Representation matters! Brazilian child poses with ‘Stars Wars’ character doll that is ‘black like me’ and receives a message from actor John Boyega



Brazilian child Matias Melquíades received a message from ‘Star Wars’ actor John Boyega

Note from BW of Brazil: The story we bring you today represents so much that we discuss on this blog. This story blew up last week when a young boy received a message from an actor from the latest Star Wars film. A young boy receiving a message from any star would probably be a big deal for any youngster, but in the context of an ultra Eurocentric Brazilian media, its an even bigger deal! 


‘Star Wars’ actor posts photo of black Brazilian boy who saw himself in his character

John Boyega, the actor who plays the only black protagonist of the new movie of the saga, shared the photo of a Brazilian child holding a doll of his character that went viral on the web; “You are a king, young man,” wrote the actor, who has already been the target of prejudice among supposed “fans” of the saga.

Asked how he felt when he saw the doll, Mathias responded: “I saw a doll very handsome like me and pretinho (black) like me”

Courtesy of Revista Forum and Band Entretenimento

Via Instagram, British actor John Boyega sent a message to the 4-year old Brazilian boy who took a picture holding a doll of Finn, the character he plays in Star Wars: o despertar da Força (Star Wars: The Force Awakens): “It’s time to be thankful. From what you carry in your hands to the potential of your mind, you are a king, young man,” he wrote last Saturday (9th), sharing the original photo, posted the previous day by the boy’s mother.

Mathias’s mother Jaciane Melquiades explained how there are her son doesn’t see any representation in TV commercials

The photograph in which Matias Melquíades appears recognizing himself in the only black character in the saga’s new film viralizou (went viral) on the web and was shared on Facebook by more than nine thousand people. After the image had almost 10,000 shares and more than 35,000 likes, John Boyega, the actor who plays Finn, published the photo and sent a message to his Brazilian fan.

Materials made by Mathias’s parents. Some of the quotes read: “Kings and Queens of incredible and countless feats” “Later I understood that my color is the same as African kings and queens” “And knowing my history makes me stronger and stronger” “Do you know how I became Super Black Power?!” “First I realized that my hair grows upward like the strong branches of the Baobab (tree)”

“He didn’t even know what Star Wars is, he knows that the doll is like him,” Matias’s mother Jaciane Melquíades posted. When she saw that the British actor had shared her photo, she made another posting thanking the star for the message: “Representation constructing bridges. That’s it!!!! Matias saw John Boyega. John Boyega saw Matias. May every child to see himself represented.”

One of Mathias’s mom’s posts: “He doesn’t even know what ‘Stars Wars’ is, he knows that the doll is like him” The actor’s response even attracted the attention of former President Lula da Silva: “He’s black like me,” said Matias, 4 years old, explaining why he chose the doll of the Finncharacter from the ‘Star Wars’ film. And the government’s Racial Equality department: “Representativeness: ‘Star Wars’ actor sends message to Brazilian child fan.”

The presence of a black character in a film of the saga was the center of a controversy last year when the last trailer was released. Racist fans proposed a boycott of the film because of the black hero, accusing the production of promoting “white genocide” and “cultural Marxism”.

John Boyega como Finn
John Boyega as Finn in ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’

Shortly after the prejudiced reaction, however, the racists became the subject of criticism and jokes on social networks. The hashtag itself that they created, #BoycottStarWarsVII, was appropriated by those who were against the idea.

Note from BW of Brazil: Exposing the extreme whiteness of Brazil’s media has been a popular topic on this blog for some time because, unless you live in Brazil and have watched television or film, you may not understand why discussing this topic is so important. What today’s post chows us is that black children can pick up this absence of their images as well. How is a black child supposed to feel when all of the TV commercials, magazine covers and TV shows that present children always feature children that look as if they were born in Europe? And partly due to this invisibility, when they go to school, one of the most important places for socialization, they are the targets of racist comments and jokes. What does Brazil intend to do when a black child asks if there is a such thing as a black princess? Or why none of the dancers on every little girl’s favorite TV show look like them? 

What I find amazing (or maybe not) is that whites are so accustomed to seeing themselves in the media that when others seek representation in a white world, it is labeled “cultural Marxism”. In fact, looking deeper into the issue, I can even see the point in the accusation. But what they fail to see is how looking at the world from a Eurocentric perspective affects those who don’t look European. In Brazil and numerous other nations that have multi-racial populations, this Eurocentric viewpoint often leads to numerous psychological and identity issues, many of which we’ve previously touched upon on this blog. All of this once again leads me to suggest something that I have written previously. People are quick to label such ideas as somehow being racist or preaching segregation, but in a culture based upon white supremacy, why not have separate media for non-whites? As Brazil has no plans to make any significant changes in its media representation, what is the problem with having representation for those who are not represented? I think we all know the answer to this but I’d be curious to know what justification people would have rejecting such an idea. 

Source: Revista FórumBand Entretenimento

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


  1. News Flash… Almost everybody in the United States media is WHITE.

    Oh and before I go on, I should mention the increasing number of adverts on US TV that should interracial couples.

    Not the vile and vilified Black man with a White or Non-Black woman but the exact opposite, including the US’ own Ad Council about Hate, called Love Has No Labels.

    Then in several post as I have pointed out you throw Black men under the bus for wanting to marry non-Black women, no matter what the reasons are. For which all Black women do which is to say it’s because of the dominant cultures’ desire to make White skinned women the pinnacle of femininity.

    I mean WHY THE F not they control the media, they own the media who in the hell are we to tell them how to do their job? What is wrong with minorities, especially Black ones?

    Spanish speaking Americans have their own networks and channels on US TV. Same with Chinese, Japanese, even Russian.

    While it’s a great that Finn is a Black actor, do Black people have such low self-esteem that they get excited with minor improvements in relations with others?

    It’s nonsense like this is a much better story that Hollywood can generate.

    While symbolism is useful there’s no reason to get excited about it. Of course it generates hate.

    Did you not see the story of the Mexican-American boy who sang the National Anthem at San Antonio Spurs game in 2014 and the racist reaction it generated?

    Or the General Mills’ double down on racism by having not one, not two but three adverts featuring a Black man, a White woman who appear as a couple with their mix race daughter and her mother expecting another one (a boy)?

    I think this blog would be better served by stepping out of the social justice sphere and into the economic justice arena.

    Frankly you are no better than the Black women, blah, blah, blah, blah.

  2. another case of someone NOT FROM BRAZIL doing something that a Brazilian should be doing.

    good for you John Boyega. you can now join the ranks of Eddie Vedder and Pearl Jam (which donated all the money from their show to the victims of the toxic sludge disaster) and Johnny Depp who donated hundreds of hearing aids to kids in Rio.

  3. ^^

    Well, the blog IS written by women. We all know women tend to gravitate towards the emotional aspects of white power (racism) , instead of the more practical aspects which we can employ to destroy it

    Representation is important, but I don’t really give a sh*t until that representation is created by US, and not by Disney.

  4. It’s interesting that a Country like Brazil that appears to be so racially diverse is actually one of the most highly segregated in the World. Even Black Brazilians don’t want to be called Black. There was never a civil rights movement. As a Black British person I was shocked when I went to South America at the overt Racism everywhere.

    • Hello. we or I for one want to know about your trip to Brazil and it’s overt racism. Please don’t leave us hanging, do tell us! And, I am not being sarcastic either.

  5. This is about BRAZILIAN reality. Under-representation is something relevant to Black Brazilians. They are making it known to the world as they have a right to do.Those who don’t like it can piss off. Have some respect.

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