Racism in Brazil

Introduction Racial disparity and discrimination is not a new concept to any nation. In fact, many were built on the back of slave labor, whether the slaves were indigenous peoples or imported bodies. While many nations have undertaken measures to overcome racial disparity, others have encouraged racial democracy. Brazil, a modern and industrialized nation, suffers from racial discrimination based on their position in the world economy and built on the Ideology of the past.
History Brazier’s history is rife with racism and slavery, dating back to Its discovery by Pedro Allover Cabal In 1500. Brazil was originally settled with the Intention of harvesting Broadloom. However, over time the profits from that were supplanted by sugar, Brazil became the leading producer of sugar In the Atlantic world. The production of all these exports meant cheap labor was needed. During this time, the Portuguese were sending between 4,000 and 5,000 slaves per year to Brazil from Angola and West Africa: by the 18th century, one million slaves had been imported (117).
The continually shifting landscape meant that Brazier’s exports continued to shift. By the time the 1 9th century came around, Brazier’s major export was coffee as sugar reduction had shifted to the Caribbean Islands. The continued influx of European slaves and citizens resulted in an uneven population. European labor was generally more skilled and slowly began to overtake slave labor. Around this same time, the abolition of slavery happened in 1888, resulting in a decline in the slave population.

By 1888, it was estimated that only a half-million people were slaves, compared to the one-and-a-half million slaves in 1872 (117). This is in part due to the fact that the coffee production process became more and more elaborate, requiring those with pesticides skills to take over. Coffee production soon fell into the hands of a wave of European immigrants, not freed slaves (122). The slaves that were freed often became vagrants, homeless, Jobless and penniless (Roach, “Analysis: Brazier’s ‘racial democracy”). The history of Brazil continues to inform the current day Brazil.
The current day population of Brazil tops 160 million, with about half of that being black. Yet, the black population is nearly absent from all levels of power, meaning “government, congress, senate, the Judiciary, the higher ranks of the civil service and he armed forces” (Roach, “Analysis: Brazier’s ‘racial democracy”). In 1999, the Minority Rights Group International reported that “black and mixed race Brazilian still have higher Infant mortality rates, fewer years of schooling, higher rates of unemployment, and earn less for the same work.
Black men are more likely to be shot or arrested as crime suspects, and when found guilty, get longer sentences” (Roach, “Analysis: Brazier’s ‘racial democracy”). Racism Persists There are many theories as to why racism continues to persist In modern day Brazil. One thing to look at Is their placement wealth the greater world economy. 22). When the Portuguese settled Brazil, they created a line of trade that focused on Portuguese and the plantation owners became very wealthy, all at the expense of the nearly three million black and mulatto slaves.
A truly capitalist world is one that where each countries worth is weighed in terms of their strengths (military, trade, financial, production) and what they can contribute. A superpower such as the United States is naturally more diverse, which means that tolerance and racism are not tolerated as easily in modern day society. Core countries are those that have the retreat strengths and the peripheral countries are the ones that are expendable. Phillips says “the peripheral countries were exploited by the core, and ‘semi peripheral’ countries were exploited by the core and exploited peripheral countries.
The relations between these three geopolitical units are ones built on inequality’ (122). Phillips goes on to say that “similar to the inequality that can be seen in a class system within a country, this template is now spread around the globe to view inequality on a world scale” (122). In other words, Brazil is treated with discrimination based on their trade abilities and overall contribution. This has trickled down so that individuals are also being treated with the same discrimination.
It is also important to note that “racism is fundamentally rooted in processors class structures, historically shifting modes of production, distribution, and consumption, and increasingly, in the unequal exchanges that tie local political economies to the global processes of capitalism” (Phillips 122). Brazier’s history of racial prejudice and discrimination has established a mode of living and ideology that persists to this day. It would be too easy to blame slavery on the world economy, but it is safe to say that he capitalist world economy has helped perpetuate racial prejudice and discrimination.
