As was the case during 2014’s World Cup, Brazil is once again center stage as the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro captures massive attention, and it’s a very curious thing that Brazil — like many of its neighbors in Latin America — has done an effective job of making its African-descended population mostly invisible to the outside world.
Brazil is 53 percent non-white, the website Black Women of Brazil reports, yet the image most often associated with Brazilians is a wavy-haired, deeply tanned, well-proportioned model – male or female – with chiseled European facial features.
Many of us know that Pele, the world’s greatest soccer player of all time, was a Black Brazilian. Slightly fewer might have heard that Brazil was the first site where Europeans – specifically the Portuguese – used enslaved Africans to farm and mine (occupied) land in the Western hemisphere.
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So many Africans were transported to Brazil that it has the largest population of Blacks outside the African continent, ranking second to Nigeria in a comparison of nations.
In this day and time, movies are one of the most popular ways that we learn about cultures we are unfamiliar with. So let’s take a moment during the Olympic Brazilian media blitz to explore the different perspectives Afro-Brazilian filmmakers have shared about their long history in the African Diaspora.