Note from BW of Brazil: This blog often deals with the enduring power of the “racial democracy” myth that has existed in the minds of millions of Brazilians (some of whom are black) for about eight decades. The myth of racial democracy goes hand in hand with the country’s continued inability to deal with the issue of race in a straightforward manner. We’ve seen numerous examples of this just since this blog appeared in 2011. But even with the vast majority of Brazilians at least willing to admit that racism exists in their country, even while denying personal racist sentiments or downplaying its severity, every now and then, someone will come along and drop a gem that makes one simply wonder if the person was serious, in denial or part of some sort of an agenda. Keep this in mind as you read the following piece.
Alexandre Garcia says that there was no racism until quotas were implemented
Journalist’s position reveals what all of the right against racial quotas think
Courtesy of PCO
In a new statement from right wing journalist Alexandre Garcia, already famous for his positions against black people, against the poor, in defense of increased repression, released his latest against democratic rights.
The case occurred in the edition of Bom Dia Brasil (Good Morning Brazil) from October 22, when the journalist, who has defended even the military dictatorship, said that “the country was not racist until they created quotas.”
It’s not the first time that the journalist has attacked the rights of black people. Another time, in November 2013, Garcia, commenting on the then proposal of President Dilma Rousseff of reserving vacancies for blacks in the federal universities he added: “It means that Nazi Germany that separated Jews from Aryans was democracy?”
Garcia is part of the right that does not argue, it sputters. It screams hysterically against the unions, “revolts” against the PT (Workers Party, party in power since 2003), etc. It is part of the hard core of the national right.
The journalist’s position reveals what every right winger against racial quotas thinks.
First, that in Brazil there has never been racism. The jails full of blacks, the high level of unemployment, lack of housing and thousands of blacks killed by firearms is just a coincidence, this when it’s not the black’s fault, conforming to what meritocracy of the Millennium Institute and fifth category liberals say.
Racial quotas, for him, hinder white life in higher education, that only the white from the golden cradle can enter (1). The black is only reserved a spot in the kitchen or in jail.
Another “argument” that at the root of the discussion is that racial quotas create racism, since science has proven that there is no difference between races. The problem is that biology is one thing, society is a completely different thing. This journalist pretends not to understand.
Garcia’s comment seems to come from a person completely out of reality, that doesn’t even seem to live in Brazil. But what he means is that the right is raising its head against the democratic rights of blacks and against blacks themselves, as was seen in the case of Rio de Janeiro. In this sense, they should be countered, if necessary, with the use of force.
Note from BW of Brazil: OK, so here we go again! Brazil’s image of itself and its image in the view of numerous nations around the world as a ‘racial democracy’ has been noted in numerous previous posts where the term is mentioned. The endurance of this myth is another of the many reasons for the creation of this very blog. Like futebol, samba and Carnaval, it is essential to understanding the social conscious of Brazilian society. Ever since the early 1930s, only about four decades after Brazil’s 350 year experiment with human bondage, the country has proclaimed itself to be the nation in which the three primary races mix and co-exist in complete harmony.
Because of this image, after the devastation of World War II, UNESCO chose Brazil as a nation to study in order to determine how it managed to avoid the racial strife and conflict that was so evident in other multi-racial/multi-cultural societies. Which is lead to a series of studies on the topic of race. As Andreas Hofbauer put it:
“Apparently, the fame of Brazil as a country of the racial democracy was decisive in order that UNESCO decided, finally, to put into effect a series of research in the 1950s in various regions of Brazil. The studies, which should provide empirical material important for the development of a world-wide anti-racism campaign, brought no only new political concerns, but also academic: the researchers weren’t interested in analyzing the black contribution to the construction of the nation, but sought to understand, first, the social position of the descendants of slaves. What was at issue was the relationship between blacks and whites. From this reorientation of approach would emerge, finally, the issue of racial discrimination as an analysis of scientific analysis.
UNESCO studies revealed that social inequality between blacks and whites continued to be huge, that there was, in fact, a social problem. What’s more: the research clearly the existence of “racial prejudice”, a revelation, as we have seen, contradicted the official discourse and the self-image of most Brazilians at that time. The famously phrase collected during the research promoted by Roger Bastide and Florestan Fernandes (1971, p. 148), that says “we Brazilians have ‘the prejudice of not having prejudice’”, summed up, in a way, this “discovery”.”
