Brazil may be made up of people from a huge number of ethnic groups, but the discussion of racism remains a societal taboo.
Now one organization is attempting to shine some light on the growing phenomenon of racist trolling online in order to push racism to the top of the agenda. In order to do so it has taken to paying for provocative billboards featuring racist comments found on Facebook, writes Ana Campoy for Quartz.
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Brazil grappling with racism both online and in real life
Brazil may have the world’s largest population of people that identify as black or partly black outside of Nigeria, but racist incidents are shockingly common. All too often that translates to violence and death, and the Brazilian Forum on Public Security recently announced that data shows black Brazilians account for 68%of murder victims.
Criola, a black women’s rights organization, believes that part of the problem arises from internet trolling, and the way that social media allows anyone to become a keyboard warrior without thinking of the real-life consequences. As a result the organization launched a campaign which publishes offensive comments on huge billboards, bringing them into the public eye and raising awareness of the issue.
The Rio de Janeiro-based group identifies racist comments on Facebook before it uses geolocation tools to work out where they were posted from. The comments are then blown up and posted on billboards in the local area, albeit with the name and face of the author blurred out.
Campaign aims to raise awareness of racism
Criola doesn’t want to expose individual racists, but instead raise awareness of the damaging effects of online racism. “Virtual racism. The consequences are real,” runs the tagline for the campaign.
Black Brazilians are shockingly marginalized both politically and economically, and Criola hopes to bring the issue into the public consciousness. On June 3 Brazil celebrated its National Day of the Fight against Racial Discrimination, and racist Facebook comments about black TV presenter Maria Júlia Coutinho highlighted the extent of the problem.
Thankfully racist online comments are attracting more attention in Brazil, and Criola says that it is encouraging people to debate race in real life.