Note from BW of Brazil: As would be expected, the victory of Raíssa Santana in the 2016 Miss Brasil contest has been big news across black Brazilian social media networks. And it well should be! After all, it had been 30 years since an Afro-Brazilian woman wore the crown and she’s only the second in 62 years! It’s an extreme understatement to say it’s been long overdue and the lovely 21-year old should be recognized for such an emotionally-charged accomplishment! Yesterday’s post provided a good example for why black representation matters so much in a country such as Brazil that has an obsession with presenting itself as an extension of Europe. But before we go too far in our celebration, let us remember that this is simply one small step. We still have a LLOONNGG ways to go for black Brazilians to be represented in the same proportion of which they make up the overall Brazilian population. And this writer has no reason to believe that Brazil’s media will easily relinquish the adoration of white women as the standard of beauty any time soon. But just as well, congratulations Raíssa! You have given millions of little meninas negras across Brazil someone beautiful in which to see themselves!
Finally, after 30 years we have a black Miss Brazil
Courtesy of TNM
It shouldn’t be news, but in the case of the most racist country in the world, it’s an historic achievement. We have a black Miss Brasil.
The event that happened at Citibank Hall in São Paulo and had fashion personalities and beauty experts on the jury, presented 27 candidates from all over Brazil, with 6 lindas mulheres negras (beautiful black women) in total, the highest number in the history of the competition.
Accustomed to the catwalks and covering advertising campaigns, Raíssa Santana was born in Bahia but lives in Umuarama, Paraná. For this city she was named Miss Paraná in 2016, which was already a major victory for a black woman, especially in southern Brazil. But on the night of October 1st, last Saturday, Raíssa Santana achieved the victory of her life, winning Miss Brasil 2016 broadcast live on Band TV.
Raíssa Oliveira Santana representing the state of Paraná, is 21 years old, 1.77 tall, is a professional model and a marketing student. With victory Raíssa not only won the title of Miss Brasil in 2016, she also receives as main awards a contract of R$100,000.00 (one hundred thousand reais), a scholarship for grad or post-graduate at a university, a trip to Colombia, a trip to Italy, a Kia Picanto car, jewelry, beauty products and the best, a stamped passport to represent Brazil in the Miss Universe pageant on January 30th, 2017 in the Philippines.
As if that wasn’t enough to be applauded every time she appeared or had her name announced, Raíssa was very brave placing representation and the fact that we haven’t had a black Miss Brasil for so long as one of the reasons why she should be chosen. This could have been a shot in the foot as she was trying to convince a mostly white jury, that she was the best option.
“I’m dreaming. It seems like I’m in a dream, I’m excited. I am very glad to have fulfilled everything I wanted. I did everything I wanted, it was really me,” Raíssa said after her coronation.
The night was black, as besides Raíssa taking the biggest title, we also had a third place with the also very beautiful Miss Maranhão, Deise D`anne, and the party was opened by singer Dom Paulinho Lima. Toward the end of the event, singer Paula Lima, who was also a judge, took the stage and gave her usual show.
Raíssa, who was bombarded after the end of the event reinforces the team of black women who will be in the Miss Universe, increasing considerably the chances of having a black Miss Universe. Recently the beautiful lieutenant of the US Army, Deshauna Barber emerged victorious and will represent the US.
Raíssa’s title has even more reason to be emblematic. She is a woman that was born in Bahia but that has lived for many years in Paraná, a stilted state and stuck up state due to its Europeanness, one of the most racist of Brazil. In this exact moment the south of Brazil is, again, trying to separate from the rest of the country. Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina and Paraná collected votes in 1,279 polling places for the separatist movement that’s called “O Sul é o meu País” (The South is my country).
Although Brazil is the country with the largest black population outside of Africa, exactly 30 years we hadn’t had a black Miss Brasil. The first and last was Deise Nunes in 1986, interestingly representing another improbable state, Rio Grande do Sul. Today, at 48, Deise hoped that finally we could have a beleza negra (black beauty) as victorious in the competition of that night.
