Protest against president again features nearly all-white upper-middle class displays of racism, desire to protect status and putting ‘have nots’ back in their place

salvador 16 marc3a7o 2015
salvador 16 marc3a7o 2015

salvador - 16 MARÇO, 2015

Note from BW of Brazil: Once again, another protest and once again Brazil shows how divided it is really is along lines of race and class. Just for the sake of context, if you haven’t already heard from your favorite mainstream news source, millions of Brazilians took to the streets on Sunday in another display of self-serving outrage involving the severe economic crisis that has gripped the country for the past year, corruption charges dealing with the so-called ‘Lava Jato’ scandal and calls for the end of 14 years of the PT (Workers’ Party) rule. But was this all that was at play or were there some other issues that people won’t openly admit? 

Sometimes it’s very revealing to just sit back and analyze the photos that come out of such displays even without the captions. Take the photo below for example. It encapsulates perfectly what many people feel about the true meanings of these protests. What makes the photo so intriguing is the fact that the meme on the top of the photo actually circulated around social networks during the protests against Dilma in March of 2015. The point of the meme sums up Brazil almost perfectly in terms of race and class. The upper middle class white woman protesting and calling for “justice for Brazil” as her black nanny pushes her children around in the baby carriage. So many things could be said about the meme. Reminiscent of slavery era, as well as modern Brazil where black women were/are believed to be treated like “one of the family”. White feminists who tell black women that all women are oppressed but absolutely not understanding her own privilege as white

black nanny - photo -meme

The meme’s relevance was brought home in yesterday’s protest when a photographer captured a scene that portrayed the meme almost perfectly!  White upper-middle class couple, black nanny, twin babies in a baby stroller. Nothing wrong with that, right? I mean, at least she’s got a job! Other photos also hint at the reality of race in Brazil. The overwhelming whiteness of the crowds. The ‘us’ vs. ‘them’ division of the country. More blackface and the added ‘bonus’ of making a mockery of lynchings, not funny considering the ongoing Brazilian obsession with both! The calls for the end affirmative action and social welfare policies such as Bolsa Família that have made a university education attainable for thousands of Afro-Brazilians and helped lift millions out of abject poverty respectively (1). 

quero meu pais

Some of my favorite signs of the whole thing were those that read “I want my country back” (Eu quero meu país de volta). I mean, back from what? The slavery era? The Military Dictatorship? (strangely enough, there were those calling for a military coup). I mean, Brazil has been corrupt for decades, centuries…one could even argue that its been corrupt since its very founding. But at the same time, one has to marvel at the depths of denial that so many of these protesters must be living in. As we’ve seen examples in numerous previous posts, how else can you explain this?

Where were the black people during the protests on Avenida Paulista?

The racism of the middle class who speaks rudely against corruption, but accepts prejudice and simulates black lynchings

By Maria Carolina Trevisan

Protesto contra a presidente Dilma Rousseff em Belo Horizonte
Protest in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais

Among the thousands of people who stormed Avenida Paulista on Sunday (3/13), there were almost no black people. Just like what happened a year ago, the vast majority of blacks who were at the heart of São Paulo – and other Brazilian cities – were working. They were nannies or the street vendors (or Military Police). This picture deals with reproducing the subordinate position of this segment of Brazilian society, from slavery to today.

Among the demands for honesty, there were zero signs asking for equal rights, quotas or labor conquests of maids. On the contrary, what was seen on Avenida Paulista was representing the desire of the upper middle class and the white elite of Brazil to maintain their privileges. The manifestation is for social justice just like the casa grande (big house) is to the senzala (slave quarters). Identical and blatant.

“This march is not only against Dilma and in favor of impeachment. It is also against human rights and social achievements,” defines the business administrator and black educator Antonio Nascimento, activist of Human Rights in Bahia.

Ave Paul
Protest on Avenida Paulista in São Paulo is estimated to have attracted 500 thousand to 1.5 million people


Under the curtain of fighting corruption, which arises is the desire of an elite and middle class Brazilian defending their own interests. No wonder the acts took place Sunday in prime locations of cities: the edge of the Rio’s south zone, Avenida Paulista, the Farol da Barra, in Salvador (Bahia), or Praça da Liberdade, in Belo Horizonte. “The elite saw in this government the sustenance of their privileges being threatened. It is not concerned with morality or honesty because they always coexisted with dishonest governments.”

