Public authorities in Brazil have made at least 94 racist remarks since 2019, according to the study “Quilombolas Against Racists.” While the data refers to all levels of government (municipal, state, and federal), it singles out President Jair Bolsonaro as a major propeller of racially-charged speech.
The annual study by the national confederation of quilombolas (descendants of traditional runaway slave communities) noted 16 instances of racist remarks made by public figures in 2019, 42 in 2020 and 36 the following year.
The Bolsonaro administration is accused of repeating racial stereotypes and chipping away public mechanisms to promote racial equality. The current head of the Palmares Foundation national anti-racism agency referred to Brazilian black movements as “bloody scum” and said slavery was of benefit to black populations.
In addition, Mr. Bolsonaro’s foreign policy advisor Filipe Martins made a recognized ‘white-power’ gesture in the Senate in March 2021. He remains in office.
Researcher Givânia Silva believes there is a link between Mr. Bolsonaro’s rise to power and the spike in racist episodes. “His administration goes out of its way to curb the rights of indigenous and quilombola groups,” she said.