Brazil may be home to the largest population of people of African descent outside of Africa but that doesn’t mean it isn’t rife was racism. Like most of South America, beauty standards favor fair skin and long, straight blonde hair, something many in Brazil work hard to attain.

Despite the country’s persistent racism and lack of positive media images of Black men and women, many thought Brazil was ready to turn the page and be more inclusive when Nayara Justino was picked to be the Globeleza carnival queen in 2013.

Carnival is huge in Brazil, and Globo, the biggest TV network in the country, names its own carnival queen, launching the career of one lucky young woman.

Justino dreamed of being the Globeleza since was six-years-old, and jumped at the chance to apply when it was time to pick a new queen. The actress and dancer wowed the judges with her beautiful personality and Samba skills, taking home the coveted title. But soon, her dreams turned into a nightmare.

In a video interview with the Guardian, Justino and others detail the threats and racism she faced after being named Globeleza.

The Brazilian carnival queen deemed 'too black'

Nayara Justino thought her dreams had come true when she was selected as the Globeleza carnival queen in 2013. But some in Brazil regarded her complexion to be too dark to be an acceptable queen

Posted by The Guardian on Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Justino was called everything from a monkey to a darkie, and told she didn’t deserve to be the Globeleza because she was “too Black.” What hurt most, though, were that many Black Brazilians also thought she was unfit for the title because of her dark skin.

“Black people in Brazil are ashamed of being Black,”  Neusa Borges, a Black actress explains in the video. “There are very few who will stand up and say, ‘I am Black.'”

As a result of the backlash, Justino was stripped of her title without much notice.

“They called me and said, ‘You’re not going to be Globeleza anymore. Thanks for your participation,'” she recalls.

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Soon after, Globo announced Erika Moura, a lighter skinned “mulata,” would be the new Globeleza without even taking a public vote. Although Globo issued a statement to the Guardian saying it doesn’t “base its contracts on skin color,” Justino was never given a reason for her sudden termination.

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  • First of all, sorry about my English. I am brazilliam and my English skills isn’t good enough.
    It is too sad thad all these happened to Justino. She is very beautiful and has lots of samba skills. Carnaval in Brazil, just like Samba, is an African tradition, so, in my oppinion, it should be natural and fair to have more Agrican descendant people in brazillian carnaval.
    Besides all of this, we never had an white globeleza. Year after year globeleza allways was a “mulata”. I don’t know how to say this in clear english but a mulata is a woman daughter of black and white parents. So she have a brown skin, darker than a white’s person, but not dark at all, a litle lighter than black.
    I dont know why Justino couldn’t be globeleza. She would be (and is) a nice globeleza.
    Shame on globo for perpetuating racism and prejudice.
    I really wold like to live in an age when a black woman could be a globeleza in carnaval, just like a Japanese woman or a Jew man.
    And not only globeleza, but should be a businesswoman, reporter, scientist, lawyer and so on.

  • Frups

    Many Brazilians will tell you of the depth of hate for ‘black skin’ in that country.

    This is outrageous.

  • i mean

    “Racial Democracy”

  • D1Mind

    I don’t know why black folks even participate in this nonsense.
    Most of Brazilian culture in terms of dance and music comes from Africans.
    So why accept mistreatment?

    They should pull out of the whole thing and create their own separate festivals.

    • CoolChic

      Ha ha, sooo true.

  • truly

    If any black person / Family, who use to refuse his identity as a black! they are like died elephant on the road , everyone use to take what she / he wont. Brazilian people wake up?