Brazil imported more African slaves than any other country during the Transatlantic slave trade. Today it has the largest black population in the Western hemisphere (roughly 50% of its 200 million residents identify as Black or mixed race), and a vibrant black culture. You would think the country would celebrate this, but it often doesn’t.
Anti blackness is rife in Brazil and white Brazilians like Gisele Bundchen and Adriana Lima repeatedly presented as the face of the country.
This is why 21-year-old Raissa Santana’s Miss Brazil win yesterday is so significant.
Santana came into the competition — one of 6 black contestants out of a total 27 — with the purpose of representing black beauty. She told judges that she wanted to “break the 30 year fast” since Afro-Brazilian Deise Nunes was crowned in 1986.
Santana, who is currently studying marketing, said this of her victory:
“I’m very emotional. This here is a mixture of great emotions. I didn’t expect to win this title, but I am very happy to have won this title and to represent black beauty and encourage girls who have the dream of having something, to conquer, to be a model, to be a Miss…now I want to encourage these girls and show them that they can.”