The introduction of André Gurgel, who plays a more ambiguous character rather than the typical all-good or all-bad supporting role for black actors, indicates the growing influence of Brazil’s black and mixed-race population.
Since soap operas, or telenovelas, are a national pastime in Brazil, the inclusion of black lead actors is a significant change. In the evenings many Brazilians, especially the women, remained glued to the TV screen as they watch the latest drama. We can hope that the greater inclusion of people of color in prominent roles will increase the positive self identification of these people, who are a large percentage of the nation’s poor and uneducated. It seems Brazil is taking many steps to becoming the world leader it envisions itself being in the 21st century.
This last point should not be taken lightly. We often disparage the USA for its perceived racism while ignoring the same in Latin America. One has only to look at Mexico’s Univision skit of a black African student two years ago for a recent example. But when one is a world leader, as is the USA, its problems are highlighted and need addressing. The USA has actually done a commendable job, relative to most nations, in addressing racial problems. Now it is time for Latin America to do the same. The days of proclaiming “racial democracy” while ignoring the poor and colored is hopefully over.