Student Barred Because of her Hair & Clothes


by Marques Travae of Black Women of Brazil

As you might have noticed by now, the topic of hair in Brazil continues to be a hot topic that sparks debate and controversy; especially if it is dealing with black women's hair. If you've followed the posts on my blog, you will remember that we covered the controversy involving two songs deemed racist because of their lyrics depicting black women and black women's hair in derogatory manners. We have also seen an intern at a Brazilian university become the target of verbal assault on the job because of her hair. We have also published various articles detailing the struggles of black Brazilian women in accepting their natural hair textures, be they curly, kinky, wavy or somewhere between. This case is no different. But also, as in the case of the intern who was assaulted at the job, I sought the opinion of a Brazilian friend in regards to this case. This friend is a hairdresser in the city of São Paulo. After reading the story and seeing the photos, she told me that, in her opinion, the girl has every right to wear her hair any way she sees fit and shouldn't be barred from anywhere, but that her hair was badly done. What do you think? Check out the story and photos.


Student is barred because of her hair and clothes; accuses school of racism

The secretary of state of the northeastern state of Maranhão is investigating an alleged crime of racism against a 19-year old woman. Ana Carolina Bastos, a student of the Unidade Integrada Estado do Pará, on the outskirts of the capital city of São Luís, reported that she was barred from class by the director of the school on the first day of class.

According to Bastos, on February 23rd, the director, Socorro Bohatem, stopped her at the entrance of the school and told her that she was dressed in an "inadequate" way. Following an objection by Ana Carolina, who defended herself by saying that another young, (white) girl, wore a more low-cut dress than hers and was not barred, to which the director explained that she could not get into school because of the "black power" hairstyle. According to the student, the director was astonished by her choice of hairstyle, asked why she wore her hair “in that way” and told her leave the building. "The other student wore a top and a very low-cut dress. It was my style that didn’t please her. It was a case of racism. Later I found out that this was not the first time something like this happened”, said the student.

The local media get details about the incident from Ana Carolina Bastos

The student who continues to attend classes at the school where the incident occurred, filed a complaint with the police and now intends to enter a complaint against the director in the State Public Ministry of the State (MPE). The teacher also continued performing her duties as normal.

In an official statement, the government replied that it "will hear the parties involved and take appropriate action." On Friday of last week, dozens of students and members of the Movimento Negro held a protest carrying banners and signs against the action of the director in front of the school. To the students, the director said that she had not behaved in a racist manner. The local press tried to talk to the teacher, but the Secretary of Education reported that she could not give interviews in order to preserve the investigation process.

Racism is a crime

The young Ana Carolina is part of a group that plays African-oriented music in São Luís. Her dream is to be a sociologist so that she can fight for minorities in the capital city of Maranhão. "When I was barred, my sister cried and I was horrified. A lot of people were looking at me. It was a massacre. I wasn’t start anything. I go to school to be someone in life”, said the student. "I have a black identity and I will not change it,” she added.

Ana Carolina (in black top) with her sister

This is the second episode involving actions of racism in Maranhão in less than a year. In July, the rectory of the Federal University of Maranhão (UFMA) opened an administrative procedure to investigate a complaint that a teacher, José Cloves Verde Saraiva, had humiliated a student enrolled in the Chemical Engineering course, Nuhu Ayuba. So far, the investigation has not been completed.
Participants of public rally

According to Claudicea Durans of the group Raça e Classe do Maranhão (Race and Class of Maranhão):

"black men and women have experienced situations of humiliation and racial slurs on a daily basis in different public spaces and these acts are often expressed in different ways: racist jokes, police beatings, moral and physical aggressions, that often go unreported because of the embarrassment, humiliation, sadness and frustration that its causes the people that denounce them", but, Durans continues, "they must be reported in order to serve as examples and may in fact be punished because racism, according to Brazilian law, is a non-bailable and imprescriptible crime."

Education without racism

“Racism has different facets. The use of negative stereotypes and ridicule of physical characteristics and traits is another aspect of racism, which is in our analysis, at the same time silent, cruel and violent, it acts to deny the black identity, destroys cultural, historical, and physical values of this population, destroying their self-esteem.

