Note from BW of Brazil: So, how will those who are raised to believe that Brazil is a ‘racial democracy’ defend this one? “How is this racism? No one called her a macaca (monkey) or a ‘preta fedida’ (stinking black); she was just told to fix her hair!” I’m not saying that anyone actually said these words, but I’ve heard this reasoning so much over the years that it wouldn’t be surprising if someone thought or actually said the above typical response to accusations of racism. The fact of the matter is, as we’ve seen with numerous anti-black comments over the years, in Brazil, the standard for beauty, acceptance or the so-called ‘boa aparência’ (good appearance, code for white), one must approximate the European standard. As such, as afro-textured is considered ‘cabelo ruim’ (bad hair), Afro-Brazilian men are expected to wear their hair very close-cropped and Afro-Brazilian women are expected to straighten their voluminous tresses or wear a wig/weave to be seen as ‘acceptable’. It is a subtle form of racism in Brazil that is actually not so subtle at all. Today’s story is just another incident in the daily lives of black Brazilians…
Young woman is target of racism at Madureira College: ‘Ask that one over there to decrease the volume of her hair’
By Pedro Willmersdorf
A 18 year old woman claims to have been the victim of a racist comment as she left Souza Marques college in Madureira, in Rio de Janeiro’s north zone on Thursday. An employee of the institution, Larissa Inácio was accompanied by a friend in the bathroom when she heard from another woman who works there a displeasing message that originally made by the director of the college.
“I was ready to return home, when a person who I’ve never seen in my life came and told me, ‘Look, the director sent word to you to reduce the volume of your hair a little to come to work tomorrow.’ And began to laugh, as did other women who were in the bathroom,” Larissa told Extra (website).
The young woman, employed by Souza Marques for a year and two months via project the Jovem Aprendiz (Young Apprentice) project, says that she had been relocated by the sector for five months and had never faced any prejudiced incident in the workplace.
Outraged, Larissa’s mother made an outburst on her Facebook profile: “My daughter is black, beautiful!!! She wears a super stylish cabelo black (black hairstyle). She’s intelligent, educated, extroverted (…) I called immediately to the college to find out the name of that Director. I was very well attended. In telling the story, the person who helped me was surprised and asked me to await a contact (…) The Director herself answered and said that it was just a JOKE. Okay. All right then. But no…I’m sick of these ‘jokes’”.
On Friday, accompanied by her mother, Larissa reported the incident at the 29th Civil Police Office (Madureira) and resigned from the college, after a meeting with the director, who claimed responsibility for the comment, and the director of the institution’s HR department.
“There wasn’t the least condition to continue working there, being seen as a ‘troublemaker’, the ‘vitimista’ (one who plays the victim),” says the young woman, who now plans to take legal measures in relation to the case.
Sought by Extra, the director of the college was not found by the time of publication of this report