Brazil kaputt

In a radio interview with a Dutch correspondent living in Rio, she expressed horror. The most likely president elect of Brazil this coming Sunday, the army captain Jair Bolsonaro, is worse than Duterte, Putin, Erdogan, Orbán and Trump combined. He will usher in a whole new level of autoritarianism. This piece of garbage is against minority rights, more specifically indigenous rights, and is lying all he can to ascend to power. His rule will also amount to a death sentence for the Amazon rain forest. He has applauded corrupt police officers shooting hundreds of people in the favelas. He says more people should be shot. He called African immigrants to Brazil the “scum of the earth”.

The popularity of this despicable thug, especially among black and mixed-race voters, is an enigma. Yes, it could partly be explained by the fact that Brazil is in its worst recession ever, partly by the escalating gang violence (black men are 9 times more likely to be killed than white men in Brazil) and partly by the sickening corruption of the ruling political elite. After he was recently attacked with a knife, many people began viewing him as a savior. Perhaps people are getting so sick and tired of the morally bankrupt political elite that they long for a de facto dictator.
But still. Shame on the Brazilian people, at least on the majority who will vote for this man out of fear or desperation or anger or all of those.


A dear Brazilian friend has already contacted me saying he will leave the country. I will offer him asylum in my appartment.

To be fair, the media is paying some attention, but it is not nearly enough. This is the largest country in South America, one of the 4 economies called the BRIC-countries and two of them (Russian and China) are already clearly not democracies. The world cannot afford to lose Brazil too.

Brazil kaputt was originally published on Meandering home

Reading: White Comedy by Benjamin Zephaniah

Benjamin Zephaniah (b. 1958) is a British-Jamaican poet who has considerable influence in contemporary poetry. He was born in Birmingham to a Barbadian father and Jamaican mother. As a child, he developed dyslexia and was imprisoned for burglary. He is also the author of novels for teenagers and a notable animal rights activist. He refused an Order of the British Empire from the queen, because it reminded him of “how my foremothers were raped and my forefathers brutalised.”
I read these simple lines that remind us of the connotations of the word ‘black’ in a powerful way that would make us smile if it wasn’t – still – such a serious issue.

White Comedy
I waz whitemailed
By a white witch,
Wid white magic
An white lies,
Branded by a white sheep
I slaved as a whitesmith
Near a white spot
Where I suffered whitewater fever.
Whitelisted as a whiteleg
I waz in de white book
As a master of white art,
It waz like white death.

People called me white jack
Some hailed me as a white wog,
So I joined de white watch
Trained as a white guard
Lived off the white economy.
Caught and beaten by de whiteshirts
I waz condemned to a white mass,
Don’t worry,
I shall be writing to de Black House.

It’s a trivial idea (read it again replacing all instances of ‘white’ with ‘black’) but worth our while. In our culture of ephemeral twitter pleasure we need such mantras that remind us of the power of a single word, of the intricate web of connotations that very subtly influence the very building blocks of our reasoning.

Some of the white things he mentions do have a meaning, like whitewater or whitelisting, while others are simply the inversion of black metaphoric language: whitemailing, white magic, white economy, white death, whitesmith.

Such building on the public’s imagination is one of the strongest cards we can play against racism; stronger than the codification of righteous outrage in a language sanctioned by the ‘critical’ masses that fatally avoid self-criticism.

I was reminded of this beautifully maudlin* movie scene:

* kitschy, mawkish, gooey, schmaltzy, bathetic, hokey.

Reading: White Comedy by Benjamin Zephaniah was originally published on Meandering home