Claudicea Durans

"The fact that this discriminatory attitude occurred in school leads us to reflect that this situation is common in the school environment and that the school has historically been an instrument of reproduction of dominant ideologies, and racism, one more element to ensure the oppression and exploitation of blacks."


More articles by Marques on CurlyNikki--
Brazilian Woman Takes Story of Racism to Press
Hair and the Politics of Good Appearance in Brazil

29 Weigh in!:
Anonymous said...

Wow! Brazil is off the chain with that ish!!! However, I'm glad that the student stuck to her guns...and refused to conform to their standards of beauty. And further more, she didn't take it laying down...she took action! Whether something is done about it or not...she confronted the situation.

And maybe just maybe these racist's there will think twice before they decide to discriminate against someone.

Anonymous said...

Wow, sounds like things are worse over there than they are here, which is cray.

Anonymous said...

Slavery has really done it's job WELL!!! Because black people really know how to HATE on each other! Damn sad arse shame!

Anonymous said...

A lot of white people in Brazil say there is no racism, and one told me "he was not taught to see color", yet those of African desscent remain living in the roughest parts, and are rarely seen on the cover of magazines because their beauty is not appreciated. Some people believe discrimination like this continues because the Brazilian government managed to convince its people that there was no need for a civil rights movement.

Anonymous said...

Just terrible.

ABRUNNIN said...

we ARE our own worst enemies. I work in a predominantly caucasian environment and I must say- when I wear my hair out (i'm currently wearing sew-ins to get more length- bittersweet)they're in AWE and I receive more compliments from them about my hair than black people here. SEVERAL of the my black co workers have asked "why dont you perm your hair?" or said "you cant walk around these white people with your hair like that!!"... We're more brainwashed and ashamed than they are in my opinion #IJS

Anonymous said...

"we shall overcome."

Kinsmankid said...

She's a brave, beautiful young woman. I wish I had her courage. I had a supervisor at a theater where I worked riducule me about my natural hair. This was in the States and the supervisor was a black woman just like me. I should have done something, but I didn't.

Anonymous said...

I'll admit that the student could use a few tips on styling. So what! We all did at some point in our natural journey. I've seen pleanty of people here in the States with hair styles that were less than desirable (and that's putting it nicely) but you don't go HAM on them like that!

Brazil is dead arse WRONG for how they treat their blacks over there! Especially the one's who want to embrace their natural self. I mean REALLY, AWFUL!

Anonymous said...

We are our own worst enemy. I get more negativity from blacks about my hair than from whites. Its as if black people are scared that it's catching or something. I've never been a conformist and I'm glad to see that there are other independent minded females who refuse to be followers in today's society.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry but did I miss the part where the author said the director of the school was black? I'm trying to understand the comments in response to the article, because I don't see that as a topic anywhere. I do understand some of the comments about blacks judging other blacks, but I don't think that was the point of this article. I applaud this young lady for standing up for herself and her identity. Slavery and its evils didn't develop overnight, it took generations. It is going to take the same amount of time and even more education to undo the pain and ideals it has caused. Whether it is here in the U.S. or abroad racism is unjust, PERIOD!

Anonymous said...

Such a beautiful country with amazing diversity in its people, culture, and history...Yet so ugly with its racism.

Anonymous said...

I'm happy to see this article posted here. I was just reading this on the BGLH site yesterday morning and it has provoked a lively comment section. Situations like what this young lady has encountered are far too numerous. Not everyone has the confidence to stand up to a bully. I am proud of her and hope that the Brazilian courts will reach a just decision.

ABRUNNIN said...

"This friend is a hairdresser in the city of São Paulo. After reading the story and seeing the photos, she told me that, in her opinion, the girl has every right to wear her hair any way she sees fit and shouldn't be barred from anywhere, but that her hair was badly done" -- anonymous @ 2:10 p.m. This is where my comments about WE ARE OUR WORST ENEMY sparks from.

Anonymous said...

Can we please not turn this into a "white people just luv us they way we are". Just because a individual white person gives you a compliment does not mean that white people love black hair, same goes for black people who are negative towards black hair, don't represent us all. There are far too many people whether knowingly or not who are seeking white acceptance.
White people just love my natural hair.....oh really.

Anonymous said...

This is how it grows out of my head.

Deal with it.

Anonymous said...

We must appreciate our beauty before anyone else can......

