Earlier this year, Donata Meirelles, the long-time style director of Vogue Brazil, resigned from her top spot after images floated around the Internet of her opulent, and very racist, 50th birthday bash.
The photos showed Meirelles, who served in the position for 7 years, seated on an extravagant chair while donning an elaborate pink dress and gold jewelry. Beside her were two Black women dressed in all white.
If you’re familiar with Brazil’s colonial history, the images will evoke master-slave portraits. In these photos, white Brazilian slave-owners sat on a cadeira da sinhá, an ornate chair similar to the one Meirelles was seated on, as enslaved Africans stood alongside them.
The February 8 birthday celebration, which has since been called a slavery-themed party, received a lot of backlash online.
Instagram user Roberto Sakiyama said, “The photo clearly and unfortunately refers to a Brazil of autocracy and slavery, where Black people were serving and white people tended to.” Another user named Rita Batista highlighted the undeniable resemblance between Meirelles’s photo and a portrait of a Sinhá, a female slave-owner, with two house slaves.
Meirelles responded to the reprisal the next day. According to her, the party was not themed. Rather, the celebration took place in the state of Bahia, where Afro-Brazilian culture thrives and it is common to see women there wearing traditional white garbs on Fridays, the same day of the party. She also said she was sitting on an Afro-Brazilian religion candomblé, not a master’s chair.
Still, Meirelles, who ultimately resigned, said in a post in Portuguese, “if we caused different impressions than these, I am sorry.”
Regardless if Meirelles intended to or not, some Black feminist advocates in Brazil believe her photos glamourize white supremacy and racial inequality in the South American country.
“The black women were used as objects to create an exotic scene,” Stephanie Ribeiro, who writes the column #BlackGirlMagic in the Brazilian edition of Marie Claire, told the Guardian. “It’s reminiscent of colonialism and romanticizes those times. She was recreating the image where whites are superior and blacks are dehumanized.”
More enslaved Africans were forcibly shipped to Brazil than any other country in the world. In fact, of the 10.7 million Africans who survived the grisly voyage across the Atlantic between 1525 and 1866, an estimated 4.9 million went to Brazil, where slavery wasn’t abolished until 1888. In comparison, about 388,000 arrived in North America.
While more than half of Brazil’s population identifies as Black or mixed race, and the country is unmistakably multiracial, the legacy of this brutal history continues through racialized violence, discrimination, economic inequity and media stereotypes.
“Regarding … Donata Meirelles’ 50-year party, Vogue Brasil deeply regrets what happened and hopes that the debate generated will serve as a learning experience.”
The publication claims it did not take the feedback lightly and has plans to “broaden the voices within the team and create, on a permanent basis, a forum formed by activists and scholars who will help define content and images that combat these inequalities.”
However, this is not the first time any of the Vogue brands has been accused of racism.
According to Complex, between 1892, when Vogue magazine started, and 2012, only 14 of its 1,416 covers were of people of color. As if that alone wasn’t bad enough, oftentimes when Black and brown people are portrayed it’s done in a racist manner. In 2008, for example, LeBron James shared the cover with white Brazilian model Gisele Bündchen. The star basketball player was styled to appear like King Kong, a dangerous animal, in the shoot. In 2011, Italian Vogue ran a piece on hoop earrings that were compared to the jewelry of enslaved Africans. The editors’ even titled the article “Slave Earrings.” The following year, the same publication published a story called “Haute Mess” that made fun of Black and Latina style and aesthetics as “ghetto.”
Racism is not uncommon in the fashion industry, and Vogue Brazil’s former style director’s party and photos are among the latest examples.
Dominicans and the fashion world are mourning the death of Dominican fashion designer Jenny Polanco. The world-renowned designer had just traveled to Spain when she fell ill. People are showing their love and appreciation of Polanco on social media in a time when physical activities have been limited.
Dominican fashion designer Jenny Polanco has died from COVID-19.
