The Rio Carnival is considered the biggest global cultural celebration and attracts millions of people in Brazil and around the world, who come to enjoy the culture, music and dancing that come with the street festivals and parades.
In short, the carnival is a big deal; so is the selection of the Globeleza Carnival Queen, a coveted title that many young women aspire to, including Nayara Justino. Justino dreamed of becoming a Globeleza at a very young age, and once presented with the opportunity, the model, actress and dancer impressed the judges with her beautiful personality and Samba skills, taking home the coveted title. But, her dream was short lived; her crown was taken away from her almost as quickly as it was given to her.
“Brazil’s TV carnival queen has [also] always been light-skinned, but that didn’t stop me from applying when Globo held the first public competition to find a new carnival queen in 2013,” Justino shared in a short feature documentary by The Guardian on her.
Brazil may be home to the largest population of individuals of African descent outside of Africa but that it still wrestles with racism and overt discrimination. Like most countries in South America, the standards of beauty remain pretty consistent and favor white women with straight hair and a ‘good body’. “If you picked a black woman, she would only attract attention,” says Justino.
“There’s a small circle that you’re supposed to be in when you’re black. If you try to move out of that, you run into restrictions,” Marques Travae, a blogger with Black Women of Brasil says in the video. And sadly enough, some of these limitations are facilitated by the very people that look just like Justino. “Racism in Brazil is far more efficient because often the black population itself plays into the racial paradigm.”
Image: Programa EntreviStar/YouTube
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