AFRICANGLOBE – More from the land of “we Brazilians aren’t racists!” Today’s latest example of unbridled, in your face racism is not at all shocking to me as I have always been on the side of the fence that says both subtle and blatant racism have ALWAYS existed in Brazil! Today’s case, once again, reveals so much about race relations in Brazil, much of which has been covered. Before we get into the analysis, let me first share with you the latest racial incident from the ‘racial paradise’.
“Next time, be born white! You have a complex because of being born mulata with hard hair!”
It was supposed to be a Sunday of sun and fun at the Praia da Reserva beach, but the passage of Sulamita Mermier, 31, became a real inconvenience when phrases like “be born white next time” and “you have a complex because of having hard hair,” were uttered in her direction. These “pearls” were uttered by a woman who was revolted when she realized that the travel agent was recording some of her racist insults, making her the target of the woman’s fury. Finally, officers of the 16th Precinct picked up the woman, identified as Sonia Valéria Rebello Fernandez, a 45-year old pedagogue, for clarifications and she was arrested in the act of injúria (injury) and injúria racial (racial injury/slur), but provisionally released on bail of R$500.
According to Sulamita, the woman was speaking to her husband and two young women in a volume loud enough to be heard clearly. And as she reported being proud of being of her German descent, she went on to repeat the famous Nazi salute “Heil Hitler.” This was when she decided to record what she witnessed.
The victim realized that she was the target of the racism when the lady, blonde and middle-aged, said loud and clear that she “didn’t understand why a mulata needed to get sun.” The case was registered with the police and the aggressor could get up to three years in prison.
“I didn’t do anything. I was with my sister and my friend, who are white, so I saw that it was for me,’ said Sulamita. “I had just got there and already I heard her commenting, looking at me: ‘Heil Hitler’. ‘Preto e mulato não são raça, são sub-raça (Black and mulatto aren’t a race, they’re a sub-race). I don’t understand why Blacks get sun. These ones with cabelo duro,’” Sulamita said in an interview after the incident.
According to the travel agent, the aggressor was saying the whole time that “she paid for an expensive condominium” and “suburbanos (suburbanites, those from poor regions) should go find another beach.” After a few minutes putting up with the offenses, Sulamita decided to pick up the phone and start recording. “When her husband told her I was recording, she got up and came to me. She continued (verbally) assaulting me. Everyone on the beach was watching. It turned into a show. She even said, ‘You can record it, I have money and this won’t do anything,’” she reported.
“She didn’t stop saying the biggest racist nonsense and I started to get annoyed. Until her husband came to warn her that she would eventually be arrested, but she didn’t stop. I said nothing to her, but decided to record an audio. When her husband saw she got exalted and decided to direct the insults to me,” Sulamita explained.
The travel agent says she decided to make the video when the police was already on the way, and ended up recording about a minute of the confusion that, according to her, two hours had already been accounted for. The woman defiantly came toward the camera throwing a kiss before she started to speak: “I don’t blame you for feeling assaulted for being mulata, love. Você é uma complexada (You have a complex). Be born white. Understand? You were born mulata, do what?” she said.
“I have no problem with being mulata, but I didn’t understand all that rage with people of another color,” Sulamita explained. “The way she judged the skin color of people was more than absurd, especially in a country like Brazil. I didn’t know what to do, so I recorded what she said, but when she came to me I didn’t know how to defend myself. I didn’t want to offend her,” says Sulamita, remembering some of the moments that she considered most offensive: “She came to tell me to go sunbathe on the potty, that she’s disgusted by my husband, who is foreign (Swiss), that she loathed him for touching me,” she said.
In another section of the recording, the woman denies it was directed to Sulamita. “I didn’t call you mulata, I was talking to my family and you were offended. Sorry, you’re mulata. It’s not my fault. Give thanks to God that you picked up a German (in reference to Sulamita’s husband, a Swiss).” Then she challenged the travel agent to go to the police station.
Sulamita listened and recorded the offenses on video and then responded. “You called me dingy, favelada (favela/slum resident). What else?”. The exalted woman continues: “Record this s***. And even go to the police station and be embarrassed. Because I don’t know who you are, I know who I am. You, I’ve never seen…Make a potty in the back of your house to get sun,” she mocks.
It was late afternoon when police arrived at the beach and got clarifications at 16th Precinct police station, where the case was registered.
“I couldn’t listen to everything without doing anything, and I don’t really want her to have to pay only food baskets at the end of the process. I want justice. I didn’t assault her, but I sought my rights. The worst is that, on the internet, people have commented on the video as if it were my exaggeration, and as if I hadn’t liked to being called mulata. I am proud of my color, it’s not ‘mimimi’ (whining),” she says.
The last moments of the video are striking. “Be born white next time. You’ve got a complex, understand? Because of having cabelo duro (hard hair)”, the woman snapped.
“It was a free hatred. She was annoyed because I’m mulata. I’m not ashamed of who I am. I will take the case to the end because she doesn’t have the right to act like this,” she says. In addition to having the images as evidence of the crime, Sulamita reports having several witnesses in her favor. These are people who were in place at the time of the verbal abuse and are predisposed to testifying in her defense.
According to spokespersons of the Tribunal de Justiça (court), the suspect can’t leave the city of Rio de Janeiro without judicial authorization during the process and will have to present herself to the judge every month.
The scenes were shared on Facebook by a friend of the victim, who was outraged by what happened. As of a few hours ago, the footage had been seen by more than 5 million people and shared more than 35,000 times.
In the comment section of the video, people were outraged by the woman’s attitude. “In the 21st century, there are still racist people…How can (it be)?” wrote one. “Unbelievable! Send her to jail,” another commented.
Still another wrote, “This misfortune has to be punished, jail for her to learn.”
Another user lamented the presence of the women in the environment: “Too bad there are still people like this lady. An unfortunate lady who speaks only s***, from what I saw and heard there in the video!! Unfortunately we have to live with people like that in society!!! But I hope that one day this ends and people know how to respect each other!!”
“Meanwhile this ‘branca’ (white woman) in the sun tanning to have skin like the mulata. These people are really hypocritical,” said another web user. During the assault not once did her white Swiss husband stepped up and defended her.