Doctor suffers racism because she wears dreadlocks

Médica sofre racismo por usar dreads

Note from BW of Brazil: In reality, there’s nothing unusual here. Disappointing yes, but very common in a country where one’s appearance is judged according to their proximity to a more African or European aesthetic with the latter providing often unearned benefits while the former taxes the person with penalties. It is for this reason that is should be considered an accomplishment when Afro-Brazilians, women in particular, develop the courage and pride to wear their hair in the manner in which they were born. For as we have shown in numerous posts, hair texture is one of the characteristics of which black women most often attract negative attention and commentsToday’s story also provides yet another example that debunks the idea that once black people get an education, a good job and salary they will be free of racism and racist sentiments (1). Of course, this in a country that often denies that racism even exists in the first place. 

Doctor suffers racism because she wears dreadlocks

Courtesy of the Ofensiva Negritude Facebook page

Good evening coordinators of the Programa Mais Médicos (More Doctors Doctors)

I am Brazilian doctor educated abroad and revalidated, allocated in (the state of) Paraná  in the city of Santa Helena on second call.

This afternoon, the municipal Secretary of health, Miss Teresinha Bottega and her secretary, Cristiane, called me so that we could organize the activities to be carried in the health strategy of the family. But on entering the health secretary room, the same verbalized that she was sorry to for verbalizing this, but there was one problem: my hair. That patients were accustomed to a standard of doctors, and I could run into difficulties of prejudice that my patients could have with my hair. Miss Cristiane asked if I wore an accessory, and that my hair gave off a strong, strange smell, and Therese added that she was incensed. I said that we are in a society where 50% and more of the population is black, and the socio-historical context in which we are placed of racism, discrimination and prejudice, causes people to have racist, discriminatory and prejudiced reactions, however these facts would not influence my professional capacity and doctor-patient relationship.

Yes racism exists and that as an intellectual and professional of health, I could not answer other than intellectually and only demanding and emanating respect as a human being and professional, and that differences are meant to be overcome as best as possible. And I would not want to have any comment in respect to my hair, just that. Each person must be respected regardless of their hair, skin color, beliefs or personal choices, and that the same cannot interfere with the professional quality, so it shouldn’t even be a point of a meeting for definition of work.

Sincerely I felt discriminated against, since what they think about my appearance, I am notifying that what they think in respect to my appearance is personal, of each individual, but should not necessarily be verbalized unaware that may have consequences beyond legal, psychological, physical, mental and spiritual.

I am black, African, a woman, with dreadlocks and a doctor. Like it or not.

At the end of the issue, we continue with those things really relative to the work, without any type of retraction of both because of their unfortunate ascriptions.

I await the position of the Ministry of Health.


Thatiane Santos da Silva

General Internal Medicine

Source: Jornal GGN


1. As we have seen in previous cases here, here and here, professional status doesn’t protect Afro-Brazilians from facing discriminatory or prejudicial situations based on race, color or some attribute marking them as members of the black population. In other words, blacks that ascend socially continue to suffer racism.

About Marques Travae 3747 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.


  1. I would welcome full heartedly ayoung black woman to be my doctor it is a shame that we still have to face such prejudism and this time yet I am aware this is something that will continued way past my time just like each day I know only way is going to change is man God decides enough is enough and all those that have held hatred within their heart towards their fellow man will come to answer for so that all will be surprised when they come to realize the color of God and have forgotten that God is love

    • The Bible calls the Queen of Sheba – an outstanding Black woman – beautiful. God’s supreme command is “love one another”. He has created each and every one of us to be exactly what he wants us to be. The devil can be very subtle. If he can keep us fighting one another, he succeeds in keeping our eyes off of God. God says he has created each and every one of us uniquely and wondrously. Means we should take pride in wherever God has placed us in this life be it customs, race, etc. Wear your dread locks with pride!

  2. Having dreadlocks is an inspiration of going on an natural journey my cousin has the same style her hair is always neat and upbeat she works for a bank and not only her hair but her personal body clothes is neat as well of course if u have an unkempt appearance no matter how u do your hair keep it maintained what’s on top of your head shouldn’t trump what’s in it

  3. If the only color’ in this world was purple’, no other blues, reds, or yellows, what would that look like, We are all Fearfully’ and Wonderfully made in God’s image and in His likeness. So much ignorance’ in the world.

  4. Congratulations Dr. Santos da Silva on becoming a doctor. I am so very sorry that Dr. Santos da Silva is facing discrimination and racism after all she has accomplished. Becoming a doctor requires hard work, commitment and a strong desire to persevere. Having already climbed the mountain, you are head and shoulders above these petty people. I chose my doctors based on ability, not on appearance. Keep being and doing you, Doctor! And best wishes on your very successful future.

  5. Ignorance still keeps people from understanding what Jesus hair was said to be like white wool and not the long and luxurious dirty blond hair we see in the pictures of him. And his Feet and arms and legs like burnish bronze and his eyes like a flame of fire, Things that make you go Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. And this is my believe that if Jesus came up to most people they would probably treat him bad. Also the first people came walking out of Africa not Europe, it was Africa and remember you can get white out of black but God know that you can’t get black out of white. We all come from the same people and until the haters realize this there will always be hate

    • I raise my hat to Dr. DaSilva who is aBeautiful, Educated, Black Woman who is not afraid to wear her hair as she pleaseand to James Anderson and all the people who stand against racism. The racist are just ignorant, insecure people who if they take the time to research history they will surely realise that they are hating themselves because we all descendants of a Black Woman by the name of EVE. I dare you ignorant and insecure racists to go and research The History of The Black Eve. You are no better than a black person. In every nationality there is good and bad people. Stand together my Brothers and Sisters and be strong in the face of racism. No other human is better than the other. One may have more money and education etc., but these thing do not define us. Only how we treat one another will define us.. Love and Unity destroys hate.

  6. There is a difference in “Culture & Racism”. If you work in a medical business then dress according to that image surrounding you. Would you wear a bikini at a Black Tie Banquet?

    • Of course she dresses with the standard docters attire. It’ her hair that’s her culture. For example.. Arab women aren’t allowed to remove their headscarfs because of their culture. So having dreads shouldn’t even be a problem as long as it’s kept neat. So therefore that’s an invalid argument.

  7. I’m confused, how exactly is this racism? I’m almost completely certain that a white person with dreadlocks would be treated in the same manner. It’s the same as having very long hair, the chance for bacteria to grow inside dreadlocks is very high especially if they are frequently wet. This has nothing to do with race, people who claim these things are racism are being disrespectful to the people who suffer real racism.

    • I disagree. Did you read where she wrote specifically “That patients were accustomed to a standard of doctors, and I could run into difficulties of prejudice that my patients could have with my hair.” She was informed of possible prejudice precisely because of her hair.

      I also disagree that a white person wearing dreadlocks would experience the same treatment. We’ve seen plenty of situations in which white people are seen as doing something “different”, “looking exotic”, “sexy” or “original” when they wear styles commonly associated with black people. We’ve seen this in relation to white people wearing certain clothes, singing certain types of music, white people getting lip/buttocks injections for a fuller look, etc. Traits and styles associated with blacks are seen as “unacceptable” or “ugly” but judged positively when whites do the same. A clear double standard.

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