Depiction of a man in blackface with a noose around his neck

But the demonstrations went far beyond and let this desire come out. What was seen in some places were explicit scenes of racism: a man pintado de preto (“blackface”, a slave theater movement that aimed to ridicule the black population) (2) simulated a “Forca da Inconfidência”.(3)


Ladies, gentlemen and white children posed next to that representation, smiling and without wavering; in another scene, a white man holding a poster in which President Dilma, in blackface, imitating the black comedian Mussum with the words “Dilma Rouseffis, só no forévis” (only up the ass); and finally, dozens of scenes of black nannies pushing strollers of white babies with their bosses in front of them.

“I think that the majority of people don’t realize what is at stake,” says sociologist Marcia Lima, a professor of “racial inequalities” at the University of São Paulo (USP). “Brazil has changed. We have a conservative reaction to the achievements of this group [black people],” explains Marcia.

1 - Porto Alegre
“Zero Hora: Study about the profile of protesters – Is this the face of Brazil?”: In Porto Alegre, the capital city of Rio Grande do Sul. 76% voted for President Dilma Rousseff’s opponent Aécio Neves in the 2014 election. 73% have no unemployed workers in their family. 40% receive more than 10 minimum salaries per month. 8% of protesters were black people. 91% were white people.

The black population is no longer a minority in Brazil. Since 2011, more than half of Brazilians are black (pretos – blacks and pardos – browns, according to IBGE), currently corresponding to 53.6% of the total population of Brazil. This means that over 110 million people were not reflected in the pro-impeachment actions. “I walked two hours in the demonstration. There were no poor people or blacks,” noted the lawyer Eliane Dias, manager of Racionais MCs rap group.


In front of the Farol da Barra in Salvador, Bahia

In fact, in order to talk about democracy, we must refer to the whole society. “It’s very irresponsible, for example, to simulate the hanging of a black man on Paulista. I saw several families there giggling about it,” says Eliane. For her, a similar violence is taking a black nanny for this context. “It’s a humiliation. You put a black woman there, on a Sunday, in a place where there are no blacks…This represents submission,” she notes.

Feliz Sem Globo - Quando a foto diz mais que palavras - previous anti-Dilma rallies of 2014 or 2015
Photo taken from 2015 anti-Dilma protests captures the essence of differences

In such regard to racial issues in the country responsible for the largest and longest slavery in the world, nothing has changed in one year. The protests of March 2015 already showed how the advocated of impeachment are white. This scenario makes the verses of the Racionais MCs increasingly compelling and current:


Source: Jornalistas Livres, Brasil 247, Revista Fórum


  1. Protesters took to the streets on Sunday (3/13) calling for the end of the Bolsa Família and the end of quotas. “Poor people are just drinking rum and putting their children in the world. No one wants to work.” According to the World Bank, between 2001 and 2013, the percentage of the population living in extreme poverty fell from 10% to 4%.” Since 2002, 36 million Brazilians have escaped extreme poverty.
  2. On this blatant display of racism and disrespect, Revista Fórum wrote: “The subject of the photo could and should be taken to court by black organizations. He doesn’t appear the least worried of presenting himself as an overseer of a white man in blackface dressed in clothes of a homeless person.”
  3. What really disturbs me with this display is the fact that so many Brazilians in the past few years have felt the need to wear blackface and when someone reveals the racist origins of the practice, most are quick to say that they didn’t know the meaning. The people in the photo above chose to pose utilizing two painful historical images that are reminders of way in which black people were treated in the 19th and 20th centuries in the United States. It appears obvious that participants in the photos knew full well what the images mean and still found it acceptable to provoke such images.
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’d say that this is not a completely honest representation of the problem. As I understand it, the (white) people are protesting because the country is now in financial ruin because of vast amounts of corruption (by other white people) and overspending public sector workers. Social programs like bolsa familia occasionally come up in the discussion, but it seems that most of these people are protesting the general financial incompetence of the government…no?

    • Yes. And I would also add that the disapproval of the government is also now strong among the black population (just look at any recent pool), despite the fact that the protests are overwhelmingly white.

      • Protests are not overwhelmingly white…. There are many many (other) protests Naovaitergolpe#
        that do not reach the media. This is what’s core, in the end.

      • Ben: This article is speaking of the anti-Dilma protests and from what several reports have shown, most anti-Dilma protesters are white. It’s pretty obvious when one looks at the images of the crowds in the newspapers and on the TV programs.