The Dominican Republic’s public health minister Rafael Sánchez announced Polanco’s death. Polanco is the first Latino celebrity who has died from the virus. Polanco is among the first six people to die from the novel coronavirus on the Caribbean island.
Miami Fashion Week dedicated a tribute post to the Caribbean fashion designer.
The designer showed a collection at the last Miami Fashion Week and her sudden loss has saddened those associated with the event. Polanco was able to celebrate her Caribbean roots with the classic avant-garde style. Her take on fashion was breathtaking in its simplicity coupled with their energetic shapes.
Fashion fans are offering loving tributes to Polanco.
“May Dominican designer jenny Polanco rest in peace,” the Twitter user wrote. “The coronavirus took a creative, colorful, beach mind.”
Polanco, like many people who have taken ill, had recently traveled.
A lot of people who have tested positive in the first wave of infections in different countries had recently traveled to a country where the virus was spreading. Since the start of the outbreak, some countries have closed their borders and set travel restrictions as a way to slow the spread of COVID-19.
If you are feeling sick, call your doctor and tell them your symptoms. You can also visit the CDC for more information about COVID-19 and what you can do to prevent catching the virus and what to do if you get sick.
The world has been fixated on the coronavirus as it has spread from Wuhan, Hubei Province, China to every continent, except Antarctica. More than 18,000 people have died of the disease that has infected more than 407,000 people across six continents. So far, more than 104,000 have recovered from the illness. Now, the disease is in Latin America and we are going to keep you updated on its spread.
Update March 24, 11:06 a.m.: Global economists and health experts warn that Mexico is not prepared for the outbreak.
Most of the world’s governments are grappling with how to better handle the COVID-19 outbreak. However, Mexico seems to be dragging their feet when it comes to responding to the health pandemic that has shut down one-third of the United States. In stark contrast to most major international cities, Mexico City remains open and bustling as the Mexican president calls for calm from citizens.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has led his country into a “business as usual” mentality. According to reports, President López Obrador doesn’t want to impose major lockdowns and restrictions until absolutely necessary. This kind of attitude, economist and health experts warn, would lead to an outbreak worse than what the world saw in Italy.
The country’s stock market has already started to strain under the pressure of COVID-19. Economists warn that the outlook for Mexico’s stock market is grim but the president, through action, could ease the full impact.
Update March 17 – 11:22 a.m.: The number of cases in Latin America continues to climb as El Salvador implemented nationwide quarantine.
“I know this will be criticized, but let’s put ourselves in Italy’s shoes. Italy wishes they could’ve done this before,” Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele said in a national address. “Our health system is not at Italy’s level. It’s not at South Korea’s level.”
President Bukele’s national quarantine means that schools are closed for three weeks, gatherings of more than 500 people are banned, foreign travelers from high-risk countries are barred from entering the country, and all Salvadorans returning from trips abroad will be quarantined for 30 days.
Puerto Rico has implemented an island-wide curfew to combat the spread of the virus.
Puerto Rican Governor Wanda Vázquez reprimanded Puerto Ricans for not obeying guidance to self-isolate and practice social distancing. In response, Gov. Vázquez instituted a curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. and shut most businesses on the island until March 30. The only people exempt are supermarkets, banks, pharmacies, medical equipment stores, gas stations, restaurants offering take out and delivery, and their suppliers. Violators face a $5,000 fine or six months in jail for breaking the executive order.
Update March 13 – 1:24 p.m.: The novel coronavirus has been reported in Venezuela.
To cases have been confirmed in Venezuela. The South American country is in a yearslong battle over their government that has left them with no medicine, little food, and a devastated economy. Doctors in Venezuela fear that the coronavirus could pose a major threat to hospitals that might be overwhelmed with patients that cannot be treated.
The virus has also entered Panama, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Colombia, Cuba, Bolivia, and Paraguay.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro recently contradicted earlier reports that he tested positive for the coronavirus.
Update: President Trump has backpedaled on his plan to close the southern border in response to the coronavirus concern.
