Despite having one of the largest populations of African-descended people outside of Africa, race in Brazil is still a touchy subject. Despite its strides, black Brazilians still report being discriminated against and treated unfairly simply because of the color of their skin. In light of this, a new soap opera, based on a Mexican telenovela, is causing quite a stir in the country.

The show, Cirilo, features a young, black elementary schoolboy who is in love with a white girl who despises him, has many black Brazilians crying foul. During the show, the young girl openly rebuffs his advances in sometimes cruel ways simply because he is poor and black.

Many activists and writers are worried about the message the show will send young, black Brazilians. One writer, Daniela Gomes discussed what she sees as the possible damaging effects of this show.

Gomes writes (translated by the Afro-Europe blog):

I became really sad when I read an article where the writer (who is married with the owner of the TV channel) of the new version of the soap opera, said that she would keep all the racism’ scenes, because she would like to be faithful to the original version and because she believed it would help to show a real problem in Brazil. 

At the same moment I wondered how to show a little black boy humiliation on TV in the prime Time without show any kind of reaction from him can help to combat racism? I became sadder when I saw that my little nephew and niece were watching the soap opera, but because I couldn’t do anything to make my protests about this listenable, I started to wonder about the subject.

I thought about the time when I watch the first version of the soap opera and how I suffered with the injustice committed by the girl and with Cirilo’s suffering. I thought about how happy we felt when Cirilo won a motorized car, black like him, in a lottery and had a race with a boy considered handsome in the history, who was rich and had a motorized car white like him. (In the story Maria Joaquina was in love with the white boy and insisted in to show to Cirilo how she and the other boy were equal and superior to Cirilo). It was as if we were had won with him.

I thought about all the boys that received the nickname Cirilo on their schools during that time. And I started to wonder if it didn’t help to develop on the boys of my generation (nowadays men who has 30 years old approximately), the Cirilo’ Syndrome.

What I call here Cirilo’ Syndrome, is the necessity that some men have in accept be treated in an inferior way when this kind of treatment comes from a white woman.

I never will judge personal relationships, because I don’t control people’s heart, but I have seen many black men being humiliated and accept this humiliation resigned only because they wish have a white woman on their sides.

I ask to myself if the behavior showed on this “innocent” soap opera, couldn’t help to create the resigned mind of many black men, who accept be called monkey by their girlfriends as if it was a lovely nickname. 

I wonder if in our society where the myth of the racial democracy keeps doing its well successful brain wash, where the black main problem is he/she own identity bad formed, or lack of identity, wouldn’t be a disservice to create another generation of victims of this syndrome that only can create low self-esteem. 

While parents ultimately are the largest contributing factor to their children’s self-esteem, it is hard to escape messages of inferiority unscathed. While it remains to seen whether or not Cirilo will be a hit, black Brazilians are pushing back against narratives that they claim demean them.

  • omfg

    “What I call here Cirilo’ Syndrome, is the necessity that some men have in accept be treated in an inferior way when this kind of treatment comes from a white woman.”

    i believe this is why some black males don’t have a problem with white women using the n word. just to have her eye on him is enough.

    it’s funny how others digest black male affection for white women. they sorta feel like black men just adore them and will do anything for them.

    i wonder if black males understand this is what they are projecting when they constantly chase the white woman – this tacit acceptance that white women are everything.

    oh well…c’est la vie. lol.

  • http://www.myblackfriendsays.com myblackfriendsays

    Brazil has problems. They seem to be in more denial than we are in the U.S. about the importance race plays in their society.

    Have you heard of “boa aparencia”? They put this in classified ads so people will know that only light skinned people should bother applying for certain jobs.

  • Dalili

    According to Daniela Gomes, the script writer would keep the racist tone because “it would help show a real problem in Brazil.” Umm, she couldn’t use adults to highlight that concern? Talk about projecting adult issues on children!!

  • eh
  • Toni

    *Boa aparencia*=good appearance=white

    Im sorry but I find it pathetic…the whole cirilo syndrome or whatever, the show, the whole situation in Brazil, etc…not my problem

  • PJ

    I think this Brazilian Soap Opera is sending a subliminal message. The message that imageries may portray depending on interpretations can weigh heavily. Since there is already a climate that exists with discrimination practices of the black and poor, it makes since that this film may have some damaging effects. Young men at an earlier age are receiving the message that he is less desirable. At the same time, the message in the film may be interpret as teaching young black males to pursue a white woman early on which is the best method. Overall, I think this soap opera is more of a negative rather than a positive.

