Illustration: Kingsley Nebechi


Your Hairstyle Can Cost You Your Life In Brazil

Brazil’s Black hair revolution continues — despite increased danger of police violence

Published in
10 min readMay 27, 2020


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Diego loved his strawberry-blond tapered Afro. In the 16-year-old boy’s hometown in Brazil, the hairstyle is referred to as a “Black power” (pronounced “Blackee power”), named for the political movement that made it popular. For Diego, it was a badge of Blackness that he wore with pride. The attention it attracted from the opposite sex didn’t hurt either.

But Diego’s feelings toward his hairstyle changed on a Sunday in early February. As he was walking a friend home in his neighborhood in Salvador, an impoverished, predominantly Black city in Northeast Brazil, a policeman approached Diego. This was an abordagem — a stop-and-frisk. While that’s an all-too-common experience for Black Brazilian men, the graphic nature of this particular incident was caught on camera.

Without any provocation, a Black policeman pushed Diego into a wall and began hitting and kicking him. “You are a thief to me,” the officer said in Portuguese. “You are a bum! With that…



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Journalist based in Rio de Janeiro. Coisa de Preto is a newsletter on Afro-Brazilian news, activism, culture, history & music.