Not only did the UNESCO studies show huge disparities in quality of life statistics, these studies, conducted in various parts of the country, showed that white Brazilians harbored very strong prejudice against and clung to long-held stereotypes about black Brazilians. The books produced by these studies were authored by sociologists and anthropologists such as Florestan Fernandes, Roger Bastide, LA Costa Pinto, Octavio Ianni, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Thales Azevedo, João Baptista Borges Pereira and others. Again, these books were all released in the 1950s and 1960s, 40-50 years before Brazil began to implement affirmative action policies in its universities (3). Along with these titles in Portuguese, a number of books about race and racism in Brazil were also released in English in this same period. And later books, in both Portuguese and English, written by the likes of Carlos Hasenbalg, Abdias do Nascimento, Thomas Skidmore and George Reid Andrews, soundly put the ‘racial democracy’ myth to rest for good, at least in academic circles. Books by these authors were also written between the 1960s and 1980s, still decades before the initiation of any sort of racial quotas.
One would assume that Alexandre Garcia has never read or heard of these titles, because if he had, he could not have made such a ridiculous statement basically asserting that affirmative action and quotas are to blame for racism in a country that was, apparently in his mind, a ‘racial paradise’ before these policies divided the country along racial lines. Like famed anthropologist Gilberto Freyre (who is generally credited with creating the ‘racial democracy’ myth in the 1930s), and his Globo TV colleague Ali Kamel (who insists that Não Somos Racistas, – “we’re not racists”) before him, Garcia apparently hasn’t studied the facts. But, in reference to our earlier consideration for the reasons of his stance (serious, denial or agenda) it is quite obvious, at least to this writer, that Garcia is simply doing his job as an agent of disinformation in an agenda of manipulation that the Globo TV network is so famous for.
It’s intriguing that Garcia, equal to so many millions of others when the topic is race, resorts to playing the infamous Hitler/Nazi Germany card to appeal to the emotions of those who pledge allegiance to his views. The ironic thing is that in continuing this mythology, he himself is guilty of applying a manipulation technique that is most often associated with Nazi Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels. Hundreds, if not thousands of researchers have credited Goebbels with the famous quote, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” Although Goebbels is credited with this famous phrase, I have yet to come across a source that proves that Goebbels in fact said this. In the end it doesn’t really matter. For as much as this big lie (of ‘racial democracy’) has been repeated over the past 80 years or so, fewer and fewer of those who are most affected by it are believing it.
- One notes that, according to numerous displays of hostility toward black presence in universities, Garcia’s sentiments are shared by more people than people care to admit. For examples, see here, here, here and here.
- The books featured in the above photos are the following: A Integração do Negro na Sociedade de Classes, by Florestan Fernandes. Originally published in 1965. Brancos e negros em São Paulo by Roger Bastide and Florestan Fernandes. Originally published in 1955. Cor e mobilidade social em Florianópolis: aspectos das relações entre negros e brancos numa comunidade do Brasil meridional by Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Octávio Ianni. Originally published in 1960. Cultura e situação racial no Brasil by Thales de Azevedo. Originally published in 1966. Côr Profissão e Mobilidade: O negro e o rádio de São Paulo by João Baptista Borges Pereira. Originally published in 1967. O Negro No Rio De Janeiro – Relações De Raças Numa Sociedade Em Mudança. By LA Costa Pinto. Originally published in 1953. O Negro Revoltado by Abdias do Nascimento. Originally published in 1982. Discriminação e Desigualdades Raciais no Brasil by Carlos Hasenbalg. Originally published in 1979. Raças e classes sociais no Brasil by Octávio Ianni. Originally published in 1970. Racismo à Brasileira: Raízes Históricas by Martiniano José da Silva. Originally published in 1987. Black into White: Race and Nationality in Brazilian Thought by Thomas Skidmore. Originally published in 1974. Blacks and Whites in São Paulo, Brazil, 1888-1988 by George Reid Andrews. Originally published in 1991.