  • PJ

    Correction: *sense*

  • Isis

    It’s pathetic and if he were my kid (and this were real) I would beat the black off him. Have some damn pride and stick to ur own kind. This does happen in real life too cuz black men’s self hatred is so deep they will do anything for a sniff of a white woman. ughh

  • http://guulo.wordpress.com/ Guulo

    I agree with the comments made by the blogger. I don’t have much to add and know very little of Brazil. But from watching this short clip the message this sends is very clear. All that is missing is a little black girl that is being overlooked by the little black boy in favor for the little white girl.

    A little off topic, because I find this fascinating. I’ve being reading people’s comments, here and elsewhere. And I’ve seen personal experiences, but with that I just took it as an individual matter than affecting more of the group. Yet I wonder are black men of the Americas really that white-washed? One can argue the power of the media in influencing behavior, and I would see that point, however it doesn’t really explain this phenomenon as I am led to believe exists.

    Black women of the Americas have gone through the same experience, of slavery, discrimination, jim crow etc, yet I don’t see or read about black women preferring to be with white men or their ideal form of a male being of whiter skin. Whereas for black men

    I get the impression the lighter, closer to white the “better”.
    What’s going on here? Why were the men affected in this population to a greater extent than the women? If anyone can weigh in.

  • http://tontonmichel.tumblr.com/ Tonton Michel

    Daniela Gomes makes some good points I was of the mind set that they need to let the show play out and see if the writers make adjustments in the show that would make character’s pride and self respect redeemable. But why risk the chance the writers and producers don’t get it, and the damage in the process may not be worth it. On thing is for certain the boy getting the girl in the end should not be the ending here……….it should be more like boy says forget this chick, get money.

  • Jenning

    LMFAO!!! lil BLK boy with low self esteem!! SMH… Don’t worry lil BLK boy you’ll grow up to be a B-Ball Player or a Football player then you’ll get the girl!! She may only be with you cuz u have money… and you’ll total be aware of it but will lie to yourself because of your LOW self esteem.. BUT of cares your uneducated and RICH. LOL!!!

  • Isis

    Great question which is a long answer. Will come back to it later

  • Isis

    pretty much!!

  • Terrence

    I would suggest you visit www beyondblackwhite com and read the articles and comments BLACK WOMEN MAKE ABOUT PREFERRING WHITE MEN. For you to visit this page and say you have not encountered articles or websites created and funded by black women that promote IR relationships involving black women and non black men only testifies to your limited scope and involvement on the internet.

  • GeordieEndz

    @Guulo

    Has it occured to you that black women manifest their issues in different ways i.e perms weaves skin bleaching etc? Lets not forget that the fair skin woman as ideal is universial and predates Euro colonialism.

  • Cloudy Summer Day

    For the record – Black women get relaxers, not perms.

  • Cloudy Summer Day

    Do you all think Black men are discussing this on their websites? Probably not.

  • GeordieEndz

    @Isis

    I agree with you. A black male will do anything to sniff a white women. Emmit Till gave his life.

  • apple

    New flash! White people aren’t the only people with straight hair! All races have straight to curly hair but blacks!

  • http://www.jessicasimien.com Jessica

    Aside from the comments about the article itself, the little boy in the video looks so cute!

  • GeordieEndz

    Its frightening the level of schadenfreude being enjoyed by black women at the expense of a lil black boy because of their anger at black men. It shouldnt surprise men though. A Chicago prep school graduated all of its black male seniors and sent the majority yo.university. The reaction here at Clutch..so.what they going to marry white women anyway.

  • Fifty shades of crap

    The storyline isn’t anything innovative, too bad it has the potential to become a reality show….whoops, already is.

  • Momo

    It seems that the recurring themes with these “racial” articles is:

    Black = poor, stupid, ugly and violent.

    If we really want to change anything, we have to (OURSELVES and that includes blacks from all over the world) actively change the discourse.

  • Kenzy

    ok i guess im the only one who is disturbed with the whole idea of a love story based around kids in the first place. I have a problem with the show period..soap operas for the elementary set?? 0_O i mean how much lower are we going to go? whats next tween porn??

  • Tiffy

    You are so right! as bad as it sounds thats why if i ever have a son he will not be some white woman’s puppy dog and this is one part of the many reasons why the black family is in crisis. our men are being programmed from childhood to worship women of other races especially white women and in turn to treat women who look there mothers, sisters, etc like trash as far a relationships go…

  • Toni

    @geordieEndz

    *Lets not forget that the fair skin woman as ideal is universal and predates Euro colonialism*

    Uummmmmmmmmmmmmmmm! Come again! You must be a Black man or some other non Black who read a book and think you know what you are talking about. Did Africans before colonialism have this so call *ideal* also?

