life-long consequences and even interfere with a child’s development.
“Leaving the child’s hair as it is, valuing this hair, valuing the difference, diversity is that, we can’t work with the concept that we will accept and tolerate, but the advice we give is to welcome and value.”
The Brazilian poet and actress Cristiane Sobral has written several poems about the acceptance of afro-textured hair as the identity of the black woman. According to her, it is important to reflect on how the construction of black women’s self-image has been made over the years.
“This self-image often places the necessity for a social acceptance of wearing hair that is a chemically prepared hair to approximate cabelo liso (straight hair).”
Cristiane says that in Brazil padrões de beleza (standards of beauty) were constructed so that black women would not consider natural hair as a positive aesthetic option. “It has spread the belief that cabelos crespos são cabelos ruins (kinky/curly hair is bad hair), hair that doesn’t grow, hair that has no patience, has no shine. The belief that hair is bad and that it is hair that can never being accepted at a job interview, at a dance, or at a wedding party is the denial of one’s identity,” says the writer.
Cristiane says that for her, accepting natural hair should not be an imposition or obligation, but that implies changes in education, media and acceptance. “It’s an act of love, a way of liking ourselves more,” she summarizes.
Source: Jornal Central Brasil