A man who posted a Carnival selfie with young Afro-Brazilians on social media captioned "I'm going to steal your cellphone" has been forced to publicly apologize.
The apology came after Lucas Almeida's boss, Fabrico Affonso, who is Black, terminated Almeida's work contract in response to the blunder, stating that he would not work with employees "with his profile."
In his statement, Almeida wrote that he "sincerely apologizes to the people who appear in the photo" and those "offended by my Instagram post, reiterating that this was never my intention."
He said he had meant to "criticize the system and not reproduce it," but the "ironic message was not perceived this way and caused the opposite effect.
"I live in a periphery (neighborhood) and always showed brotherhood and engaged in struggles and popular causes, because they represent my social and personal condition."
Days earlier, Iarley Duarte, one of the young men in Almeida's photograph, said: "We were very upset, displeased, sad and outraged by this act, by discrimination due to the color of our skin and social class," Revista Forum reports.
Duarte said an unidentified White man (Almeida) asked to take a photo with him and his friends during the Bekoo das Pretas carnival block in Vitoria, Espirito Santo. He later saw the image online with the controversial caption.
"He saw us having fun, approached us and asked to take a photo with him, but we had never seen him before or knew who he was," said Duarte. "Then a friend marked me in the photo on a Twitter post, showing the title of the photo."
The issue of race was a prominent one in this year's Rio de Janeiro carnival. Samba school Paraiso do Tuiuti won second place with their theme "My God, My God, is slavery extinct?"
Their parade represented rural slave labor, slave trafficking, informal work and 'The Mulato': the first newspaper published by Black people in Brazil in 1833.