The sin of skin: In two different incidents, black doorman and food delivery man called ‘monkey’ and ‘black bastard’; delivery man punched by angry customer
By Marques Travae
What’s is going on in Brazil? How did this society get to the point that it despises black people so much? I mean, in incident after incident we have situations in which people get belligerent because another person happens to be black. You know, after I really began to dig into these incidents, after my initial shock, I became intrigued as to why and how such animosity developed throughout the country. I say shock not because I’m not familiar with such behavior, but because Brazil always claimed that these sorts of sentiments didn’t exist there. The only conclusion I can draw is to go back to the slavery era which lasted more than 350 years in Brazil.
It was then that the society developed the idea that descendants of Africans and their descendants were things, subhumans to be treated in any manner. As blacks were servants, workers, manpower and sexually exploited beings for such a long period, how can anyone expect that these associations would miraculously just disappear and these same people would suddenly be seen as equal human beings, especially when such an era only ended 131 years ago? Blacks are regularly treated as social outcasts and criminals and the society makes it clear that this is the position they are to be kept in. This is what how I interpret such behavior. Two more recent incidents remind us this yet again.
In the first incident, a woman called a black doorman a monkey and was arrested in the city of Contagem located in the state of Minas Gerais. In a completely separate incident, in another state, Mato Grosso, a black food delivery man was not only insulted, but physically assaulted by a customer. Why? Let’s get to the details…
On Christmas Eve, a 31-year-old woman was arrested on for racial insult directed at a black doorman of her condominium where she lives in Contagem, a city belonging to the greater Belo Horizonte (BH) area. BH is the largest city on Minas Gerais and the state’s capital. According to the Civil Police, she posted bail and will respond in freedom.
The incident went down around 7 pm, in a building in the Santa Maria neighborhood. According to the MP, the 43-year-old doorman, Gilvan Vitalino, said the intercom system wasn’t working corectly. When things like this happen, building guidelines orient that visitors should call the residents, who would then need to come to the reception area to authorize the entrance. Maybe a little inconvenient, but clearly understandable.
According to the police report, Ariane Ellen Viriato’s mother had arrived at the building and called her daughter explaining the situation, which made Viriato angry. The guest handed the phone to the doorman, who told her how to proceed in the situation. According to him, she got very agitated because she was expecting more guests and wondered if she would have to clear everyone at the entrance of the condominium.
After a few minutes, the woman came down, still agitated, and began complaining about the situation. She then began to use profanity and turned on the porter, blaming him for the problem and calling him a “monkey and disgusting”. According to a report, the doorman was called referred to as a ”safado” (bastard) and stinky. Keep in mind, monkey is Brazil’s favorite racial insult for referring to black people.
People witnessing to the situation called the MP. One of them was willing to go to a police station to report what she saw. Police said the news spread among residents, generating outrage.
Ariane denied having committed racial injury, according to police records. The document states that she was unhappy seeing her mother still in the reception area, complained about the situation and left with her mother towards the building “cursing to herself and without directing any cursing at anyone in the condominium.” This is Viriato’s version of the story.
She claimed that the doorman heard her wrong and then resorted to the she “even likes black people” justification, going on to say had no problem with anyone’s ethnicity or religion. Also according to the document, Ariane completed the justifications saying that her stepfather is black and that she is a fan of the player Sassá, a player on the Cruzeiro futebol team. Those involved were taken to a police station in Contagem.
As people will always deny their actions when accused, it was good that there were witnesses willing to verify what happened. And for the thousandth time we have a Brazilian claiming they aren’t racist and that such and such is black so they can’t be racist. I’ve said before, simply because you know someone who is black, even in an intimate relationship, this doesn’t mean that you don’t believe black people as a whole aren’t beneath you or deserve equal treatment. The point is, when people get angry, we’re more likely to learn how it is they really feel. This attitude even extends to situations in which whites and blacks are married and have children. So, let’s retire this ridiculous excuse.
On Christmas day, the press office of the Civil Police reported that the flagrant crime of racial insult was ratified. Ariane paid a bond of BRL 2,000 and was released. She will be able to respond to the case in freedom and now the case will be reviewed by the Minas Gerais court. Calls made to Ariane were not answered. Journalists also tried to locate the resident’s defense, but was unsuccessful by the time of the report.
So once again, a person verbally assaults a black citizen, pays a fine and walks free [see others examples here, here and here]. Clearly, this is not an adequate manner of addressing racist incidents as it is all too common. If this incident ended this way, it makes me wonder how the next case, which was even more aggressive, will be dealth with.
In that completely different, unrelated incident, last month, in the Parque Ohara neighborhood of Cuiabá, the capital city of the state of Mato Grosso, a food delivery man was called monkey and black bastard for making a late delivery that wasn’t even his fault.
A 37-year-old food delivery man who was making a deliverery from a phone app registered a police report on Tuesday, November 26, for aggression, injury and racial prejudice.
Accoring to the report, the victim went to make a delivery in the Parque Ohara neighborhood in Cuiabá, but the condominium doorman didn’t allow him to enter the place with the motorcycle.
As the client’s building was far from the gate, the driver sent a message to the client telling him that he would need wait a little because he would need to walk to his apartment.
Upon arrival, however, he saw a large man who looked rather heated up and suspected that the man was in fact the customer. A little hesistant, the delivery man tried to get on his motorcycle and get out, but he didn’t have time and the man came toward him, cursing him with several names, calling him “monkey and black bastard”, as indicated in the report.
Increasingly aggressive, the man punched the delivery man and only didn’t injure him more seriously because he was wearing a helmet. According to the victim, the customer even threatened that if he entered the condominium, he would be attacked and the police would be called. And he also threatened to report him at his job, so that he wouldn’t be able to work through the delivery application anymore. The case was registered as actual insult, injury through prejudice and crime resulting from discrimination or prejudice of race, color, ethnicity, religion or national origin.
All of this and it wasn’t even the delivery man’s fault. Similar to the previous incident, building rules created a situation of inconvenience of which the person in the position of service was not at fault. But in both scenarios, anger led to black people being verbally abused due to their race and in the second case, actual physical violence. I can only imagine how this second case will turn out. Such is the experience of being black in Brazil. But always remember, for Brazilians, ”we are all equal”.
With information from O Livre and EM