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Opinion: Donald Trump And Jair Bolsonaro Are 2-of-a-Kind — The Racist Kind

Opinion: Donald Trump And Jair Bolsonaro Are 2-of-a-Kind — The Racist Kind

Trump Bolsonaro

Former President Donald Trump welcomes former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro at Mar-a-Lago, March 7, 2020. (AP/Alex Brandon) / Rioters supporting Trump storm the Capitol in Washington, D.C., Jan. 6, 2021. (John Minchillo/AP) / Supporters of Bolsonaro clash with police outside the Planalto Palace in Brasília, Brazil, Jan. 8, 2023. (Eraldo Peres/AP)

Donald Trump’s presidency was marked by racism, from calling Haiti and countries in Africa shitholes to telling “The Squad” to go back to where they came from.

Jair Bolsonaro’s presidency was marked by denying the existence of racism in Brazil and failing to adequately protect Brazil’s rich Black and African history.

Trump and Bolsonaro are two-of-a-kind — the racist kind.

Both men also have insurrections in common — Jan. 6, 2021, in the U.S. and Jan. 9, 2023, in Brazil.

While the insurrection was happening at the U.S. Capitol Building, Trump was 1.8 miles away at the White House. According to the House of Representatives hearings on the insurrection, Trump desperately wanted to attend. As for Bolsonaro, during the recent insurrection, he was spotted in Florida on vacation. He wandered into a supermarket, signing autographs, and even enjoying some Kentucky Fried Chicken—something else he and Trump have in common, but I digress.

It may seem interesting that Bolsonaro, a far-right politician, would choose the U.S. to visit to lick his wounds after being ousted from the highest office of his country. Even more interesting than that is the history of Americans doing the same thing… retreating to another country after being ousted from power. It happened after the Civil War. Confederates, in an attempt to salvage their “way of life,” decided to leave the U.S. for greener pastures.


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Where did many of those Confederates go? You guessed it. More than 10,000 went to Brazil.

The Confederates had no desire to live in a land where they were equal with African people … it was an idea too much to bear.

An exile who had been brought to Brazil by her parents, years later, declared that the exiles had been “disappointed and sore over the Lost Cause, and fully resolved never to submit to nigger rulers appointed by the Yanks.”

But why Brazil? Considering that outside of the African continent, she is the most African of nations throughout the diaspora?

Because for decades prior to the Emancipation of Black people in the U.S., Confederate leaders regarded Latin America, especially the Caribbean, as possible sites for the expansion of the Confederacy. For the Confederates, Brazil represented a land of cotton and a solution to the race problem.

Brazil wasn’t the only destination. Every country in Latin America was in play — Mexico, Cuba, Central America and South America. In Mexico, Confederates negotiated with Maximilian I, the puppet emperor of Napoleon III, who sought a regime change in Mexico, to acquire tracts of land for white settler colonialists. However, various attempts at colonizing Mexican territory failed. Scholars say it could be because of international pressure. I say it’s probably because the Mexicans remembered the Alamo, but I digress.

In Brazil, Confederates negotiated with the government for tracts of land and ventured to their new home. The Southerners viewed the whites (and Africans for that matter) with contempt, having a plan to eventually take over portions of the nation, if not all of it. However, true to a theory of Anglo-Saxon dominance, the exiles who left for Brazil didn’t migrate in sufficient numbers to take a portion of the country, let alone all of it. The exiles were ignorant of how multicultural Brazil was. Those Confederates, so sure they would leave behind freed Black men, were certainly surprised to arrive in a land of freed Black men already assured equal rights to whites such as themselves.

Afro-Brazilians were not only free but occupied high positions in government.

As for the white settlers in Brazil, they did their best to maintain their whiteness by segregating from society. But it was a futile effort. Their descendants are no longer white but are Brazilian.

Currently, Florida is a welcoming place for far-right politicians, led by a far-right governor. It’s no wonder Bolsonaro chose to go. But like the Confederates swallowed up by the multiracial Brazilian society, eventually, white supremacists and white nationalist politicians will be swallowed up by the multiracial society that the U.S. is becoming. So too will Bolsonaro and his ilk in Brazil with new leadership.

It is the hope of this writer that racists will have nowhere to run when people of color exert justice. For white supremacists, there’s always the space race, I suppose.

Rann Miller is the director of anti-bias and DEI initiatives as well as a high school social studies teacher for a school district located in Southern New Jersey. He’s also a freelance writer and founder of the Urban Education Mixtape, supporting urban educators and parents of students in urban schools. He is the author of the upcoming book, Resistance Stories from Black History for Kids, with an anticipated release date of February 2023. You can follow him on Twitter @UrbanEdDJ .

Photos: Former President Donald Trump welcomes former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro at Mar-a-Lago, March 7, 2020. (AP/Alex Brandon) / Rioters supporting Trump storm the Capitol in Washington, D.C., Jan. 6, 2021. (John Minchillo/AP) / Supporters of Bolsonaro clash with police outside the Planalto Palace in Brasília, Brazil, Jan. 8, 2023. (Eraldo Peres/AP)