Is it “just because I’m white?”, asks model after controversial rejection of black couple for white couple in World Cup event; black Brazilians and director Spike Lee voice outrage

Lima, Camila, Ramos, Spike

Note from BW of Brazil: A few days, this blog brought to you yet another racial controversy brewing in Brazil, this time over the choice of a white couple over a black couple to host the ceremonial Final Draw to introduce the groupings of teams for the 2014 World Cup which is being hosted by Brazil. It’s a little difficult to ascertain all of the facts in the story because there are all sorts of denials going on in terms of what actually happened. For her piece, actress Camila Pitanga recently denied even having received an invitation to host the event. In our original report, the story was that Brazil top TV network Globo suggested the two Afro-Brazilian actors and then the actors were subsequently rejected by FIFA. FIFA is now denying this and placing the blame on Globo TV and another agency. What a mess! But regardless of what really went down, this post is actually more about the reaction of the blond model, Fernanda Lima, in response to the controversy. Can you say “white privilege”?

“Just because I’m white?” asks Fernanda Lima on the controversy

by Bruno Poletti

Model/host Fernanda Lima responds to controversy
Model/host Fernanda Lima responds to controversy

Fernanda Lima became a target this week after FIFA confirmed to be the master of ceremonies of the Final Draw for the 2014 World Cup. She and her husband, Rodrigo Hilbert, were supposedly put in place of black actors Camila Pitanga and Lázaro Ramos. The exchange has generated debates on the internet about an alleged racist entity of futebol (soccer). The host spoke to the Folha the day before yesterday, at the opening of the Riachuelo store on Rua Oscar Freire in São Paulo.

Folha – How have you dealt with the controversy?

Fernanda Lima – I’m not dealing with it. Actually, I’ve been working with FIFA for some years now. And I was called to this job for more than six months ago. But we didn’t talk about these things, you know? I followed this whole buzz that came out in the press. But I’m an employee, a communicator. I was called and I accepted as such and I will do my job. What do I have to do with it? Just because I’m white?

Did the comments hurt you?

Maybe they would have hurt me ten years ago. Today I’m sophisticated. I sleep tranquilly. My bills are paid on time, I pay my taxes. I am a citizen, I raise my children the way they I think is correct, I value education, I respect the next (person), I don’t discriminate against anyone. Also do not raise flags (issues). I just think we have to be respected, without violence. I do not feed into that kind of thing.

Note from BW of Brazil: In case you hadn’t heard about this, American film maker Spike Lee has been traveling back and forth to Brazil over the past year recording a new documentary about Brazil that he hopes to complete before the World Cup begins. This blog has followed Lee on his various visits to Brazil and also cited some of his work in regards to how it applies to the situation in Brazil (see here). The controversy has spread to the point that even the BBC has covered the story and on his most recent trip, Lee also weighed in on the story.

Spike Lee attacks Fifa for refusing Lázaro Ramos and Camila Pitanga

from the newsroom of Revista Fórum

Actors Camila Pitanga and Lázaro Ramos were supposedly rejected by FIFA for a white couple
Actors Camila Pitanga and Lázaro Ramos were supposedly rejected by FIFA for a white couple

Passing through Brazil, the American filmmaker Spike Lee commented on FIFA’s opting to veto actors Camila Pitanga and Lázaro Ramos as hosts of the Final Draw of the World Cup 2014. “This shows who is really in charge. When it comes to soccer, who really runs this shit is FIFA and FIFA is only concerned with the audience,” the director told Rolling Stone magazine.

Singer Seu Jorge also chimed in on the controversy
Singer Seu Jorge also chimed in on the controversy

At the same event, popular Brazilian singer Seu Jorge also commented on the case. “FIFA doesn’t act the same way in Brazil as it would in other countries. That would never happen in the United States if they chose Jay Z and Beyoncé to present something,” said the artist, who complained of how blacks are seen in the country of the next World Cup. “The problem is that in our country black is not beautiful, blacks have ‘fine features’. No one admits to black beauty.”

“FIFA never vetoed anyone”

In response to accusations of racism, the entity that manages world soccer transferred to Globo responsibility for the veto. “FIFA never vetoed anyone, since the proposals for hosts are made by the GEO agency, in coordination with Globo TV.”

FIFA said that the choice of the couple Fernanda Lima and Rodrigo Hilbert is owes itself “primarily to the positive experience in launching the logo of the FIFA World Cup in 2010.”  According to the entity, the two were selected after GEO sent a list of “many names.”

Note from BW of Brazil: As stated in the intro to this post, at this point the issue is not even who rejected who or even what offer was actually made. The issue here is Lima’s attitude toward the situation. In regards to the issue, Lima asks, “What do I have to do with it? Just because I’m white?” The question speaks volumes to way many white Brazilians continue to side step or outright deny how racism and white privilege works in Brazil. Does Lima not know that black models are regularly rejected in the country’s most prestigious modeling events? Does she not know that black actors are routinely excluded or vastly under-represented in Brazilian novelas? Advertisements? Variety shows? Does she forget or is she ignorant of the fact that modeling agencies search for new Brazilian models in the three most southern states (1), where, coincidentally (?), the white population is the vast majority? Has she never noticed that the overwhelming majority of television hosts in Brazil look like her? Maybe she has noticed; but being that she fits the standard of beauty and is getting rich at the exclusion of persons who don’t fit this standard, maybe she doesn’t care.

