November 21, 2013

Grantland: How not to talk about Brazilian soccer beheadings

In 1978, my father and I went to a soccer game at Rio de Janeiro's Maracana Stadium, which I knew about from the Guinness Book of World Records because 199,854 paying spectators had crowded in to watch Brazil lose the 1950 World Cup final match to Uruguay. (Maracana has been upgraded at vast expense to host the World Cup final next year.)

The Maracana Moat, RIP
Neither my father nor I had paid much attention to the threat of crime. We'd been traipsing all over Rio that day, walking through a favela in the early morning, taking city buses all over. When we wound up in the Maracana neighborhood, I suggested seeing if there was a soccer game at the famous stadium. Sure enough, Santos (Pele's old team) was visiting from Sao Paulo and their late afternoon game was just about to start. We paid $0.55 each, which got us below-field standing room next to the deep moat that discouraged spectators from expressing their disenchantment by storming the field and lynching the ref.

The sun went down while we were watching the game, so as a rare gesture toward prudence, we decided to take a cab back to our hotel at the beach. But, when we came out we found that there were no cabs around. Cabbies weren't crazy enough to go to the Maracana neighborhood after dark in 1978.

I was starting to get a little concerned, when a four-foot tall bodybuilder walked up and told us that American tourists shouldn't be wandering around here after dark. The short but extremely muscular Brazilian said he was a tour guide for a large group of Germans and we should ride back to Copacabana Beach on his bus. So, we got on with all his German clients.

On the bus ride, our rescuer asked where we were from and when we said Los Angeles, he said, "You'll probably think me a freak, but I've always wanted to visit Muscle Beach in Venice." This was 1978 when the ideal had been for several years to look like Bruce Dern. I was going to tell him that my impression was that in L.A. weightlifting was becoming big, very big, but I never said it -- maybe I got tripped up trying to remember how to pronounce the name of that guy, you know, the one with all the muscles and all the consonants in his name, S, w, z, n, r, etc. -- and ever since, I've felt bad that I couldn't reassure this very nice fellow that he wasn't a weirdo, he was on the cusp of the Next Big Thing.

A lot of things have changed since 1978, and I'm sure that when Maracana hosts the 2014 World Cup final, Steps Will Have Been Taken to make sure that tourists are perfectly safe. But what about all the other cities in Brazil where matches will be held?

But, don't even think about it. Thinking is bad.

ESPN gave sportswriter Bill Simmons his own magazine, Grantland, because Simmons, as one of my commenters once said, is a master at reproducing in text the feel of what a really good discussion about sports with your college buddies is like.  

But, Grantland publishes a lot of non-Simmons articles that sound like they were written by authors whom nobody would want to be buddies with. For example,
A Yellow Card 
As the 2014 World Cup looms, how should we talk about the problems in Brazil? 
By Brian Phillips 

So far in Brazil in 2013, there have been two soccer-related decapitations, which apparently might remind people that Brazil will host the World Cup next year, and the movie City of God was filmed in Rio, and, oh, yeah, there's a lot of crime in Brazil.

