Anti-blackness can seem inescapable, even in countries with significantly large African-descended populations. One viral photo of a teacher and her young student is a reminder just how entrenched these attitudes are in Western society.
A viral Facebook post from Ana Bárbara Ferreira, a teacher from São Paulo, Brazil, shows her and one of her students rocking their kinky-curly hair in the same style. According to the BBC, the student was made fun of for her hair, with a boy calling it “ugly.” Ferreira tried to reassure the girl that there was nothing wrong with her hair, but she felt that words didn’t go far enough. The next day, she showed up to work with the same hairstyle as the little girl.
“When she saw me, she came running to hug me and say that I was beautiful, and I told her: ‘Today I’m beautiful like you!'” Ferreira captioned the image.
It looks like Ferreira’s gesture touched the people who saw her post. “We need more educators like you gorgeous,” one person commented. “Ladies and gentlemen … here is the true and real meaning of the profession!!! Congratulations teacher,” another said.
“Always keep it up, showing our children that they are capable of being happy,” yet another offered.
Ferreira turned what could have been an unforgettably negative situation for that little girl into something wonderful and affirming. Sadly, gestures like these are needed in a world that still penalizes and degrades black women and girls for wearing their hair the way it grows from their heads. In South Africa, students at the Pretoria High School for Girls had to fight for the right to wear their natural hair in school. These are students at a school in a majority black country, on the continent of Africa, where large swaths of the population have kinky, curly, and/or Afro-textured hair.
The 2010 census in Brazil saw 50.7 percent of the population (a majority) identifying as black or mixed race — that’s a lot of curls, kinks, and ‘fros. So the attitudes against this particular type of hair are even more problematic because they seek to make a large group of people feel less than, simply for their appearance.
Fortunately, there are people like Ferreira who are fighting back by setting a positive example for future generations.
Read more from Yahoo Style + Beauty:
- Here’s a Simple Video Explaining Black Hair for Those Who Are Still Confused by It
- Zendaya Explains Why Defending Her Hair Is So Important
- African-American Hair Is the Star of This New Pantene Ad