Note from BW of Brazil: I’m quite sure that even as this blog will be completing seven years of exposing the racial situation in Brazil, there are still a whole lot of people out there who are either oblivious to the issue or at the least wonder why the situation remains. Several months ago, we presented an article in which a young woman explained how slavery cannot be, and indeed is not, the only that explains the disparities between Brazilians who are deemed to be white and those of persons of color regardless of how they classify themselves or how they are perceived in terms of race. As I’ve repeatedly pointed out, regardless of how well Brazilians seem to get along, an underlying system of values, privileges and penalties associated with phenotypes have maintained the hierarchy in the country in a state in which all of the major genres of the country are dominated by those who are for all intents and purposes white, or something close to it. But don’t take my word for, numerous researchers have been pointing out the factors that contribute to the maintenance of this hierarchy for some time. Below is another text that provides some insight into the situation.
The historical construction of racism in Brazil
Researcher at UFMG highlights the impact that the lack of public policies for former slaves left for their descendants in the country
By Maria Irenilda Pereira
According to the dictionary, racism is prejudice and discrimination directed toward those possessing a different race or ethnicity. In Brazil, this word took shape and color with the arrival of about 5 million Africans, trafficked by the Portuguese between the 16th and 19th centuries. To understand the current Brazilian social configuration, and especially, racism, sociologists and historians resort to our past.
A very important period in this development process, according to the professor of African history of the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG) Alexandre Almeida Marcussi, 34, was the three decades that followed the abolition of slavery. “This period is possible to observe what happened to the ex-slave population of the urban and rural area. The lack of public actions to integrate these workers into society were decisive in the history of the marginalization that followed,” he says.
The historian defends the thesis that the black people were intentionally excluded from the society dominated by whites. “The incentive to European immigration, the projects of the embranquecimento (whitening) of the population, the promotion of racism as an ideology, the exclusion of black people from access to land and the low level of investment in education for these people have acted as factors that have continued to produce and reproducing the marginality of black populations in Brazil,” he argues.
Abolition only brought legal freedom, socially, former slaves and their descendants remained inferior, according to Marcussi. “Although there has been the conquest of legal freedom and relative upward social mobility for some Africans and their descendants, it is undeniable that they, as a whole, have always occupied the lowest places of the Brazilian social hierarchy, in relation to the Portuguese and their descendants rooted in Brazil,” says the historian.
After 130 years of abolition, the black population continues to occupy the base of the social pyramid in Brazil. The number of blacks among the poorest part of the country is 76%, according to data from the National Survey by Household Sample (PNAD) of 2014, made by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE). Discrimination in the labor market is also very blatant. While the average monthly income of the white professional is R$2,697, that of the black worker monthly is R$ 1,526, points out the PNAD.