President Trump originally announced that he was considering closing the southern border with Mexico because of concerns about the coronavirus. At the time, Mexico had 5 confirmed cases of the virus while the U.S. had more than 80. On March 3, Trump changed his messaging and said they aren’t invested in the decision due to a lack of evidence.
Brazil, Mexico, Ecuador, Chile, Argentina, and the Dominican Republic have all reported cases of COVID-19.
Ecuador is currently grappling with the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Latin America. Seven people have tested positive after a woman in her 70s tested positive for coronavirus in February after visiting Madrid. The woman is in critical condition. In Mexico, where there are 5 confirmed cases, first detected the virus in two men who had recently traveled to northern Italy. The Dominican Republic has reported one case who is an Italian national visiting the island. Brazil diagnosed a second case, who is a 32-year-old patient in São Paulo. A 32-year-old man was diagnosed as the first coronavirus patient in Argentina after a trip to northern Italy. Chile reported a patient who had recently spent time in Singapore.
The first case of the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19 has been reported in Brazil.
The first case in Latin America was confirmed in Brazil. The patient, a 61-year-old man who was in northern Italy for business, tested positive for COVID-19 after returning to São Paulo. The man checked himself into a hospital when he began to show signs of a fever, sore throat, and a cough.
Brazil’s Carnival celebrations have begun and the possibility of an outbreak is weighing heavily on some Brazilians.
According to The New York Times, Brazil Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta is optimistic that they will be able to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. However, former Health Minister José Gomes Temporão notes that the Brazilian government has been hit with spending cuts in recent years.
“We are cutting resources to public health, and we will need additional resources now,” Temporão told The New York Times.
Brazil has reportedly been working in preparing for the coronavirus for weeks leading up to Carnival.
Despite the work, many fear that Brazil’s under budget and overstressed public health system might not be able to handle an outbreak. However, health officials told The New York Times that it appears that the Albert Einstein Israelite Hospital in São Paulo acted quickly using best practices to admit and quarantine the sick man.
The coronavirus has shown up in 38 countries on six continents around the world, including the U.S.
There are currently more than 50 cases of the coronavirus that have been reported in the U.S. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention is warning Americans of the possibility of a more aggressive plan to limit the spread of the virus. The virus is spreading quickly across the world since it was first detected and reported in Wuhan, China at the end of December 2019.
President Donald Trump has come under fire from health officials for not understanding the true magnitude of the virus.
The CDC issued a troubling warning of the virus the same day President Trump claimed that the coronavirus won’t have a large impact on the U.S. population. According to the CDC, they expect the virus to spread widely enough in the U.S. to cause a “disruption to everyday life.”
In a statement on the website, the CDC calls COVID-19 “a serious public health risk.” While it is not currently recognized as spreading in the U.S., the CDC does have a plan ready in case the virus begins to spread in U.S. communities.
“Community-level nonpharmaceutical intervention might include school dismissals and social distancing in other settings (e.g., postponement or cancellation of mass gatherings and telework and remote-meeting options in workplaces),” reads the CDC website. “These measures can be disruptive and might have societal and economic impact on individual persons and communities. However, studies have shown that early layered implementation of these interventions can reduce the community spread and impact of infectious pathogens such as pandemic influenza, even when specific pharmaceutical treatments and vaccines are not available. These measures might be critical to avert widespread COVID-19 transmission in U.S. communities.”
An earlier video from the CDC claims the risk of infection is low but for people to use tactics used to prevent the spread of the flu.
The CDC warns that people need to be vigilant about staying home from work, school, social gatherings, and other social activities if they are sick. The coronavirus symptoms are similar to the flu with a fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. The CDC is asking for people to remain vigilant as we are in the time of year where other illnesses with similar symptoms, like the flu and common cold, are spreading in the U.S.
If you would like to learn more about COVID-19 and what to do if you think you have contracted the virus, click here and read what the CDC recommends.