Southern companies don’t ever use black women in their TV commercials and other advertisements. African and Haitian refugees are constantly verbally and physically abused, even to the extreme of being beaten to death, as what happened last year.
This victory comes at a time in which much has been said about racism, empowerment and representation. We blacks always knew the importance of it all, however, with social networks these movements have gained strength and popularity, though still much criticized by those who believe that we are all equal and should act as such, totally ignoring that we stopped being on equal footing when we were brought from Africa, whipped for 400 years, had our roots cut forever, our beauty ignored, our intelligence questioned and culture thrown in the mud.
Today, all mulheres negras do Brasil (black women of Brazil) woke up feeling represented. Surely the menina negra (black girl) from the periferia (periphery/ghetto), deep in her boarded shack, will stand in front of a mirror and will look at herself in a different way. Representation matters, yes. Many meninas negras from now will begin to consider the possibility of also being Misses, and why not? Many black girls and boys, receive with this victory the information that the color of your skin is beautiful and should not be an obstacle to anything. They can be whatever they want in life. Racism will only end when all realize that it is impossible to impede that we occupy all the spaces, which are also ours by right. Racism will only end when we see more (black) women and men on magazine covers as symbols of beauty. When we go to a hospital and are cared for by médicos negros (black doctors). When we see more black male and female judges, engineers, lawyers, actors and actresses.
Congratulations Raíssa Oliveira for your victory. Congratulations Deise D’anne for coming in third place.
May more come, we want many more!
For those who still have doubts that Raíssa Santana deserved it, check out the photo gallery of the beauty.
Thank you Raíssa: black girls can also dream of being a Miss
By Silvia Nascimento
Victória Esteves (Miss Bahia), Beatriz Leite (Miss Espírito Santo), Deise D’Anne (Miss Maranhão), Mariana Deny (Miss Rondônia) and Sabrina Paiva (Miss São Paulo) and the winner Raíssa Santana (Miss Paraná)
The representation is making us feel part of the world. It begins with our family. If we don’t see people like us we think that there’s something wrong with us and in adolescence it can be very cruel. The lack of bonecas negras (black dolls) and the absence of images of black teens in advertising, YouTube and targeted magazines just makes more perverse the issue of invisibility for a public already so lacking in references.
Watching Raíssa Santana, being crowned as Miss Brasil 2016 for our young people is like seeing an Afro-Brazilian princess being honored for her beauty. Let’s forget all the marketing that is behind this type of award and remember that despite the number of Brazilians that self-declaring themselves black increased, no black woman won the beauty contest for three decades. That’s a long time.
Returning to the issue of representativeness, Raíssa is not the empregada doméstica adolescente e negra (black teenage maid) of the Globo TV novela (soap opera) Malhação, she’s a symbol of beauty linked to luxury and glamor, so rarely associated with us black women. And she’s not Beyonce, she is Brazilian. The Black Miss studies marketing and knows that beauty is not enough to be anyone in the world. The brain is her favorite part of the body. We need these narratives so that our girls can also dream of participating in beauty contests as many brancas (white girls) also dream of. There’s nothing wrong with those who like the crown, after all, dreams doesn’t judge and if there’s a black girl wanting to be a warrior there are those that want to be a princess or queen.
The six black Misses with cabelos crespos (kinky/curly hair), Victória Esteves (Miss Bahia), Beatriz Leite (Miss Espírito Santo), Deise D’Anne (Miss Maranhão), Mariana Deny (Miss Rondônia) and Sabrina Paiva (Miss São Paulo) and the winner Raíssa Santana (Miss Paraná) that we saw on stage at Citibank Hall, in the historic night of October 1st, in São Paulo, gives us hope that finally the formers of opinion are recognizing the beauty of the mulher negra brasileira (black Brazilian woman). I hope that this is reflected in our advertising, as the scope of this type of competition is still low. In that it depends on social networks, it is evident that Brazilian society approves of black skin and cabelo crespo as a symbol of national beauty. And may our girls celebrate their beauty also, today and forever.