Note from BW of Brazil: Honestly, after seeing what so many openly racist ads for several years, this particular advertisement doesn’t shock me at all. What gets me is how tacky it looks. I mean how ridiculous does it look to change only the face and one hand of the girl featured in the commercial? Obviously, someone had to actually think through the idea of changing the appearance of a black girl with a white face and a white hand, and such a change automatically implies race because of the simple fact that the racial characteristics were changed. When questioned about the choice of a partial morphing from black to white, the Ministry of Education claimed it was promoting diversity. But there’s a problem with that reasoning.
Private schools in Brazil are very expensive and as such, the majority of students in such institutions of higher learning are white. How does changing a black girl into a white girl promote the idea of diversity when most students in private schools are already white? Portraying a black girl as she is and letting her represent the program would represent diversification. The very objective of the Prouni, meaning University for All Program (see note one), is to provide scholarships for students who cannot afford the costs of high tuition rates.
Of course, there are obviously low-income white students who benefit from the program as well (see note two), but it doesn’t change the fact that blacks have much more access to public colleges and universities than they do to private institutions (see note three). The bottom line here is that there was absolutely no need to produce a video in such a manner. More black students in private institutions is what would diversify private universities campuses and not white students who are already the vast majority. Brazil just being racist Brazil, as usual, and then denying it. So what else is new?
Ministry of Education accused of racism after releasing scholarship competition showing a student entering college black but apparently coming out white with degree in hand
Advertisement about Prouni was criticized for portraying a student entering college black and coming out white after graduation
After suspending a campaign of Banco do Brasil that celebrated the diversity of its clients, the Federal Government provoked another controversy in the field of advertising.
The Ministry of Education (MEC) shared the image of a black girl with a natural curly afro entering college, but coming out as a white woman with straight hair and diploma in hand. The piece is being considered racist by the internet users for implying that only white people graduate in universities.
The ad was released to announce the last day of applications to compete for 50% or 100% scholarships for undergraduate programs through the University for All Program (Prouni).
Numerous reactions on Twitter gained prominence in the flood of critical responses to the piece. One of them read, “Ganhe um diploma e troque a cor da pele” (Earn a degree and change your skin color). Others: “If you earn a scholarship, you turn white, obviously,” with another reading “Congratulations MEC… perpetuating the culture of racism.” More comments included, “I’ll let my parents know that when I graduate at the end of the year, I’m going to turn white. I don’t want to scare them,” whole another person wrote: “Racism in the most shocking way possible, the way that this shitty government knows how to do.”
The main reactions of users of social networks were of those who didn’t approve of the ad divulged by MEC. In one montage by a critic, the hand with the diploma has the middle finger extended.
The discomfort with the ad continued on Instagram, where an account replied in the post: “I don’t understand. Do we go in black and come out white from college? Hello?”. Another one just below that one commented: “Racist propaganda of the federal government shocks zero people”.
Despite being a quantitative majority in Brazil, 54% according to the IBGE, the população negra (black population) is not a majority in universities or in jobs with higher salaries. The revolt has behind it the historical attempt to erase the black population from Brazilian society and the struggle of the black population not to allow this project to be carried out.
Questioned about the ad, MEC explained that “the intention (of the campaign) is to emphasize that the opportunities are equal for all candidates, and the chosen language was the overlapping of images that demonstrate the variety of color, race and gender.”
Source: Almeida, Wilson Mesquita de. “PROUNI E O ACESSO DE ESTUDANTES NEGROS AO ENSINO SUPERIOR”. Revista Contemporânea de Educação, vol. 12, no. 23, Jan/April 2017. Feitosa, Vitor. “Pesquisa revela: Falta apoio público a estudantes indígenas no Brasil”. April 19, 2018. Portal T5. Available at: https://www.portalt5.com.br/noticias/brasil/2018/4/82248-pesquisa-revela-falta-apoio-publico-a-estudantes-indigenas-no-brasil. Accessed June 17, 2019, Notícia Preta, Gaúcha ZH
- Prouni, meaning Programa Universidade para Todos, or University for All Program was created by the Brazilian Federal Government in January of 2005. The program’s objective is provide partial and full scholarships for college undergrad programs and specific training courses in private universities. Instituted by law 11.096 in January 2005, by 2013, the Prouni program made a college education possible for more than one million students. Targeting low income families, prospective candidates for full scholarships must come from families in which household income equals one and a half mimnimum salaries per person. That works out to about BRL 1,430/month. To qualify for partial scholarships, prospective nstudents must come from families in the household income is equal to three minimum salaries per person, or BRL 2862/month.
- A 2018 report, for example, shows that nearly 138,000 white students were recipients of Prouni scholarships compared to more than 34,000 negros (black+brown).
- Other reports detail the fact that, throughout Brazil, private universities had a higher proportion of white graduates than those in public universities.