    • But some Brazilians have disliked Dilma even when the economy was prosperous because of all the “bolsas” being given out. (I myself do not get the bolsa-prisão, or whatever it is called, given to wives and children of men in prison–I think that’s a bit much). There has been massive change in that the universities have opened up (due to affirmative action for afro-descendentes and public school students), better pay for maids and less exploitation, in addition to all the “bolsas.” The corruption is a big problem, but the Brazilian government has always been corrupt, as are many companies! Things seemed to have changed, but people were always trying to “dar um jeitinho” to get something. Not saying that they should let anyone slide now since it’s an old problem, but I think that the world economy crashing, and eventually Brazil feeling that, has made almost everybody anti-Dilma, even many who supported her.Also Rome wasn’t built in a day–a lot of progress happened from FHC to the present but you can’t turn around 500 years in one generation.

      Coming from a US perspective, I think that they should let democracy be. The woman won the election, so all this time spent on protests and lava-jato, seems to be wasted energy–but then I don’t live there, and I’m not there, so maybe it is worth it to those doing it. I have to admit, in spite of favoring democracy (as opposed to impeachment), I was still dismayed and confused about appointing Lula to a government post after he was picked up in the lava-jato. I really don’t understand how one could put him into the government now, without it seeming like he has something to hide.

      • It’s undeniable that the PT governments were by far the best for Afro Brazilians and having a right wing government is not on blacks interests.However, even with the gains the whole population, including blacks, are sick and tired of the corruption, and nobody, not even Dilma is getting a pass here. The forces behind their impeachment are certainly not only motivated by their high moral values, there is also a clear will to recover old privileges – university quotas are in fact one of the central points. Still, it does not mean the rest is satisfied with her.

        Regarding Dilma herself I have always been against her impeachment (her disastrous handling of the economy would not be one, IMHO), in a sense still am, but she made a terrible, terrible move indicating Lula for the Casa Civil and she has now self-inflicted corruption to herself and this might very well be her fall. Until then, there was nothing concrete I could think could justify her impeachment but she managed to change that.

      • I agree. That whole Lula mess was something that she should have just stayed out of.

    • I agree. It is not a true representation of the problem. I’m a Brazilian mestizo, brown!!!. (Indigenous Brazilian and a little of French/Spanish) and I hate Dilma and Lula because they are corrupts.

      By the way.about Brazilian population:
      Brazilian Population IBGE 2010
      White: 91.051.646
      Brown/Mestizo: 82.277.333
      Black: 14.517.961
      Asian: 2.084.288
      Indigenous: 817.963 (and more than 200.000 in urban areas),then more than 1.000.000.

  2. The man hanging the blackface man is a mulatto or he’s Indian.

    Just goes to show, when they mix whites out with forced diversity, you don’t get Nirvana. The darker mixed ones hate the lighter mixed ones and then they blog about it.

    • No, DigbyJames….It is the Whites who are showing hatred towards the Blacks. Do you see Black people running about in Whiteface and making fun of them? And there should never be a production of hanging for any race….it’s wrong.

  3. You African-Americans – or who has wrote that articles – stop “racializating” my country because it’s not us. It’s your projection about us. Our history and our concept of one’s race are different things at all (America and Brazil).

    Brazil is the typical Latin America country, a most mixed country where people don’t talk publicly about their race (and don’t care about that). With all due respect, it’s a shame, it’s offensive here pointing out someone else’s race like Americans do.

    Is there racism in Brazil? Of course there is, but most of the called “black” people, are not real black people, but they’re mulattoes-pardoes. Camila Pitanga for example looks like some Portuguese, Egyptian women.

    Our white people also are most of Italians – who in America, a few people have claimed they’re “not white enough”. Never – even in Italy, Spain, Portugal – most Italians have been so racists like David Duke like ones.

    The racial issues, like white supremacists, racial privileges and goes on and on, it’s something from America. America had – and has – been a racial segregated country.


    The frustrated people who have wrote comments here don’t represent 1% of wheter Brazil or Brazilian mullato-black people or Latin American coloured people as well.

    Thank you

    • It is interesting that you would say that,since this blog is run by Brazilians. Perhaps you are simply unaware of the diversity in thinking in your country where race is concerned. And this is not at all surprising if you are white (in Brazil).

