Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 28th 2016 Contents RIO DE JANEIRO---Rafaela Silva
hoped to get an Olympic gold medal
four years ago in London. Instead
she got racial abuse.
Disqualified in her Olympic judo match
and eliminated from the chance of winning
a medal, Brazil s Silva thought she d find
refuge in sympathetic text messages from
fans in her country.
Instead, here s what she found: "The place
for a monkey is in a cage. You are not an
"The messages said I was an embarrass-
ment to my family, so they really hurt," said
Silva, who won gold in the world champi-
onships a year after London, and is among
the favourites for gold when the Rio de Janeiro
Olympics open in just over a week.
Silva is one of many athletes familiar with
the sting of racism in a country where most
of the poor are brown and black. Though a
nation of rich diversity---51 per cent identify
as non-white, brown, black or mixed race---
racism still runs deep.
On the one hand, Brazil is thoroughly
mixed. On the other, there is searing racial
inequality in a place often portrayed as a
"racial democracy," or "race-blind." The myth
of a race-blind country has been losing force,
but there s still a yawning gap between black
"Behind the apparent peaceful melting pot
there s a lot of tension and not much open
talk about race," Marta Arretche, a political
scientist who studies inequality at the Uni-
versity of Sao Paulo, told The Associated
Diversity and inequality will line up side-
by-side at the Olympics, just as they did at
Brazil s World Cup two years ago. Visitors
will see the country s racial politics play out
in ways that are subtle, yet clear.
Magazine covers seldom feature a black
face. The very popular soap operas feature
mostly white actors, although black actors
are now getting roles other than drivers, cooks
Upscale restaurants and suburban shopping
malls are almost all white. Waiters in top
restaurants are seldom black. And the only
black faces at the airport are the hired help,
or black women caring for white children in
the airline lounges.
All shades sunbathe on most Rio s beaches,
though Ipanema and Leblon tend to be more
white. Vendors selling trinkets and drinks on
all beaches are usually black.
It will also be apparent in the crowds at
venues, an issue that began with the World
Cup two years ago. White fans bought the
pricey tickets and the black and brown were
Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes prom-
ised during the World Cup that the Olympics
would be different, pledging to supply 1.2
million free tickets to schools and the poor.
In the end, he came up with 47,000 Olympics
tickets---four per cent of his promise.
The cheapest Olympic tickets cost 40
Brazilian reals (US$12), though the average
price is 100-200 (US$30-US$60). The top
ticket for the opening ceremony is listed on
the official website at 4,600 (US$1,400). By
comparison, the government-mandated
monthly minimum wage is 880 reals (about
Blacks earn about half of what whites do,
and among the wealthier the gap jumps to
2.5 times less.
The root of the problem starts with slav-
Brazil imported about five million African
slaves---about ten times more than the United
States. Slavery ended in 1888, which was 25
years after the United States. Brazil was over-
whelmingly black at the time, which triggered
a government policy to "whiten" the country
with poor European immigrants, Japanese
and others to replace slave labour.
It s difficult to define who s black. Most
Brazilians self-identify, which means that
two people of similar skin colours may identify
differently---one as white and one as black.
In a case at the University of Brasilia, iden-
tical twins applied for admission under an
affirmative-action programme. Only one was
judged to be black.
The Brazilian government in a household
survey in 1976 asked people to describe their
colour. It came up with 136 descriptions from
morena (brown), to canela (cinnamon), to
trigo (wheat) and 133 other shades, an exhaus-
tive list explained by Brazilian anthropologist
Lilia Moritz Schwarcz.
Barcelona soccer star Neymar has been the
subject of many reports about his skin colour.
A mix-raced Brazilian, photos show his skin
tone has lightened since he s become world-
famous and a marketing success. He fre-
quently appears in TV ads for dandruff sham-
poo, foot cream and electronic products.
"The bias against being black shows up
almost everywhere," Arretche said.
Brazil s 400 Olympic athletes represent all
colours and shades, easy to see in photos on
the web site of the Brazilian Olympic Com-
mittee. The same website carries a group
photo of the BOC s administration standing
in front of the headquarters: the members
are almost all white headed by IOC member
The same is true for the local Olympic
organising committee, which Nuzman also
leads---virtually all white from CEO Sidney
Levy on down.
Michel Temer, the acting president of Brazil,
has only white men in his cabinet---no women
and no blacks. Temer has the honour of
declaring the Olympics "open" at the opening
ceremony on August 5.
"There was a strong silence in Brazil about
race, a taboo," said Marcia Lima, who studies
the subject at the University of Sao Paulo.
"That was the most powerful way for the
white elite to control black people; that
nobody talked about race. We don t have a
race problem here would be the response, so
we didn t need to talk about it."
Mortiz Schwarcz cites a Brazilian study in
which 97 per cent said they were not prej-
udiced, but 98 per cent said they knew people
"It s not so open, not institutional as it
was in the south in the United States,"
Arretche said. "The racism is much more
FRANKFURT---Wolfgang Niersbach, a
member of FIFA's governing council, will
appeal his one-year ban over Germany's
2006 World Cup bid.
Niersbach tells the German dpa news
agency that "after consulting with my
lawyers I am going to appeal."
FIFA's ethics committee found Niers-
bach guilty of failing to report findings
about possible unethical conduct and con-
flicts of interest during the bidding
Niersbach, a vice president of the 2006
World Cup organising committee in
charge of media and marketing, described
the punishment as "excessive."
He retained his elected positions on the
top decision-making bodies at both FIFA
and UEFA, despite resigning as German
federation president in November.
He is the first member of the rebranded
FIFA Council, which replaced the discred-
ited executive committee in May, to be
sanctioned by the ethics division. (AP)
• Twitter: @GuardianTT • Web: guardian.co.tt
FIFA's Niersbach to appeal one-year ban
...on show at Rio Olympics
In this July 12, 2015 file
photo, Brazil's Rafaela
Silva, top, competes
Anriquelis Barrios during a
women's -57kg bronze
medal judo match at the
Pan Am Games, in
Mississauga, Ontario. Silva
hoped to get an Olympic
gold medal four years ago
in London. AP PHOTO
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