Note from BBT: We’ve seen signs all along that this element exists in Brazil. For decades, we’ve been told, in terms of racial issues, race relations, etc., Brazil is NOT like the US. “We Brazilians live in racial harmony completely different from the racial hatred in the US”, Brazilians are quick to say. And at first glance, it might appear that way. When you look at society in general, when you go to bars or samba gatherings or Carnaval associated events and you see a mixed crowd, you may immediately come to the conclusion that Brazil really ISN’T like the US. After my first visits back in the early 2000s, I thought that maybe Brazil was indeed different.
Similar to the experiences of Chicago Defender journalist Robert Abbott who visited Brazil a number of times starting in the early 1920s, one might be fooled into believing that racial issues in Brazil are completely different in a positive manner. But as in Abbott’s case, the deception starts when you immediately start looking for the signs of racism that you are accustomed to seeing in the US. As Abbott clearly knew of Jim Crow segregation in the American south, one could imagine that visiting a country in which legally-sanctioned racial segregation didn’t exist that he could have concluded that racism and anti-black sentiments didn’t exist in Brazil.
But this is exactly the problem. Brazil IS in fact different from the US and this is why you can’t look for exactly the same signs that you may be aware of from the American experience. But don’t get it twisted, there are signs that WILL remind you of the US. A history of black people being barred from certain areas in Brazil? Check. Vast socioeconomic and quality of life inequalities along lines of race? Check. negatibolsoive stereotypes about black people? Check. I could go on and on. “But Brazil never had legal racial segregation, a ban on interracial marriage or a KKK that killed blacks”, a Brazilian will quickly defend. Well, let’s look at this a little closer.
First, while it is true that Brazil never had any laws that mandated separation of the races, the country’s history is full of instances in which Afro-Brazilians were simply barred from sports clubs, social clubs, movie theater, etc. The absence of a law to mandate this doesn’t mean segregationist practices didn’t exist. Second, Brazil didn’t ban interracial marriage because it actively promoted it with the aim of the black race eventually disappearing via generational racial mixture with whiter partners. Three, when one compares the numbers of black and brown people that Brazil’s police and active death squads murder every year, there is NO COMPARISON. Brazilian police kill five times more people than American police and 79% of them are non-white. Any other defenses?
Anothet thing that you’ll discover in Brazil is that there is a large percentage of people who harbor very racist sentiments but will never admit this. The very man or woman that you know, live next to, drink beer with, watch futebol (soccer) with will still be quick to call you a monkey at a given moment. He/she may also see black people as inferior, say negatively things about black hair texture and not accept the fact that a black man/woman has a better car than he/she but still claim they aren’t racist. In general, as the racial democracy myth has been so strong for so long, people will immediately deny their allegiance to a clear racial hierachy.
This has been changing as we’ve seen a number of racist incidents in which Brazilians are no longer ashamed of being caught doing something clearly racist. Some would label this the “Bolsonaro Effect” in reference to the current President who many Afro-Brazilians see as racist. One writer went as far as to say that Bolsonaro is the Brazilian leader of the country’s white trash/KKK element. And speaking of the KKK, we’ve seen enough hints over the years that there are plenty of Brazilians who identify in some ways with such groups as the KKK (see here or here) or Nazis and recently, we saw another example of this.
It’s ironic, but just last week, the highest viewed post of the day on this blog was an article I did back in January of 2015 entitled “Brazilian sends letter of support to Nazi party in Germany; receives response ‘We don’t accept Latinos'”. The thing is here, most Brazilians aren’t bold enough to openly admit they identify with openly racist sentiments, but again, simply because they don’t openly admit this to you or me doesn’t mean they wouldn’t mind wearing a white sheet or a swastika. Keep this in mind as you look at the photos of mask-wearing Nazi sympathizers in the photos below.
Group hangs white supremacy banner and gives Nazi salute in São Paulo
According to reports made in messaging applications, the banner was placed on 23 de Maio Avenue and the supremacists met in a bar in Vila Mariana, in the south of the city of São Paulo.
By Juca Guimarães
Images of a meeting of white supremacists in the city of São Paulo have been circulating in messaging apps since last weekend. The group met at a bar near the Vila Mariana on the Line 1-Blue of the subway station, a middle class neighborhood in the southern zone, and took pictures with skull masks and Nazi salutations.
According to reports, the meeting took place on Saturday (21), the day after the wave of protests against the death of João Alberto, a black client murdered by two white security guards at a Carrefour unit in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, on Thursday (19).
The group sported T-shirts and a flag with the symbolism of the “White Pride World Wide”, extremists who in April 2011 helped convene a civic act on Avenida Paulista in support of Jair Bolsonaro, who at the time was a state deputy. At the time, the congressman had stated on a television program that his children were “well educated” not to marry black people.
In the images of the meeting that took place at the Vila Mariana bar, the racist group of at least 20 people appears wearing masks that hide their faces. They also appear placing a banner with the inscription “Vidas Brancas Importam”, meaning ‘White Lives Matter’ on 23 de Maio Avenue, near downtown.
The author and professor of the Psychology department at UFSC (Federal University of Santa Catarina) Lia Vainer Schucman cited the work of the black sociologist Alberto Guerreiro Ramos, from the 1950s, to comment on the meeting of white supremacists in Brazil in 2020.
“White Brazilians want to be recognized as whites by other countries,” says the expert, who is the author of the book Entre o encardido, o branco e o branquíssimo: branquitude, hierarquia e poder na Cidade de São Paulo.
In Brazil, the apology for Nazism has been a crime since 1989, and the penalty for the spread of Nazism through symbols, gestures and publications is up to three years in prison. The group posed for photos on top of an overpass, displaying the banner and using smoke flares.
The Alma Preta agency contacted the São Paulo City Hall and the State Public Security Secretariat (SSP) to find out whether the meeting of white supremacists in the city using Nazi symbols and putting a banner on 23 de Maio will be investigated.
In a note, the SSP reported that the case is being investigated by the 2nd Police Station for Racial Crimes and Intolerance Crimes (Decradi). “Due diligence is carried out to identify those involved and the group they belong to. Complaints can be made through numbers 181 and 190, at Decradi or at any police unit in the state of São Paulo,”said the department.
The São Paulo State Police Ombudsman, criminal lawyer Elizeu Lopes. In the report, he stated that he will request an investigation of what happened and follow up the investigations.