By Giorgia Cavicchioli and Matheus Moreira, especially for Bridge

The black student, who prefers not to be identified, says that, when she worked in advertising at Faculdade Cásper Líbero, in the city of São Paulo, she expected to come across some racist episode when she set foot in that space — which, until a few years ago, was almost than exclusively white, like all higher education in Brazil. “Because it's an elite college, I figured I'd suffer something,” she says. What she didn't expect is for racism to come from a teacher.

During a class on March 22, leafing through a student’s World Cup album, the teacher commented that in Croatia “there are only beautiful people” and, faced with the images of the Nigeria national team, said that she “would like to know how this one here you do to comb your hair, it must be a nest”, according to the report of students. At the end of the class, the student and her colleagues looked for the teacher to question this and other statements of hers that they considered discriminatory. During the conversation, the teacher denied that she was racist, said that there was no racism in Brazil (“there is even another black man in Cásper”) and even put her hand in the young woman’s hair, claiming “curiosity”.

The episode was taken to the direction of Cásper Líbero by the collective of students Africásper. This week, the college fired the teacher, who was not named. “After analyzing the notes reported by the student body and listening to the parties involved, Faculdade Cásper Líbero chose to dismiss the professor for using inappropriate expressions and attitudes. The Faculty reinforces that it repudiates any attitude of discriminatory and prejudiced connotation, whether in the public or private space”, said the faculty's direction, in a note released this Thursday (26/4).

'A place that is not yours'

Episodes like this have been common in the university environment, revealing the racism of the most educated. According to data obtained by G1 with the São Paulo State Department of Public Security, the state recorded, between 2016 and 2017, a case of racial slur in educational institutions every five days.

The problem takes time to be noticed because “part of the population understands that this should not happen, because the universe is composed of people with a higher level of education”, according to Jefferson Mariano, PhD in economic development, socio-economic analyst at the IBGE (Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics), university professor and black man.

However, with the entry of more young blacks into universities and colleges — according to the Ministry of Education, since the quota policy became law in 2012, 150 black students joined higher education institutions in the country between 2013 and 2015 —, the quest of whites to defend racial privileges becomes more explicit. In the minds of many people, according to Mariano, “blacks start to occupy a place that is not theirs”.

Mariano recalls that, at the beginning of his career, he faced explicit cases of prejudice. “I taught Business Administration courses in the interior of São Paulo and I have already heard racist statements from students, it was a very complicated situation. In economics classes, many students thought that there was no point in discussing the insertion of black people in the job market, for example,” he says. “In my master's degree I had a serious problem. At the end of the course, one of my grades disappeared. The teacher made a mistake, but went to the secretary to question my nature. Lucky for me, the secretary located my work in the archives. The teacher did not apologize.”

Racist comments made by student Gustavo Metropolo, from FGV (right) | photo: reproduction
Racist comments made by student Gustavo Metropolo, from FGV (right) | photo: reproduction


Still, racist attacks on higher education are just one of the many obstacles faced by those who, to get there, had to kill several lions along the way. “The fact that a black boy manages to complete the cycle of elementary school is a heroic act”, says the teacher, for whom “the black boy always gets the feeling that he is in the wrong place”. According to an IBGE study carried out in 2015, the percentage of young black people between the ages of 18 and 24 who reached university was 12,8%. Among whites in the same age group, the percentage is 26,5%. Numbers that show, therefore, that the access of blacks to higher education is still below average.

For a black student to reach higher education, he must first emotionally survive the other stages of education. “Black people feel racism in their school life from the first day of class. I have already commented that the worst place for a black person to be, at the age of seven, is at school. There is no more hostile place”, says the researcher, who currently teaches at Faculdade Cásper Líbero and at Saint Paul Escola de Negócios.

'Racists will have to pay'

“I found this slave in the smokehouse! Whoever owns it, let me know!”, said a white student, Gustavo Metropolo, a student at FGV (Faculdade Getúlio Vargas) when referring to a black colleague. The phrase was shared in a WhatsApp group with a photo of João Gilberto Lima. The student learned of the incident from the coordination of the public administration course, of which he is a part. Upon learning what had happened, João registered a police report at the 4th DP (Consolação), for racial slur.

According to João, he knew from the beginning that he had to formally denounce the case. “I was shocked by what had happened, but my biggest feeling was indignation at what was happening in the FGV environment,” said the student to Bridge. The attacker was suspended for three months from the university by the ethics committee. Currently, the institution's congregation is analyzing whether to give other punishments.

João Gilberto Lima, student at FGV | Photo: personal file
João Gilberto Lima, student at FGV | Photo: personal file

According to João, he had already suffered other cases of racism in his life, but that nothing had been like what he suffered at university. For him, it is necessary that people who suffer from racism “have the courage to denounce”. “I don't have the utopia of thinking that people will stop being racist. I'm not going to change people's minds or what they think, but from the moment they outsource it, they'll have to pay for it as required by law”, he concludes.

