Note from BW of Brazil: Ahhhh Brazil. Another day, another racist incident. What a way to end the year! Again, in this case, as in many in the past, we have a situation in which a white person judges the social position of a black person based upon their (racial) appearance. As has been shown in previous posts, “blacks knowing their place” is a very strong sentiment throughout Brazil. See below the latest incident which happened in a shopping mall in São Paulo. The text is below as well as the video which should be watched to see the aggressive nature of the attack.
Store manager accused out of control customer of racism
courtesy of SBT Online
Very nervous, the man in the white t-shirt and red shorts insults a woman.
“You are a pé rapada…Pé de chinelo…Pé rapada…” (1)
She, Cássia Aparecida Jardim, manager of another store in the same mall…
“He said that, you’re not a vendedora (salesperson), you must be a domestic or a cleaning woman or catadora de lixo (trash scrap collector)…I had a face like this, all because I said I couldn’t help him because I wasn’t an employee of the store where we were”
In the recorded video by Ana Paula Reis that was also shopping, other persons tried to defend Cassia but were also were subjected to the man’s wrath…
“Are you related to her? Then why are getting involved? Is she your woman? Is she your woman? Is she your woman you filho da puta (son of a whore)…why are you getting involved?”
Ana Paula confirms that she believes the man acted in a racist, prejudiced manner. When the police arrived, the man had already left. Cássia filed a boletim de ocorrência (police report) and will sue him.
“These tears are tears of impotence, you know? Because I felt impotent because I couldn’t do anything.”
According to the journalist, this type of uncontrolled, emotional reaction at this time of year has an explanation. According to a specialist, the stores are full of people, presents to buy in the heat, leaving people stressed out leading to such furious outbursts.
According to the psychologist Aurélio Torres, the question of prejudice appears because the person is prejudiced and when such stressful situations arise the person’s attitudes come out.
Note from BW of Brazil: As noted in the intro of this post, physical appearance which is connected to beliefs about race are in turn connected to assumptions about social position. Whether a person is a little boy, a lawyer or a doctor, the racial appearance is what often determines the associated value. As the majority of maids in Brazil are black and blacks are continuously portrayed in such menial positions in the mass media, this man immediately assumed that this woman must occupy such a position. Without racist assumptions, how does one “look like” a maid or a doctor? Although Cássia Aparecida Jardim is in fact the manager of a store, her physical appearance determined her social position in this man’s mind regardless of her actual function. One other thing that should be highlighted here is the fact that this woman’s skin is not very dark but in the mind of the assailant, she is clearly not white and thus of an inferior social category. As statistics continuously show, whether a person of African descent is darker, a little lighter or much lighter, in general, afrodescendentes are treated in similar manners.
Source: SBT, TVUOL
1. In using terms such as “pé rapada” and “pé de chinelo” the assailant is associating the woman with poverty. The former meaning she is a person accustomed to walking around a lot without shoes while the latter refers to a person who often wears flip flops.
The interesting thing with all of these racist incidents is that is does not take anything to set these racists off. Just showing up breathing is enough to ensure they will light into your ass with a quickness.
But I think in this particular situation the man became irate because the woman would not do his bidding. In his mind she is Black and she should serve him, and step and fetch without objection, because that is her role in the world as a Black person, and more so, a Black woman. See how he calls the man who steps up “son of a whore”, meaning it would take a man of the lowest strata to be with a Black woman, and so a white man would have to literally be the son of a whore to be with her. Her inability to help him is is being interpreted by him as an act of insubordination, and he is spewing those vile words to remind her of her place, and to make sure she doesn’t forget who she really is in Brazil.
Not surprised at all. I mean come on, we as Blacks should start expecting this sort of trashy behavior AT ALL TIMES when we are among Whites. Therefore we won’t be caught off guard, emotional and “paralyzed” like this lady was.
Her reaction comes from a non-critical view of the reality that we as Black people live in on a constant daily basis all around the world. If we truly start to realize what position that we’re in and don’t expect anyone who isn’t Black to treat us with any kind of respect, then things like this will subside and we’ll begin to depend more on ourselves for what we need. Raising our status as Blacks.
Her suing this man for his disrespectful actions will only serve to validate the external value that White Brazilians have fed to her. Staying calm while ignoring his slurs and telling the news reporters that engaging in that sort of act with him is a waste of her time, sends a very strong message.
I understand and appreciate your sentiment, but I can tell you as an American, who has dealt with this sort of racism, that ignoring the issue/minimizing it does not make it better or go away. You should always address these problems with the fullest extent of the law. If you don’t fight for your own humanity, no one will.