“But isn’t Brazil a racial democracy?”: Famous interracial couples reveal how they deal with racism in their relationships

Raissa wears a Gucci dress and Gla earrings. Marcus wears a Ricardo Almeida shirt and pants (Photo: Karine Basílio)

Note from BW of Brazil: Always intriguing to read articles such as the one posted below. In relation to interracial relations in Brazil, there are a number of issues that can lead to very interesting dialogue and also well as some uncomfortable realities that many Brazilians simply don’t want to deal with. It’s understandable. Whenever people, cultures, and countries live with certain mythologies, it is necessary to continue to believe the myths are true. For example, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve had Brazilians tell me, “Oh, racism? We don’t have that here. That’s a thing of the United States. We Brazilians are one people.” Or, “My _______ is married to a black ___________ and they don’t have any problems.” Well, the fact is, none of these statements hold up to close scrutiny. We know that racism and racial exclusion is a serious issue in Brazil and we also know from various works over the years, that the existence of interracial couples doesn’t mean the non-existence of racism

Well, the fact is, none of these statements hold up to close scrutiny. I’ve read countless stories of white Brazilian families who don’t accept black men/women dating their children. Afro-Brazilian women have shared various stories of white boyfriends not wanting to present them to their families. And there are also reports of white partners who hold very racist attitudes in relation to their black partner, mixed child and black people in general (see here and here). In other words, things are not always how they seem. Am I just creating problems where they don’t exist? Well, the second paragraph of the article below should clear that up for you…

Tania wears a Zara suit, Dolce & Gabbana bra, Gucci earrings and Jimmy Choo mules. Jairzinho wears a Camargo Alfaiataria suit (Photo: Karine Basílio)

Famous interracial couples reveal how they deal with racism in their relationships

Pasmem: 44% of our readers have already suffered prejudice by dating someone with ethnic-racial characteristics different from theirs. Can you believe that in the middle of 2017 we still have to talk about this absurdity?

By Flávia Bezerra

Claude and Marie are an ultraconservative Catholic couple and parents of four women. The first of them goes to the altar with a Muslim. The second marries a Jew. The third one swears her eternal love to a Chinese man. Then, when the youngest, finally, falls in love with a Catholic, they are radiant until they discover that the boy … is black. The discomfort is general. Even from his family, African, that does not understand how their boy chose a white woman to marry. The scene is from the film Que Mal Eu Fiz a Deus (2014), which deals with the subject in a sensible and light way, after all, it’s a French comedy.

We invite the readers of Glamour Brasil to give their opinion on the subject. In a poll last month on the magazine’s website, nearly 90% of readers said that having a partner with different ethnic-racial characteristics is grounds for prejudice. And there’s more: 44% still claimed to have suffered discrimination for dating someone “different” and 65% have already seen a friend suffer for the same reason.


But we’re talking about Brazil, a plural country where racism should not make sense, right? More or less. Since the last IBGE Census **, this concept that we are a country open to miscegenation has been called into question. In it, it was revealed that 69.3% of the population preferred to unite with people of the same color or race. Inbreeding (in-group) is higher among whites, reaching 74.5% of the sample.

Still according to the Census, homens negros (black men), curiously, tend to least choose mulheres negras (pretas/black women) to marry (39.9%). On the other hand, half of them are married to black men (50.3%). To explain this behavior, we called Claudete Alves, educator and author of Virou Regra?, a book that brings a reflection on the solitude of the woman when being passed over by the black man. “The black woman lives in solitude. She has been less chosen by the black man since the senzala (slave house), when she came to be the object of enjoyment by the slave owners. Since then, she has been seen as a sexual object and not a ‘woman to marry.'”

Another theory that explains this incongruity is the “desejo de embranquecimento” (desire for whitening). In clear Portuguese: black men seek white partners to “embranquecer” (whiten) their offspring. “Minorities appear little in the mainstream media, they are not well represented. Therefore, it is normal that the black man looks for another referential, since, unconsciously, he doesn’t want his children to suffer what he suffered,” says Felipe Chibás, Ph.D. professor at USP (University of São Paulo) and author of the study Modelo das 18 Barreiras Culturais à Comunicação (Model of the 18 Cultural Barriers to Communication), held in 11 countries. One thing is certain: racism may seem inconsistent with the times we live in, but the Census is there to show that, unfortunately, we still have a long way to go before we eliminate the evil heritage of slavery.

