Features, Politics, recent, World Affairs

How a Fake Scandal Took Down a Brazilian Fashion Editor

If you’re looking for evidence of racial inequality in Brazil, it isn’t hard to find. Racism is a serious problem in my country, as indicated by statistics showing that Black Brazilians are disproportionately likely to be poor, die young, and suffer from criminal violence. But rather than focusing on such real problems, many Brazilian elites now take their cue from the current Western obsession with aesthetic representation, and instead focus their attention on fake racism scandals that play out on social media.

The latest example played out in February, at the 50th birthday party of Donata Meirelles, the (now former) editor of the Brazilian edition of Vogue. The party was held in Salvador, the capital of Bahia state, and a city renowned as a centre of Brazilian black culture, being 28% black in a country where blacks (sometimes known as Afro-Brazilians) make up only about 8% of the total population. Candomblé, an Afro-Brazilian religion, is stronger and more visible in Salvador than in the rest of the country, having been melded into the local Catholic religious tradition. (Race relations in Brazil are complicated by the fact that a separate, much larger group classified as “browns” or “mixed race” make up 47% of the population, and often are victims of the same prejudice as is directed at blacks.)

One of the most visible symbols of Candomblé culture is the presence of Baianas—black women who sell acarajé and other delicacies in the streets. Often, they are mothers or daughters of the saints (Mães e filhas de santo)—religious initiates whose status is recognised by the state. With their elaborate and flamboyant dress and dances (a mainstay at Carnival celebrations), Baianas often appear in restaurants and at parties. Unfortunately, that livelihood may now be in peril thanks to the uproar surrounding Ms. Meirelles’ party and her subsequent resignation from Vogue.

Images from the party showed Donata Meirelles, who is white, sitting on a throne-like seat flanked by four black women dressed in white. New York-based fashionista Shelby Ivey Christie Tweeted some of the photos, along with the comment: “Vogue Brazil’s Style Director Donata Meirelles had a very disgusting 50th birthday party theme last night. There appears to be a Brazilian slave + master theme. Mucamas (house slaves), who were very clearly darker complexioned, were posed as props alongside guests.”

But the selection of photos used to indict Ms. Meirelles was deceptive. Other pictures from the evening showed the Baianas sitting in the same chairs, which had been set out at the event for the Baianas’ own use, and had become a prop for the pictures merely on a spontaneous basis. Baianas often appear at official events held by the local mayor and governor, and photos of this type are common at such gatherings, typically in a context of intercultural respect and admiration.

Critics compared the women’s clothes to the white uniforms worn by old house slaves, a claim that disrespectfully distorts the modern cultural role of the Baianas. Indeed, nothing about Ms. Meirelles’ party seems to have been racist—which explains why the Baianas themselves weren’t the ones to have complained about it. In fact, these so-called racism victims apparently weren’t consulted by those who claimed to be outraged on their behalf. Some of the Baianas even asked authorities to investigate those who denounced their role at the party, being understandably fearful that the controversy might cause them to lose jobs as hostesses at future events. In a recent joint statement signed by representatives of various institutions linked to the fight against racism, the Ministry of Public Labour Prosecution declared that “it is not possible…to interpret the hiring of the Baianas…as an act of subalternization of the black woman.”

Not surprisingly, the angriest denunciations originated with activists from outside Bahia, such as the aforementioned Shelby Ivey Christie, who don’t appear to understand the local culture. “The black women were used as objects to create an exotic scene,” said Stephanie Ribeiro, a columnist for the Brazilian edition of Marie Claire, adding that “it’s reminiscent of colonialism and romanticizes those times. She was recreating the image where whites are superior and blacks are dehumanized.” It’s notable that Ribeiro is from São Paulo, near Brazil’s southern tip, which lies 2,000 km away from the northeastern city of Salvador. (Brazil is an enormous country, and different regions have their own cultural practices, whose nature can be easily misinterpreted by outsiders.)