    I cant help LMAO!!!! at some people and I hope Black women that you all see and hear and comprehend what black men are saying to you all.

  • Toni

    *Our men*

    and you dont have to be with a black man

  • JC
  • Aimee

    He looks as if he could belong to my fiancé. Yep, I might need to check this one out. He is a handsome lil fellow. :)

  • Tiffy

    @Toni but ill more than likely birth one

  • Jess

    I think the Brazilian soap opera is telling the truth about so many Black males. White females can do all kinds of bad to them – any and every kind of insult, including the subtle ones that go right over so many Black men’s egotistical airheads – and Black men would still kiss their asses.

    At least the Black Brazilians have sense enough to be insulted by this sopa opera. Black American males would probably cheer its existence and then blame Black girls and women for the white girls hatefulness.

  • Isis

    Sure they are. They’re probably saying how they gfs/wives and daughters look like that when they were little girls. They are also probably saying they acted like that little boy when they were little or now lmaooo

  • akosua

    @ GeordieEndz. Your statement “Lets not forget that the fair skin woman as ideal is universial and predates Euro colonialism.”

    This is unfounded and has no semblance of truth. If you go to the motherland, which I encourage all black people to do, you will see no evidence of this. Blue black men (not trying to be offensive but emphasizing color) are married to blue black women. There was no colorism prior to colonialism. Post colonialism you don’t see the degree of colorism that black american men exhibit.

    What we must understand is that colorism is a mental issue. The person’s self-worth, self-esteem, self-identify depends on the approval, and/or attainment of someone who is of a certain color. This is not ‘preference’ in which a number of black men used to explain away their behavior.

  • Toni

    Yeah, pretty much and White females know the power they have over black males. This is one of the reasons they seek out Black men….because they know Black men have made them their gods and they seek that power,especially the low self esteem having White women… a black man will boost them.

    But you know what, who cares! Let them stew in their hell/ or heaven, who cares!….I just wish Black women would move on and not be bothered.

    @keepitreal
    I read the other day that the fastest growing interracial relationship/marriage is Black woman/White man, followed by Black woman/Hispanic man….so some Black women are getting a clue because it was up to them anyway.

  • akosua

    .@keeping it real. You stated “In addition to their isolation and socioeconomic differences”

    It is interesting black men speak of black women as a monolithic but cry foul when they all are lumped together. Which group of black women are you referring to that are in isolation? Black women earn more degrees than black men. Black women are in more professional jobs than black men.

    You stated “Young American black women are just not being pursued in great numbers by white and non black men.”

    I’ve noticed lately this is trend explanation for black men. I believe the truth creates a cognitive dissonance for these black men. They want so badly for black women to be at the bottom that they will distort or give blinders to reality. Trust, non-black men hit on black women. The difference between black women and men is that black women don’t attach a great deal of significance to their self-worth b/c of this attraction. Thus, this men need more than white skin to get my attention

  • Shelly

    we love being victims.

  • Brooklynista

    “Black women of the Americas have gone through the same experience, of slavery, discrimination, jim crow etc, yet I don’t see or read about black women preferring to be with white men or their ideal form of a male being of whiter skin. Whereas for black men

    I get the impression the lighter, closer to white the ‘better’.”

    I think that’s because men are more socialized to project (AKA externally focus), while women are conditioned to internalize. In other words, BM are indoctrinated to want WW while BW are indoctrinated to want to be WW.

  • Jess

    @akosua: “”Young American black women are just not being pursued in great numbers by white and non black men”. I’ve noticed lately this is trend explanation for black men. I believe the truth creates a cognitive dissonance for these black men. They want so badly for black women to be at the bottom that they will distort or give blinders to reality. Trust, non-black men hit on black women. The difference between black women and men is that black women don’t attach a great deal of significance to their self-worth b/c of this attraction. “”

    It’s called gaslighting, akosua. Many Black men want to convince Black women that men from other races do not like Black woman, no matter that many Black women have experienced being pursued by non-black men. I myself have always been pursued by non-black men of many ethnicities, including white, but chose to not be with them for various reasons. Most black men will take any white woman just to prove their point of hatred of Black women and Black skin. You know, cut of their noses to spite their face. Black women arde not that insecure. Sure, we will date and marry outside the race, but rarely just to prove a point or diss Black men, who have the same skin tone, hair, and hstory. Too many Black men are insecure and have turned on their own because of it.

