Leading presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro says there is no racism in Brazil; even denounced by Attorney General, is it possible that he is not racist?

bolsonaro fabio rodrigues pozzebom agc3aancia brasil
bolsonaro fabio rodrigues pozzebom agc3aancia brasil
Presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro (photo: Fabio Rodrigues)

Note from BW of Brazil: Well, really now? Brazil has long built its reputation around the world as a so-called “racial democracy” by having its leaders and officials propagate the idea that, in Brazil, “não existe racismo” (racism doesn’t exist), so why would I be surprised that a right wing presidential candidate such as Jair Bolsonaro would make use of the oft-used phrase. You gotta admit, it is an ingenious strategy. Even while you abuse, exclude, humiliate and insult black people, you insist that these things happen, not because of their phenotype, but in fact, because of their class status. If you get an education, a good job, live in a good neighborhood, send your kids to a good school, you won’t have these problems and keep proclaiming that something exists when it in fact, doesn’t is the belief system behind the myth. Nevermind the fact that so many famous and middle-class educated black folks still experience a type of treatment that says they don’t belong where they are.


Even so, the denial of the existence of racism has been extremely successful over the years. Many black people themselves have even admitted that they didn’t believe racism existed in Brazil, because that was a thing of the big, bad United States. Nowadays, it isn’t as easy to proclaim the idea that “racism doesn’t exist” but this doesn’t mean that influential people won’t still push the myth. Remember the post on Globo TV director general Ali Kamel (see here or here)or Globo journalist Alexandre Garcia? If the people at Globo said it, it must be true, right? Such is the power of influence of the nation’s most powerful TV network.

For Roberto Pinheiro Machado, Rede Globo TV employs “subtle techniques of mass mind control on a large population comprised mostly of illiterate individuals.” In fact, “Rede Globo’s power transcended a simple capacity to influence public opinion and reached the level of shaping Brazilians’ very notion of reality.” And as Globo is “always right-wing in its leanings although maintaining a façade of impartiality,” it would seem that a conservative politician such as Jair Bolsonaro would have the support of the media in the bag. But that’s exactly the case. Gustavo Muller, a prominent columnist for the O Globo newspaper doesn’t see Bolsonaro as a real contender to the presidency, believing that the congressman would only prosper in a situation of “social chaos and rampant violence.” Wow! Brazil’s been there for a minute (see here or here), so what does that say?

But anyway, I wanted to address a few more intriguing details about the man being hailed as the “Brazilian Trump” (is that really a compliment?) Several years ago, I posted an article about the controversial figure in which he responded to a question by singer Preta Gil that came off as blatantly racist but, as I always like to know the full story of any matter, I recently came across a few more details about that incident that prompted me to re-visit the story. Mind you, Bolsonaro has said a number of things that would disqualify him from earning my support, but I still believe in fairness. And even as I’ve read numerous Facebook posts over the past several months of the kind that read, “If you support Jair Bolsonaro, defriend me and forget you ever knew me,” I’m still big enough to say that, as many things that I strongly disagree with him about, as with your worst enemies, you can still find a few things in the man’s discourse that you may agree with.

Bolsonaro supporters

With that said, I wanted to address the idea promulgated by many Bolsonaro supporters that the man is not a racist. Really? So, those nasty things he said several months ago about black quilombolas didn’t qualify as racist? And I’m still trying to find a reason for why the congressman apparently wiped his hands clean after embracing a black man in a video that surfaced a few months back. Hmmm…How do explain those two away? Not saying it’s not possible, I’d just like to know.

Caption of top right photo: “How good that every racist was like this!”

But after checking out a few sites that sought to prove that people misjudge the former military man, I DID see a few things that made me re-think the issue. No, I’m not saying I’m completely convinced, just that, in fairness, I’m willing to re-visit the issue. First, his supporers are quick to point out the fact that Bolsonaro’s wife can be considered black, or at least mulata, and there is the talk of numerous black Brazilians who actually support the congressman.


