As It Happens

Racist social media posts plastered on billboards in Brazil

An anti-racism campaign called "Virtual racism, real consequences" targets those who make racist social media posts by putting them up on billboards near their homes.
This billboard reads "If she bathed properly, she wouldn't get that grimy." The campaign, launched by civil rights group Criola, is called "Virtual racism, real consequences." (Criola )

"I arrived home smelling like black people." 
"A black girl named "Maju"? You can't complain about prejudice, GFY."
"GFY dirty n****, I dunno u but I wash myself." 

These are just a few of the social media posts a civil rights group, Criola, have put on billboards in Brazil. Using geotagging data, the group determines the location of the person who made the post, and then puts the billboard up near their home.

The director of Criola, Jurema Werneck, tells As It Happens host Carol Off, "We want to tell them... there's no anonymity on the internet. We could find them." 

We post racist attacks women receive on the internet.- Jurema   Werneck , founder of Criola

The campaign was conceived when a photograph of Afro-Brazilian journalist Maria Júlia Coutinho was posted on the web. When the image was shared on the Facebook page of Nacional Journal, a high-profile news program, it was overwhelmed with insulting comments. 

Werneck says most of the racist comments target Brazil's Afro-Brazilian community. She thinks they are on the rise because internet usage is up in Brazil — particularly the use of social networks like Facebook. 

The Facebook post reads "GFY dirty n****, I dunno u but I wash myself." Underneath, it says "Virtual racism, real consequences" and "In defense of black women." (Criola )

Earlier this week, CBC News decided to temporarily close comments sections on stories related to Indigenous peoples because of the disproportionate number of hateful comments left on those posts.

"There are some phrases that are trying to humiliate us. They tell [us] bad things about our appearance, our hair, comparing us to animals, especially monkeys." - Jurema Werneck

Werneck refuses to publish the names of the authors of the offending posts on the billboards, saying she doesn't want them to face a backlash.

"We don't want to create more violence. The racist attacks are violent enough."

But she thinks the billboards can still work to tackle racism on a community level, because "their families, their friends, they know who this guy is." 

Ultimately, Werneck hopes the concept will spread. She has heard from a group in another part of Brazil, who are interested in recreating her campaign to target homophobia and transphobia.


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