Brazilian-style racism is often disguised as a joke. “Here in Brazil, people offend the dignity of the black population by saying that it is a joke, but this is about racism”, analyzes professor Tiago Vinícius dos Santos, a doctor in human rights from USP (University of São Paulo).

For cases of racism to be investigated within the academy, the professor says that it is necessary to create a responsible body to investigate complaints. “It is essential to create a center of diversity or a department of universities”, he says. Regarding students who are victims of racism, Santos says that it is necessary for students to make a complaint in the institutional field and also in police stations. In this way, he states that the denunciations will not only penalize those who committed an offense, but will also serve as an object of reflection for the institutions.

'I hate blacks and browns'

There is no shortage of academic institutions needing to reflect on their role. In March, a professor at the IFSP (Federal Institute of São Paulo) published a text on social media, which he would later classify as misunderstood, in which he uttered a series of insults and concluded: “I hate blacks and browns”. Students of the institute made the complaint to the directors and the rectory of the Institute and organized at least two manifestations to collect the exoneration of José Guilherme de Almeida, who taught in the Geography course. The Institute issued a note affirming its repudiation of racism and promising to investigate the case.

Professor deleted profile on social networks after publication | Photo: publicity/IFSP and reproduction/Facebook
Professor deleted profile on social networks after publication | Photo: publicity/IFSP and reproduction/Facebook

Two students at the institution reported persecution. José Guilherme would have failed Christopher de Lima Machado and Fábio Santos Souza in two subjects despite both students having enough grades to pass the year. According to Christopher, "he makes a point of saying that peripheral bandits stole every iPhone he ever had."

“I had classes with him and it's torturous”, says Fábio. “He doesn't accept confrontation from students against the things he talked about in class. Whenever there was confrontation in the classroom, black students suffered reprisals, even if there were also white students among those involved,” he says. THE Bridge tried to contact the professor so that he could take a position on the cases and accusations, but he did not respond to the report's attempts.

It is not easy for higher education institutions to understand issues related to racism. In June 2017, journalism student Thamires Menezes heard from a professor at Tiradentes University (Unit), in Aracaju (SE), that she could not be a newspaper anchor because of the afro hair, black power style, that she wore in her school. era. Thamires denounced the case, but says that colleagues, professors and university administration began to see the victim as guilty. The event led the student to drop out of the course.

“I still studied during the last period, doing my work alone, but I saw that I was paying for college in vain. The teacher is still there, the coordinator too. The case at the Public Prosecutor's Office was shelved and my lawyer disappeared. The process never happened and that's it. I went there and locked the course. The worst part was leaving the internship. I loved working there,” she laments her.

Thamires Menezes and the hair that “wasn't fit” for telejournalism | Photo: personal file
Thamires Menezes and the hair that “wasn't fit” for telejournalism | Photo: personal file

Now, the student has moved to another state to finish the course. Three months ago, she went to Salvador and says that she intends to return to her studies in the next period. Even with the suffering she has gone through, she says she sees everything as a “new challenge”.

About the episode, Unit claims that there was no racism. “The event took place in a common classroom dynamic, when the students and the teacher discussed summaries in the Communication area that address the professional's posture on newsstands, without expressing any personal opinion on the matter. (…) Therefore, it was found that there was no derogatory expression, form of discrimination or prejudice, for any reason (sex, age, color, preferences, convictions, etc.) the university in note. Unit says that “the facts were investigated internally (by the Ombudsman, which records complaints, and the Ethics Committee, which investigates complaints involving teachers and students), by the police authority of Sergipe and other state bodies, within the scope of of its procedural competences”, without the crime being detected.

fight and victory

For Larissa Mendes, a student at Escola Politécnica, a USP unit that in 121 years of existence formonly seven black women, prejudice manifested itself in less direct ways. “Within Poli, racism occurs almost in the same way as Brazil as a whole: no one is directly racist”, she says. “I've never heard any obviously racist comments, but whenever I got off the bus at Poli, people kept pushing me, because in their minds I'm not part of the profile of people who get off at the bus stop of the biggest engineering college in the world. country."

Larissa is part of Poli Negra, a collective that boosted the discussion about quotas in college, forcing students there to see that there was a racial issue to be debated. “Until then, no matter how many poor black students said something, people thought it was normal to look around and only see people just like them: white, rich, coming from good schools”, she says. Holding several meetings with academic centers, Poli Negra managed to promote a plebiscite that, in 2017, indicated that 70% of students supported quotas. In the same year, when the University Council of USP approved the implementation of social and racial quotas. “It was a huge victory,” she concludes.

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