    • Dude, wake up, I’m Brazilian too and all I can say is that you must be blind and white to say this shit. Race is the number one unspoken worry of Brazilian, which becomes very outspoken in an altercation, when the police decides to shoot someone, in hiring processes, when selecting who enters of nor in a night club… in all spheres I can possibly think of. I suggest you start reading the blog more frequently and judge by nothing but the incidents that are reported. Don’t forget that the material that appears here is directly translated from the Brazilian press with commentary from the Blog (which is owned by Brazilians).

      • Whether you both are Brazilians or not, stop projecting African-Americans on Latin America/Brazil dark skinned people, two different worlds!

        Look, do you know what the word “divided” means?

        African-Americans have to handle with some people like Pat Buchanan and Dylan Roof. Many American neighborhoods are pretty segregated (whites only).

        In America you have some official organizations like the American Renaissance and the American Nazi Party, which have “advocated” for white people with members and leaders like David Duke and Jared Taylor.

        Every year they have had racial scandals like #OscarSoWhite, BLM (Black Lives Matter), Donald Trump, Hulk Hogan, etc.

        Do you have ever seen that in Brazil?

        Why do you both have been projecting African Americans’ life on Brazilian’s life?

        Don’t you get you’ve been talking about Pardos, Caboclos, Mulatos, Mestiços and Italians/Portuguese/Spanish people (mixed Europeans)?

        How can a most racial mixed country like that being “divided”?

        Brazil is a Latin country (somewhat mixed, already) and a Latin-American country (most mixed again), at least most Brazilians are twice racial mixed.

        You’ve said the word “divided” and “race” about PARDOS and CABOCLOS!!!

        Does that make any sense for you???

        Can you show me one “pure” race man in Brazil???

        Brazil has nothing to do with “divisive”, “white supremacy” (and other Obama’s words – yes, he says that).

        Like I said, stop projecting African-Americans on Latin America.

    • a tipically latinamerican country is racist dude… brasil i a racis country and you are in denyal.
      black people are not real black people you only now Camila Pita ga from Tv dude.. what shame… how you can be so blind?
      who lives most in favelas, isn’t them black? pardos?
      kids kill by police, aren’t most black?

    • This news is fake.

      Brazilian Population IBGE 2010
      White: 91.051.646
      Brown/Mestizo: 82.277.333
      Black: 14.517.961
      Asian: 2.084.288
      Indigenous: 817.963 (and more than 200.000 in urban areas),then more than 1.000.000.

      I’m a Brazilian mestizo, brown. (Indigenous Brazilian and French/Spanish)

      • LOLOL! You sound like one of those folks in Brazil who DESPERATELY does not want to considered BLACK! You know what? ” Brown/Mestizo/Pardo/Mulato/etc.” are all synonyms for “discernably Black” or “potentially Black”! The labels “Brown/ Mestizo” can include any combination of all of the races under the rainbow. In practical terms, though, many of these people are just different shades of Black. By your definition, President Obama is “Brown, Mestizo”, but in the eyes of the world, he is BLAAAAAACK (thus, I have NEVER EVER EVER read an article about America’s first Brown/Mestizo/Pardo/Mulato president)! This is why your official census reports that 51% percent of you fall under the category of Black:
        That you are a Brown person who is not descended from Africans does not negate the millions of Brown/Mestizo people in your country who ARE descended from Africans, and are smart enough to know that they are!

    • You’re in denial bruh. Brazil is the most anti-black nation in this hemisphere. Yap about Gringos all you want. The colorblind racists got you so shook, can’t or won’t even identify as African/Black/Afro-Brazilians, etc. Stop being a weak blackman for Christ sake. All you negros care about is sleeping with whitewomen, so, you ignore the rampant racism against blackwomen out of sheer stupidity. In America, we call dudes like you Coons, Uncle Toms, Sellouts, etc. We have every right to speak on Brazil. Portugal and Spain started all of this crap, which is why we ended up here in the US. If you wanna be white, just get out of the way and stop c-blocking for the racists in your country. Blackwoman is dragged in the streets like a dog or tire, and you’re vexed because blacks in America are finally noticing the utter hypocrisy of Brazil as a nation? Get your mind right Bruh, Wake The Hell Up!!!

  4. I’m in São Paulo and I’ve seen many different people against Dilma, not just upper middle class white people. (Also all these photos posted are taken so far away it’s difficult to judge the racial makeup of the crowd.) I’m confused as to why people are making this to be a rich vs poor issue when corruption and the economic crisis affects us all, the poor even more so. I feel like it’s rather patronizing towards poorer black people to cherrypick photos like the one with the nanny and assume they’re passive agents, or in favor of Dilma.
    In fact, the nanny spoke out in the video below (I’ll post the link), saying she was upset she and the children were exposed in such a manner, and that she is in favor of the protests, and that with the money she earns, she can afford to hire someone to take care of her children.