But, remember, Noticing Is Bad.
... How do you feel, hearing these stories? I don't mean how do you think you're supposed to feel; I mean how do you feel, in fact? Are you intrigued? Disturbed? Sad? Curious? Titillated, in the way that horrifying real-life stories can sometimes leave you titillated? You don't have to answer. Just think about it. 
Two points make a trend. Here are two gruesome stories about soccer-related beheadings in Brazil. On the surface, they have little in common. One is — best guess — about gangs sending a message. The other is about a local conflict that warped into mass insanity. But, well, 2014 is a World Cup year, and Brazil, you might have heard, will be hosting. The second decapitation story had barely hit the wire before a portion of the Western media lined up the horrors and drew the only logical conclusion: Tourists must be in danger. 
Of course, they couldn't just come out and say so. There's an art to these things. "Beheadings raise concern of violence in Brazil," USA Today announced in a headline.1 CNN declared that "experts say" (they don't quote any) that the concerns thus raised "might make fans think twice about bringing their families to Brazil." Bleacher Report furthered the mystery experts' speculations on the raised concerns, arguing that the violence "may" affect "the type of tourist that decides to come to Brazil to witness football's greatest tournament, with families unlikely to take young children." "How will this affect the World Cup?" was the golden thematic arch bridging countless articles about a story that's only indirectly tied to the World Cup at all, and after reading enough of them, you could almost appreciate the dead-soul directness of this Buzzfeedy link bait–shriek from PolicyMic, posted after the Pio XII decapitation: "This Horrific Video Will Completely Change Your View of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil."2 
This is all, of course, code language, and it's not especially subtle code language. 
It's a code that pops up again and again when a developing or newly industrialized country hosts the World Cup. The code works on three, possibly four, levels, and it makes me want to throw my desk through a brick wall, so I'll try to be as precise as possible about the various sleights of late-colonialist hand I think I can trace here. 
Take the following sentence; it's from USA Today, because of course it is, but it could be from anywhere. It goes: "The news of a second decapitation this year in Brazil has raised questions about whether such heinous crimes may deter foreign visitors considering a trip for next summer's FIFA World Cup." What is this sentence trying to do, apart from draw the brightest, straightest line between "the news of a second decapitation" and "next summer's FIFA World Cup"? Is it really aiming to tell you that Questions have been Raised about World Cup attendance? 
3 Maybe; but I submit that in this instance, the surface level of the code — "questions raised" — is just slippery journalistic-ethics-ese for "Hey, if you go to the World Cup you might get your head chopped off." That's the second level, the primal fear bit. It's not safe down there. Those people are crazy. And note that we've been led to this level by a turn of phrase insinuating the possibility of a World Cup disaster — ostensibly because of attendance problems ("deter foreign visitors"), but what you're actually imagining at this point is a bloodbath ("heinous crimes"). You're being invited to construct a fantasy in which several hundred thousand tourists less well-advised than USA Today readers like you make the trip down to Brazil and are slaughtered in their replica kits. That's the third level. Blood-spattered Wayne Rooney jerseys strewn throughout the streets.4 
And I'm sorry, but that's not the only fantasy you're being invited to construct.
The top level of the code is the one in which you feel yourself to exist within a protective bubble of law and security, outside which all is madness. Here in this Holiday Inn Express in Lincoln, Nebraska, you are safe; in South America, life is cheap. That is not simply a fleeting implication, my friends, that is a media strategy and a worldview, and it is not one in which you are encouraged to regard all your fellow humans as equals. 
Sidebar here: Murders involving decapitation are vanishingly rare in the United States (they are vanishingly rare everywhere), but they happen. In 2012, a New Jersey woman cut off her son's head and put it in the freezer before stabbing herself to death. In 2013, a 49-year-old school nurse was found headless in a South Florida sugar cane field. Two points make a trend. Concerns have been broached about whether Germans will still come to Disney World.

Of course, foreigners interested in visiting America destinations other than Disney World are concerned about crime Here's the Washington Post's summary of the French government's warnings to their nationals about where to avoid in the U.S.: "16 American cities foreign governments warn their citizens about," including this alert for visitors to Washington DC: "Le quartier Anacostia n’est pas recommandable de jour comme de nuit."

Second, two points do suggest which way the probability distribution might be shifted. The fact that this guy can't find two beheadings in the U.S. in this decade that are tied together thematically the way Brazil's soccer decapitations are suggests that decapitations aren't really a Thing in contemporary America, the way beheadings are a Thing are in, say, contemporary Mexico. (Of course, in Brazil, everything is related to soccer.)

The reality of course is that all these lectures about "How to Talk" aren't going to change the fact that, according to Wikipedia's list of the 50 cities in the world with the worst murder rates, Brazil has 13 of them. To put that in perspective, the U.S. holds down four positions in the Top 50, and if I gave you six or seven guesses, you'd probably get all four right: New Orleans, Detroit, St. Louis, and Baltimore. (Talk about stereotypes ...)

51 comments:

Anonymous said...

If South Africa can pull it off, I'm sure Brazil can.

Anonymous said...

Grantland is a puzzling website. It seems intended to be ESPN for gays dudes. Not really what I expected when their initial lineup of writerswas revealed.

Simmons is a fervent Democrat supporter but he only lets it bleed into his writing occasionally

David said...

The average Mexican thinks Brazil is a jungle full of crazy people.

Anonymous said...

Ironic that you mention Simmons, since I sometimes compare your writing style with his. You and him are (actually, were in his case) good enough writers that, though I may disagree with much of what you guys write, I read your stuff anyway because of these traits you share:

A) You both are thinkers who consistently kick around interesting ideas and theories.

