What can teach racist and homophobic graffiti on a school wall?

Anderson Ferrari, Associate professor of the Faculty of Education, Universidade Federal de Juiz de Fora (UFJF), Juiz de Fora, MG, Brazil. 

Roney Polato de Castro, Adjunct professor of the Faculty of Education, Universidade Federal de Juiz de Fora (UFJF), Juiz de Fora, MG, Brazil. 

Felipe Bastos, Biology Teacher of the Colégio de Aplicação João XXIII, Universidade Federal de Juiz de Fora (UFJF), Juiz de Fora, MG, Brazil. 

Society faces difficult times concerning discourses of violence aimed at some groups considered to be lives not subject to mourning, as proposed by the American philosopher Judith Butler (2018, 2019). These situations have affected and inspired the problematizations and possible confrontations approach in the field of education. Considering this context, it was possible to analyze two graffiti – one with racist and the other with homophobic hate speech – produced, at different times, on a public school wall from a country town of Minas Gerais state. The emergency conditions of these two graffiti, as well as the school’s acknowledgments, are discussed in the article Marks stamped on school walls: images, education, and precarious lives, published in Educação & Sociedade journal (v. 42), which analyzes the frameworks that comprise us and act as organizers of violence imputed to black people and homosexuals, positioned as “others”.

The study takes these two graffiti as a guiding thread for research in Foucauldian and Butlerian perspective, which considers how we become what we are as educational processes, learning and teaching specific knowledge, intersected by power relations. The main arguments of the article argue that these processes involve the potential of putting under suspicion the knowledge that restates and validate violence and how they constitute us, as well as we can produce, from them, other ways of thinking, being, and acting, producing other ways of being.

The main discursive strategy in these graffiti is to resort to the vulnerability and precarious condition of certain bodies, moving them away from the sense of humanity, consequently empowering symbolic violence. In the racist graffiti, an alleged origin of the black race is vexatiously presumed through the crossbreeding of monkeys; in the homophobic graffiti, gays are associated with AIDS, which would make them people excluded from society. The idea that the lives of black and gay people do not matter and that they would be non-bereaved lives fills the monotonous school wall, teaching and restating the historically and socially places attributed to these people. The pedagogical quality of graffiti, accordingly, lies in its ability to affect and produce certain types of subjects.

Another argument raised in the article is how this school is encouraged to take on the debate on racial and sexuality issues. There are two distinct positions of the institution: while the homophobic graffiti ink was merely erased from the wall, the racist graffiti was covered by an artistic intervention, painted in warm colors, celebrating the presence of black people in that school. This form of intervention speaks of how anti-racist struggles and LGBTQ+ movements produce effects on social relations: although racism and homophobia are both forms of dehumanizing violence, which enhance the precariousness of the lives of black and gay people, the school positions itself emphasizing and valuing the anti-racist struggle, while silencing discussions of sexualities.

Read more

BUTLER, J. Quadros de guerra: quando a vida é passível de luto? Rio de Janeiro: Civilização Brasileira, 2018.

BUTLER, J. Corpos que importam: os limites discursivos do “sexo”. São Paulo: n-1 edições, 2019.

To read the article, access

FERRARI, A., CASTRO, R.P. and BASTOS, F. Marcas inscritas nos muros da escola: imagens, educação e vidas precárias. Educação & Sociedade [online]. 2021, vol. 42, e231389, ISSN: 1678-4626 [viewed 13 December 2021]. https://doi.org/10.1590/ES.231389. Available from: https://www.scielo.br/j/es/a/Z56vPk9gBCkscnYNnWJrvFP/?lang=pt#


Como citar este post [ISO 690/2010]:

FERRARI, A., CASTRO, R.P. and BASTOS, F. What can teach racist and homophobic graffiti on a school wall? [online]. SciELO in Perspective: Humanities, 2021 [viewed ]. Available from: https://humanas.blog.scielo.org/en/2021/12/13/what-can-teach-racist-and-homophobic-graffiti-on-a-school-wall/


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