Note from BW of Brazil: And the drama continues! Now for those of you who simply looked at the title of this article without considering the Brazilian history and context, you probably looked and thought, “well, of course! Isn’t that obvious?!?” But the question of racial quotas of Brazilian society has been a hot topic of debate since the beginning of the last decade when they were first initiated and not only for the immediate reason you may be thinking of.
You see, besides the accusations that anti-quota activists have long levied (diminishing of quality of education, reverse discrimination, etc.), there is also the question that immediately emerged due to Brazil’s long history of miscegenation: In Brazil, exactly who is black? For some, black people should only be considered those with the darkest of brown and black skin. For others, including activist of black social movements, black, or negro (the term used in Brazil) includes all pretos (blacks) or pardos (browns) who have any salient traces of African ancestry. The argument is that as pretos and pardos are virtually identical in numerous quality of life statistics and at similar disadvantages in comparison to brancos (whites), they experience discrimination in a similar manner.
But a particularly Brazilian issue can arise when there is a situation in which there are two siblings, one that looks blacker and another looks whiter, with both having lower class origins and both wanting to take advantage of the quota system. And what about those people who have defined themselves as brancos for their entire lives, have grandfathers/grandmothers who were black but have never been discriminated against or questioned about their whiteness. Do these people deserve to take advantage of a system created act as a sort of reparations for black people who have faced social exclusion for centuries based on their appearance?
Since quotas began, we’ve seen some great examples of how complex this issue can be, including the case of the twin brothers, one who was accepted under the quota system and the other who was rejected and the white-skinned man with green eyes who resorted to the quota system to enter a university course a few years ago. We’ve already weighed in on this issue in a previous post, thus the judge’s decision in this case makes perfect sense, but the debate is sure to carry on!
Courts decide that a candidate must look black in order to qualify for quotas
Courtesy of UOL
The evaluating commission of a public competition can eliminate from the system of quotas a candidate that doesn’t present the phenotype or appearance of a preto (black) or pardo (brown) even if they declare themselves such in an application, according to the courts. These criteria, however, must be determined in the edict.
This was the understanding of the Tribunal Regional Federal da 4ª Região (Federal Regional Tribunal of the 4th Region) that denied the request of an injunction of a pharmaceutical who was excluded from quotas in a competition for the Empresa Brasileira de Serviços Hospitalares (Brazilian Company of Hospital Services).
According to the action, the candidate, that lives in Pelotas (State of Rio Grande do Sul) was competing for a vacancy through the system of quotas for pretos or pardos, but was eliminated by the evaluating commission because of not having these physical characteristics.
In the first instance, in the 2nd Federal Vara of Pelotas, the injunction of the candidate was denied. She then filed an interlocutory appeal in the Federal Court (a type of appeal).
In the decision, the rapporteur of the suit, judge Ricardo Teixeira do Valle Pereira said that “being that the edict of the competition is clear about adopting phenotype and not genotype (genetic composition regardless of appearance), for the analysis of the racial group, there remained no demonstrated arbitrariness in the commission’s decision.”
According to the TRF, the merit of the case will still be analyzed by the first instance judge.
Decision is based on the STF
According to the TRF, the judges of the two instances make decisions based on an understanding of the STF (Supremo Tribunal Federal or Federal Supreme Court) from October of last year that considered constitutional the policy of quotas at the University of Brasília.
According to the ministers of STF, the evaluation of the bench should be carried out according to phenotype and not ancestry. For them, existing prejudice and discrimination in the society doesn’t have origin in differences of human genotype, but in fact on phenotypes (of appearance) of individuals and social groups.
The court decided that the verification should be done after the candidate has turned in his/her declaration, so that there is no racial classification by third parties.
Source: UOL Economia