B) Both are ballsy and state truths few else dare to write.

C) Both are good for laughs.

But I was talking about the Simmons of old. Current Simmons has lost his edge, sold out to the lefty-trendy-media-Hollywood-L.A. crowd, and built an ultra-PC mess of a sports sub-site.

wiseguy

Dave Pinsen said...

Phillips tosses in a reference to colonialism, but Brazilian history doesn't fit neatly into that box. It's been an independent country officially for nearly 200 years, and arguably has had de facto independence longer than that. Colonialism doesn't have much to do with crime in Brazil or tourists' legitimate fears of it.

That said, the Brazilians have finally started pacifying the favelas in Rio and seem to have had some success with that. I wouldn't worry much about the World Cup games in Rio or points south. But the Northeast of the country is another matter.

Steve Sailer said...

During the Napoleonic era, Portugal more or less seceded from Brazil, so the Emperor of Portugal sailed off to become the Emperor of Brazil until late in the 19th Century.

Harry Baldwin said...

When the movie "Death Wish"came out in 1974, I recall one of the New York critics reviling it as "a sick fascist fantasy." A few months later, a small article in the Daily News informed me that that critic had been mugged and badly beaten on a dark Manhattan street. I couldn't help wondering if he had had any sick fascist fantasies while the blows were raining down on him.

Maybe Brian Phillips will have an eventful visit to Rio.

Anonymous said...

It's a code that pops up again and again when a developing or newly industrialized country hosts the World Cup. The code works on three, possibly four, levels, and it makes me want to throw my desk through a brick wall, so I'll try to be as precise as possible about the various sleights of late-colonialist hand I think I can trace here.

The Empire of Brazil was the largest slave holding society in the history of the world. Yet in today's who, whom world they seem to get a pass. It is similar to white Mexicans, Steve's conquistadors, getting special treatment in the US by being able to hide under the "Hispanic" label.

Anonymous said...

OT, somewhat

When will american lawmakers, who are so enamoured with the most democratic country in the Middle East, start to adopt one of her policies?

MC said...

"Current Simmons has lost his edge, sold out to the lefty-trendy-media-Hollywood-L.A. crowd, and built an ultra-PC mess of a sports sub-site."

No manifestation of PC has dismayed me more than the decline of Simmons. Even Deadspin, which fancies itself some sort of challenge to the Establishment, is just another Gender/Ethnic Studies class but with sports:

http://deadspin.com/richie-incognito-was-never-an-honorary-black-guy-1459694832

Anonymous said...

Current Simmons has lost his edge, sold out to the lefty-trendy-media-Hollywood-L.A. crowd, and built an ultra-PC mess of a sports sub-site.

Stockholm Syndrome?

Bert said...

Brazil was ruled by a white military dictatorship from 1964 to 1985. Nobody ever seems to bring that up.

Son of Brock Landers said...

I heckle their awful writers on Twitter with facts and the automatic response is "did you read my article?". Like no one should ever disagree with them ever if they read their article. They passed by Veterans Day without a single mention of any of the many athletes who served their country. Every article fits "The Narrative".

Grantland is not ESPN for gay dudes, they have female writers, come on, it is ESPN for SWPLs.

Jonathan Silber said...

My truth is, I am a Hyperborean-American.

@dwbudd said...

Do those who write this sort of thing ever tire of reusing cliches?

I might actually find something to nod along with in one of these scolding, lefty pieces if it could avoid reaching for the box on the linguistic shelf in which "code word," "dog whistle," "don't get it," or any of the other tropes reside when not being deployed to allow the writer to bask in his own moral rectitude.

Since this is about sport, or at least cloaked in sport as a delivery vehicle, I can't help think of the baseball writer Bill James.

James, in another sense, describe cliches as the foot soldiers of the ignorant and intellectually lazy. And judging from what increasingly being masqueraded as cutting-edge opinion, there is a virtual army now on the march.

One thing I got a kick out of was Steve's link to the article on what the French government say about various cities and travel. The article doesn't link to the actual announcement, which is here:

http://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/fr/conseils-aux-voyageurs/conseils-par-pays/etats-unis-12311/

(sorry; it's in French)

I live in Paris, and have to say, the comments about Cleveland, St Louis ("la navette reliant l’aéroport est sûre" - the shuttle to the airport is safe), and other cities are kind of funny. But they pale in comparison to the final set of warnings about... wait for it.... shark attacks.

