Note from BW of Brazil: In the course of bringing you news from Brazil from a perspective of race, we love to present positive stories that are happening with the Afro-Brazilian community. But to present a full view of why the positive stories and social advances are necessary, we must also show you the other side. Today’s story is a perfect example. In previous reports, we introduced you to journalist and publicity agent Etienne Martins. Martins was the brains behind an award show celebrating black culture in the city of Sabará in Minas Gerais state back in 2014. She would follow that accomplishment up the release of first independent black newspaper in the capital city of Belo Horizonte last year. But as we have repeatedly pointed out, credentials of talented and successful black people are not enough to protect them from the everyday acts of racism that Brazil is known for. And in a common place for such incidents: the supermarket. Shameful that people still have to go through these sorts of incidents but, knowing Etienne, she’s gonna keep right on doing her thing!
Journalist denounces prejudice she suffered at a supermarket in Belo Horizonte
A resident of the city of Sabará accused a security guard of saying she was “the kind of people stealing here.” The woman registered a police report and promises to take the case to public prosecutors
By Cristiane Silva and Rafael Passos
A resident of Sabará, in the metropolitan region of Belo Horizonte, registered a police report and announced plans to contact the Ministério Público (public prosecutors) of Minas Gerais state (MPMG) to denounce the case of prejudice she suffered inside a supermarket in the capital city on Monday. The publicity agent and journalist Etienne Martins, 32, accused an outsourced security guard of verbally assaulting her after being refused entry with a backpack in the shopping area and states that the employee showed his baton to intimidate her. According to Etienne, the security guard said she was “the kind of people who steal here every day.” To the police, the worker denied the offense and claimed to have told her that she needed to leave her backpack inside the lockers.
Etienne says she was at the O Dia supermarket on the Bahia Street, to buy two lamps, around 6pm. At the entrance, there was a turnstile and next to them the cash registers. She approached the security to ask where the entrance was and claims to have received an aggressive response. The man would have screamed at her to put the bag in the luggage storage. “The supermarket stopped, employees and customers turned their attention to us,” she says. Etienne said, after realizing that all supermarket shoppers had their purses, she asked why must lock up her backpack. The security guard, according to advertiser, asked if she “couldn’t read” and pointed to a wall panel with dozens of topics, one of them claiming that entry with bags, sacks and backpacks was prohibited.
Etienne says that during the discussion, another customer went through the turnstile and entered the store with a backpack without being addressed. She then decided to enter the shopping area to search for the management of the store. At that time, the publicity agent reports, the security guard removed his baton from his waist. “Even scared, I asked him if he thought I wanted to rob the store. He said, ‘It’s this kind of people stealing here every day.'”
The advertising agent says that even went to those in charge of the store to report the situation and received the answer that it was not the first time that such an episode occurred with the security guard, that was be a third party employee. The employee said he was still waiting for the accumulation of a certain amount of complaints to request the replacement of the professional. Etienne decided to call the Military Police (MP) and register a police report. According to the MP, the security denied the offenses and screaming and said he only oriented the customer to not go into the property with the backpack.
Outraged by what happened, Etienne vented on Facebook. In the early afternoon of Tuesday, her post had more than 400 registered compartilhamentos (shares) and more than 1,600 curtidas (likes). “We who are black undergo this kind of situation, but it was the first time I went through it in such an explicit way,” she said. She said she will seek advice of counsel and contact the prosecutors by the next day “to prevent another case of discrimination going unpunished.”
Through a statement, the O Dia supermarket chain lamented the case and said it “does not condone any mistreatment of customers committed by employees and/or third parties.” The company said it would contact the victim and will take action.