As someone who is minoring in Spanish, and intending to study in Latin America, I was very intrigued when I realized Professor Jamie Alves would be speaking on racial inequality in Brazil. Although, Brazilians speak Portuguese, the problems encountered and demonstrated in this multicultural nation resonate a sense of familiarity with other Latin/Central American nations; I might add as an African-American female I wanted a deeper insight into Brazil’s social construct. It appears this particular topic came at a perfect time, as it mirrors our very own discussion of ‘race’ in both, America and Brazil in class.
When looking at Brazil it does not take long for one to realize the structural violence being perpetrated on their black citizens. Segregated into Favelas, or urban slums, where one can expect to encounter many Afro-Brazilians. The Favelas are looked down upon, because similarly, to a ghetto they attract drugs, rape, crime, and other forms of violence. Therefore, the Brazilian government, especially the police, put a label on the people living there, explicitly the Black people.
Mr. Alves relayed a story, which occurred in 2015, where five black teenagers were shot one-hundred and eleven times by the Brazilian police while they were in their vehicle, driving by the police checkpoint. Originally, the police denied they were at fault, and even planted a gun in the car to make the victims appear guilty, it was eventually deemed a homicide, but while the judge ‘figured’ out the case, they allowed the suspected officers to be released. This is why the Blacks of Brazil are so enraged, when they are unwarrantedly murdered no one cares except for them, to augment the disparity the know killers are given special treatment. On the contrary, when white Brazilians are killed, or injustices are perpetrated against them, the nation speaks out in an uproar.
During one of the slides the quote “the bullets that attack black bodies are not rubber bullets” reinforces the sentiment and feeling of forgottenness and anger which engulfs the blacks of Brazil. Alves stated that in Brazil blacks are not considered criminal or lawless, no they are deemed something much more aggressive, they are regarded as ‘enemies’ of Brazil. Could you imagine being an enemy of your own nation, because it refuses to recognize your humanity? I ponder about the situation in Brazil and wonder: how much violence is it going to take for Brazil to recognize the need for reconciliation, how many demonstrations must be made to enact change? Mr. Alves left us a with a deep and haunting sentiment, most people want change, but no one wants to endure the violence and aggression of the complete social reconstruction which is required to enact this change, but if no want wants to bear this responsibility will the nation ever fully propitiate?