There are white people in the samba: Carnival is also a time to discuss privileges; when people not connected to the culture get the exposure and the money



Note from BW of Brazil: “The Party’s Over, Time To Call It A Day…” Well, not quite. But as the champions of the big party are named, the country will start to get back to normal, well at least for another 360 days or so before all of the madness takes over again. But even as the show starts to wind down, the analysis of the changes to traditional Carnaval are ever more under the microscope. For the casual observer, there’s nothing different. It’s still the same festive environment, non-stop energy, gyrating bodies and raucous music. But for those in know, especially black folks, something’s going on that just ain’t right…In previous posts, we’ve discussed this issue, but let’s get to this latest piece that takes these murmurs into consideration…If you don’t get it, I’ll chime in a little later for further analysis.


There are white people in the samba: Carnival is also a time to discuss privileges

By Silvia Nascimento

Although Carnival is still a popular party, when the focus is on large parades and blocos, it’s not necessary to expend much effort to notice an embranquecimento (whitening) of the public. If samba and axé are rhythms born of black hands, it is the white people who gain prominence in the media when participating in the Carnival events. If we were to talk about the cultural appropriation of the white artists who make millions in Carnival with the black culture then, it would yield a text only about that.

In recent years, many Afro-Brazilians have spoken out on certain women participating in Carnaval whose only noteworthy attribute seems to be white skin and/or blond hair

The black community has used the Internet to provoke reflection on what Carnival has become and mainly expose people, famous or not, who don’t know how to sambar (dance the samba), have no connection with the community, are not black, but gain prominence and money with the party.


Samba Abstrato is a Facebook page full of blatant cultural appropriation, “samba at the tip of the arm”, finally exposes those types that should not be there, not because of color, but for having no interaction with the (samba) schools and community outside the period of Carnival in an obvious attempt to expose themselves.

“Here comes the brancão”

Still from “Lá vem o Brancão” video

In the Carnival rhythm, but with a slightly acidic lyrics, the samba clip “Lá vem o Brancão” (Here comes the great white boy) by Bola 8ito is about that cara branco (white guy), who thinks he understands more about racial issues than black people, that reverse racism is a reality and of course, sometimes everything a misunderstanding.

Carnival is a time to relax and have fun, it’s a party for Brazilians, but a “racial gaze” on the environments is necessary to reflect on the inequalities that are perpetuated throughout the year.

Translation of “Lá vem o Brancão”

Here comes the brancão, full of reasons
Explaining to you, explaining to you, explaining to you
Wanting to win all of the misunderstandings
Every subject he has an opinion, a banana on the neck, a hashtag done
Explaining to you, explaining to you, explaining to you
A black girl disagrees with the brancão is a problem
A blond that disagrees with the brancão is a problem
If you’re accused of stealing, let’s calm down
The explanation comes, a misunderstanding
Let’s hug each other, we are all brothers
Today everything is racism, no use even making fun of it anymore
I’m the “o palmito” at the bar, you never see me complaining

Note from BW of Brazil: So let me just touch on what’s going here. Just about everybody who has taken note of the situation or even on just a casual basis has noted a gradual whitening of Brazilian Carnaval in various cities. Traditionally, Carnaval time has been about the one and only time of year in which black Brazilians are prominently featured in mass media outlets. After Carnaval is over, the media returns to its regularly scheduled (white) programming. What viewers who watch Carnaval processions either in the country or in other countries in which the party is broadcast internationally don’t see is that preparation for every Carnaval basically starts when the previous one concludes. People spend much of their time contributing their particular to the five-day spectacle that one sees on the television. But increasingly, we are seeing an increase of white-skinned people that we normally see dominating TV screens every day of the year and black Brazilians are calling I what it is: embranquecimento or whitening.

In the article above, we see reference to the Facebook page Samba Abstrato that is exposing a shift, and not just because of the whiteness of the figures (which isn’t always the case), but influx of famous or influential people who have little or no involvement with Carnaval and, in some ways, have no business being there. In many cases, these people are there simply because they are famous and/or white and true to Brazilian fashion, whiteness always trumps blackness when it comes to representation, whatever the genre. Whiteness is even preferred when the discussion focuses on racial issues, as the spoof video “Lá vem o Brancão” perfectly demonstrates.

Every line of the song perfectly illustrates how many white people react when the topic is race/racism. Anyone who has ever had a conversation with a white person who doesn’t see the intricacies of how racism functions in society will understand the lyrics, Brazilian or not. Check it…

And the 14 second mark of the video, the “professor branco” writes on the board the phrases, “Brazil isn’t racist“, “Reverse racism” and “Waack suffered an injustice“, the first referring to long standing myth racism doesn’t exist in Brazil, the view that “reverse racism” against white people is as bad or worse than that suffered by non-whites and that journalist William Waack was unfairly judged after his racist comment was leaked.

At 17 seconds, we have the “professor” telling us that “a peck isn’t sexual assault”, in reference to rising women’s push back against male sexual advances. At 18 seconds, we learn that the “professor” feels, as a white man, he’s also suffered racism. At the 23 second mark, we see a clip of Brazilian futebol player Daniel Alves who had a banana thrown at him in a game in Spain, which sparked the ridiculous hashtag campaign #somostodosmacacos, meaning “We are all monkeys”.

At the 39 second mark, we have the common occurrence of a black man being accused of robbing/stealing, always a misunderstanding, right? After all, aren’t we all equal brothers? At the 50 second mark, like many people, the brancão expresses the idea that, for black people, everything is racism these days. After all, he’s the “palmito” (English ‘hearts of palm’) (see note one), a pejorative slang term for persons with white skin, hanging out at the bar, and you see him complaining.

A funny video summing up a number of topics discussed here at BW of Brazil. Loved it! So, if you’re a black Brazilian, the next time a racial discussion comes up with a “brancão” who just doesn’t get it, this 73 second video will at least get a discussion going. He probably still won’t get it after watching the video, but oh well; the best humor is that that can make a social reality funny and “Lá vem o Brancão” most definitely accomplished that!

Source: Mundo Negro


  1. Also, the origin of the terms “palmiteiro” and “palmitagem” defining a black person who prefers to date white people or the act of dating exclusively white people, respectively.
About Marques Travae 3747 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

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