This fake scandal is reminiscent of a similar controversy in Fortaleza, capital of the state of Ceará, also in northeastern Brazil. During a folk presentation at a National Student Union event in 2017, a group of black activists rebelled at what they considered “blackface” exhibited by artists performing a Maracatu—an ancient, religiously rooted carnival tradition that combines music, dance and faith rituals. (The art form dates to 19th-century black brotherhoods that were created by enslaved blacks seeking to preserve their culture.) Researchers have conflicting views on the reason why some Maracatu participants paint their faces black—an act known as negrume—with some suggesting it may have been a strategy to hide the identity of participants. But whatever the explanation, the practice has no connection to the American blackface tradition, by which white actors ridiculed blacks in minstrel shows and similarly racist forms of entertainment. Nevertheless, activists used violence to stop the 2017 event.

“Before militant activism was colonised by the American black movement…the Baianas proudly displayed their clothes in public spaces,” wrote political commentator Lucas Baqueiro (a Salvador native) of the recent controversy over Donata Meirelles. Even when seen through a historical lens, he argued, the Baianas “would not even fit into any celebration of colonial slavery. To [suggest otherwise] is to show ignorance of history and anthropology. The [Baianas] profession, existing and recognized since the 18th century in the city of Salvador, was always exercised by people born free or liberated…The richly adorned and differentiated clothing, with heavy jewellery of Creole style [actually was intended] to differentiate them [from slaves].” (Almost 200 years ago, Maria Graham, an early Brazilian anthropologist, noted in Diário de uma viagem ao Brasil—“Diary of a Travel to Brazil”—that the Baianas often were owners of slaves, sometimes sharing profit with them, and exercised one of the most prominent positions then allowed to black women.)

Letícia Bahia, co-founder of the feminist site AzMina and a consultant for the United Nations Foundation, has criticized Revista Fórum, the leftist site that originally promoted the mobbing of Donata Meirelles. “It was up to the journalist…to go after these women and ask what they were wearing, how they ended up at the party—in short, to find out [what was going on],” she wrote on Facebook. “But no: Fórum simply decrees that women are dressed as slaves, without giving these women a voice. Oops, but [isn’t] not giving a voice to black people [itself an act of] racism?”

A few days later, the Baianas expressed themselves: “We are women, Baianas de Acarajés, hostess, that’s our job, hosting in hotels, in events, in several places, we are being called mucamas, slaves. We are not slaves, we are workers, this [racism case] never existed, we were hired to work in the reception, no one imposed any clothes for us to wear, no one said that we would have to stand one on one side, another on the other [of the chair], for someone to sit and take a picture, [but there were] such situations, but that was not what was arranged, [it just] happened, and people use mischief, perversity to denigrate the image of others. We are very sad about this because this is not what happened. We would never submit to such a role.”

But their opinions don’t seem to matter to those purporting to speak on the Baianas’ behalf. Stephanie Ribeiro no doubt is quite interested in being part of the “activist forum” that Vogue now has announced in the aftermath of the controversy. New full-time jobs may even be in store for these fashionable elites. As Ribeiro told the Guardian, “they should just hire black people to work at Vogue Brasil, not create a forum for black activists to act like babysitters telling them whether something is racist or not.”

A couple of days before that fateful birthday party in Salvador, 13 young, mostly black men were killed by the police in a Rio de Janeiro slum. It was a massive toll, even by the standards of this crime-ridden part of the country. Yet according to data compiled by Pablo Ortellado, a professor at the University of São Paulo and reported by Folha de São Paulo’s columnist Joel Pinheiro da Fonseca, the buzz online generated by this tragedy was much smaller than that surrounding Donata Meirelles’ festivities. Dealing with issues as complicated as structural racism, drug trafficking, and police violence in slums apparently doesn’t generate nearly as many clicks on social media as torqued complaints about a fancy party.

Addressing Brazil’s legacy of racism is surely one of my country’s most urgent moral priorities. But as this episode shows, the importation of Western-style outrage culture will do little to help the campaign for social justice. Indeed, by distracting activists and journalists with fake scandals, it may have precisely the opposite effect.

 

Raphael Tsavkko Garcia is a Brazilian journalist, and a PhD candidate in Human Rights at the University of Deusto. Follow him on Twitter at @Tsavkko.

Featured image: A Baiana photographed on a Salvador street in 2008. 

41 Comments

  1. C Young says

    As if Shelby Ivey Christie cares about the truth, or impact of her statements. It got retweets and it enhanced her profile. That is the game of Twitter.

  2. Harbinger says

    …toxicity, but not of the masculine sort.

