Note from BW of Brazil: Another day, another racist incident and another denial of racism. Just to be fair, this story must still be categorized as an “allegation” as there were no video cameras or admission of guilt on the part of the teacher. What we DO have is a unanimous repudiation by student witnesses and a denial by the accused. And, as we know, 92% of Brazilians admit that racism exists while simultaneously denying that they are personally racists. Another clue to the teacher’s guilt is the fact that he quit rather than staying and defending himself. Sounds guilty to me. What IS different here from Brazil of say 25 years ago, is that students recognized prejudice, banded together and made the teacher’s biased comments public. Similar to other incidents in elementary and high schools (see here and here), more and more young Afro-Brazilians are standing up to Brazil’s legacy of racism.
Students denounce racist comments and public school teacher leaves position in Uberaba
Angered by students who drummed inside the classroom, the teacher said he did not like pagode (1) nor samba because the musical genres were “are things of the black and black is no good.” When questioned by the director, the teacher denied the charges
By João Henrique do Vale, photos courtesy of G1
The comments of a biased history teacher provoked outrage at a state school in Uberaba, in the Triangle Region of Minas Gerais. Angered by students who were drumming in the classroom, the teacher said he didn’t like pagode nor samba because the musical genres “are things of the black and black is no good.” Outraged, students made a boletim de ocorrência (police report) and a demonstrated at the gate of the institution. The teacher denied the allegations and said his comments were distorted. Even so, he requested to be excused and quit on Monday.
The teacher worked at the Escola Estadual Corina de Oliveira (Corina de Oliveira State School) as designated since January of this year. Last Friday, when arriving to teach, the teacher called the attention of some students who were drumming at the back of the room. It was at this time that the confusion began. “Students said they asked the teacher if he didn’t like pagode. He replied, according to as students, that he didn’t because samba is a thing of the black and black is no good thing,” said the principal of the institution, Marilângela de Oliveira Silva Melo.
The discussion didn’t stop there. Students, according to the principal, continued to question the teacher about prejudice. “Some students said that they said: ‘My father and my mother are black and are not like that’. At this, the teacher asked if they worked, because he had worked with the police and there he confirmed that most blacks did not work,” said the principal.
Relatives of the young people sought the principal on Monday demonstrating their revolt. Dressed in black, they staged a demonstration in front of the institution. The principal met with the students and all 40 students were unanimous in speaking of prejudice stated by the teacher. “Also I listened to the educator. He denied everything and that students distorted a comment in the classroom. I told him to try to resolve the situation with me in a conversation with the students, but he chose to quit the position,” explains Marilângela Melo.
The state school has 1,500 students and 120 employees. No such occurrence of this kind had been recorded. In the classroom where the alleged act of racism happened, 80% of the students were black. “I believe that the situation of prejudice really happened. I know the class and know of at least some would defend him if it were an injustice,” said the principal.
1. Pagode is a Brazilian style of music which originated in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as a subgenre of Samba. Pagode originally meant a celebration with lots of food, music, dance and party. In 1978, singer Beth Carvalho was introduced to this music, liked it from the beginning and recorded tracks by Zeca Pagodinho and others. Apparently, as time has gone by, the term “Pagode” has been degraded by many commercial groups who have played a version of the music full of clichés, and there is now a sense in which the term Pagode means very commercial pop, a negative term (Pagode Romântico). Source