Court declares one must “look like an African descendant in the eyes of the average man” to qualify for affirmative action, rejecting another case of a white student “passing” for black

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Campus Life, Caribbean/Latin America, Law, Media Archive on 2018-12-03 04:15Z by Steven

Court declares one must “look like an African descendant in the eyes of the average man” to qualify for affirmative action, rejecting another case of a white student “passing” for black

Black Women of Brazil
2018-11-12

Marques Travae, Creator and Editor


One of numerous examples of fraud, Vinícius Loures defined himself as black to attain access to a Medicine course at the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais.

Court declares one must “look like an African descendant in the eyes of the average man” to qualify for affirmative action, rejecting another case of a white student “passing” for black

In a recent decision that will have huge repercussions on persons who attempt to obtain access to certain jobs and vacancies in universities, a panel upheld a policy that defined that for anyone wishing to qualify through affirmative action, it is not enough that said person be of African descent, but rather must look like an African descendant in the eyes of the average man. This was an argument I made several months ago. A little background here.

Due to the lack of diversity on Brazil’s college and university campuses, the nation began to experiment with affirmative action policies nearly 20 years ago. The discussion on the policies generated debates on race in the public sphere that had never happened to such a degree in Brazil. Sure, the topic of race in Brazil had been studied in academia for decades, but never had the general public had such public debates on the topic. Since the first half of the 20th century, the belief system in Brazil had been that Brazil was a “racial democracy” in which any person, regardless of their racial appearance had an equal opportunity to attain a middle class lifestyle. In fact, because of widespread miscegenation, it was even difficult to determine what race the average Brazilian was anyway…

Read the entire article here

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Lynnwood man tried to use a home DNA test to qualify as a minority business owner. He was denied — now he’s suing.

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2018-09-21 01:10Z by Steven

Lynnwood man tried to use a home DNA test to qualify as a minority business owner. He was denied — now he’s suing.

The Seattle Times
2018-09-13

Christine Willmsen, Seattle Times staff reporter

State and federal programs aim to ensure minority-owned businesses can compete for government contracts after generations of institutional discrimination. A Lynnwood man long identified as white is using DNA ethnicity estimates to claim minority status.

Ralph Taylor says it doesn’t matter what he looks like. Having lived most of his life as a white man, the 55-year-old now considers himself to be multiracial based on DNA test results.

The owner of Orion Insurance Group in Lynnwood also wants the U.S. Department of Transportation to recognize him as a minority so he can gain more deals providing liability insurance to contractors.

Taylor is suing Washington state and the federal government because he was denied a minority-business certification under a program created more than two decades ago to help level the playing field for minority business owners seeking contracts in the transportation industry. He provided no evidence he has suffered socially or economically because of race.

His case is pending with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

In 2010 Taylor began identifying himself as multiracial after a DNA ancestry test estimated he was 90 percent Caucasian, 6 percent indigenous American and 4 percent sub-Saharan African.

He applied for state certification with the Washington Office of Minority & Women’s Business Enterprises (OMWBE) so Orion Insurance Group would be considered a minority business.

Ralph Taylor (Steve Ringman/The Seattle Times)
Ralph Taylor (Steve Ringman/The Seattle Times)

With no criteria defining a minority race or ethnicity, OMWBE eventually approved Taylor. But that same state agency, which also manages the U.S. Department of Transportation certification, decided he was Caucasian under that program’s procedures and denied his application…

Read the entire article here.

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Brazil In Black And White

Posted in Audio, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Justice, Social Science on 2017-08-27 02:31Z by Steven

Brazil In Black And White

Rough Translation
National Public Radio
2017-08-14

Two radically different ways of seeing race come into sudden conflict in Brazil, provoking a national conversation about who is Black? And who is not Black enough?

Listen to the podcast (00:32:23) here. Download the podcast here.

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The limits of affirmative action in Brazil

Posted in Brazil, Campus Life, Caribbean/Latin America, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Videos on 2017-08-07 20:13Z by Steven

The limits of affirmative action in Brazil

Focus
France 24
2017-07-26

Brazil has the highest proportion of so-called “mixed race” people in the world. Yet only 13% of people aged 18 to 24 in that category are enrolled at university. Back in 2012, the government decided to introduce quotas for universities. But recently, the system appears to have stalled. Black student groups have denounced students they say are “too white” to benefit from this affirmative action policy, while universities have set up committees to examine skin color and ethnic background.