    They’re also jealous of “perceived” successes of Black women, whether these successes are real or not, and thus try to stick it to us. Many Jews turned against other Jews during the Nazi regime. So your own people can definitely turn on you – A large portion of Black men just turned against Black women and Blackness first in the Black race.

  • The Comment

    Simple and to the point.

  • The Comment

    Ok! It’s like we are victim robots who refuse to wake up and smell bs we shovlin’.

  • Me

    Man little black girls do the same thing…FAIL

  • Isis

    True! But in bw case its little blk boys we are running after and being ignored cuz hes running after becky

  • Duke

    *Co-sign

  • CulturallyAware

    Dear Author,

    This short video clip didn’t make any reference to the girl refusing to accept the boy’s advance because he was black and poor. To sum it up, the girl didn’t want him around her and the little white boy was telling her to take advantage of the black boy’s desperation to be around her and get him to do anything she desires. She still refused. Race and poverty were not mentioned by this girl in the video clip. Please don’t post videos like that and start seeing things that are not there. When making references from other cultures…especially media..make sure you understand the context.

    This soap opera – Carrrosel is the Brazilian version of the Mexican soap opera ‘ Carrusel’…so again, please understand the context before you write articles like this. Cirilo is the name of the clip….which introduces the little black boy..his character name is Cirilo.

  • PinkyToe

    So true. This is a perfect set up for a pity party. At this point it’s kind of played out.

  • Kam

    This is just a short excerpt and the clip that was given from the linked Afro Europe blog. That is where much of the text has been taken from. No one is drawing conclusions from this short clip alone.

  • Yeahright2011

    “causing quite a stir in the country” is in bright pink to indicate a link; click it, read it,t hen come back and apologize to the Clutch author for being a jerk.

  • Monique

    I grew up watching the original version, Carrusel. It was a cute show about puppy love. I don’t understand the need for a remake, but everything is recycled these days.

  • Isis

    My son won’t have self esteem issues because he will come from a family that is proud to be black and he will be taught the truth about black people. He won’t be taught that white is right and black is ugly. He will be a proud black boy.

  • Queen

    Yesss! We are forever holding ourselves prisoner to the light skin vs. dark skin battle. If a black man prefers a white woman than so be it… In the meantime I could be moving on to something even better.

  • CulturallyAware

    I understand why the author and all the critics are implying with their opinions, which are valid. But this is not a major issue for most Brazilians, even the black ones. So the stir of controversy in Brazil is FALSE. The point I am trying to make is that black people who are not from Brazil really over hype situations in foreign lands that really don’t deserve the energy it is given. When we start to respect cultural differences, then we will stop making a big deal about everything. In America, the black struggle & experience was so different from what Black Brazilians went through, so as a result, Black Americans and Black Brazilians who left Brazil and ‘seen the light’ are able to form these kind of opinions about ‘this show’…but for Black Brazilians who live in Brazil and have not been enlightened are not going to raise hell about this show..because they are trying to survive. Clutch and Daniel Gomes are making this into a bigger issue than it should be. There are bigger fish to fry in Brazil.

  • leelah

    the article is wriiten by a black brazillian

  • Yb

    @SMH

    You seem really angry bruh.

  • Yb

    @SMH

    Nah bro. You are MAD. Spamming up the comment section, making yourself look like a angry black male. Throwing around racial misogynist slurs and ad homeins with no basis. Dude u mad, and for no good reason. Enjoy life, be happy. Get rid of that anger you have toward black women. Life will be so much more enjoyable for you.

    And I don’t debate with people who are irrational and skew facts. But you have a good day, work on ridding yourself of that anger. :)

  • Sonia

    First of all, this is an original mexican soup opera. It’s not a Brazilian issue with ancestry. We’re actually more “africans” than African-Americans. Once again, Clutch Mag Online is turning to be a hater and should stop with the negativity articles. smh

  • Socially Maladjusted

    Well all I can say is all these nigros chasing white women means more black women for me to breed and spread my too black too strong genes around in.

    Brilliant.

    The last “THEY” need is an army of Socially Maladjusted black men.

  • http://afroatitudes.blogspot.com.br Daniela Gomes

    Hi, my name is Daniela and I’m the writer of afroatitudes and I wrote this post. I would like to say thank you for share my work.

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