Two incidents in two weeks show that one is not safe from racial insults on the public bus



Note from BW of Brazil: As you’re probably aware by now, incidents of racism and racial slurs, as they are a regular part of Brazilian society, can happen at anytime and anywhere throughout the country. Recently, two more incidents of racial slurs took place within a two week period that had a similar location: the bus. One of the incidents took place in the capital city of the state of Espírito Santo,  Vitória. The other happened in the Brasília Federal District region. There are few details for discussion in these incidents which we will address later. For now, her are the facts. 

Woman arrested for racial slur when calling bus cashier a ‘neguinha’

Case occurred inside bus line 503, where the victim works. The suspect was sued for racial slur, but didn’t pay bail.

Courtesy of Correio do Lago

Mulher é presa por injúria racial ao chamar cobradora de 'neguinha'

Bus cashier is called ‘shameless neguinha’ while working

A 23-year old bus cashier reported that she was called a ‘neguinha atirada’ (shameless little black girl) and accused of theft by a passenger inside a Transcol bus in a line that connects Laranjeiras, in Sierra, Vila Velha, in Greater Vitória on Wednesday (23).

The suspect was sued for injúria racial (racial injury/slur), but didn’t pay the bail set at R$500 and was taken to prison.

“She wanted to offend, yes. There is a mixture of many races and colors in our country. This is at the  least a poverty of spirit”

Thaynara Braga, bus cashier
Thaynara Braga, bus cashier

The incident happened during a trip on line 503 where Thaynara Braga da Conceição works. The crime was committed by a 31 year old passenger, accompanied by her eight year old daughter and a neighbor.

The suspects boarded the bus around 9am in the Reta da Penha, headed toward Vila Velha. Thaynara reported that the passenger handed her a R$5 bill folded and told the victim to charge her for two tickets – that of the suspect herself and her neighbor. The worker said he returned R$ 0.10 in change.

“Then she would pass along with her daughter, and I said that she could not. She got angry, she sent the child jump turnstile,” said Thaynara.

After paying for the tickets, the suspect went to sit at the back of bus. Seconds later, her friend went to the cashier demanding change for R$10 Thaynara said he had only received R$5. “She started screaming that she had given me too much money and that I should pay attention. Then, she insinuated that I was trying to take her money,” she said.

Thaynara said she checked the box and saw that the woman was telling the truth. She then returned the money to the passenger, who continued with the offenses. The driver stopped the bus near a police car and she told him what was going on. The occurrence was forwarded to the 1st Regional Police Precinct Vitória.

‘Affectionate’ expression

In testimony, the suspect said she didn’t intend to offend the cashier. The woman claims that she called her a ‘neguinha’ in an affectionate way. She was sued for injúria racial, but did not pay the bail of R$500 and was taken to prison.

“She saw the police and began to cry. I was humiliated in front of many people. People don’t have the right to act like that, “said Thaynara.

She said the suspect, after being arrested, apologized. “I didn’t forgive her. She wanted to offend me, yes. There is a mixture of many races and colors in our country. This is at the least a poverty of spirit,” she declared.

* With information Mayra Bandeira, of A Gazeta

Woman calls cashier ‘macaco’ in argument over open window

Argument took place in route between Samambaia and downtown Brasília. Passenger paid bail of R$800; man says he expects repentance.


Courtesy of Pragmatismo Político

The Civil Police of the Federal District is investigating the conduct of a passenger on public transport that got irritated because of an open window and committed an injúria racial against a black cashier: “Brazil is this shit because of this. Thus company is like this because now it only hires macaco (monkeys) to work.” The incident happened on Thursday morning in route between Samambaia and Rodoviária of the Plano Piloto (Federal District bus station) – a distance of 25 kilometers. The woman was released from the police station on bail of R$800.

According to the cashier Aderbaldo Ribeiro dos Santos, 27, the offense occurred at around 7:40am. He says that the woman closed the bus window in Parque da Cidade (City Park) and he decided to open it again to keep the air circulating.

“She started to fight with me, insult me, she didn’t want to leave it open. Then she was assaulted me, saying that the company was hiring macacos,” he recalls. “It’s bad, huh, I never expected it would happen to me. I was very upset. It was very bad, a policeman even asked if everything was okay with me.”

Bus cashier Aderbaldo Ribeiro dos Santos
Bus cashier Aderbaldo Ribeiro dos Santos

Passengers were relocated to another bus company, and the bus and the woman, were referred to the police station. According to Ribeiro, in no time did she demonstrate repentance. G1 was unable to contact the suspect.

