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Vogue Brazil Director Resigns After Posting Birthday Images Evoking “Slavery”

Donata Meirelles, the Fashion Director of Vogue Brazil, resigned this week after images from her 50th birthday party went viral that depicted slavery in the colonial era. The photos in question show Meirelles sitting in a chair surrounding by Black models. Other images showed White guests in the middle of Black models. People on social media pointed out that Meirelles’s birthday party theme has been depicted in history when masters were pictured surrounded by their slaves.

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“(…)Já as escravas de casas ricas eram adornadas por seus próprios senhores. Quando saíam para as ruas acompanhando suas senhoras ou crianças, eram exibidas em trajes finos e carregadas de joias.A própria escrava era um objeto de ostentação do dono, um objeto de luxo a ser mostrado publicamente”. Trecho do livro Jóias de Crioula de Laura Cunha e Thomas Milz. A primeira foto foi tirada em 1860. De acordo com @edercansino a foto que faz parte do acervo do @imoreirasalles, intitulada “senhora da família Costa Carvalho na liteira com dois escravos” foi feita na Bahia por fotógrafo desconhecido. A segunda imagem é de 2019 mesmo. #sóeuacheiestranho #Bahiaterradafelicidade #ritadeixederecalque #passeodedinhoprolado #osprincípiosacimadaspersonalidades #qualquersemelhança #nãoémeracoincidência

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The post above shows “Woman from the Costa Carvalho family seated with two slaves,” from 1860 and the following image is from Meirelles’s birthday party, which took place in Bahia, Brazil — where the majority of black Brazilians live.

In an Instagram post, Vogue Brazil said they “profoundly regret what happened and hopes that the debate that has been generated serves as a learning experience. We believe in affirmative and purposeful actions and also that empathy is the best alternative for the construction of a more just society, in which the historical inequalities of the Country are debated and faced. In pursuit of the constant evolution that has always guided us, we take the reflection generated to broaden the voices within the team and create, on a permanent basis, a forum formed by activists and scholars who will help define contents and images that combat these inequalities.”

Stephanie Ribeiro, columnist of #BlackGirlMagic in the Brazilian edition of Marie Claire said Vogue Brasil should hire only black employees and “not create a forum for black activists to act like babysitters telling them whether something is racist or not.”

She added the images from Meirelles’s birthday party showed that “black women were used as objects to create an exotic scene. It’s reminiscent of colonialism and romanticizes those times. She was recreating the image where whites are superior, and blacks are dehumanized.”

Meirelles did respond to the backlash and apologized but attempted to show why she chose that idea for her birthday party.

“It was not a theme party,” Meirelles said on Instagram. Since it was Friday and the party was in Bahia, many guests and the receptive were in white, as tradition says. But it is also worth clarifying: in the published photos, the chair was not a Sinha chair, but a candomblé chair and the clothes were not a maid, but party dresses from Bahia. Still, if we made a different impression of that, I apologize. Respect to Bahia, its culture and its traditions, as well as the Bahia, which are Intangible Heritage of this land that I also consider mine and who receive with so much affection the visitors at the airport, in the streets and at the parties.”

What do you think about her party’s theme, is it racist or not? Let us know in the comment section below.