“The police stopped me but not my white friend”: In public demonstrations, white men are protesters, black men are suspects

Alexandre de Sena, 35, actor
Alexandre de Sena, 35, actor

Note from BW of Brazil: As many stories on this blog can attest, Afro-Brazilians are treated differently throughout Brazilian society, whether they are in shopping malls, at work, the beach or any other social environment where all should be treated equally. Although not related, the story below is not an isolated incident and the narrator’s experiences with police in two cities are reminiscent of the treatment received by another black man from the same hometown back in September of last year as well as a black female protester in the widespread demonstrations starting last June. 

“In the protests, the police stopped me but not my white friend” – Alexandre Sena, 35, actor

Courtesy of O Tempo

“We are accustomed to thinking that racism doesn’t exist in Brazil. All of us, since we are children in the environments where we live, are influenced to think that this is all in our head. But when we see some situations, we realize in a more amplified form that there is prejudice indeed,” says the actor Alexandre Sena, 35, who was the victim of a police assault while participating in an international theater festival in Blumenau (southern state of Santa Catarina) in July 2011.

Alexander was in a gas station with friends, drinking and chatting, when a police car arrived on the scene. One of the few blacks present, the actor was the only one assaulted by two policemen, who, according to him, shouted: “Here is not your place. Get outta here, negão.” When struck by a blow on his right ear, Alexander had 60% of the surface of his eardrum ruptured, besides having received several blows to the chest. “I was in the theatrical environment, and most people were there because of the festival. So, in some way, I felt protected, something that those who usually suffer discrimination don’t feel,” he says.

The situation was denounced in the internal affairs department of the police, but still today, more than two years later, Alexandre has not heard anything about the investigation into the conduct of the police. “What happened to me in Blumenau gave me a desire to make that story not just mine alone.” Returning to the state capital, the actor participated in the creation and presentation of various performances and theater shows denouncing racial prejudice and discrimination. “I come from the principal that the information is valuable in order to combat racism.”

Despite the assault, his biggest revolt, however, is in relation to the daily emotional aggression.  “It often happens that I walk into a store, and security follows me or I go into a restaurant and am not so well received by the waiter. This is very veiled,” he says. “In June, during the protests, I was walking with friends toward Praça Sete in downtown Belo Horizonte, when we saw police approach. Just as I predicted, they stopped me, but didn’t approach my white friend.”

Source: O Tempo

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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