A Brazilian Whitewash
June 19, 2013 by William K. Wolfrum
As this is being written, thousands of Brazilians have risen up in a sort of “Brazilian Autumn.” What started as a protest over a small raise to public transit fares has now blossomed into a full-on wail of dissatisfaction with the government. And rightly so. While all the world hasspoken ofBrazil’s nascent economic power, the average Brazilian still sees a government that taxes them at ridiculously high ile offering very little in return.
The beginning of he Confederations Cup has taken the feeling from dissatisfaction to anger, as Brazilians see new soccer stadiums – all much less accomodating to the poor – and an effort to push as much dirt under the rug as possible. And all this bowing to FIFA – including suspending parts of its constitution during the World Cup – has opened people’s eyes to a nation that still lags behind on basic infrastructure. “It’s like a war zone here,” said my brother-in-law Marcelo after visiting a poor northern state in Brazil.
Aside from the myriad changes and problems the World Cup brings, here’s another – the soul of Brazil is already being sold. Take this recent advertisement from Nivea:
As a friend told me, “I wonder how much it cost to get all the Black people off the beach?”
There are some areas in the south of Brazil where the people come from a Scandanavian decent (Imagine Gisele Bündchen), but those are the exception. Brazil is defined by its diversity and even more so by its Black population and the legacy of slavery. Unlike in the U.S., there was rampant relations between the different sects – Portuguese, African slaves & Native Brazilians – from early on. It makes for a diverse populace.
But, you know, there are still Black people here. Especially being it seems the ad was shot in Rio, which has a teeming Black population. Who go to the beach.
You view Brazil as a growing economic power and as a land of beautiful people who love samba and soccer. I live here and see a country of ordinary, hard-working people who have grown tired of the status quo and are now protesting a corrupt and out-of-touch government.
And I support them.