Anonymous said...

@ 4:28 anon...I concur. I am so sick and tired of black seeking white approval! I hate to say this, but I don't think that will ever change.

Anonymous said...

i was watching a show on cnn i think about brazil and they said the government encourage other races to have babies with the blacks so eventually the black population would no longer exist.

Anonymous said...

This racism and the like, has been going on for the longest in Brazil. I think the recent exposure is due to their hosting the World Cup (or some other major sporting event) and perhaps it's an effort to shame the nation into political correctness. It will be interesting to see the outcome(s).

Anonymous said...

@ Anon 4:28 and 5:05

If you don't like the white approval comments don't go to Black Girl with Long Hair site. That website is lousy with white approval. It is a shaming tactic.

For those people who don't agree, ask yourself this question: How many black women that this white-dominated society chooses to elevate have has your hair? You hair is "nice" in the same way a giraffe in Time Square is exotic; its just one of those weird idiosyncrasies about Black people that they find novel and interesting, but ultimately strange and "different".

Not to say that none of them are genuine, but until I see a black women with my texture of on the cover of a major magazine, or white people putting chemicals in their to make it look like mine in equal measure, the Eurocentric standard still holds.

Anonymous said...

@Anon 11:25, you ain't never lied.

Anonymous said...

wow its sad to see that brazil can be worse then some countries with hardly any black people. but this shows that everybody and anybody can be racist no matter what race they are.

Anonymous said...

I guess my issue with most of the comments is that it makes me wonder how we really view ourselves as black women. Some people seem so focused on how others rate us good or bad, instead of worrying how we rate ourselves. What happened to this young lady is horrible, but she is courageous, beautiful, and apparently smart since she's attending the university. The fact that she is willing to be vocal about her issue shows she has love for self and I LOVE THAT! On the other hand, when I read some of these comments it concerns me that some black women are very angry, whether they receive a compliment or not from someone who is non-black. On the one hand people claim they wanted to be accepted as is and when someone tells their story of being accepted people attack and claim that they seek white approval. When someone has a bad interaction the Amen crowd comes in and shout how they want to be accepted. Well, I ask which one is it? Do these individuals with theses strong feelings really know how they feel about themselves? Everyone has a different experience for a different reason, it's time to accept that for what it is, a different experience.

Anonymous said...

I don't have a problem with people seeking out acceptance, but the trend seems to be white people love me(my hair), now let me throw black folks under the bus. These statements are made without an ounce of insight or reflection. Who taught/teaches minorities that we are less than? Who controls the image of black women? Knowing the answer to those questions and still having this "white people love me" attitude.... I cram to understand how those thoughts/feelings can coexist.
At some point it seems as if people are looking for more than acceptance, maybe hoping to be included on the Good Negro™ registry.

Anonymous said...

@Anon 6:30, I don't see any anger on this board, what I read was dissappointment in black people who seem so proud when a white person compliments them. It's like they are now whole, because they have been accepted....I like the 'good negro' reference.
If a white person never gives me a compliment then 'oh well', but that doesn't mean that I will accept their insult either...bottom line, leave me be, i'm not of your community so keep your insults to yourself.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the young woman's hair does look matted and unkempt. However, that is no reason for her to be barred. Her hair isn't so unruly that it interferes with the learning process of her peers. Her dress is not even low cut. But anyway, this blog isn't telling me anything I did not know about blacks who live in other countries. Racism against blacks is actually worse in some other countries than it is in the U.S. In the United States people are very leery about what they say to each other. Abroad they don't care. That is because in some cases it is only a handful of you and a whole bunch of them.

Samantha Nneamaka said...

The worst thing about this is that it is amongst the very same people that breathe the very same air, eat the very same food, take baths and drink from the very same water, and cultivate the very same land. Is she a alien/ this girl looks like another human being to me. What malice and ignorance in your heart can lead you to truly believe that as a teacher you are able to rightfully inflict such in-just on an innocent student of your own to this extreme out of nothing more then , not hair because that was used as an obvious excuse, but your personal hate of other human beings of a darker pigment. ignorance is still rampantly at bliss in the year 2012. W O W

Anonymous said...

I'm waiting for the Revolution to take off here in the Dominican Republic. Gosh, the people here are so stupid. Mentality WAAAAY off.

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