Note from BW of Brazil: Yet another example of how Eurocentric standards are upheld at every level in Brazil. After reading about this incident, is there any wonder why so many black Brazilians decide to not denounce such incidents legally? The very people who uphold such standards show time and time again that they support the status quo. And once again we see such an attitude on a college campus.
Let’s get to the story…
University professor says black student can’t be an anchor for television news
During the class, the teacher said that her type of hair caught more attention than the news
By Giorgia Cavicchioli and Juca Guimarães, from R7
Journalist student Fernanda (fictitious name) was presenting a text in a class of Communication and Oral Expression – techniques of diction when the teacher said in front of the whole room that the kind of hairstyle was not meant for being an anchor of television news.
Fernanda is black and wears an Afro-ethnic hair. The professor has no training in journalism, he is a graduate in speech therapy. “When I was putting the text on the counter, he said that because of the standards, my hair would draw more attention than the news, because it was black (an afro) and discolored, and that way I would fit better as a weather girl or reporter,” said the student.
The student was extremely embarrassed by the teacher’s comment during a class exercise. At the time, she had no reaction and none of her classmates, mostly whites, complained or disagreed with the professor’s racist comment.
“I was very sad, I cried a lot later,” the student said. The incident happened in a traditional private university, founded in 1972, of a northeastern capital. “At the time, I was very sad to hear this from him.” The students all accepted this as true, just as I did at the first moment, he took advantage of his authority as a professor to impose what is right,” she said.
The student issued a complaint to the coordinator of the Communication course and arranged a meeting with the university’s ombudsman. “On the first date for the meeting, the coordinator canceled the meeting without notifying me and I was not received by the ombudsman. The next day I went back with a friend and told the ombudsman everything that happened in detail,” said the student.
The ombudsman said the case would be investigated, but tried several times to persuade the student to drop the complaint. He still didn’t believe there was racism or injúria racial (racial injury/slur) in the class. Fernanda said she would uphold the charge.
The 20-year-old girl is an intern in a company and pays R$669.90 of tuition in the journalism course. In the internship, she receives R$510 per month. “I can only stay in college because my parents are trying very hard to help me. My dream is to be a journalist and to present a newscast just as other black journalists have succeeded,” said the student.
The professor, the author of the racist statement, is also a partner of a Speech Therapy clinic in the city and is very popular with students. He usually gives a ride to students inside the university.
Fernanda went to two more meetings with the Ombudsman to find out what the university’s attitude was. In one of them, the ombudsman said he saw “no evil” in the teacher’s comment in the classroom. “If you give this testimony to a police station, the police officer will say there was no racism. I don’t want to protect anyone, but sometimes the student doesn’t realize it and it takes such a large proportion,” he said.
“In the meantime, the teacher held meetings with the students in the classroom, they began to treat me with indifference, no one else looked at me and I felt very badly, and they even created a hashtag #nãohouveracismo (there was no racism) to put in publications commenting on the case. The curious thing is that the students who defend the teacher were not in the classroom on the day (20/5) and they are the same ones who ride with him,” said Fernanda.
The student went to the police station specializing in serving vulnerable groups and recorded an incident report against the teacher (see below for the history of the document recorded on June 6).
The university has taken no protective measures in favor of the student. In the weeks that followed, she had two more classes and a test with the same teacher, who was already aware of the complaint but did not even apologize for the comment in the classroom. “I just wanted him to apologize and to know how cruel he was with my feelings. The university didn’t care about my feelings either,” she said.
According to the lawyer Mayara Silva, it is evident that this is a case of racism. “To say that one cannot occupy a space for which she has full capacity, competence and desire only because of her hair is a case of open racism. In the class, the teacher declared, even though he was not a specialist in the area, that that certain type of hair would not be good. Logo, everyone with this hair, being men or women, are included in his comment about a characteristic of race. And that is to say, it is reaching an undetermined collectivity of individuals, discriminating the entirety of a race,” said the lawyer, taking into account the articles of Law 7.716/89 of the Civil Code.
Questioned by the R7 about the racism case in the classroom, the university responded by means of a note, signed by the press rep.
‘The reported occurrence came to the knowledge of the coordination of the course, which immediately put into action the competent instances of the university to find out the facts. The content of the report caused great surprise to the coordination due to the respectful and egalitarian treatment that characterizes the relations among the members of the university community, especially the communication between teacher and student, since this is the reason of existence of the university.
Thus, with respect to its academic community and, above all, to the ethical values and principles that guide it, XXXX University will rigorously investigate the facts so that, afterwards, due measures are taken, since the institution does not condone – nor will it condone – any kind of fact that could destabilize and threaten the atmosphere of respect that should guide student-teacher-technical-administrative relations.”
Note from BW of Brazil: What really sticks out in my mind about this story is that, one, the professor who made the comment is not even a journalism professor and two, his comments had nothing to do with the young woman’s work. The third thing that demonstrates that many Brazilians, as stated in this particular case, mostly white, aren’t going to stand up against such acts that maintain standards of Eurocentricism. The fourth thing is that the Ombudsman didn’t see anything wrong with the professor’s comment and even attempted to persuade the student not to move forward with her complaint. We’ve seen this time and time again in numerous cases which exemplify the everyday attitude in Brazil that says, “Look, this is the way it is! Just accept it and conform.” A shame to say, but I’m not at all surprised by this case. Just another day, another racist incident in Brazil.