"Attaques de requins :
Pour réduire au maximum le risque d’attaque de requins il est notamment conseillé"

(Shark attacks: to reduce the risk of shark it attacks, it is recommended...")

The list goes on to encourage the French to avoid swimming in jewellery, shiny bathing suits (not sure if the "Speedo" fits), or to swim whilst gushing blood.

I'm sure Jabberjaw is greatly offended.

Dahinda said...

Chicago keeps getting a lot of flack for its violence and murders in the national press. It does have the highest murder rate in terms of numbers but it isn't even in the top 25 most violent cities in the U.S.. Media hype can skew things a lot. I know many people who live in the inner city of Chicago and things there have gotten a lot nicer in the last decade. Yes it had 500 murders in 2012 but it had around 1000 in 1994. Yet it is the media's basket case for violent cities.

DCThrowback said...

Simmons has always been liberal; his dad was a superintendent of a public school, but as an ex-Catholic, he's not completely that far gone. I think he's handled stardom well & his criticism of Doc Rivers last year still shows he can move the needle. I am, overall, a fan and I enjoy his content and enthusiasm. The best? Charlie Pierce, a great writer but likely an insufferable prick, really wrote a review heavily criticizing Simmons' magnum opus, The Book of Basketball. Simmons waited...then hired him to write 12 pieces a year for Grantland. He knows good writing.

Agree that his writers are much further to the left, especially the cultural and critical guys, but the advanced stats orientation of the collection of Zach Lowe (NBA), Bill Barnwell (NFL) and Jonah Keri (MLB) is incomparable to anything else out there right now. You literally can't find a better mix of writing, math and league fandom those those guys (Mike Tanier for SoE is better on football than Barnwell, but that's about it). As a one stop shop to see what the smart guys are saying on those 3 sports, Grantland does its job well.

Simmons is in the management phase of his career, so I don't really see the criticism. He's 45 with two small kids. He still logs huge mailbags and NFL picks...and podcasts are large on content filling but shorter than writing 4000 word pieces on how Gravity is related to the parallel career arcs of Bill Russell and Larry Bird. So enough w/ the hate - the guy went around the traditional media structure who would never hire, beat them at their own game and is now hiring while all of those guys papers are paring down operations. The battle is over. He won.

His philosophy - hire guys who are superfans like me (except they do math) and we all hang out in an office in LA talking sports all day - was brilliant. And as @SOBL1 put it, it's for highIQ SWPLs. I love (most) SWPL stuff, I just detest their delusions. So I enjoy Grantland's sports coverage while eschewing their cultural mamby-pamby.





as said...

What does it mean to look like Bruce Dern?

Paul Mendez said...

The Empire of Brazil was the largest slave holding society in the history of the world. Yet in today's who, whom world they seem to get a pass.

The reason is that Latin countries do not share the "one-drop" view of race espoused by Anglo-Saxons. This allowed intelligent, successful blacks a (multi-generational) path to societal acceptance denied American blacks until recently.

In the 17th Century, there was slavery in Spain and Portugal comparable to the American Colonies, but the Africans were eventually assimilated into the Iberian gene pool, not kept distinct from it.

Anonymous said...

But I was talking about the Simmons of old. Current Simmons has lost his edge, sold out to the lefty-trendy-media-Hollywood-L.A. crowd, and built an ultra-PC mess of a sports sub-site

Of course he has, he works for ESPN, which is ultimately owned by Disney. He also writes about the NBA a lot, and the NBA is the king in organized American sports of not noticing things, from lots of guys ending up flat broke despite huge guaranteed contracts to the very biased officiating of the playoffs every year

Anonymous said...

I find myself in the rare position of disagreeing with you,on the point of not having 2 US decapitations in the last decade. Recall that the Boston Marathon brothers turned out to have decapitated 3 Jews a year before but the PC police didn't put muslim & beheading together.

Roger said...

---The Empire of Brazil was the largest slave holding society in the history of the world. Yet in today's who, whom world they seem to get a pass.---

We are irrelevant in the world stage. Simple as that. In domestic politics however we don't get a pass and are supposed to accept ever increasing vilification and quotas.

Brazilian said...

Hi Steve! I'm a Brazilian fan of yours.

