Matilde is a political activist and the former Special Secretary of Politics of the Promotion of Racial Equality under the Lula da Silva administration. Ribeiro is known for speaking her mind on controversial topics. In the 2006, she said that she thought it was “better to have resentful whites but blacks in the university than to have happy whites and blacks outside of the university.” But it was her comments in 2007 that leveled accusations of reverse racism by Brazilian citizens and governmental officials. In an interview with the BBC, Ribeiro said, “It is not racism when blacks rebel against whites” because the “reaction of not wanting to co-exist with whites or not liking whites is natural.”
For the past decade, Brazil has grappled with the issue of quotas in order to allow more Afro-Brazilians access to public universities. Although Afro-Brazilians make up half of Brazil’s population, Brazilians of a more European appearance make up 80% of the student body of Brazilian universities. In February of 2008, Ribeiro stepped down from her post as a result of mounting media pressure regarding allegations that she made excessive purchases with her federal government-issued corporate credit card.