  3. George G says

    @ Raphael Tsavkko Garcia

    Thanks, interesting article.

  4. DJB says

    Maybe I’m missing something here Raphael but if “Addressing Brazil’s legacy of racism is surely one of Brazil’s most urgent moral priorities” then why did you dedicate only one of the fourteen paragraphs of this article to it? Brazil has so many issues that a mind like yours could be focused on solving I cannot fathom why this incident would be one of them. Even if you deem this an incredible moral injustice there would be undeniably incomparable to the injustices or moral dilemmas of racism, corruption, murder, crony capitalism, rape, mixing of church and state etc that Brazilians face. This is the first article I can recall on Quilette specifically regarding Brazil and this is the topic of choice? Perhaps you could do with taking a bit of your own advice.

    • E. Olson says

      DJB – did you not actually read the story? Raphael’s point was that Brazil has some serious issues regarding race, but the mainstream media instead focuses on a trivial issue that is not even a real example of racism. The black people involved did not find their paid work at a white fashion magazine editor’s 50th birthday party to be demeaning or racist, but the media did not bother to even ask them their opinion because it might get in the way of the white privilege and racism narrative that they were desperate to report.

      Meanwhile the media apparently ignored the police killing of 13 blacks in a high crime area of Brazil, perhaps because the 13 were committing a crime, or because shooting police were also black, or some other mitigating circumstance that might make the incident a less than black and white example of racism and might even be deemed “racist” to report accurately.

    • E. Olson pretty much answered it all, but let me add that those complaining about Donata’s party were not only not fighting racism, but also making the alleged victims invisible. It’s even worse, they failed to listen to them and they made them victims – but not of racism.

      It is becoming commonplace in Brazil sub-celebrities of radical social movements attacking anyone with the aim of winning something ($) in the near future. It doesn’t matter that the victims end up being the ones they say they want to protect and defend. It is not possible to combat racism when those who consider themselves anti-racist only perpetuate it also by adding a layer of invisibility to the supposed victims.

    • C Young says

      @DJB Maybe I’m missing something here DJB but if addressing social injustices such as slavery is your priority, why aren’t you writing about contemporary African slavery in Mauritania or Eritrea? Why is this your topic of choice? Perhaps you could do with taking a bit of your own advice.

      You attempted a cheap rhetorical trick called Whataboutery.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whataboutism

  5. E. Olson says

    Reminds me of the “controversy” surrounding the use of Indian/Native American names for sports teams. First of all, teams are ALWAYS named after entities that have positive attributes related to doing well in sports, such as being fast, tough, strong, smart, and fierce which is why you don’t have teams named after snails, lambs, and flowers. Thus to name a team after an Indian tribe (Fighting Sioux, Blackhawks, etc.) or Indian descriptor (Redskins, Braves, Warriors) is a sign of respect not disrespect, and survey’s of Indian tribe members almost always find very high levels of support for the use of these names on sports teams. Schools using Indian names have also often set up special programs to help local native American communities and hire tribal members as beloved mascots for the team and other roles, which again most local tribal members appreciate and enjoy. But of course this simply can’t stand as Leftist “journalists” have decided that an Indian name is the same as naming a team the N word or some other racial or ethnic slur, and have successfully lobbied the NCAA and several professional leagues to force teams to erase their history and hurt the positive portrayal and employment opportunities of local tribes by changing their names.

    And of course the Left is never satisfied, because now their desire to fix problems that don’t exist is turned to towards cheerleaders, whose skimpy outfits and fit bodies are somehow an assault on gender equality and feminist progress. Never mind that the cheerleaders eagerly seek the jobs and universally enjoy the work, or that their opportunities for employment and fame are hampered by attempts to shame and ban them, because it just isn’t right that women are getting paid for looking good.

      • E. Olson says

        Raphael – I enjoyed your article and when I say Left it does not mean all Left, but I’ve yet to hear about a Right leaning journalist trying to ban Indian sports names or cheerleaders. The general rule is: Not all Leftists are radical identitarians, but all radical identitarians are Leftists.

        • There’s a particular kind of identitarianism within the Left, yet white supremacism (for instance) is a type of right-wing identitarianism. The idea of “let’s defend our families” and “family values” understood as something WASP-like is also a form of identitarianism. The Alt-Right has some strong identitarian traits mostly mimicked from European counterparts.