Slavery existed long before profit was exchanged for labor. As Brazil has grown, “the means to social mobility after emancipation was closely guarded by the Brazilian white ruling class, who allowed for a pool of relatively less expensive labor consisting mainly of Brazilian natives and other European immigrants” (122). The influx of cheap European labor resulted in the black and mulatto population being pushed aside. After Brazil abolished slavery, the ex-slaves were left with two hoicks: work under the same conditions as when they were slaves or Join the masses of unemployed (Phillips 122).
They had additional challenges; they were competing with native Brazilian and European immigrants for a limited number of jobs where the new economic order was wage labor (122). Racism played a major role after the emancipation of the slaves as many of the ex-slaves were discriminated against in the free Job market. While the shift has been to the detriment of blacks and mulattos, racism has not helped the white population of Brazil (123). Despite the racism running rampant, there is no black movement in Brazil. There is seemingly no racial tension or conflict.
Blacks that live in Salvador, who make up 80% of the population, say they feel safer in that environment than they do in the US (Roach, “Analysis: Brazier’s ‘racial democracy’). It is speculated that this is because appearances matter more in Brazil than heritage. In the US, one drop of black ancestry means you are black, while in Brazil, if you appear white, you are perceived as white (Roach, “Analysis: Brazier’s ‘racial democracy’). It can also be noted that the US has a history of violent racism where oppressed populations were treated harshly. Those past grievances have not been forgotten, and in some cases, not forgiven freedom.
It would seem as though the US operates under a shadow of racism, attempting to sweep it under the rug and pretend that equality is real. Brazil does not operate under such false pretenses. Racism is alive and acknowledged. As of the 2010 census, 51% of Brazil identifies itself as black or brown. The government estimates that the income of white Brazilian is more than double that of black or brown Brazilian and that blacks are at a distinct disadvantage in relation to education and access to healthcare (“Brazilian 2010 Census Highlights Racism Problem”). The racial divide in Brazil is based on a social pyramid.
Many will argue that the black community is poor because class, not race, stratifies their society. However, there are many that would disagree. According to Mario Theodore, an activist for social equality believes that “slavery legacy of injustice and inequality can only be reversed by affirmative action policies, of the kind found in the United States” (“Race in Brazil: Affirming a Divide”). Yet, it is also fair to note that in the US, there are many of different races that are in positions of great power and that social class is often dictated by wealth.
The history of the US supports the advancement of the white race, but progress is showing that race is beginning to take a backseat to skill set and overall acumen. In Brazil, the race line is well drawn. Most of those in the public eye, such as TV news anchors, doctors, dentists, fashion models, and lawyers are all white. The majority of black and mulatto’s are working in the “blue collar” trade, often deemed the unskilled labor pool. The salary disparity is even more telling. By 2011, the average black or brown worker was earning of what the average white worker made (“Brazilian 2010 Census Highlights Racism Problem”).
Statistics do not differentiate between gender, only race, though it can be assumed that the same problem occurs between gender lines. Affirmative Action Brazil, once considered a “racial democracy’ is fighting hard to shed that moniker. Racial democracy, in relation to Brazil, is defined as the thought that compared to other nations; racism was actually very minimal in Brazil (Tells, “Discrimination and Affirmative Action in Brazil”). However, today, most Brazilian concur that Brazil is victim to racial prejudice and discrimination.
Blacks and mulattos are the major cities of widespread police violence and often earn half the income of their white counterparts. In addition, television and advertising portray Brazilian society as one that is almost entirely white (Tells, “Discrimination and Affirmative Action in Brazil”). This is because the working class and elite are almost entirely white, so the melting pot of races exists only in the working class and poor. According to Antonio Riser’s, a sociologist, “It’s clear that racism exists in the US. It’s clear that racism exists in Brazil.
But they are different kinds of racism” (“Race in Brazil: Affirming a Divide”). He continues to argue that the racism itself is nefarious and veiled, unlike the racism that used to run rampant in the US. In Brazil, there was never a UK Klux Klan or enforced segregation or even a ban on interracial marriage (“Race in Brazil: Affirming a Divide”). Affirmative action is often put into place to attempt to create a racially diverse atmosphere. Most often this is in correlation to the workplace where employers do not discriminate based on race, gender, or religious affiliation.