There is a article that you wrote some years ago where you saw the future was mixture of Brazil and the Ottoman Empire, it was spo on!

The Brazilian elite is not Portuguese, its from the former Ottoman Empire, we have a Bulgarian Presidenta, Lebanese Christians and Salonikan jews in the media, banks, government.

The richest region in Brazil, São Paulo is governed by Lebanese politicians both at State and city level.

pat said...

Deadly sports riots have always been with us. For example at the Nika riots in Constantinople in the sixth century more than thirty thousand people were killed watching a chariot race at the Hippodrome.

That's about the same number as America lost in the Korean War. It's ten times the losses at Gettysburg or Antietam.

Albertosaurus

Anonymous said...

http://www.omaha.com/article/20131122/GO/131129670/1181#review-new-hunger-games-better-than-first

Anonymous said...

Second, two points do suggest which way the probability distribution might be shifted. The fact that this guy can't find two beheadings in the U.S. in this decade that are tied together thematically the way Brazil's soccer decapitations are suggests that decapitations aren't really a Thing in contemporary America, the way beheadings are a Thing are in, say, contemporary Mexico. (Of course, in Brazil, everything is related to soccer.)

Here are two that seem to have a common theme. This beheading in New York in 2009, and this one in New Jersey in 2013, both seem to have a common element.

Of course he probably wouldn't want to mention those since they highlight things that aren't supposed to be noticed.

Anonymous said...

Steve, where's the Grantland article you referred to? I think you accidentally copied-and-pasted an Oberlin student's term paper into your post instead.

Anonymous said...

"The Empire of Brazil was the largest slave holding society in the history of the world." - The Arabs had them beat on throughput if not total population.

Steve Sailer said...

Bruce Dern has always been a fanatical jogger, which helped his career in the 1970s when jogging was the Big New Thing.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Grantland's statistical gurus like Barnwell are good, and so is Simmons on tv. Simmons' leftism, though, goes further than where it needs to be for him to simply survive in the media world, and it has the unmistakable feel of not being completely sincere.

wiseguy

Rex Little said...

the U.S. holds down four positions in the Top 50, and if I gave you six or seven guesses, you'd probably get all four right: New Orleans, Detroit, St. Louis, and Baltimore.

Nope. I'd have picked Detroit for sure, probably New Orleans. Make it ten guesses and I'd likely get around to Baltimore. But St. Louis wouldn't have made my top twenty.

MC said...

"But St. Louis wouldn't have made my top twenty."

I accidentally pulled off the highway in East St. Louis, IL once. I will never make that mistake again.

Anonymous said...

"But St. Louis wouldn't have made my top twenty."

I accidentally pulled off the highway in East St. Louis, IL once. I will never make that mistake again.


Chevy chase secret isteve reader.

Dave Pinsen said...

Brazil still has a large, distinct black population (as well as a mixed population, and distinct white and Japanese populations).

E. Rekshun said...

According to Wikipedia, over the 24-year period, 1986 - 2010, the US government allowed 214,266 Brazilians to legally immigrate to the US.

Otis McWrong said...

MC said..."I accidentally pulled off the highway in East St. Louis, IL once. I will never make that mistake again."

So did Clark Griswold.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BRJnEbt89w8

dcthrowback said...

Expect NOLA to slide off of those lists as large sections of it black population moved to Houston and never moved back.

As a result the city is going through a SWPL rejuvenation. Having visiting there, I'd have to say it's an awesome town which slightly fewer neighborhoods that merit staying away from.

Ironically, the lower ninth was more of lower-middle class 'hood, as you may recall, the home of Fats Domino.

Silver said...

Brazil was ruled by a white military dictatorship from 1964 to 1985. Nobody ever seems to bring that up.

It wasn't explicitly white and never made any attempt to advantage whites above other races so your characterization is false.

Brazil had a mulatto president as far back as 1910. As has been said a thousand times, as "racist" as Brazil might be, it was never as intensely anti-black as the USA, nor, as the pendulum has swung, is it today as intensely anti-white.

John said...

There's something about soccer that just evacuates crania, mine included. Not only is the sport rarely analyzed, it is rare for anyone to think of analyzing it. Thus I must disagree that in Brazil, everything is related to soccer, for Brazilians just don't think about it. It's something you do, not something you contemplate.