          Different types, but, identitarianism nevertheless.

          • E. Olson says

            Raphael, the Leftist media, politicians, and academics love to classify white supremacists as Right-Wing, but they rarely explain their classification logic beyond some comparison to Hitler and the Nazis. As with Hitler, most modern white supremacists are anti-religion, anti-capitalist, and pro-big government including single payer healthcare, abortion rights, and tree-hugging environmentalism, but these characteristics fit a Leftist profile much more than small-government and/or evangelical Christian Rightists. Being Nationalistic/Patriotic is also not unique to the Right, as Mother Russia themes were used to motivate Soviets during WWII and the Cold War, and nationalistic or racial superiority themes have also been featured of Communist China. I also fail to see how “defending families/protecting children” and “family values” are uniquely “right-wing” or even identitarian, as without families and children every civilization will quickly die off, and hence they have been part of every culture and society.

    • Ray Andrews says

      @E. Olson

      We look forward to the first truly Inclusive cheerleader squad — fat, short, ugly, but Diverse and Representative.

      • E. Olson says

        I agree Ray, but not until the D&R cheerleaders make the same salary as the quarterback and eliminate the gender pay gap.

        • Ray Andrews says

          @E. Olson

          Ah, yes, of course. Pardon, it was sexist of me to even forget to mention that.

    • Stephen Phillips says

      Late one evening in the bar of a pub the little mining town Bolder Western Australia I had a conversation with a couple of Maori bikies who were wearing Mongrel Mob colours.
      I’d had a couple of beers and so to the horror of my mates I engaged them on the subject of the Monarchy, conservative politics and the British Maori wars.
      They were 2 axe handles across the shoulders and at least 6 foot tall. So everyone braced themselves for a fight because I am a Royalist and very proud to be of English decent.
      However they were great, I said that as a descendant of the invaders of New Zealand I had the greatest respect for the Maori, because they fought the British to a standstill and forced a treaty to be made. Not many races EVER did that to the British. They respected the British as my ancestors respected the strength and determination of the Maori people.
      Nevertheless my mates dragged me out at the earliest opportunity.

      • Stephen Phillips says

        Boulder
        The pub is sadly no longer with us it was dug up for the gold below it.

      • Ray Andrews says

        @Stephen Phillips

        But I understand that NZ is now surrendering unconditionally even though at the time everyone agreed that it was a fair fight. Same in Canada, tho it was hardly a fight at all, mostly a moving in after the smallpox. Nevertheless it seems the Indians own the whole of BC, and most of the rest of the country too.

    • Gringo says

      Reminds me of the “controversy” surrounding the use of Indian/Native American names for sports teams. First of all, teams are ALWAYS named after entities that have positive attributes related to doing well in sports, such as being fast, tough, strong, smart, and fierce which is why you don’t have teams named after snails, lambs, and flowers.

      In Brazil you will find that Bandeirantes features in the names of a TV network, an aircraft, Brazilian Girl Scouts, four municipalities, five sports clubs (usually soccer.), and a university (75,000 students in Sao Paolo and other cities.). Also a humongous statue honoring Bandeirantes in Sao Paolo. Consider what the Bandeirantes did. Which may be why some of the Bandeirantes sports clubs have changed their names. 🙂

      I like wearing a Bandeirates soccer shirt in the hope of shocking some lefty.

      • neoteny says

        Don’t be sorry; that’s indeed a shining counterexample. 🙂

  6. Gondola says

    The headline states that the editor was taken down, which implies that she was forced out of her position. However, I must have missed that she was forced out. In any case, given the testimonies of those involved, the editor should not have stepped down if that is what she did. In all of these cases, no apologies should be given, no stepping down in response, do not cave to the mob. JUST SAY NO.

    • She resigned due to the pressure she siffered and that’s pretty much like being “forced out” – also it is and it’s also a tactic widely employed by such identitarian movements.

  7. Teodoro Sampaio says

    Regina’s Acarajé >> Cira’s Acarajé.
    Change my Mind.

    (Locals will get it…)

  8. Richard Fagin says

    Looks to me like an American leftist journalist imposed American-style cultural norms on the practices of another country, about which Mr. Garcia has shown she knows way too little. So who are the cultural imperialists now?