In Brazil, the new affirmative action can be most notably seen in the university setting. By 2008 almost 50% of Brazilian universities have a race-based affirmative action attend a university, students were required to pass a standardized test. Now, leading universities are mandated to allow a fixed percentage of nonwhite students to attend. In addition, they have quotas for indigenous peoples and for the disabled (Tells, “Discrimination and Affirmative Action in Brazil”). Even though affirmative action was put in place to help, it is not without controversy.
Those that oppose the policies include “much of the media, private school students, their parents and the schools themselves, scholars and artists who alee the racial democracy ideal and even black students who believe in meritocracy’ (Tells, “Discrimination and Affirmative Action in Brazil”). They maintain that affirmative action does nothing to further racial equality; instead, it merely promotes racial equality without any substance. In addition, many academics are fighting against affirmative action in schools and campaigning against quotas.
They argue that enforcing affirmative action is, in itself, inherently an act of racism. It divides people into arbitrary color categories; a feat, which is not as easy as it seems nice much of Brazil, is a country of mixed race (“Race in Brazil: Affirming a Divide”). They also argue that it undermines the equality of the admissions process, even though in the past, nepotism and whom you know have been the quickest routes to advancement (“Race in Brazil: Affirming a Divide”).
Despite these arguments, studies have shown that many of the “quota” students are performing academically as well or better than their white counterparts. This can be attributed to the fact that many of those white students were admitted because they had the means and money to prepare for the entrance exam (“Race in Brazil: Affirming a Divide”). The next target is the labor market, a place where affirmative action could show positive benefits. In the United States, only 12% of the population is black, yet we have a black president, numerous black politicians and millionaires.
In contrast, Brazil has a limited number of black people in positions of power. Because of this, some private sector companies are making racial diversity a requirement in their recruiting process (“Race in Brazil: Affirming a Divide”). But again, the same problem occurs that showed up in the university setting. Just because a person is off different race does not mean they are qualified for the Job at hand. It often follows that work production and quality decline because employers are hiring based on color, not skill level.
Unlike the US, affirmative action in Brazil is being done in a very Brazilian way. There is little to no government interference or enforcement. Universities and private companies are making their own policies. The Supreme Court is involved, but is slow to act in hopes that society will figure out their own issues (“Race in Brazil: Affirming a Divide”). Society is moving fast though. Businesses and advertisers are now targeting black populations, but changing the minds of the consumer sector is n easy task compared to changing the mindset of racism ingrained after years and years of overt racism.
Many Brazilian assume that blacks and browns belong on the bottom of the social ladder, making the push for proactive change difficult (“Race in Brazil: Affirming a Divide”). Solution? In order for Brazil to pull down the racial divide and move beyond racial democracy, the boundaries between black and white need to be weakened. There is but despite this, the racial division is not nearly as rigid as they are in the US. An interesting note is that most Brazilian perceive their culture to be an example how ace and culture can coexist peacefully.
Despite this somewhat astonishing claim, it is still believed that 90% of the white population is prejudiced against the black and mulatto population. However, their idea of racism differs greatly from person to person so it is difficult to Judge what this really means. In a recent event in Brazil, a six-year-old boy was kicked out of a pizza polar supposedly for the color of his skin. According to the restaurant manager, he mistook the young boy as a local street boy. The boys parents have since then filed a complaint with the local police department ND are also considering taking legal actions.
This story launched a huge race-debate in Brazil (Phillips “Does Brazil Have a Race Problem”). While stories like this continue to gain traction, it is hard to figure out where Brazil goes from here. Affirmative action plans seem like a step in the right direction, but that will not be enough to change 500 years in ingrained behavior. Brazil will need a complete economic and social shift if it wishes to eradicate racism. If the US is a learning curve, Brazil has a lot of work to do, and so does the US when it comes down to reality. Conclusion
Many people around the world see Brazil as a country full of racial diversity where racism Just simply does not exist, where as others claims Brazil suffers from invisible racism where blacks earn less, live less, and are educated less. Although blacks make up for most of the population in Brazil they are still grossly under-represented in higher education, media, and politics. The continued racial divide will only be removed when government and individuals work together to not only acknowledge the problem, but find a way to move above and beyond racism and look at the individual for the value, not their skin color.

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