Popular white comedian offers black man bananas to forget about his racist jokes: Racism ingrained in Brazilian society

Thiago Ribeiro (left) and comedian Danilo Gentili. After Ribeiro questioned the comedian's racist material, Gentili responded by asking: "How many bananas do you want to let this story go?"
Thiago Ribeiro (left) and comedian Danilo Gentili. One of the comedian’s jokes: “King Kong, a monkey that after going to the city and becoming famous, grabs a blond. Who does he think he is? A soccer player?”

Note from BW of Brazil: Although this blog has only existed for almost 25 months, one of its goals has been to expose the deeply ingrained racist beliefs, attacks and insults that happen on a daily basis in a country that for decades defined itself as a “racial democracy“. One of the most consistent racial insults that continues to this day is the association of black people with monkeys and Brazil definitely plays its part in this racist comparison. With a recent incident at a southern federal university making headlines, I thought the timing was perfect to re-visit another recent case that was exposed on social networks that wasn’t previously covered here and still has yet to be resolved.

The case involves a well-known white television comedian and a black viewer who became irritated with the constant racist tones of some of the comedian’s jokes. One joke went as such: “King Kong, a monkey that after going to the city and becoming famous, grabs a blond. Who does he think he is? A soccer player?” (1) Although it is true that a soccer player can be of any color/race, in Brazil, black soccer players generally have a reputation for dating/marrying blond/white women when they achieve status (2). The joke mentioning King Kong also makes a direct connection to black men as this association is so deeply ingrained in Brazilian society. The man in this case has yet to see any sort of justice and how this case turns out could be key in understanding how Brazilian society will address such issues in the future. One could argue that as the comedian has yet to suffer any repercussions and continues to host his television program, this in itself speaks volumes (3). 

Danilo Gentili case: justice ignores complaint of a victim of racism

Comedian Danilo Gentili's response to viewer Thiago Ribeiro's denouncement of his racist material: "How many bananas do you want to let this story go?"
Comedian Danilo Gentili’s response to viewer Thiago Ribeiro’s denouncement of his racist material: “How many bananas do you want to let this story go?”

November 18, 2013

“It’s been a year ago that I’ve been living this hell. They found my home phone number and even my wife’s name,” says Thiago Ribeiro, the São Paulo translator who became a target of a virtual lynching by saying that he would denounce the Band TV network and comedian Danilo Gentilli to prosecutors for inciting racism on broadcast television, a crime under Article 20 of Federal Law No. 7.716/1989.

by Silvia Nascimento

Thiago Ribeiro was fed up with the racist content in Gentili's material
Thiago Ribeiro was fed up with the racist content in Gentili’s material

At the end of October 2012, the translator Thiago Ribeiro decided to speak out against the racist jokes made ​​by comedian Danilo Gentili on his program Agora é tarde, aired by the Bandeirantes TV network. A joke that associated soccer players with monkeys made the translator get in contact with the network to obtain the data necessary to formalize a complaint of racism with the Ministério Público (Attorney General). At learning Thiago’s intentions, the comedian used his Twitter account to send a response by asking “Quantas bananas você quer pra deixar essa história pra lá (How many bananas do you want to let this story go)?” Gentili quickly deleted the message, but Thiago had already saved everything, including the spate of racist attacks that followed and stayed up all night printing everything that was happening.

Danilo Gentili on his Bandeirantes TV program "Agora é tarde"
Danilo Gentili on his Bandeirantes TV program “Agora é tarde”

Gentilli’s lawyer tried to make an agreement with Thiago, but the translator followed with complaints and referred them to several agencies that fight racism.

Delay of justice and disregard of the Movimento Negro (black movement)

The precinct for the combat of racial crimes and intolerance (Decradi), SOS Racismo (racism), SEPPIR, Conselho da Comunidade Negra (Council of the black community), OAB-SP (Ordem dos Advogados do Brasil – Seção de São Paulo or São Paulo branch of the Brazilian Lawyers Guild), Direitos Humanos da Assembleia Legislativa (Human Rights Commission of the Legislative Assembly) and Ministério Público (prosecutors) were the organs where Thiago formalized the complaint against Gentilli. “I only had the help of the Secretaria de Justiça (Department of Justice) to make the police report and that was it. So far I haven’t had any feedback about my complaint,” explains Ribeiro.

No entity of the Movimento Negro offered legal advice to Thiago, even with all the repercussions on the Internet and the indirect comments that the comedian continued to make on his program. “He even cited my name once, but soon after my complaint, he made several indirect (comments) that were about me,” says the translator.

Thiago’s biggest regret, besides the delay in a response from the competent organs, was the lack of mobilization by the entities of the Movimento Negro.

“That very same week, I went back to forward emails to multiple entities with links showing the attacks I suffered, and I received no reply,” he complained. He is now considering taking the case to international organs for not having had a response from the Brazilian government.

Twitter attacks persist

In regards to the repercussion of an old story concerning the case republished a few days previously by the Internet, the attacks against Thiago through social networks, which in fact never ceased, intensified.

“Some people say they want to appear (on the show) or get money from Gentilli,” explains Ribeiro who still reports that he feels more solidarity on the part of whites who follow him on Twitter than by blacks, who accuse him of being ‘racist and exaggerated’, for not having felt offended by the jokes.

Even with the neglect of the Brazilian justice system and helplessness of black entities, Thiago has not given up. He still hopes for a response from the organs in which he forwarded the complaint and the evidence and is now researching to also sue for punitive damages against the comedian. “Danilo Gentili incited hatred of his fans that came and attacked me and I had my life invaded. Even if I have to seek help out there, I won’t give up,” concludes Ribeiro.