  9. Tyler says

    Dearest Quillette Editors: please publish more missives from Mr. Garcia. This essay was a real eye opener for us Yanks who know little about Brazilian culture and politics.

    I do know that Brazil and its immediateimmediate neighbors had more African slaves than the continental U.S. So I would imagine the racial dynamics are quite interesting.

  10. Benjamin Perez says

    All left-leaning, well-meaning American “do-gooders” need to (re)read Susan Sontag’s great essay, “Against Interpretation,” and (re)learn why they need to not only stop interpreting art but life. Indeed, everything Susan Sontag didn’t like about interpreting art can now be seen, over and over and over again, in “woke” (“critical”/connect-the-dots/“hermeneutics of suspicion”-informed) interpretations of life. Interpretation too often puts too much distance between the interpreter and what’s being interpreted (colonized with interpretations); and what could be worse than doing that to life? (Art is one thing; one can leave the gallery at any time, or not even go in—but there’s no walking away from life.)

  11. Stephanie says

    This was an interesting piece and I appreciate it highlighting a part of the world I know little about, but this part at the beginning set the wrong tone:

    “Racism is a serious problem in my country, as indicated by statistics showing that Black Brazilians are disproportionately likely to be poor, die young, and suffer from criminal violence.”

    Such statistics on their own do not indicate racism. There are any number of factors that could account for the discrepancy that are more likely than racism. Inserting this shallow claim unexamined and unsupported, as if it were an article of faith, disinclined me to think I was about to read a thoughtful and honest account.

    I enjoyed the article and hope that the author contributes more. Perhaps the next article could justify his bold claim with thorough analysis that goes beyond the fallicious “disparity equals discrimination” argument?

    • Peter from Oz says

      Stephanie,
      Well said. That same sentence jarred with me too. People never seem to wonder if causation runs counter to the way they interpret it to run. Thus, could the ”racism” be explained by the fact that the supposed victims suffer more poverty and commt more crime.
      I wonder why in the US no-one has pointed out that much of the disdain for blacks is based on the fact that they vote Democrat. In other words the discrimination is actually on political grounds rather than racial grounds. In that case the discrimination is quite appropriate.

    • Karl says

      @Stephanie

      “Racism is a serious problem in my country, as indicated by statistics showing that Black Brazilians are disproportionately likely to be poor, die young, and suffer from criminal violence.”

      I was quite grateful to the author for highlighting their paucity of thinking in the first paragraph which, unlike in your case, convinced me to read no further.

      I simply do not understand the worldview inherent in the notion “The ordinary state of the world is complete equivalence between any two groups, and any difference in outcome by any metric must be due to malign interference in the natural arrangement.”

      I don’t comprehend how a rational person could believe this, or how an intelligent person could accept this without the 10 seconds of thought or research that would be required to disabuse themselves of this notion.

      Thomas Sowell has spent almost his entire literary career demonstrating the complete opposite of this dogma. Nowhere, at no time, for no groups of creatures has equality been the normal state of existence. Every single individual, family, tribe, country or race of people differs on any metric from every other individual, family, tribe, country or race of people (excepting perhaps identical twins). Highland people differ from lowland people. River people differ from woodland people. Coastal people differ from inland people. City people differ from rural people. Every group of people differentiated by any criteria – age, height, weight, gender, race, eye colour, skin colour, religion – differ in outcome by any measure – health, wealth, intellect, athleticism, musicality, aggressiveness, longevity, criminality – from every other group.

      The ignorance or ideological immersion required to regurgitate such errant nonsense relieves me of assuming any intellectual credibility will be found in the rest of the article.

      So thanks for that.

      • Racism has deep roots in Brazilian society. First of all, an important fact: Brazil was the country where more slaves were taken to in the West. Millions that ended up forming part of the country’s identity.

        With the end of slavery, blacks were literally thrown into the street, without any rights, without land, without resources, and ended up being thrown into what would become the favelas (slums) of today (especially in Rio de Janeiro). Religions of African origin (such as Candomblé or Umbanda) are constant victims of attacks of hatred and prejudice (with violence destruction of holy sites, etc.). During the 1930s and 40s the Vargas dictatorship “imported” workers especially from Japan and Italy (but also Poland, Germany, etc.) with the intent of “whitening” the population. The objective was not only to occupy remote areas of the country and/or get cheap labour force, but the main idea was to make the population whiter.

