Today in Dubious (But Deserved) Awards

Given the history of racism in Brazil, and ongoing structural and social racism, I imagine the competition was stiff. Still, Maranhão politician Fernando Furtado seems to have justly earned the title of “Racist of the Year”:

A Brazilian lawmaker who said Amazon tribal peoples should be left to starve to death and are “a bunch of little gays” has been named Racist of the Year by the indigenous rights group Survival International.

Fernando Furtado, a lawmaker in Maranhão state, was given the award for a speech he gave in July close to the border of territory of the Awá people, a tribe which has been pushed to the brink of extinction by deforestation and clashes with ranchers.

Addressing an audience of loggers and ranchers, Furtado said: “They don’t know how to plant rice, so let them die of hunger in poverty. That’s the best thing, because they don’t know how to work.”

He also called indigenous people “a bunch of little gays”, the NGO said.

For all the commentary on racism towards afro-descendants in Brazil, it’s important to remember how much racism there is towards indigenous peoples in Brazil, not just in comments like Furtado’s, but in popular perceptions that Brazil’s indigenous peoples have “disappeared” or in environmental policies that target and destroy indigenous lands first. And while Furtado’s homophobic addenda is also appalling, given the vociferous homophobia of evangelical politicians in Brazil, it likely wouldn’t land him in the top 10 of hate-mongering homophobes in Brazil.

About Colin M. Snider

I have a Ph.D. in history, specializing in Latin American History and Comparative Indigenous History. My dissertation focused on Brazil. Beyond Latin America generally, I'm particularly interested in class identities, military politics, human rights, labor, education, music, and nation. I can be found on Twitter at @ColinMSnider.
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