“Today even a janitor’s son can study” – Woman expresses surprise in Bahian woman studying medicine; apparently medical students are supposed to have European features

estudante da ufrb c3a9 vc3adtima de racismo
estudante da ufrb c3a9 vc3adtima de racismo
“And then she said: You don’t have a doctor’s face”

Note from BW of Brazil: Nothing new here, just another story from a country that is denial about white privilege. Read on and we’ll check in a little later for commentary…

UFRB student is a victim of racism: “Today, even janitor’s son can study?”

A student of the Federal University of Recôncavo Baiano (UFRB) in Santo Antônio de Jesus was a victim of racism. After having been a victim of prejudice when she was in Italy last year, the UFRB medical student, Débora Reis da Cruz, 29, suffered racism again. In a Facebook post, Débora reported the incident. According to her, on the afternoon of Friday (03), she was in line of a bank correspondent in a store in the city when a lady at her side initiated a dialogue: “Do you study history?” she asked. “It’s amazing how the career defines you,” she woman continued.

Medical student Débora Reis da Cruz shared her experience in a social network
Medical student Débora Reis da Cruz shared her experience in a social network

The student replied, “I don’t, I’m studying medicine.” “A relative of mine also studies medicine, but she has cabelos lisos, olhos claros e é bem branquinha (straight hair, blue eyes and is very white)”, said the lady. “Why the question? Do I not look like I study medicine because I don’t have straight hair and have the face of a poor person?” asked the student. “No, because usually those who take these courses dress differently and today even a janitor’s son can study,” said the woman. “In my class many blacks will graduate and I’m proud to be one of them,” said a student who took to the social networks to show her indignation and revolt against the incident (see the post in full below).

Débora revealed that she felt hurt with the dialogue and began to cry. “Upon hearing the statement that human beings, because they are black, don’t have the face of a doctor, it hurt and I cried,” blurted the young woman.

Prejudice has decreased in Brazil, but it is still an existing practice in the country. Thursday, July 2, the journalist Maria Júlia Coutinho, known as ‘Maju’, was a victim of racism on the web. In response, the Globo weather girl sent a ‘kiss on the shoulder’ to the Internet user.

The public prosecutor opened an investigation into comments made about the journalism professional. The crime of racism is imprescriptible and non-bailable. The injury has a penalty of one to three years in prison.

Note from BW of Brazil: OK, a few things here. First off, we already know from our numerous posts over the past few years that white skin, blue eyes and blond hair has definite privileges in Brazil. And again we see this in this case with the woman’s comments pointing directly to those physical features that are usually associated with people in the medical field. There’s really no denying that. But in this case, Débora, who had already experienced a bout with racism in Italy and thus clearly knows how many people think, almost provokes the woman’s comments by accusing the woman of thinking that she has the face of a poor woman. It is in fact true that non-whites are generally associated with poverty in Brazil, but it could be seen as a bit misleading for her to post that the woman said she didn’t have the face of a doctor when Débora herself actually said that. (1) Clearly the woman was most likely thinking this anyway as the first association that came to mind in speaking with Débora was the “son of a janitor.”  It doesn’t suddenly erase the fact that the woman was already thinking this because we’ve seen it time and time again. Let’s just say that if Débora were to try to sue this woman under Brazil’s anti-racist law, she might have difficulty proving it because it seems that she was actually provoking the woman who probably would have and did in fact play her racist card anyway. Either way, it IS good to see black Brazilians recognizing the subtleties in how Brazilian-styled racism works.  

Source: Midia Bahia


  1. And as we have seen, being a doctor or lawyer in Brazil doesn’t necessary shield Afro-Brazilians from racism.
About Marques Travae 3747 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

1 Comment

  1. Brains and beauty is a power combination. No time for tears love. You gotta leave those ppl behind in your dust. Even if it is a janitor’s child, at least the janitor’s child has the ambition to aim high in life. Let all the black Brazilian children of janitors aim higher than the stars in the sky. If Brazil won’t have you then go elsewhere and prosper, but do not stifle your ambitions and brains because some old frownsy ppl think you belong elsewhere or the country you were born in have their own destiny carved out for you. Leave them in the breeze of your farts on the road to success.

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