A programme prepared by Patrick Lovett and Aline Schmidt.

Watch the entire program here.

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One Woman’s Fight to Claim Her ‘Blackness’ in Brazil

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Law, Media Archive on 2017-07-25 02:12Z by Steven

One Woman’s Fight to Claim Her ‘Blackness’ in Brazil

Foreign Policy
2017-07-24

Cleuci de Oliveira
Brasília, Brazil


Illustration by Sofía Bonati

The experience of a young lawyer raises difficult questions about race, belonging, and the bureaucracy of affirmative action in a country lauded for its egalitarian history.

When Maíra Mutti Araújo speaks, she draws out her vowels and pronounces them with a distinctively sharp tone. Her accent is immediately recognizable to Brazilians as typical of Salvador, a coastal city in the country’s northeast that is as famous for its beaches as its rich African heritage. Araújo grew up in Salvador, just like her mom. Her dad, who grew up in a rural town eight hours away, has lived there since college. She has her mom’s features — a broad nose, full lips — and her dad’s nut-brown complexion.

Araújo comes from a bookish family. Her parents met when they were both chemistry majors at a local university — they now work as middle school chemistry teachers. She got her law degree at the Federal University of Bahia, one of the country’s most prestigious. During her time in law school, Araújo began to consider a career in the civil service. She interned at the Federal Attorney General’s Office in Salvador while still a student and took a job as an analyst at the government accountability office in Manaus, in the state of Amazonas, after graduation. Her goal was to eventually become a prosecutor. “I love arguing cases,” Araújo says, “that whole process of taking a case and finding a solution for it.” As a prosecutor, she says, “you’re responsible for propelling the case forward. The outcome depends on your approach.”

In late 2015, Araújo set her sights on an attractive job opening for a prosecutor back in her hometown, in the Salvador municipal department. Everyone encouraged her to apply using a relatively new affirmative action option. “You of all people! You have to do it,” Araújo’s boss at the time told her. “If I had the chance to apply as a quotas candidate, I would totally go for it,” her friends said. “And you do! So apply!”…

…Even before slavery was abolished, the mixed-race Brazilians who resulted from these unions enjoyed freedoms not available to those with darker skin tones. Many thrived as small-scale farmers, for instance, and a few reached stratospheric heights: André Rebouças, whose grandmother had been a slave, rose to become one of Brazil’s most important engineers in the late 19th century. By the turn of the century, a complex hierarchy based on skin color, facial features, hair texture, education, and elocution, among other qualities, came to dominate the Brazilian social contract.

Unlike the United States, post-abolition Brazil did not enact “anti-miscegenation” or “separate but equal” laws, so race relations evolved with relative fluidity. The end result was that, contrary to America, where even a single black ancestor several generations removed marked a person as legally black, Brazilians came to define blackness as a matter of physical appearance. According to the late sociologist Oracy Nogueira — arguably the most influential scholar of Brazilian constructions of race — the American concept of “passing” as white is a moot one in Brazil, where simply looking white makes one so.

The quotas implemented in universities and government departments were born of attempts to push back against this pervasive colorism — the privileging of light skin over dark. Activists stress the importance of black representation in positions of power — particularly by those who, on account of having a darker complexion or markedly black features, do not benefit from a fluid racial identity that could otherwise see them classified as white. Which is why activists’ frustrations have grown over what they argue are light-skinned pardos taking advantage of hard-won affirmative action policies that were not fought for with them in mind…

Read the entire article here.

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Brazil’s New Problem With Blackness

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Campus Life, Caribbean/Latin America, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy on 2017-04-06 00:55Z by Steven

Brazil’s New Problem With Blackness

Foreign Policy
2017-04-05

Cleuci de Oliveira
Brasília, Brazil

As the proudly mixed-race country grapples with its legacy of slavery, affirmative-action race tribunals are measuring skull shape and nose width to determine who counts as disadvantaged.

PELOTAS, Brazil – Late last year Fernando received news he had dreaded for months: he and 23 of his classmates had been kicked out of college. The expulsion became national news in Brazil. Fernando and his classmates may not have been publicly named (“Fernando,” in fact, is a pseudonym), but they were roundly vilified as a group. The headline run by weekly magazine CartaCapital — “White Students Expelled from University for Defrauding Affirmative Action System” — makes it clear why.