        The rest are basic signs of racism that are common all over the world, of violence against blacks, constant racial offenses, social exclusion, higher rates of unemployment, lower rates of education, lower wages… Indeed many blacks die as victims of other blacks, however racism is a sad reality, but it happens in a more complex way than in the USA, since most of the Brazilian population is brown/mixed-race (statistically they are counted as blacks), which leads to more complex situations.

        It is common in soccer stadiums for black payers to be offended by supporters of the other team, black people have more difficulty getting to university, are followed by security guards in shopping malls, etc.. Recognizing that there is exaggeration in the claims of identity movements cannot erase the fact that Brazil is an extremely exclusionary country with countless cases of racism and that the State itself has promoted policies to erase blacks (and their history, heritage, contribution to the culture) to the maximum.

        • Karl says

          I have little knowledge of the history nor the contemporary socio-cultural politics of Brazil. Consequently I have no basis for assuming that Brazil is or is not a racist society.

          But what I do know is that I will learn nothing of the true nature of Brazilian society from someone blindly and ideologically wedded to the conviction that “…higher rates of unemployment, lower rates of education, lower wages..” are evidence de facto of racism.

          I have no idea if it is true as you claim that “Racism has deep roots in Brazilian society.”, “the State itself has promoted policies to erase blacks” (whatever ‘erasing blacks means) or that “…the Vargas dictatorship ‘imported’ workers … with the intent of ‘whitening’ the population.” However given that you have in your first paragraph demonstrated your incapacity to think or write intelligently about the nature or existence of racism, I hope you can understand why I would not grant you the benefit of the doubt?

          • Karl says

            Since this is Quillette after all – a platform for the “free exchange of ideas” and you did me the courtesy of replying allow me to elaborate:

            The U.S. is currently plagued by claims of universal, omnipresent, systemic, endemic racism. Many of the people making these claims offer for their evidence, as you do, that some groups of people experience different outcomes than other groups of people. As I have explained and I hope you understand this is not, in and of itself, evidence of anything. When asked for actual evidence or instances of this universal racism, activists and promoters of racist grievances inevitably respond that either to ask for evidence is racist, or repeat the mantra that disparity of outcome is all the proof required.

            Now compare this with the observation by Coleman Hughes in a talk at Lafayette College that it had been discovered that U.S. court stenographers (accidentally or not) mis-transcribed the speech of black defendants more frequently than white defendants to their legal disadvantage. This is an actual instance of demonstrated systemic or institutional racism, or one that could reasonably be so described. And it is such evidence not because it is presumed to exist from the differential outcomes (upon which it probably has only minor effect) but because the racially differential treatment is itself demonstrated.

            What this means is that now both you and I can get behind a policy to rectify the situation so that all defendants testimony might be accurately transcribed in court. Neither you nor I want to have racism in our society and will willingly collaborate in opposing or resolving it when we can find instances to oppose. To the general reduction in racism and the better cohesion of our societies.

            What will not lead to such collaborative outcomes are claims of general, institutional racism that despite being universal and omnipresent is simultaneously invisible and nebulous based simply on the fact that this group of folks is doing better than that group of folks in certain areas of human endeavour.

            So believe me when I say that I would be as happy as yourself to denounce racism and oppose racism where it exists, but conjuring it into existence where it does not or may not exist will not further our cooperation, nor will assuming it must exist because you do not like the world as it is. You would, I think, discover a much more ready audience for your concerns about Brazilian society if you were to tighten up your reasoning and tone down your rhetoric.

          • E. Olson says

            For every US black believing they are owed reparations for slavery or Jim Crow, they should instead be down kissing the ground they stand on and thanking God that their great, great, great, great, great grandparents were put on a slave ship to the US and not to South America or an Arab country where they were almost certain to be treated much less humanely because they would be viewed as entirely disposable rather than an investment.

          • As you admit you have no basis to assume anything about Brazil, maybe you should do some research instead of blindly and ideologically deny what is one of the most fundamental and regretable characteristics of Brazilian society. Just saying…

            Incidentally, this type of plainly unsubstantiated argument is one of the major weapons that SJW’s use to try to prevent any kind of criticism of their excesses. One thing is to attack excesses, another is to deny the very existence of racism.

