“Não se acostume com esse cotidiano violento,
esta não é a minha vida,
esta não é a sua vida.”
“Don’t get used to this everyday violence,
this is not my life,
this is not your life.”
- Raçionais MCs in “A Formula Mágica da Paz” from Sobrevivendo no Inferno.
I saw this written on the back of someone’s shirt in the metrô the other day and realized just how pervasive it is to get accustomed to violence. Surrounded by it everyday – wherever you are – in the media, in the newspaper, in music, in cinema, in our language, in our governments, our police, our neighbors, our families, and within ourselves.
I went up to the baile in Cantagalo the other night to say hello my man, Sany Pitbull ( He’s gotta be one of the sweetest guys on the planet.). Then, I took my usual walk around to check things out. On the upper balcony, a couple guys moved away and I took their place at the railing to get a better view of the baile. Before I knew it, I was being forcefully pushed out of the way by a guy with a big handgun sticking out of the waist of his pants. He moved in and sat on the railing to role a multi-paper joint. At the time, I didn’t really think much of it. He was just a traficante exercising his privilege and position.
I am choosing to illustrate this incident for three reasons. First, it is an example of how power, authority or position can enable us to behave in a subtly violent way, which perpetuates and supports violence on a larger scale. Second, it shows an incident within the stereotypically demonized context of a baile funk, which actually happens all the time, all over the place, all over the world and in all stratum of society. The gun is only an inconsequential prop. As they say, “o pobre rouba e o resto desvia (the poor rob, while the rest merely divert funds).” Third, because it illustrates (albeit in a very literal sense) how violence is self-medicating. It occurs in a manner which is just sufficiently self-aware to seek to cover up (or hide from) its effects. To get used to it. We are all guilty of this perpetuating violence in this way.
A few weeks ago, 10 armed, masked men entered a building on Rua Piragibe Frota Aguiar (one block from my house), which is just at the beginning of the road leading up to Cantagalo, and assaulted the residents of 2 different apartments. 2 of the doormen and the wife of one of them were tied up and locked in the garbage collection area of the building while the third porteiro was forced to greet arriving residents where they were then assaulted by the bandits.
When it was discovered that one of the residents was a doctor for the PM (Polícia Militar), the robbers tortured her, using pliers to pull out her teeth and fingernails.
The next day, 50 Military Police invaded Cantagalo with the objective of catching those responsible. The police never said how they knew that the robbers were at Cantagalo. After several hours of intense shooting, they came down the hill after having killed 2 suspects, arrested 6, seized multiple guns (one of which was a PM issue with the serial number scraped off….), a large quantity of marijuana and cocaine in small sacks, money, jewelry.
Then, to top it off, the police said (O Globo Online) that their actions reflected the desires of society.
Anyway, just some thoughts I had while on the metrô……