Anyway, now having read Mr. Phillips's piece in full, I find it makes more sense than I at first thought. Yes, soccer and tourism are and will remain disconnected from those beheadings. Brazil is generally dangerous, but not specifically to me or you. Back in the '80's I read an article in Veja about the homicide rate in S. Paulo, which was huge, something like 6 a day I think, yet almost all these crimes were solved. Assuming (perhaps generously) that the cops really were catching the right people, I could guess most victims knew their killers and both victims and killers lived among lots of people who were full of information about them. The feeling which has informed my own numerous visits to Brazil has been that unless I'm playing cards with these people, and they're drinking, and I'm cheating, and they notice I'm cheating, I'm going to be just fine. As indeed I have been, and as probably will be most World Cup spectators.

Silver said...

The homicide rate in Brazil is largely unchanged over the last 20 years, but there have been some very interesting changes in the regional patterns of homicide in Brazil in recent years.

Over the last decade parts of the country that had comparatively low rates of homicide have seen homicide rates exploding. For example, the state of Bahia - often referred to as Brazil's blackest state, though it is not too different from other nearby states - had homicide rates under 10 (per 100k population) for much of the 1990s, has seen its homicide rate rise to almost 40 for the past few years.

On the other hand, cities with notorious reputations for crime - including Brazil's two biggest cities - have seen their homicide rates plummet over the last ten years. Rio de Janeiro fell from 62.8 in 2002 to 23.1 in 2011, while Sao Paulo's drop was even more spectacular, from 63.5 in 2001 to 11.9 in 2011. That's pretty hopeful.

Anonymous said...

Brazil never had the "one-drop rule" and the miscegenation is quite different from the USA.

The first mixed people (half-white) were born out of white colonizers and black or Amerindian female slaves.

Afterwards, came thousands of white Caucasoid immigrants from Italy, Germany, Poland, Ukraine, Lebanon (Middle East), Syria (Middle East) and other zones.

Some mixed people stayed and had children with other mixed people.

Some of them mixed with the already white people and created quadroons/octoroons.

Other white with white families and bloodlines didn't mix.

A small sliver came from Japan and Taiwan (Chinese).

What happens is that miscegenation created a quasi-Brazilian caste system define by looks, by hair texture, skin color, face/body features and the like.

It's like, light is excellent, olive is great, yellow is right, light-middle brown is acceptable, and dark brown-coal black is bad.

Anonymous said...

Bahia is in North Eastern Brazil and it's the blackest state. Silver is accurate that its homicide rates have exploded.

I think the blacks in Brazil, just 7% of the population, contributes to a lot of daily violent criminal activity in Brazil.

Kind of like the USA has low crime rates among white, even lower for East Asians, but it explodes for Amerindians and Blacks.

Neil craig said...

In the other hand when it was in South Africa, there was little coverage of its abysmal crime rate. SA has an evil white minority who used to run the place and an elderly saintly ex-terrorist who also used to so it gets a by.

A somewhat different sort of "expert concern" is being raised by peely wally northern Europeans about Qatar. They have just noticed that it is warm their and don't believe that nouveau riche Qatar can run all the air conditioning they have promised.

And then there are the Russian winter Olympics which we should stay away from because the Russians are corrupt, or likely to be attacked by terrorists, or a bit hevy handed with terrorists or communists or oligarks or something.

These damn foreigners - if its not one thing its another. And yes that includes the USA where you are likely to be shot by black people or by white people worried about burglars or the FBI or the TSA or folk who think we talk like Piers Morgan.

Orlando said...

I don´t know about Brazil, but in Europe the stadiums itself are usually the most dangerous places in town. Rome was considered a tough place in Italy in eighties. But only feeling of danger I ever experienced there during my three month stay was at Olimpic stadium watching finals of European Cup which AS Roma lost to FC Liverpool, being mistaken for an Englishman by local fans.

Anonymous said...

What soccer fan is taking their family to Brazil for the World Cup anyway? I think the average fan is going to be more focused on the, er, nightlife, shall we say, and will overlook the occasional beheadings.

Silver said...

I think the blacks in Brazil, just 7% of the population, contributes to a lot of daily violent criminal activity in Brazil.

This report breaks down homicide victims into Branca, Preta and Parda (White, Black, Brown/Mixed) racial categories for the years 2002-2010. Victimization rates for Pretos and Pardos were virtually identical.

