Racism, Images and Stereotypes/Racismo, Imagens e Estereótipos

Photos/Fotos: top to bottom/de cima para baixo

Maria Augusta Arruda, Hédio Silva, TJ Holmes, Shavar Jeffries.

Many white Americans and Brazilians continue to believe that blacks should stop complaining because racism, discrimination and exclusion are not problems anymore. In America, people believe that affirmative action and the existence of prominent blacks means that race is not a major factor in today’s America. In Brazil, citizens have believed for many years that racism didn’t exist, and because of this, recent affirmative action policies are not necessary. What people never seem to understand is that the problem of racism is not always an issue of racial violence or blatant discrimination. One of the main factors that creates a sense of rage in anyone who has experienced it, is the image of the African descendent in the psyche of society.

There are many examples of these images and stereotypes.


Recently, Maria Augusta Arruda, a professor at the State University of Rio de Janeiro, was given a $20,000 prize for the study, “NADPH oxidase activity in inflamatory response, vascular illnesses and cancer.” The award was presented to her at the Copacabana Palace, a luxurious hotel where months previously she was denied entrance because someone mistook her for Samba dancer*. Lawyer Hédio Silva never understood why every flight attendent would speak to him in English when he took domestic flights in Brazil. Soon he understood. For Brazilian society, if a black man is on an airplane, he must be a black American.

In America, similar stereotypes affect blacks. CNN journalist TJ Holmes explained recently that when a man saw him washing his expensive truck, he automatically assumed that Holmes was a football player. Similarly, Shavar Jeffries, a law professor, says that he is often mistaken to be a basketball player.

People often argue that the existence of poor whites means that racism doesn’t exist. There are two problems with this argument. Afro-Brazilians and African-Americans are three times more likely to be poor than whites. If a poor white person overcomes poverty and attains middle class status, it is not surprising. When blacks achieve middle class status, people automatically assume that he or she must be an athlete, entertainer or drug dealer. Regardless of the actual situation, the association of whiteness with wealth and power and blackness with poverty and misfortune remain the same.

* – In Brazil, the Samba dancer stereotype is somewhat similar to the rap video vixen in the US.

Muitos brancos americanos e brasileiros continuam a acreditar que negros deveriam parar de reclamar porque o racismo, a discriminação e a exclusão não são mais problemas. Na América, as pessoas acreditam que a ação afirmativa e a existência de negros proeminentes significa que raça não é um fator importante na situação da América de hoje. No Brasil, os cidadãos têm há muitos anos acreditavam que o racismo não existia, e por causa disto, as recentes políticas de ações afirmativas não são necessárias. O que as pessoas nunca parecem compreender é que o problema do racismo não é sempre uma questão de violência racial ou de flagrante discriminação. Um dos principais fatores que criam uma sensação de raiva para alguém que viveu ele, é a imagem do afrodescendente na psique da sociedade.
Há muitos exemplos destas imagens e estereótipos.
Recentemente, Maria Augusta Arruda, uma professora da Universidade Estadual do Rio de Janeiro, ganhou um prémio de $20,000 para o estudo “Atividade NADPH Oxidase na resposta inflamatória, doenças vasculares e câncer.” O prémio foi entregue a ela na Copacabana Palace onde meses atrás ela foi negada entrada porque alguém a confundiu com uma mulata de escola de samba. Advogado Hédio Silva nunca entendi por que todos as comissárias ia falar com ele em Inglês quando ele levantou vôos domésticos no Brasil. Logo ele compreendeu. Para a sociedade brasileira, se um homem negro está num avião, ele deve ser um negro americano.
Na América, estereótipos similares afetam os negros. Jornalista de CNN, TJ Holmes explicou recentemente que quando um homen o viu lavando seu carro caro, ele assume automaticamente que Holmes foi um jogador de futebol americano. Do mesmo modo, Shavar Jeffries, um professor de direito, diz que ele é frequentemente confundido a ser jogador de basquete.
Muitas vezes as pessoas agumentam que a existência de brancos pobres significa que o racismo não existe. Há dois problemas com este argumento. 1. Afro-brasileiros e afro-americanos são três vezes mais provável de serem pobres do que brancos. Se uma pessoa branca pobre supera a pobreza e atinge a status classe média, não é surpreendente. Quando os negros atingim status classe média, automaticamente as pessoas assumem que ele ou ela deve ser um atleta, animador ou traficante. Independentemente da situação real, a associação de brancura com riqueza e poder e negrume com a pobreza e infortúnio permanecem os mesmos.

One Response to “Racism, Images and Stereotypes/Racismo, Imagens e Estereótipos”

  1. The Prospector Says:

    One time I was in Chicago covering the Chicago Auto Show with the rest of the media. My colleague asked why I was still wearing suits (as many don’t after the first day of press conferences) and I told him that I had to distinguish myself from those wiping on the the cars and cleaning the place. He was quite embarrassed by my statement but I think he got the message.Sad that we can’t even be comfortable and must remain a “step-above” at all times…even in leisure moments if moving around among white culture. My statement WAS NOT a swipe at those out there hustling at wiping or parking cars at the event I was attending (as those are the people I usually end up talking the most with), but to show my colleague that if I didn’t dress up, no one else there would give me an ounce of respect and would’ve just handed me their keys or a towel.

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