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Afro-Brazilian Models Slam Racism in Brazil’s Fashion Shows

Afro-model-2Some 40 models of African descent, most of them women, staged a topless protest in Rio de Janeiro against the low presence of Afro-Brazilians on fashion catwalks.

“What strikes you, your racism or me?” one of the female demonstrators wrote on her chest during the protest late on Wednesday, timed to coincide with Rio Fashion Week.

The demonstration also coincided with the signing of a deal between the Fashion Week organizers and the Rio ombudsman’s office setting a 10 percent quota for Black models in fashion shows, the G1 news website reported.

“This agreement crowns a joint initiative that can open a space that does not yet exist,” said Moises Alcuna, a spokesman for Educafro, a civil rights group championing the labor and educational rights of Black and indigenous people.

More than half of Brazil’s 200 million people are of African descent, the world’s second largest Black population after that of Nigeria.

But Afro-Brazilians complain of widespread racial inequality.

“If we are buying clothes, why can’t we parade in the (fashion) shows,” asked a 15-year-old model taking part in the protest. “Does that mean that only white women can sell and the rest of us can only buy?”


“Claiming to showcase Brazilian fashion without the real Brazilians amounts to showing Brazilian fashion (only) with white models,” said Jose Flores, a 25-year-old former model who now works in advertising.

After 13 years of debate, President Dilma Rousseff last year signed a controversial law that reserves half of the seats in federal universities to public school students, with priority given to Afro-Brazilians and indigenous people.

In June 2009, the Sao Paulo Fashion Week – Latin America’s premier fashion event – for the first time imposed quotas requiring at least 10 percent of the models to be Black or indigenous.

Previously, only a handful of Black models were featured among the 350 or so who sashayed down the catwalk – usually less than 3 percent.

But in 2010, the 10 percent quota was removed, after a conservative prosecutor deemed it unconstitutional.

Source: AFP

What people are saying

9 thoughts on “Afro-Brazilian Models Slam Racism in Brazil’s Fashion Shows

  1. Dwight D Anglin-Webb says:

    Good for them!

  2. Marcus Smith says:

    People of color face racial challenges all over the world and its sad!!!!

  3. Doris Baker says:


  4. Our Sistahs & Brothas were banned from protesting because it's unconstitutional. Then is being racist not breaking the law?

  5. From all four corners of the world niggas/negros/colored/Afro-/black/darker skinned indigenous people will always stand up for what they believe, and its truly a beautiful thing. I am proud of these women, and pray that they make a positive change in the fashion industry in Brazil…s.n. I wonder if black women here in America would ever do such a thing? I mean some black women, will not pay a light bill to buy a new outfit, or pair of shoes….you would think we would want to see more of our images sashaying down the runway.0_o

  6. All Islands Arts says:

    We always overcome!

  7. my my my, racizm just tuns rampid. keep fighting my sisters

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