[Most links lead to pages in Portuguese.]
Last week, the Twitter account @aminhaempregada (my maid) starting retweeting shocking, aggressive and racist tweets that Brazilian employers of domestic workers publish.
The Portuguese language account offers a glimpse into the social prejudice, racism and lack of empathy that exists in Brazilian society, especially with regards to attitudes towards domestic workers. The account has close to 10k followers so far.
According to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), 92 percent of the country's 7.2 million domestic workers are women, and of these women, 60 percent are black.
The Minha Empregada account has been created by a 33-year-old publicist from Sao Paulo who doesn’t want to be identified. Many retweets from employers mention race when complaining about their domestic worker:
@hardcorejuno empregadops melhores tipos de negros
— Vivi (@vivimetralha) 6 janeiro 2014
Housemaids are the best type of black people.
minha empregada trabalha aqui a 2 anos,e ela é negra,meu cachorro ainda late oda vez que ve ela…e eu tambem — Jeba Dourada (@Ofredelicia) 18 fevereiro 2013
my maid has been working here for two years, and she is black, my dog still barks everytime he sees her…and so do I.
Or they take a condescending view about the workers’ assumed origins in Brazil’s northeast, one of the poorest regions:
xenophobia is the non-acceptance of a foreigner…I do accept my maid in Sao Paulo, and she is a northeastern…Hahahah
Some tweets use a derogatory tone to complain about the maids or shame them:
eu to aqui no ar condicionado e to de porta fechada e dai a ANTA DA MINHA EMPREGADA ao invès de bater na porta ela abre com tudo +
— bella (@familybieberbr) 13 dezembro 2010
I'm here with the air conditioner on, behind closed doors, and here comes MY MORON MAID, instead of knocking on the door, she just opens it
Others even threaten violence:
Sorte da minha empregada q eu to chegando tarde em casa… deixa eu esbarrar com essa caralhuda p ela se ligar na voadora no pescoço — Gerson Roque (@roquegerson) 21 maio 2014
It’s my maid’s luck that I’m coming home late…wait till I bump into that dick(head) and send her flying with a kick on her neck
A portrait of prejudice
As the author of the profile shows in some of his tweets, many people caught on his timeline shaming domestic workers try to explain themselves and deny any racism on their part. Other Twitter profiles – such as @NãoSouHomofóbico (I'm not homophobic) and @NãoSouRacista (I'm not racist) – attest to this difficulty that Brazilians have owning up to their racism, sexism and other prejudices.
A contratação de trabalhadores domésticos em larga escala é consequência do atraso social de um país. O fato de que existem pessoas que ganham o suficiente para que outra pessoa faça o serviço que ela própria poderia fazer demonstra o abismo da desigualdade social de uma nação. A proporção da existência deste tipo de trabalho se dá na medida que houver, de um lado, um excedente de mão-de-obra desempregada e sem qualificação para outros tipos de serviço, e de outro, uma classe que ganha o suficiente para comprar a força de trabalho de outra pessoa.
The hiring of house workers on a large scale is a consequence of a country’s social delay. The fact that there are people earning enough [money] so that another person does the job they themselves could do shows a nation’s gap of social inequality. The proportions of this kind of work's existence is that one one side, there is a surplus of workers with no qualifications for any other kind of work, and on the other side, a class that makes enough to buy someone else’s labor.
Brazil abolished slavery in 1888, becoming the last country in the Western world to do so. However, without education or vocational training, many newly freed black women began to earn their living as domestic workers, a legacy that continues to this day.
Over the years, the condition of domestic workers in Brazil has improved. Today, fewer and fewer maids are living in their employers’ homes (where they have to be available for work round the clock), and are therefore relatively more independent and can also charge a higher payment for their services. Nevertheless, the attitude of incivility and under-appreciation of domestic workers continue.
Last year, after a painful debate, Brazil for the first time approved a constitutional amendment to protect domestic workers rights. However, though the law has been passed at the Senate, it is waiting to be voted by the Chamber of Deputies only after which it can be brought into force.