But the headline clashes with how Fernando sees himself. He identifies as pardo, or brown: a mixed-race person with black ancestry. His family has struggled with discrimination ever since his white grandfather married his black grandmother, he told me. “My grandfather was accused of soiling the family blood,” he said, and was subsequently cut out of an inheritance. So when he applied to a prestigious medical program at the Federal University of Pelotas, in the southern tip of Brazil, he took advantage of recent legislation that set aside places for black, brown, and indigenous students across the country’s public institutions.

While affirmative action policies were introduced to U.S. universities in the 1970s, Brazil didn’t begin experimenting with the concept until 2001, in part because affirmative action collided head-on with a defining feature of Brazilian identity. For much of the twentieth century, intellectual and political leaders promoted the idea that Brazil was a “racial democracy,” whose history favorably contrasted with the state-enforced segregation and violence of Jim Crow America and apartheid South Africa. “Racial democracy,” a term popularized by anthropologists in the 1940s, has long been a source of pride among Brazilians…

Read the entire article here.

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Discourses of Citizenship in American and Brazilian Affirmative Action Court Decisions

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Law, Media Archive, United States on 2017-01-08 20:02Z by Steven

Discourses of Citizenship in American and Brazilian Affirmative Action Court Decisions

American Journal of Comparative Law
Volume 64, Number 2, (Summer 2016)
pages 455-504
DOI: 10.5131/AJCL.2016.0015

Adilson José Moreira
Harvard University; Mackenzie Presbyterian University

American and Brazilian courts are traveling quite different paths regarding the question of racial justice. Race neutrality has become an influential interpretive approach in both jurisdictions, a perspective that articulates a depiction of these nations as culturally homogenous societies with the defense of liberal principles as a necessary requirement for social cohesion. Because of the representation of Brazil and the United States as democracies that facilitate integration of all racial groups, courts in these countries have developed an equal protection approach that combines the rhetoric of assimilation and formal equality. However, while the discourse of race neutrality gains continuous political force in the United States, race consciousness is acquiring increasing persuasive power in Brazil. As the implementation of affirmative action programs has expanded into different sectors, various social actors have questioned their constitutionality. Although state and federal courts in Brazil have condemned affirmative action because it supposedly subverts liberal principles and moral consensus about equal racial treatment, the Brazilian Supreme Court has recently classified race neutrality as a strategy of racial domination. Differently from American affirmative action cases, this decision formulated a notion of citizenship that functions as a counterhegemonic narrative. In articulating progressive constitutional principles and a group-oriented equal protection perspective, the Brazilian Supreme Court has significantly contributed to the deconstruction of the traditional discourse of race transcendence. The Court’s decisions may serve as an interesting point of comparison for the debate about affirmative action in the United States, since Brazilian history shows very clearly how race neutrality allows majoritarian groups to defend racial privilege while advocating formal equality as a way to promote social inclusion.

Read the entire article here.

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Black or white?

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Justice, Social Science on 2016-12-12 18:45Z by Steven

Black or white?

The Globe and Mail
2016-12-12

Stephanie Nolen, Latin America Bureau Chief
Rio De Janiero, Brazil


Jacqueline Suellen Chaves poses for a photo on Belm Docs. She’s a black woman rejected as too white for a job as a social worker by a panel.
Daniel Ramalho/For The Globe and Mail

It was a policy was born of good intentions but has stirred up perplexing, often painful, questions: What makes a person black, or white? Is it facial features? Hair? Family? Or an experience of racism? And who gets to decide?

Jacqueline Chaves checked the Internet every day, waiting to see test results posted – a pass would be the last step in her long road to a job as a social worker.

Ms. Chaves, 23, had worked hard to get through a degree program at the competitive federal university in Belem do Para, a port city on the Amazon forest’s Atlantic coast. There were many tough tests along the way but she wasn’t a bit worried about this final one. It was an exam to assess whether she qualified for a position being reserved for an affirmative-action candidate. Ms. Chaves knew she would sail through, because she is black.

Or thought she was…

…Commissions are vital to ensure that limited affirmative-action spaces are not used by cheating white students, said Iuri Nascimento, an activist with a racial-equality advocacy organization called Negrex. Any argument that it’s impossible to tell who is eligible in a country with a lot of mixed-raced people is simply aimed at undermining the system, he added.