I also find it interesting that she actually states that she doesn’t raise issues but instead insists that “we have to be respected…without violence.” An odd choice of words considering the lack of respect that the Afro-Brazilian population receives, both in regards to its very existence in general and also due to the consistent, widespread violence to which they are subjected. Has Lima ever stopped to think that her whiteness protects her or significantly diminishes her likeliness of being murdered in such a violent country? Probably not. But then, that’s what privilege is all about isn’t it? Her comments and her choice of clothing caused quite a stir in the social networks among black Brazilians. Below are only a few of the comments that her point of view provoked (comments translated into English below the original Portuguese).

1.8Souza: Yes, only because you are white and don’t wish to relinquish the ‘status quo’, (by) refusing to participate in solidarity with the black couple and your comrades in the artistic class. And someone advise this IDIOT that the use of a turban for us to send a little message that she shot herself in the foot. Until now, the message was to FIFA. A turban, white girl, is a POLITICAL ACT! Do me a favor and snatch from your head what is ours!

1.1Vanilson: Only because the two are black?

1.2Sara: She’s “enjoying” the privileges of whiteness, please…
Giceli: For her and for those that will only make gains with the Cup, everything is only a question of money! And she and a minority that always come out good at the cost the of racism that reigns in this country, they will always deny the existence of racism
1.3Viviane: Yes, child…it’s because you are white, YES!! The rejected couple would have (and have) as much competency as you
Denize: Besides this, you Fernanda Lima should understand and not even accept (it), if you had character…and not once again navigate the costs of the privilege of your color, because it’s only this that guarantees you being who you are and where you are…kisses
1.4Marcio: Really it must be so difficult to be white in this country…How unfortunate

1.5Denize: Besides this, you Fernanda Lima should understand and not even accept (it), if you had character…and not once again navigate the costs of the privilege of your color, because it’s only this that guarantees you being who you are and where you are…kisses
1.7  Giceli: Besides all the racial questions, I think the couple is shameless!!! The worst choice!!! In every sense!!!
1.9Maria: Idiot! The subject was not even about her. What an idiot. Picking a fight shows that she is racist. This is what brought up the question and her “turban”.

Source: Folha de S.Paulo, Revista Fórum

Notes

1. Taken from a 2010 New York Times article from Restinga Sêca, Rio Grande do Sul, in southern Brazil, Alexei Barrionuevo reported: “But here in the south scouts still spend most of their time hunting for the next Gisele (Bündchen), and offer few apologies for what they say sells. Clóvis Pessoa studies facial traits that are successful on international runways and looks for towns in the south that mirror those genes. “If a famous top model looks German with a Russian nose, I will do a scientific study and look for cities that were colonized by Germans and Russians in the south of Brazil in order to get a similar face down here,” Mr. Pessoa said. Dilson Stein, who discovered Ms. Bündchen when she was 13, called Rio Grande do Sul a treasure trove of model-worthy girls. A year before discovering Ms. Bündchen, whose parents are of German ancestry, he found 12-year-old Alessandra Ambrosio, now famous for her Victoria’s Secret shoots.

About Marques Travae 2927 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

10 Comments

  1. I am from the United States, but have been living in the Brazil for the last 15 years. Many Brazilians don’t like to converse about it, but the racism exhibited in Brazil is some of the worst in the world. The “structure” that is used to continue racist policies is in full effect in Brazil.

    • Wow. I was under the impression that Brazil was a bit more progressive than the United States when it came to issues such as racism. I even had plans on visiting the country soon. Your statement really makes me think twice about going.

      It’s already sad to see how my people are in America. I’m really not looking forward to seeing it abroad at a more intense level either.

      • JH go anyway, I am going to help them fight this bs, Black men in the Americas have tolerated this far too long. You can’t run from it. Blacks get the same treatment in Costa Rica, Dominican Republic and Colombia. I’m sure dig up some dirt about the other South American countries accept for Belize, but then again, its all the White American retirees down there adding to the corrupt Government.

    • Man I am coming to Brazil and we should connect. This nonsense has to be put down with the quickness. As I have been reading various stories here and elsewhere lead me to believe that Brazil is equally as racist as Costa Rica and Dominican Republic when it comes to its Black population.

      African-American women by and large are rachet, so they won’t help, nor do they care. So its up the US the Black men of the Americas to fix this bullsh*t!

      • Really? The same (black) men who worship any thing light bright or damn near white? From the US to Brazil to Nigeria and beyond…
        See it is not nice is it? Tarring all black women in the US with the brush of being ‘y and large are rachet’ who started the most outcry when bm are killed (too many to list) are maimed in the US? Who petitioned when the latest child was told her hair was bad for school? Show me the receipts on what the bm have done? Apart from run rampage through the various neighbourhood destroying? Yeah like you generalised so have i. And just as you can point to bm who are doing good things, i can point to bw / bw led orgs doing things. So stop with that crap. How can bm and women work together when you spew crap like this?

      • I have to disagree with you sir, just because you have come across some ratchet women as you call them on your life’s journey doesn’t mean they all belong in the same box. Maybe only the ones you have come across on your life’s journey as black men and women when do we stop putting labels on one another you have a good day sir and remember together we can change the world with out labeling one another one world, one love, you came in alone and so she’ll I leave.

      • Yes but not black men like yourself,sellouts that prefer only light skinned black women. Maybe you should un-brainwash yourself first.

  2. DJFORMONEY is a sex monger who has stated support of white supremacist beauty standards. He is only interested i n Brazil because he cannot get light skinned black women and white women in the US. DJ go back to happier abroad and the woldsex guide sites and spew your self hating garbage.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.