Backlash to Anitta’s Music Video Evokes a Painful History in Brazil

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Anitta, the popular Brazilian singer, was the target of intense backlash over the release of a music video in an episode that highlighted persistent religious intolerance and racism in Brazil.

The furor began on Monday, when the 31-year-old pop star shared a preview of the video for her new song, “Aceita” (“Accept” in Portuguese), with her 65 million followers on Instagram. Within two hours, she lost 200,000 followers, she said.

The video depicts the practices of her faith, Candomblé. Her Instagram account showed images of the artist dressed in religious garb with a Candomblé priest and stills of spiritual items and other iconography associated with the faith.

Candomblé is considered a syncretic religion, meaning it draws from various faiths and traditions.

It evolved from a mix of Yoruba, Fon and Bantu beliefs brought to what is now Brazil by enslaved West African people during the colonial expansion of the Portuguese empire, scholars said.

Although they are practiced by only 2 percent of the population, Afro-Brazilian religions such as Candomblé make up a disproportionate number of reported religious intolerance cases, according to a 2022 U.S. State Department report on religious freedom in Brazil.

For centuries, Candomblé was relegated to the shadows. It was considered demonic sorcery and a public danger in an overwhelmingly Catholic society.

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Backlash to Anitta’s Music Video Evokes a Painful History in Brazil

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