            PS: By “erase” I mean whitening, promoting miscegenation until everyone turns white – science aside.

            PS2: “Black into White” by Thomas Skidmore is probably one of the best books in English about the subject (and Skidmore is probably the most knowledgeable “Brasilianista” there is and an expert on the Vargas period nonetheless). Here’s an interview with him about the book and related topics: https://www.jstor.org/stable/30139135?read-now=1&refreqid=excelsior%3A624d463f6ccc7fcbdf8c9ed06515bc0c&seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

  12. Karl says

    @Raphael: There is racism in my village because there are poor black people in my village.

    @Karl: The existence of poor black people in your village does not demonstrate racism.

    @Raphael: Maybe you should do some research instead of blindly and ideologically deny[ing] what is one of the most fundamental and regret[t]able characteristics of my village.

    @Karl: Maybe you should learn to think properly, after which people might be more sympathetic to your claims?

    All of which seems a pity if not sadly predictable. I understood Quillette was intended to be an island outside of the mainstream media where differing points of view could be exchanged beyond their respective bubbles, but it appears rapidly to be becoming just another place for us to scream at each other. I suspect I’m not helping, but I’m unsure of how to make that better. You are apparently intellectually incapable of demonstrating the claims you are making, or even understanding the need for you to do so. And as far as I can tell, by not blindly accepting your hysterical assertions of “racism, racism, everywhere” I’m denying your existence. Or their existence. Or racism’s existence. Or some such nonsense.

    Either way you’re not succeeding in exciting my concern or interest in possible racism in Brazil. Which I suppose was your intent?

  13. Rodrigo Ferraz says

    This article is by no means an accurate picture of Brazilian reality. One doesn’t need to look too hard to find cases of racism over here, but call it a serious problem and a characteristic of Brazilian society is a huge stretch.

    Our problems are vast, racism can be counted amongst them, but social inequality goes way deeper than race. People get along just fine in general, our mixed culture is one of the biggest values our country has, as proven by the incredible music we produce, for example.

    I wonder how we come to have 47% of our people being of mixed race if we’re so racist. And there’s no need to explain rape culture by slave owners of the past as an explanation, I’m pretty aware of that. If people truly believe that around 100 million people are the result of rapes a century ago, that’s a delusion.

    Anyways, as many mentioned not knowing a lot about this god forsaken part of the globe, I felt compelled to briefly weigh in. Please, don’t call me racist again.

    • @Rodrigo, how many cases of racism do you need to consider it as a serious problem? So “one doesn’t need to look too hard to find cases of racism over here” but you don’t think that’s serious?

      And by no means I said anything about “rape culture” or that “around 100 million people are the result of rapes a century ago” or even denied the reality of a large majority of mixed-race people (quite the contrary). I don’t think you read the article at all.

      @Karl, I simply used your own words against you. And provided you with an interview with a few good arguments of someone who knows a lot about the issue. Reality doesn’t need sympathy, nor I’m going to do a simple internet research for you as to convince you of something that is indeed quite serious in my own country. 😉

  14. Gringo says

    Not surprisingly, the angriest denunciations originated with activists from outside Bahia, such as the aforementioned Shelby Ivey Christie, who don’t appear to understand the local culture. “The black women were used as objects to create an exotic scene,” said Stephanie Ribeiro, a columnist for the Brazilian edition of Marie Claire, adding that “it’s reminiscent of colonialism and romanticizes those times. She was recreating the image where whites are superior and blacks are dehumanized.”

    I wonder if Stephanie Ribeiro is related to the author and politician Darcy Ribeiro.. Probably not because HuffPo labels her as a Student and black feminist activist, while Darcy appears rather white.in his Wiki picture.

  15. Oscar says

    Like so often the problem here is that US political conflicts and issues have been imported / exported to other countries without any regard and only superficial adaptation to these countries’ cultures and history.

    Here in Sweden there’s a sort of Afro resentment movement (actually it’s miniscule, but its activists are very vocal and get a lot of airtime) which is almost a copy past of the US even though Sweden never had slave colonies, never had race based slavery, that police violence and shootings are extremely rare and that the absolute majority of people of African descent in Sweden are either people (or children of people) who have been given asylum by Sweden or people who have been allowed to study at Swedish universities (for free).

Comments are closed.