“I wanted her to come to me and tell me ‘I’m sorry, cashier, I was really wrong’. I wanted her to have feelings for me. She is morena, she’s not branca (white), none of this, and even if she were, we are human beings, you have to respect people,” says the man.

Ribeiro says he doesn’t intend to sue the woman beyond the criminal sphere, but still expect her come and apologize. A lawyer of the Sindicato dos Rodoviários (Union of bus workers), Marília Fontenele says she’s talking to the man and studying the possibility of seeking compensation.

Dispute began because passenger didn't want window open
Dispute began because passenger didn’t want window open

“It’s a situation, unfortunately, normal. People fail to internalize democratic values. I can’t say how many there are off the top of my head, but there have already been at least four or five situations of this kind this year,” she says.

According to the lawyer, the idea is that through the suit, people understand that the racial slur is a crime and avoid this kind of practice. Marília says that incidents of the kind even affect the work of bus workers.

“They get very embarrassed, it’s really a situation without parameters, they get very embarrassed, and often undermines productivity on a daily basis,” she explains.

According to the Criminal Code, the penalty for libel varies between 1 and 3 years in prison. If the research indicates that there was racism, the suspect can respond to the crimes defined in Law 7.716 of 1989. There are several possible penalties, including imprisonment and a fine. The crime of racism doesn’t prescribe and also doesn’t give right to bail.

By way of the Núcleo de Enfrentamento à Discriminação (Center for Combating Discrimination), the Public Prosecutor’s Office filed 43 complaints of racial slur in the first half of 2015. The first case occurred in February and included two employees of Hospital Regional da Asa Norte.

Note from BW of Brazil: So in fact, there is nothing really new about what happened. Brazilian society rejects physical features that denote African ancestry. Point blank. But there are a few things that happened here that these incidents similar others that have been featured here in the past. First, we have the issue of the woman referring to Thaynara Braga as a ‘shameless neguinha’ . So once again, the issue of terms come to the fore as in the past, we’ve shown how the term ‘neguinha’, which literally means ‘little black girl’ can be used and accepted as a term of affection or an insult depending on the context, situation and tone of voice in which it is used. In this situation, the passenger tried to argue that she used the term in an affectionate manner. The problem in her argument would that the fact that one, she also used the term ‘atirada’ which is this case can be translated as ‘shameless’. And two, she called used these terms after she was already disgruntled with the situation. As most people don’t use terms of affection in reference to persons with whom they are arguing, it would be hard to believe that at that moment she would be speaking in terms of endearment. 

The second is also not particularly special. As our regular readers know, macaco and macaca, the masculine and feminine Portuguese terms for monkey, is the Brazilian’s favorite term for insulting Afro-Brazilians, so this case is an indisputable case of a racial insult. Two things that caught my eye about this case are: 1) The bus cashier, Aderbaldo, said that the woman who insulted his wasn’t even branca, meaning white, but rather a ‘morena’. As we know, the term ‘morena’ can describe a wide variety of people. It could describe a brunette white woman, but as he specifically said this woman wasn’t white, we would have to consider the other descriptions. ‘Morena’ is sometimes used when people don’t want to refer to a black person as negro or negra even if said person clearly is and it also used to define persons of a more racially mixed appearance. Assuming the person fit into the latter two descriptions, it reveals another facet of the Brazilian color hierarchy. If the woman in question was a person of African ancestry but with lighter skin, her insulting of a darker-skinned person would signify her acceptance of this skin color hierarchy placing herself in a higher category than the bus driver. 

The other thing that’s worth mentioning is the bus driver’s appearance. The man is clearly of brown/dark skin but his hair texture is of the wavy variety. This brings to mind the long-time Brazilian discourse of “sua pele é morena, mas seu cabelo é bom”, meaning ‘your skin is dark, but your hair is good’. As hair texture is one of the physical features that often subjects Brazilians of African descent to the most ridicule, this statement is equal saying, ‘although you have dark skin, at least you have good hair’. As such, it follows to say that the bus driver’s so-called ‘cabelo bom’, (good hair) didn’t spare him from being insulted due to his physical appearance. But in a country where brancura, or whiteness, reigns supreme, what else would you expect?

Source: Pragmatismo Político, Correio do Lago

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. Every time this happens Blacks should sue. One thing that helped defeat the Klan in the US is the Southern Poverty Law Center suing the Klan at every turn, effectively making them broke/bankrupt.

    They have retreated to the shadows of the internet and get money donated to them but they not longer have place on mainstream media to spew their hate.

    Money is so important in a modern economy losing it for stupid reasons makes people focus.

    The woman that didn’t pay the fine and took jail instead didn’t have the money.

    Bet she’ll think twice about insulting a Black person. The law is for you BP use it!

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