In the US the homicide victimization rate can be used as a stand-in for the homicide offending rate because in over 80% of homicides the victim knew the offender and in the US blacks and whites do not socially mix much; that is, a black victim overwhelmingly points to a black offender. Social mixing is much more common in Brazil, however since people tend to make friends with people from the same neighborhood and blacks and browns tend to predominate in poorer neighborhoods victimization rates can still be a rough guide to offending rates. Since black and brown/mixed victimization rates are essentially the same is reasonable to expect black and brown/mixed offending rates to be fairly similar.

A further complication is the arbitrary dividing line between black and brown/mixed. Official statistics rely on census self-reporting and there is a tendency for people with predominantly african ancestry to report Pardo (brown/mixed) if they think their self-categorization is credible. A consequence of this tendency is that large numbers of self-reported Pardos differ little for all practical purposes from self-reported Pretos (blacks). Therefore there exists a possibility - based on our knowledge of black proclivity for violence - that this near-Preto subset of Pardos is making a disproportionate contribution to the overall Pardo offending rate. That is, if these near-Preto Pardos were classified as actual Pretos the Pardo rate may be somewhat lower.

On a different note, the report states that racial classifications for homicide victims only began to be recorded in 1996, but due to difficulties only data from 2002 onwards is reliable. From 2002 to 2010 the victimization rate of Brancos (whites) dropped from 20.6 (per 100k people) to 15.5, while the victimization rate for Preto and Pardo combined rose from 34.1 to 36. This is a vastly smaller difference than exists between whites and blacks in the US (or even hispanics and blacks).

Silver said...

Oops, no, census self-reporting wouldn't affect the classification of the victim, which is determined (you'd think) by relevant authorities on the spot. The social tendency towards reporting Pardo could still affect the victim's classification, though, with the person assigned the task of making the determination biasing it (unconsciously or not) towards Pardo. On the other hand, it's not certain that such biases would necessarily skew towards assigning Pardo. If the person making the classification is lighter than the victim does he assign Preto in order to boost his own status by cementing the victim's status beneath him, or does he assign Pardo in order to assuage doubts about his own classification (ie if this guy can pass for Pardo, then I definitely can)?

Anonymous said...

http://youtu.be/zv_3lyTv9Zc

Anonymous said...

A further complication is the arbitrary dividing line between black and brown/mixed.

It's not arbitrary at all. It's Brazil, NOT the USA.

There isn't a lot of people who are 80% black/20% white, like African-Americans.

Usually half-black people tend to practice miscegenation with white people more in Brazil.

It's usually 80% white/20% black, because darkness is such a low social status indicator that mixed people who are 50% white/50% black tend to mix with white people in order to bring out the "whiteness" more.

So that their future generations have a better future than they ever had.

It's called the "lightening process", or the process of whitening.

Anonymous said...

A further complication is the arbitrary dividing line between black and brown/mixed. Official statistics rely on census self-reporting and there is a tendency for people with predominantly african ancestry to report Pardo (brown/mixed) if they think their self-categorization is credible. A consequence of this tendency is that large numbers of self-reported Pardos differ little for all practical purposes from self-reported Pretos (blacks). Therefore there exists a possibility - based on our knowledge of black proclivity for violence - that this near-Preto subset of Pardos is making a disproportionate contribution to the overall Pardo offending rate. That is, if these near-Preto Pardos were classified as actual Pretos the Pardo rate may be somewhat lower.

That's another huge problem.

Brazil has a distinct black population. Many of them can pass for full-blooded Black Africans.

There is little to no mixture going on between the pardos and the blacks. It's not some African-American festival.

Yes, they can sometimes live near each other, but pardos are more likely to try to "whiten" their offspring with white people than "blacken" it.

Silver said...

There isn't a lot of people who are 80% black/20% white, like African-Americans.

The precise percentage mixture is of secondary importance. The number of people black enough to be regarded as black by any reasonable observer is easily double the 7% of people who report themselves as Pretos. In the movie City of Men (Cidade dos Homens), which I'm assuming you've seen, when Acerola's friend is looking for him in the new favela he moved to he describes his appearance as "um negao." (Here. Guy on the right physically describes the guy on the left as an n-word in the film.) Well, to my eyes, pretty much everyone in that scene was black-enough-to-be-black, so if people like this don't report themselves as black I feel justified in claiming that the 'true' black percentage of Brazil is much higher than what is reported.