There is no “purely objective scale” of blackness, he said, but it’s also not that hard to tell who is black and who isn’t: Police officers identify who is black just fine, argued Mr. Nascimento. (Black Brazilian men are killed by police three times more often than white.)…

…Yet there are many Brazilians – including other black activists – who think that the tribunals are a terrible idea. Petronio Domingues, a historian with the Federal University of Sergipe who studies the fight for racial equality in Brazil, said it’s absurd to think that there are characteristics that can be evaluated objectively to determine race.

“They’re looking only at a person’s appearance, and that doesn’t define race,” he said. “Any definition of what it is to be black cannot be external to the individual. … Race is a social construction, without scientific basis.” Nor is there any evidence that proves that black people with very dark skin suffer more prejudice than those who are called pardo, or brown, he added, so it makes no sense to give more “points” to someone whose skin is darker or hair curlier…

Read the entire article here.

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For Affirmative Action, Brazil Sets Up Controversial Boards To Determine Race

Posted in Articles, Audio, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy on 2016-09-29 20:17Z by Steven

For Affirmative Action, Brazil Sets Up Controversial Boards To Determine Race

Parallels: Many Stories, One World
National Public Radio
2016-09-29

Lulu Garcia-Navarro, South America Correspondent

When the test scores came out, Lucas Siqueira, 27, was really excited. His high mark on the Foreign Service exam earned him a coveted position at Brazil’s highly competitive Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“They hire 30 diplomats a year and thousands of people sign up,” he says in fluent English from his home in Brasilia, the capital.

It was, he says, a great day.

Siqueira considers himself to be mixed race, known in Brazil as pardo, or brown.

“I consider myself to be a very typical Brazilian and I’ve always been very proud of it. In my dad’s family, my grandfather is black, my grandmother has Indian and white roots. And on my mother’s side they are mostly white, mostly Portuguese,” he said.

How he defines himself matters because he was required to self-identify on his application. In 2014, the government introduced a quota system for federal jobs. The affirmative action regulations require that 20 percent of all government positions be filled by people of color — either black or mixed race.


Lucas Siqueira identified himself as mixed race on his application for a job at Brazil’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The government decided he wasn’t, and his case is still on hold. As part of the affirmative action program in Brazil, state governments have now set up boards to racially classify job applicants.
Courtesy of Lucas Siqueira

The problem came once the announcement of the appointments was made public…

Wide disparities

The legacy of the period can still be felt today. Even though the majority of the population is of African descent, only 5 percent of Afro-Brazilians were in higher education as recently as 10 years ago. Because of affirmative action, that number is now 15 percent. Vaz says these are hard won gains, but there is a long way to go.

“Only 5 percent of executives are black in Brazil, politicians, diplomats, all things, so the black people don’t access the space of power in my country. This is the real issue we have,” he says.

In the U.S., race is still largely determined by parentage because of the history of the “one drop rule,” where white institutions historically deemed a person black if they had even one drop of black blood.

In Brazil, he says, the criteria is different. Skin tone matters more than race, because so much of the population is mixed…

Read the entire story here. Download the story here.

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Misc.: How to Really Kill Affirmative Action or Why Abigail Fisher Ain’t Rachel Dolezol

Posted in Articles, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2016-01-22 17:36Z by Steven

Misc.: How to Really Kill Affirmative Action or Why Abigail Fisher Ain’t Rachel Dolezol

The Multiracial Advocate
2016-01-20

Thomas Lopez, President
Multiracial Americans of Southern California (MASC)

Abigail Fisher was a mediocre high school student applying to the University of Texas (UT). She couldn’t get in based on her grades and test scores alone so she was put into a pool of students that would be considered for admission based on alternative factors meant to diversify the campus student body. Most of the students admitted from this pool were white like Fisher, but a small number were racial minorities. Any number of factors may have been the basis for a discrimination law suit but Ms. Fisher chose to sue for racial discrimination all the way to the Supreme Court. This has been a tactic tried numerous times to chip away at affirmative action programs, but there is another strategy yet to be tried that would probably kill it for good yet for some reason no one has attempted.

Applications for college are much like the Census in that they provide the opportunity for self-identification. Since the end of Jim Crow in official legislation, the government has been accepting self-identification as the means for collecting racial demographic information more and more. So what is stopping someone from identifying as a racial minority and taking advantage of affirmative action programs? Could someone be sued for racial fraud in this case?…

Read the entire article here.

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