Raissa Santana, the first black woman to be crowned Miss Brasil  (aka the most beautiful woman in Brazil!) in 30 years, 21, in love with her boyfriend-businessman, Marcus Tagliari, for a year and a half, curiously says she had more relationships with homens brancos (white men) than blacks in her adolescence. “It was not my choice! They didn’t approach me,” she says. “I don’t think it was prejudice. I think that black men are attracted to and curious about brancas (white women).” (see note one)

Unlike Raissa, who says she has never been given a different look for dating a white man, actress Tania Khallil, 39, and singer Jairzinho, 42, together for 16 years, have not forgotten the attacks they suffered in the media. “Once, a paparazzo took a photo of Tania with Laura, our youngest daughter, and published it on a gossip site. One boy commented, judging her for making the racial mix, and even called our baby a bat,” says Jairzinho, who says he is against the theory of embranquecimento (whitening). “We can consider it as ‘enegrecimento’ (blackening) of the race too, don’t you think?!” (see note two)

Victor wears a Zara jacket, a Forever 21 t-shirt, Calvin Klein pants and Hardcore Footwear sneakers. Joyce wears  Levis jacket, Vitor Zerbinato dress, Gucci earrings and Louis Vuitton boots (Photo: Karine Basílio)


For Chibas, there are five main explanations for prejudiced behavior. “The sensuality, which makes the black woman a sexual object, is one of them,” he says. The other four are: sexism or machismo; religion, which tends to categorize the black, for example, as belonging only to Umbanda or Candomblé (Afro-Brazilian religions); bullying, where the ethnic-racial jokes come in; and ethnocentrism, imposing that all blacks come from Africa, the “forgotten continent.”

Blogger Joyce Kitamura, 29, the girlfriend of environmental engineer Victor Silva, 32, has been a victim of sensualism for more than five years. “I hear jokes like, ‘Do you like Japanese food, Victor? You eat it every day now!'” she says. Examples thus show that the woman is always the weakest link. “The black man is sensuous, as he is seen as a masculine power and not CEO of the company. But women still have to deal with sexism, since society is sexist,” says Chibas.


Tania Khalill e Jairzinho com as filhas, Laura e Isabela, na cozinha da casa
Singer/songwriter Jairzinho with his family, wife Tania Khalill and daughters Laura and Isabela

To teach their daughters (Isabela, 9, and Laura, 6) how to deal with a possible attack, Tania and Jairzinho ask them not to listen to everything they hear and to judge less. “I really don’t understand why race and color issues are still taboo here. Since colonization, Brazil has been mixed. And it’s precisely this that makes our country beautiful,” says Jairzinho. And we co-sign on this.

Photos: Karine Basilio. Fashion Edition: Karine Vilas Boas. Beauty: Dindi Hojah with Océane Femme products. Beauty Assistant: Sabrina Alderete. Photo assistants: André Santos and Tatiana Toledo. Fashion Production: Juliana Bordin and Olimpia Liberti. Thanks: Blink Studio and Tea Connection (SP)

Source: Revista Glamour


  1. When I first became aware that Santana was involved in an interracial relationship after having won the Miss Brasil competition back in October, I pointed out how it is necessary to acknowledge the possibility that some black Brazilian women also have a preference for white men for relationships as most discussion on the topic of interracial relationships focuses on the black man/white woman pairing. Interestingly, Raissa points out that she too believes that black men have a preference for white women.
  2. Singer/musician Jairzinho is one of the Afro-Brazilian men whose relationship signaled to me that there are black Brazilian women who take issue with seeing so many successful black Brazilian men in long-term relationships with white women. I learned of this animosity back in the early 2000s after reading the comments on a popular black website in which many black women were basically commenting, “there goes another one.” Also intriguing how Jairzinho responds to the issue of black families “whitening” their offspring through interracial marriage by suggesting that perhaps they are “blackening” white families. When we consider his very brown-skinned father, the late, great Samba singer Jair Rodrigues, and the phenotype of Jairzinho’s daughters, I don’t know if people would necessarily agree with his assessment.
About Marques Travae 3747 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

1 Comment

  1. I agree with Jairzinho on the ”blackening the white families”, right on the spot!!
    Bu me personally I still hope to marry a black woman, plus I hope she’s Brazilian.
    And yes! Most of the Black women in Brazil prefer white men. Period..
    don’t make me prove it, cause I can..

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