Last month, 19-year-old student Ana Carolina Bastos Soares said she was a victim of racism at her school. As she was attempting to enter the campus at the Unidade Integrada Estado do Pará, Bastos claims the school’s director kept her from attending the first day of classes because of her hair.

The blog Black Women of Brazil reports:

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” 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.

Soares was eventually allowed to attend classes, but she has filed a complaint with the authorities and the secretary of state of the northeastern state of Maranhão is investigating the incident.

Although the incident was hurtful, Soares says she will not let anything make her ashamed to be black.

“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”, Soares said. “I have a black identity and I will not change it,” she added.

After the incident, students and members of Movimento Negro took to the streets to protest Soares’ treatment and other incidents of racism in Maranhão.

According to Claudicea Durans of the group Raça e Classe do Maranhão (Race and Class of Maranhão), these incidents aren’t new, but like Bastos has shown, they must be confronted.

“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”, she explains.

Despite the contentious atmosphere, Durans insists these incidents “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.”

Brazil has a very complicated history with race and despite being home to the largest black population outside of continental Africa, racism continues to be an issue in the country. Although the country touts its history as a “racial democracy,” colorism and racism remain a problem.

  • omfg

    glad to see this woman not run away from blackness and stand up for herself.

    stay your natural self…

    it’s good when people show you who they really are.

  • rhirhi-hater

    stay natural!

  • Alexandra

    I was just reading about this….. I do think Brazil is a tad bit more progressive in race relations, but I never believed it was home to a racial harmony either. It seems that race is just as touchy there, as it is everywhere.

    So glad to see that she is standing up for herself. Don’t ever apologize for the way you ‘naturally’ look!

  • Tonton Michel

    Bravo to the young lady and the Movimento Negro for taking a stand and setting an example for others to follow.

  • Nnaattaayy

    I’m so proud of her for not letting them make her feel ashamed of her natural hair. & good for her for wanting to be in school. That’s true beauty <3

  • African Mami

    Oh how I love her hair. Stay black and safe ma pippo. Peace to the Middle East(Tamar Braxton says that!)

  • LainaLain

    And people say racism has gone away in this country…..yeah right.

  • Afia

    Why can’t a woman just be natural and happy. The only reason to turn a student away when it concerns hair is if that student has lice.

  • Velma

    This is why wearing your hair in it’s natural state is important. Because there is a lot of ignorance pertaining to hair.

  • Robbie

    Natural hair is beautiful let’s not forget it. Need more women and men to embrace it.

  • binks

    Go ahead girl, rock your beautiful locks with pride and fight the ignorance

  • apple

    isn’t brazil like 90% black?

  • cupcakes and shiraz

    Nope, blacks in Brazil make up about half of the country’s population (92.7 million out of 187 million people).

    But even with that, as the article mentioned, Brazil has the largest black population outside of the African continent.

  • B_More

    Replace white supremacy with JUSTICE, Immediately!!! This sista is BEAUTIFUL… When will we take a stand and all EMBRACE our NATURAL selves? Let go of the creamy crack, sistas.. Why must we hate ourselves so?

  • Gabriel

    That’s Brazil. The most racist country on Earth. I’m brazilian.

  • Jasmine T.

    You go ahead sister, we are rooting for you ”Black Power”

  • leonard smalls

    Interesting comment; however allow me to add the following:

    1. Truth – Beauty standards are about power and there are legitimate interests in controlling a group’s sense of beauty. Think Skinner here.

    2. Surprise – I’m surprised that others are surprised that Brazilian society holds such beliefs as those expressed in this article. It is imperative that the dominant Brazilian society, which is controlled by numerical minorities, control the larger population. Failure to do so will certainly lead to a major societal shifts.

  • leonard smalls

    Stop smoking the crystal meth! Was that too bold?

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