Note from BW of Brazil: It’s a logical conclusion/question. If it’s only been within a little over a decade that Afro-Brazilians have been entering university ranks as students in significant numbers, it should come as no surprise that there is a minuscule number of black professors in the universities. As one study showed some years ago, black professors in Brazilian federal universities make up less than 1% of this elite group. Similar to so many other elite areas of Brazilian society, persons given the task of divulging knowledge to the society are also overwhelmingly white and as such, it should come as no surprise that such information is presented from a Eurocentric perspective, nearly completely shutting out the contributions of Afro-Brazilian scholars. Another facet of racism, it also impairs scientific production of black researchers, placing obstacles in the path of Afro-Brazilian university students. So many people continue to want to deny the complete stranglehold that whiteness has on Brazilian society, but once again, the numbers show otherwise.
Number of black professors in public universities generates debate
Institutional campaign of UFJF questions the number of professors throughout the school retrospect of people
By Márcia Maria Cruz
An institutional campaign at the Federal University of Juiz de Fora (UFJF) (located in the state of Minas Gerais), questions the number of black professors in higher education, has earned adherence in social networks throughout Brazil. Devised by the Department of Affirmative Action, banners with the question “how many black professors do you have?” and the hashtag #nãoécoincidência (not a coincidence) were placed throughout the campus of the city in Zona da Mata. On the internet, many users responded to the question, presenting a retrospect of school life.
The campaign was created last November, the month of black consciousness. Black professors of the institution, with the respective information of the department in which they worked, were photographed for posters. Some of the advertisements went viral once reproduced on social networks. One of the posts was made by the student of the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG) Max Ziller, who visited the campus in Juiz de Fora. The photo was posted on Monday and until yesterday had received 10,500 likes and was shared 930 times. “The campaign shows that, despite the Law of Quotas, the university still has a long ways to go. In the five largest public universities in Brazil, the number of black professors is very expressive. Although most of the population is preta (black) and parda (brown), the university is still very branca (white),” he says.
A study by the Departamento de Ações Afirmativas (Department of Affirmative Action) at UFJF found that of the approximately 1,000 professors in the institution only 20 are black. To carry out the mapping it was requested in each department to identify the teachers who recognize themselves as black or who were recognized as such. This is the second campaign that questions the racial issue in the academic universe. In the first, the students took pictures with phrases with issues related to prejudice.
One of these posters presented by then communications student Paula Duarte, 25, brought the phrase “how many black professors have you had?” This repertoire of action was proposed by students of Harvard University, in the United States and in Brazil taken over by students at UFJF and the University of Brasília (UnB). For her, the university having embraced the campaign is an important step, but the path to combating institutionalized racism is long. “The entry of blacks into the public university is still very recent. Campaigns like these are important to demystify the idea of racial democracy,” Paula said.
The campaign poster made by students was taken over by UFJF during November, the month of black consciousness. “UFJF is the only public university that recognizes that racism exists in the academic environment,” points out the director of the Department of Affirmative Action, Carolina Bezerra. For her, the campaign highlights the structural racism in Brazilian society. “The campaign is important to highlight that, in Brazil, live in relationships based on the myth of racial democracy. It serves to unveil institutionalized racism.”
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