Note from BW of Brazil: The article below is from one of the many black-oriented websites that exposed the story when it broke in 2012

The certainty of impunity: Danilo Gentili offers ‘bananas’ to black internet user on Twitter

by  Juliana Gonçalves

October 3, 2012

The writer Thiago Ribeiro, 29, was tired of attacks on the black community by comedian Danilo Gentili, when he edited and posted on YouTube a video that emphasized the racist content in the comedian’s “jokes” of the TV Bandeirantes comedian.

by Juliana Gonçalves

In seven hours, the video got 800 views, including a view by the Gentili himself, who managed to remove the Youtube video by means of a usage clause.

Removed from Youtube, but still on Twitter and Facebook, the video garnered many comments which was the first step of action that Ribeiro planned. He wrote a letter of complaint that cites excerpts from Gentili’s Agora é tarde television program, which would be submitted to the authorities and TV Bandeirantes.

Via his Twitter (@ LasombraRibeiro), Thiago questioned Gentili about the contents of the letter and received the following reply: “Seriously@LasombraRibeiro let’s forget this…How many bananas do you want to let this story go?”

After a few minutes, Gentili deleted the post, but Ribeiro had already saved the picture. After the comedian’s message, his followers also started verbally attack and strengthen Gentili’s racist comment with phrases like: “Go on and give some bananas to @Lasombraribeiro so that he’ll be quiet,” from @BiahNunes_’s profile; “(Sic) him some lashes pfvr” written by @jaqporra and “He’s not so black, he knows how to do Twitter and knows how to copy a print (comment)” from @RaquelRangel0.

Thiago Ribeiro: And I want attention, Danilo Gentili is a humorist and racism doesn't exist. Thank you for making my life hell Gentili tiagomayer1: You monkey son of a whore they have to lock you up in the zoo and stick a banana in your black ass tiagomayer1: Son of a whore I hate blacks because of this...go promote yourself in Africa you worm
Thiago Ribeiro: And I want attention, Danilo Gentili is a humorist and racism doesn’t exist. Thank you for making my life hell Gentili
tiagomayer1: You monkey son of a whore they have to lock you up in the zoo and stick a banana in your black ass
tiagomayer1: Son of a whore I hate blacks because of this…go promote yourself in Africa you worm

Note from BW of Brazil: Not mentioned above are even more vile comments from a Gentili follower in the photo above.

The latter mocked a comment for Thiago Ribeiro, who claimed to have saved all the screen comments with racist taunts. All the comments can be seen on Thiago’s Facebook page.

On the following Monday, Ribeiro sent a complaint to the Public Prosecutor of São Paulo and the Federal Police about what happened. On Tuesday, he went to the Secretaria da Justiça (Department of Justice) and the Defesa da Cidadania (Defense of Citizenship) and the Delegacia de Crimes Raciais and Delitos de Intolerância (Precinct of Racial Crimes and Crimes of Intolerance), which was made the police report. Thiago submitted his letter of complaint, as well as copies of the assaults suffered at the hands of Danilo Gentili and his followers on Twitter.

He was also contacted by people working with the state representative Leci Brandão to formalize the complaint in the Human Rights Commission of the Legislative Assembly of the State of the São Paulo. “Everything that I could do, I’ve done. It’s up to the courts to prevent Gentili from continuing to laugh at us. We must protest against these racist comedians who think they are above the law,” Ribeiro said in his letter of complaint.

Ribeiro also plans to question Bandeirantes TV about how and why they condone the practice of racism. “I know that Danilo has a support team on TV that guides him, ie, the channel is conniving with the situation,” he says.

Ribeiro’s expectation is that Gentili is convicted and leaves TV or is prevented from propagating racist jokes, and how he portrays black people. “Also, I should sue him for moral damages, since he made ​​a racist post directed at me,” he said.

The Department of Justice and Defense of Citizenship guaranteed Ribeiro that it would go after each racist posting also issued by Gentili followers. Ribeiro has a printout of each comment.

The certainty of impunity

The letter of complaint drafted by Thiago Ribeiro is based on State Law 14.187/2010 that speaks of administrative penalties to be imposed for the practice of acts of racial discrimination. And the Federal Law No. 7.716/1989, Article 20: “Practicing, inducing or inciting discrimination or prejudice based on race, color, ethnicity, religion or national origin.”

The comments of Gentili and his followers are so blatantly racist that they come to reflect the certainty of impunity. Also in the letter, Ribeiro requests “effective action by the Brazilian Court to inhibit explicit racism normally practiced on the Gentili program.”

“I’ll go on with this story, and if the State shows itself to be omissive, I won’t  hesitate to bring this issue to the international bodies of the OAS (Organização dos Estados Americano or OEA the Organization of American States) and the UN (United Nations),” he concludes (4).

In support of Ribeiro’s initiative, from October 03, there will be a “tuitaço (Twitter forum)” with the hashtags   #bastadehumorracista (stop racist humor).

* Text originally published by Juliana Gonçalves on the CEERT site

Source: CEERT, Mundo Negro


1. For more on this incident please see the body of the text and the notes section of this post.

2. On the question of black soccer players and blond/white women see here.

3. Bear in mind the outcry that led to American comedian Michael Richards’s public apology after an N-word filled tirade onstage at one of his performances in 2006.

4. Unfortunately, this would not be the first time a black Brazilian felt the need to go all the way to international organizations when they failed to receive justice on a local or national level. It took several years for Simone Diniz to win her case against blatant racial discrimination in a battle that is still not very well known even today.

About Marques Travae 3747 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

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