February 16, 2016 ‐ By Victoria Uwumarogie
Carnival in Rio de Janeiro just came to an end last week, and one big part of the whole shabang every year is the samba parade. If you know anything about Brazilian culture, you know just how big of a role the samba plays in that, including the samba queen.
Nayara Justino had always loved to dance the samba and was influenced by the women she saw crowned as the Globeleza carnival queen as she was growing up. To be the Globeleza queen was an honor bestowed by the popular Brazilian TV network Globo. So when the opportunity came in 2013 for Globo to hold its first public competition for the Globeleza carnival queen, Justino threw her hat in the ring. And she won. But it didn’t take long for the public, both White and Black men and women in Brazil, to complain that she was too dark to hold a title that for so long only went to women of a fairer complexion. She knew that light-skinned samba queens were common, but didn’t let that stop her from competing, and it didn’t initially make a difference in the contest. But once her ads hit television, all hell, and racism, broke loose. The stunning 27-year-oldwas called a “darkie,” and told that she was the best fit to cook food in someone’s kitchen–not be the carnival queen.
Justino’s accomplishment and title as Globeleza carnival queen, which could have opened all sorts of doors in entertainment, was pulled right from under her. She was thanked for taking part in the competition and then had her contract terminated.
“It was the racism that hurt me most of all,” Justino said. “And the racism wasn’t just from white people, it came from black people, too.”
The Guardian decided to share her story through a short documentary about Justino, racism, interracial relationships, and colorism in the South American country. It’s clear that the prejudice and self-hatred is real, and as we know, it’s definitely not just in Brazil.
The Brazilian carnival queen deemed 'too black' – video
Nayara Justino thought her dreams had come true when she was selected as the Globeleza carnival queen in 2013 after a public vote on one of Brazil’s biggest TV shows. But some regarded her complexion to be too dark to be an acceptable queen. Nayara and her family wonder what this says about racial roles in modern Brazil