Brazil Acknowledged History of Slavery in the Rio 2016 Opening Ceremony

Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

Brazil acknowledged its history of slavery in Friday's opening ceremony of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

During an interpretive dance meant to convey the country's history, Brazil showed slaves being brought across the Atlantic in shackles and working on giant hamster wheels, Fusion reports. The wheels represented the sugar plantation. 

"Of the 9.5 million people captured in Africa and brought to the New World between the 16th and 19th century, nearly 4 million landed in Rio, 10 times more than all those sent to the United States," the Guardian reported. Brazil was also the last country in the Americas to outlaw slavery — they waited until 1888. 

Including Brazil's history of slavery in the opening ceremony brought cheers from many on Twitter. 

Many people pointed out Brazil was able to acknowledge slavery, while the United States has yet to do so at an Olympic ceremony. 

However, some were not that impressed with the inclusion of slavery, especially if it came at the expense of not talking about how slavery affects Brazil's present. 


Much like in the United States, Brazil's colonial history still influences the racism there today. Intense racism and colorism mean that black Brazilians face intense discrimination and anti-black violence

While this acknowledgement may not remedy the problem, it's a first step done on an international stage. Hopefully, the United States can follow suit when it hosts the games next. 

Read more: 
This Brazilian Beauty Queen Says She Was Stripped of Her Title for Being Too Black
Hearing 'America the Beautiful' in Multiple Languages During Rio 2016 Made People Mad
What Does the Olympic Torch Symbolize? Here's a Brief History of What the Torch Represents

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Mathew Rodriguez

Mathew Rodriguez is a Staff Writer at Mic. He is a queer Latino New Yorker who enjoys female rappers, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Flannery O'Connor. He is a former editor at TheBody.com and he is working on a memoir.

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