As proof of this, one site in particular posted a whole slew of photos of the presidential hopeful posing with, hugging, smiling with and just hanging out with what look like common, everyday black folks. Of course, those photos could be simple political posturing equal to the cliché of the politician kissing a baby. But then there’s his brother-in-law also backing him up and revealing that the apparently racist response he gave to Preta Gil actually had a very good reason. So, what is the verdict here?

wife Michelle (2)
Michelle Bolsonaro’s wife

Well, if you’ve read posts on this blog long enough, you know how I feel. You can have black friends, a black wife, love black music and black athletes and STILL be a racist/white supremacist, so all of the info below doesn’t automatically disqualify Bolsonaro as a closet KKK member (some of them love dem some ‘nigras’ too, ya know). I’m just saying, I always give the benefit of doubt. What do you think? Check the info below and feel free to share your thoughts.

Bolsonaro says

Bolsonaro says there is no racism in Brazil

The Pre-candidate to the presidency said that the fact that his father-in-law was black did not influence the time he began a relationship with his wife and, therefore, there’s no racism in the country. Ironically, Bolsonaro is the subject of a complaint and may become a defendant in the STF for the crime of racism

During a lecture to an audience of thousands of people at a hotel in Fortaleza (state of Ceará), on Thursday (28), pre-candidate to the presidency, Jair Bolsonaro (PSL) said that there is no racism in Brazil.

To support his thesis, he used as an example the fact that his father-in-law was black. Just the fact that the color of his wife’s father did not interfere with their relationship means in the pre-candidate’s head that there is no racism in the country.

“Here in Brazil, there is no such thing as racism, so much so that my father-in-law is Paulo Negão and when I saw his daughter, I didn’t want to know who her father was,” he said.

Denounced by racism

Ironically, the politician who believes that there is no racism in Brazil is the object of a denunciation by the Attorney General’s Office (PGR) for practicing the crime of racism. The motivation of the complaint was a Bolsonaro speech in April of last year. At the time, the pre-candidate spoke in a derogatory way about natives and quilombolas, even saying that the quilombolas “do not serve to procreate.”

He was eventually sentenced to pay R $ 50,000 for collective moral damages, and now the PGR requests, in an opinion sent to the Federal Supreme Court (STF), that the Court accept the complaint of racism. If the ministers accept the opinion, which is very likely, Bolsonaro will be held guilty of the crime of racism.

“It surpasses freedom of thought and overflows with the discriminatory and prejudiced content of the groups that he offends,” said Attorney General Rachel Dodge in her opinion.

soldado torres (Lula Marques)
Soldado Torres, brother-in-law of Jair Bolsonaro

Bolsonaro’s brother-in-law says deputy is not racist

Diego Torres Dourado, known as soldado (soldier) Torres, 23, took a pause yesterday from work to defend the controversial deputy Jair Bolsonaro (PP-RJ), his brother-in-law. “It was a mistake, he didn’t understand the question,” Torres said in front of the headquarters of the Comando da Aeronáutica (Aeronautics Command), a few meters from Congress. The question, asked by the singer Preta Gil on the program “CQC” of TV Bandeirantes, was: “If your son fell in love with a nigga, what would you do?”. Bolsonaro’s response was, “I will not discuss promiscuity. I don’t take that risk, and my children were very well educated. And they don’t live in the environment as unfortunately is yours.” The deputy says he understood it to be a question about gay relationships. The subject had immediate repercussions and, in the sequence, Bolsonaro said he was married to an afrodescendente (African descendant) and having a “negão” (black man) father-in-law. His wife and father-in-law were spared and the one who appeared to defend the deputy was his brother-in-law. Torres says that he is a brother on the part of the father of Michelle, Bolsonaro’s wife. “My father is my color. Michelle has a slightly lighter skin.”

Jair Bolsonaro says he will no longer expose any relatives to defending the accusations of racial prejudice. During the repercussion of the interview, he referred to his brother-in-law as “75% black and 25% white”. The soldier discards racism of his brother-in-law. “I’ve been with him several times. He’s never been prejudiced because he’s not.”

Source: Revista FórumPolítica Livre, FolhaMentiram para mim sobre o Jair, Machado, Roberto Pinheiro. Brazilian History: Culture, Society, Politics 1500-2010. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2018.

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’m white male, but your writing and analysis of black culture in Brazil is very important. It’s great historical record you are producing. Keep it !

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