Student is barred because of her hair and clothes; accuses school of racism

As you might have noticed by now, the topic of hair in Brazil continues to be a hot topic that sparks debate and controversy; especially if it is dealing with black women’s hair. If you’ve followed the posts on this blog, you will remember that we covered the controversy involving two songs deemed racist because of their lyrics depicting black women and black women’s hair in derogatory manners. We’ve also seen an intern at a Brazilian university become the target of verbal assault on the job because of her hair. This blog have also published various articles detailing the struggles of black Brazilian women in accepting their natural hair textures, be they curly, kinky, wavy or somewhere between. This case is no different. But also, as in the case of the intern who was assaulted at the job, I sought the opinion of a Brazilian friend in regards to this case. This friend is a hairdresser in the city of São Paulo. After reading the story and seeing the photos, she told me that, in her opinion, the girl has every right to wear her hair any way she sees fit and shouldn’t barred from anywhere, but that her hair was badly done. What do you think? Check out the story and photos. 


Student is barred because of her hair and clothes; accuses school of racism.

The secretary of state of the northeastern state of Maranhão is investigating an alleged crime of racism against a 19-year old woman. Ana Carolina Bastos, a student of the Unidade Integrada Estado do Pará, on the outskirts of the capital city of São Luís, reported that she was barred from class by the director of the school on the first day of class.

According to Bastos, on February 23rd, the director, Socorro Bohatem, stopped her at the entrance of the school and told her that she was dressed in an “inadequate” way. Following an objection by Ana Carolina, who defended herself by saying that another young, (white) girl, wore a more low-cut dress than hers and was not barred, to which the director explained that she could not get into school because of the “black power” (afro) hairstyle. According to the student, the director was astonished by her choice of hairstyle, asked why she wore her hair “in that way” and told her leave the building. “The other student wore a top and a very low-cut dress. It was my style that didn’t please her. It was a case of racism. Later I found out that this was not the first time something like this happened”, said the student.

The local media get details about the incident from Ana Carolina Bastos

 The student who continues to attend classes at the school where the incident occurred, filed a complaint with the police and now intends to enter a complaint against the director in the State Public Ministry of the State (MPE). The teacher also continued performing her duties as normal.

Ana Carolina Bastos speaks to the press about the incident and protest

 In an official statement, the government replied that it “will hear the parties involved and take appropriate action.” On Friday of last week, dozens of students and members of the Movimento Negro held a protest carrying banners and signs against the action of the director in front of the school. To the students, the director said that she had not behaved in a racist manner. The local press tried to talk to the teacher, but the Secretary of Education reported that she could not give interviews in order to preserve the investigation process.

Racism is a crime

The young Ana Carolina is part of a group that plays African-oriented music in São Luís. Her dream is to be a sociologist so that she can fight for minorities in the capital city of Maranhão. “When I was barred, my sister cried and I was horrified. A lot of people were looking at me. It was a massacre. I wasn’t start anything. I go to school to be someone in life”, said the student. “I have a black identity and I will not change it,” she added.

Ana Carolina (in black top) with her sister

This is the second episode involving actions of racism in Maranhão in less than a year. In July, the rectory of the Federal University of Maranhão (UFMA) opened an administrative procedure to investigate a complaint that a teacher, José Cloves Verde Saraiva, had humiliated a student enrolled in the Chemical Engineering course, Nuhu Ayuba. So far, the investigation has not been completed.

Participants of public rally

According to Claudicea Durans of the group Raça e Classe do Maranhão (Race and Class of Maranhão):“black men and women have experienced situations of humiliation and racial slurs on a daily basis in different public spaces and these acts are often expressed in different ways: racist jokes, police beatings, moral and physical aggressions, that often go unreported because of the embarrassment, humiliation, sadness and frustration that its causes the people that denounce them”, but, Durans continues, “they must be reported in order to serve as examples and may in fact be punished because racism, according to Brazilian law, is a non-bailable and imprescriptible crime.”

Education without racism

“Racism has different facets. The use of negative stereotypes and ridicule of physical characteristics and traits is another aspect of racism, which is in our analysis, at the same time silent, cruel and violent, it acts to deny the black identity, destroys cultural, historical, and physical values of this population, destroying their self-esteem.

Claudicea Durans


“The fact that this discriminatory attitude occurred in school leads us to reflect that this situation is common in the school environment and that the school has historically been an instrument of reproduction of dominant ideologies, and racism, one more element to ensure the oppression and exploitation of blacks.”

Previous article: Is Beyonce’s mixed-race blackness a contradiction? Brazil’s Graça Cunha doesn’t think so

Source: CSP Conlutas

About Marques Travae 3273 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.


  1. This week end i will focus essentially on brazil for two subjects the black hair stories and the evicted one by the navy; God Bless;You know what! My sister is going to Brazil for 3 months to work in an organic farm owned by her capoeira teacher; i tried to informed her because evrybody seems to sing to her wooah brazil is soo fantaaastic blah blah blah… will be amazed how black people outside are not really informed by what is happening there; So i showed her your blog for her to be prepared;What was funny is when i asked her who was telling her that it was sooo fantastic there she told me that it was mostly white brazilians; Not surprised; I had another sister who went there like few years ago and i warmed her that it will be difficult but she didn't listen; So she went to Rio and Sau Paulo for 2 weeks with one of her best friend ( nigerian girl);It was the worst holiday they never had;They were treated like crap compared to the white people who were with them (tourists group);The funny thing was before she was going i told her to pay more money so she can go to Baihia at least she will meet more interessing black people but AGAIN SHE SAID NO. IT WAS TOO EXPENSIVE( just £100 more); Infact evrything i was telling and warning she found it there; SOME PEOPLE NEED TO WAKE UP SERIOUSLY AND STOP DREAMING.Even today she is still mad AND REFUSE TO DETAIL TO US HOW WAS HER HOLIDAYS; By the way her friend never talked to her again after these desastrous holidays; Nigerian proud is something you need to take Seriously; LOL God Bless;

  2. I am from the generation of Black American women who began to wear their hair in its natural state. I still wear mine this way decades later. I find it interesting that the style this sista is wearing is considered to be a "Black Power" symbol in Brazil. What I see is just her hair without any chemicals. It's a good look on her by the way. But having gone through this cycle of prejudice, I know how difficult it can be in a culture that holds up the European brand of beauty versus the African brand of beauty.I am pleased to see that there is resistance to the idea that Black women have to copy women outside of our culture. I hope that this young woman wins the right to take her seat in class with her hair still natural. Now that would be a Black Power style that sends a message.

  3. I loved the picture of the two beautiful sisters. The director needs to apologize every day to this young lady. May she continue to wear her hair any dang gone way she wants too. The nerve of folks!

  4. I am a white Brazilian guy. I am posting this message because I became interested in this topic since Americans like to classify people by their ethnicity.For instance, if I have to apply for a job in Brazil I have to fill out a form which requires all my personal information but my skin complexion.On the other hand, if I have to apply for a job in the U.S.A, I have to give information about my ethnicity, besides, American neighborhoods are segregated by ethnicity which is rather weird for someone who lives in Brazil.Unfortunately,racism and discrimination exists until nowadays.However, this incident with the black girl in Brazil portrays a problem in our society but not the reality in Brazil.Brazil is one of the few countries in the world where you can see Asians,Africans,Europeans decents not only living together in harmony but also living in the same neighborhood , being friends, and respecting each other.

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