“I was fired for being black and having an afro”: Rio man details his ordeal after being harassed and dismissed due to his look

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robson sc3a1 e1499519971254


Note from BW of Brazil: If you haven’t realized it by now, Brazil’s standards of attractiveness and beauty are undeniably anti-black. Is there really any way to continue denying this? I would love to hear any argument that would dispute this. A few days ago, I explained that the experiences of being a black woman in Brazil are inextricably connected to the experiences of being black men. Today’s piece is yet another example of why this is true. If the topic is racial discrimination in Brazil, it would only be telling half of the story if we featured the stories of black women being told to remove their braids, “I cannot hire you with that hair”, or “you need to do something with that hair”, without revealing the stories of men being told “I don’t hire blacks”. So what happened this time? Check out the story below and come to your own conclusions… 

Robson Sá says he was a victim of racism & lost his job due to being a black man with an afro

“I was fired for being black and having an afro”

Robson Sá reported the racism he suffered in the workplace on social networks. 

Courtesy of Revista Fórum with additional info from Geledés

According to Robson, the justification for his termination was that he didn’t fit the company. “Only a black person knows the taste and pain of our achievements and social indifference. They took me off a ship and left me in a bitter society of standards and labels to serve,” he said.

Robson’s statement went viral. Until the publication of this article, the publication had received 14 thousand reactions, almost 6 thousand shares and 1,600 comments, most with messages of solidarity.

Robson, 24, a model and singer in his spare time, worked as an administrative assistant in an office in the downtown Rio de Janeiro and was fired from a company at the request of his current supervisor. Both had previously worked together, but what he didn’t expect was that in the current company he would face racial and moral problems.

Robson filed an official complaint over the incident

He registered the complaint at the online police station at the 4th precinct in downtown Rio and is attached to the crime complaint of the Ministry of Labor. The model will file a lawsuit demanding moral damages.

Here is Robson’s account of what went down.



Today the post is different: REVOLT! No, you didn’t read it wrong: I just got fired for being black and having cabelo black (afro/natural black hair) in an administrative “off line” office, adding up numbers and various social statistics..

A little more than a month ago, I changed my job at the invitation of an “ex-supervisor” to join his team precisely because of credit to my conduct and my professional performance. At the time, I participated in a selection process “under recommendation of the same person” and resigned from my previous job when I was contacted to take my carteira de trabalho (work card/contract). The job was the same as what I did in the old company, where we met, so I had no difficulty with the system, but the conduct and values ​​were others and I could see it up close.

On the first day of work, without disguising, the owner of the company passes by me and looks at me crooked, but I pretend normality, even perceiving him ask why did they hire a black man with an afro and beard? Later, at the end of the day, my supervisor called me to (have a) talk, asking that from that day on, I would come better “groomed” “and shave this beard” and to look around the operation to see the level of the people. It felt strange, different, but I thought it was the result of my imagination and that “suddenly” I hadn’t gotten the “first job” look right (polo shirt, jeans and sneakers).

Robson is also a part-time model

But it didn’t stop there…the looks only increased, the repulses that before were hidden today were already clear to the point of developing a behavioral and social paranoia and lament with friends and relatives. I bought new clothes, dress shirts, shoes always shined…none of that contributed! Compliments on the streets weren’t lacking…until my supervisor said: TOMORROW COME WITH SHORTER HAIR! And at that moment I was sure that I was being a victim of prejudice and bullying. Yes, a lot of people like me go through this and adhere to the system or standardize their interests in search of acceptance, but me, what do I do?

Today at the end of the day I was terminated from the company with the justification that I did not fit the company and in the termination interview the contracting HR itself that on the case said: “I don’t know what to tell you, we were caught by surprise!” I’m willing to contact the old company and try a re-engagement if there is interest. Informed about the racial interventions and that during the selection process I had not been told she said: “But we said WELL-GROOMED!”

So sad! So empty! Such a blow!

Only a black person knows the taste and pain of our achievements and social indifference. They took me from a ship and left me in a bitter society of standards and labels to serve. I WILL SURVIVE!!

Suddenly this is not the best way, but today I reinforce a new paragraph in my professional life, personal and as a citizen: I AM BLACK YES, AND RACISTS WILL NOT PASS BY! We will settle this judicially. Suddenly paying a BLACK NOTE, this color changes direction for these alienated racists.

Note from BW of Brazil: OK, so let me analyze this situation a little closer because I’m sure there will always be those whom will read this case and say, “Well, his hair doesn’t look professional” or “It’s too long”, totally negate the existence of any racial overtones in the incident and insist that it is simply a matter of having a look suitable for a work environment. But for me there are several problems with this line of thought. 

First, what is “professional” and who defines what that standard is? And further considering that first point leads to the second question: Is the guy’s hair in fact too long or is it a question of length coupled with his hair texture? And if it IS a case of texture, this would clearly qualify as being racist. Why? Check it…


If you do a search for “professional haircuts for men” you’ll probably get a bunch of images such as the three men presented in the above photo. Note that all three of men have rather long hair and beards, one of which is quite rough-looking. Yet I couldn’t imagine any of these three men encountering any problems with their looks in the work environment. But there is one obvious difference between these three men and Robson. Anyone care to take a shot in the dark and figure out what that difference could be? When you get it let me know and also provde a reason for why you think Robson’s firing is justifiable. 

SourceRevista FórumGeledés

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 used to work as a receptionist in a hotel, and its mandatory that men and women should be well-groomed, nice hair cut, close shaved beard, light/smooth make up and else.
    Just like the uniform has to be worn, the employees are the image of the company.
    Thats simple business strategies and ideals.
    Don’t try to take this away , I know there’s racism, by the way: Im black, and for the record: my hair looks just like his.
    But if a ‘company’ tells me to have a hair cut, i will, I need the job. If I could i’d never have my hair cut..buts..

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