  5. I do not agree with these point of view. It’s not a case of upper class/ white people. It’s about a government that only tell lies and stealed the country future due to it’s awful character, they have no honesty. And now even with millions of people in the stree protesting against, the president doesn’t care what the people need but what she wants.

  6. Jefferson is self-hatred negropean! He is the classic Brazilian person that doesn’t want the world to know what the real face of Brazil!
    A hypocritical country that preaches “we are all brothers and sisters because we are mixed”, the idea of a utopian society that does not exist, but a country made up of social inequality based on the color of the skin!
    How many black famous players like Pele, Neymar, they don’t speak out of racism but they prefer to sleep with white women! He will continue to lie that blacks aren’t blacks but mixed, to validate the whites, and reject the African origin! Because the purpose of the whites and instill hatred inside our mind!
    For me be Brazilian woman, I can’t stand with some black Brazilian COONS!

    • Try to imagine the darkest black man you’ve ever seen in Brazil, and how many ones like him you’ve seen in the whole country to date.

      After that, take a while to travel to Chicago, Detroit, Illinois, Mississipi.

      I hope you’ll understand the very clear difference between black people and Latin Americans/pardoes from three, four or more different backgrounds.

      • Jefferson. You should study or lay off the cachaca because you don’t make any sense. US and Brazilians blacks have on average similar amount African DNA admixture. Brazil is literately, geographically almost an extension of Africa. Where do you think your dark skin, ass, nose, curly hair, music, dance, food comes from?

        Only 5% of slaves went to the US, the rest of majority amigo went to your country.

      • Jefferson: I’m familiar with all sorts of DNA studies and I will tell you as I’ve written in past posts, I’m not one to believe “scientific” reports without question. “Science” WILL lie to you if the price is right. We’ve seen it in faulty DNA “studies”. We’ve seen corporations lie using “scientific reports” about the safety of drugs, GMO food, flouride in water and SO MANY other things. In other words, anything can be sold as true if the price is right. The media and “science” will also tell us that “race doesn’t exist”, but that is also a lie. So, simply because a study “proves” whatever doesn’t mean it is unquestionably true. I DO believe that Afro-Brazilians have a high proportion of European and Indigenous blood, but just how much, THAT is up for question.

      • With all due respect, stop watching movies.

        Brazil is not America, Portuguese are not British and we are not African Americans.

        This is Latin America!!!

        Like I’ve said, our “white people” came up already racial mixed from Europe, where they are considered “darkies” in the North (Portuguese, Italian, Spanish).

        Once here they got mixed at least twice (or likely more), like everybody else.

        This is BRAZIL, Argentina, Colombia, etc – LATIN America!

        Your conspiracy theories are utter ridiculous!!!

  7. @Jefferson: I don’t really expect that you believe information that come outside of the controlled media, controlled academia and science. Your response shows that so there’s no need for further debate…

    • Let me talk one more time. Everything you wrote has no source, author, university, links, statistics or numbers.

      That is, the movies you’ve been watching – every one from America – will never be any kind of plausible “information”.

      Brazil and Latin American are around 70% European DNA light skinned mixed people.

      America and African-Americans have nothing to do with most of us, stop projecting!!!

      Don’t you like our reality? Leave, go back to Africa and stay there!

      Nobody needs you with your delusional thoughts about alleged “race” in my 100% mixed country!

      BYE BYE, moron

      • You know what, the audacity you have to come and make some comments and then leave insults to top it all off is why I have no desire to even debate this issue with you. 1) No one here claims that Brazil is not a mixed country. 2) In the European world, 30% is clearly sufficient to count Brazil as ‘non-white’. 3) I could list a long list of “studies” that have been proven to be shams but as you are the type who believes only so-called “academic” and/or “scientific” sources, what would be the point of a debate. I won’t even get into the FACT that anti-blackness is at the very root of such mixture in ALL Latin American countries. In terms of Africa, I would say from your attitude that you are clearly not the sort any African would want on the continent.

        You keep on believing in the 100% validity of your sources. When you’re ready to accept the fact that studies can be sold to the highest bidder, then we’ll talk. Until then, don’t waste my time!

        Bye Bye to you as well! Be sure not to come back!

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