A shocking ad on one of Latin America’s biggest online marketplaces offering “blacks for sale for one real” (HK$3.25) has sparked a lot of outrage in Brazil and a police investigation.
The ad featured a photo of two black children and suggested any blacks purchased could “serve as carpenters, masons, cooks, security guards, nightclub bouncers, janitors, garbage collectors, or housekeepers”.
Within a few hours, some 1,700 Brazilian responded with outraged comments.
Government officials also weighed in, with the agency in charge of racial equality urging online vendor MercadoLivre to turn over information on the author of the ad to bring charges against him.
The ad was “an offence to the entire society”, rights official Carlos Alberto Silva said.
“Incitement to discrimination or prejudice by race, colour, ethnicity or religion” is punishable by two to five years in jail and by a fine, he added.
He emphasised that the internet sites should assume their share of responsibility and put in place filters to block any racist content.
MercadoLivre, the biggest online buying and selling community in Latin America, said it had turned over account information for the person who posted the ad, which went up a week ago, to Rio de Janeiro police and an investigation was planned.
Meanwhile, the site had pulled the ad and condemned it.
But David Santos, the head of Educafro, a civil rights group championing the labour and educational rights of blacks and indigenous people, said the ad may have an unintended positive impact.
He said “that unconsciously this person has helped us debate with Brazilian society to make it aware that blacks have the same rights as whites”.
More than half of Brazil’s 200 million people are of African descent, the second-largest black population after that of Nigeria.