Expats Find Brazil’s Reputation For Race-Blindness Is Undone By Reality

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Audio, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science on 2015-05-23 20:24Z by Steven

Expats Find Brazil’s Reputation For Race-Blindness Is Undone By Reality

Parallels: Many Stories, One World
National Public Radio

Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, South America Correspondent

There is a joke among Brazilians that a Brazilian passport is the most coveted on the black market because no matter what your background — Asian, African or European — you can fit in here. But the reality is very different.

I’m sitting in café with two women who don’t want their names used because of the sensitivity of the topic. One is from the Caribbean; her husband is an expat executive.

“I was expecting to be the average-looking Brazilian; Brazil as you see on the media is not what I experienced when I arrived,” she tells me.

As is the case for many people from the Caribbean basin, she self-identifies as multiracial. The island where she is from has a mixture of races and ethnicities, so she was excited to move to Brazil, which has been touted as one of the most racially harmonious places in the world.

“When I arrived, I was shocked to realize there is a big difference between races and colors, and what is expected — what is your role, basically — based on your skin color,” she says…

Read the entire article here. Download the story here. Read the transcript here.

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Brazilian Racial Democracy: Reality or Myth?

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science on 2015-05-23 19:19Z by Steven

Brazilian Racial Democracy: Reality or Myth?

Humboldt Journal of Social Relations
Volume 10, Number 1, (Fall/Winter 1982/83): Race & Ethnic Relations: Cross-Cultural Perspectives
pages 129-142

Carlos Hasenbalg, Professor of Sociology
Instituto Universitário de Pesquisas do Rio de Janeiro

Suellen Huntington
University of California, Berkeley

The Brazilian claim to “racial democracy” is examined historically. and in light of the 1976 Pesquisa Nacional por Amostra de Domicílios data on race. class. and social mobility in Brazil. Racism is seen as limiting upward mobility for all non-white Brazilians, pointing to a potential break in Brazil’s “color—class continuum.” The interlocking social mechanisms which maintain Brazilian faith in the existence of racial democracy are briefly analyzed.

The popular Brazilian ideology of racial democracy holds that there is no prejudice or discrimination against non-whites in Brazil. certainly not when compared to the United States. This paper examines that ideology in terms of the realities of race, class, and social mobility in contemporary Brazil. We begin by briefly describing the historical background of the ideology of racial democracy as it bears on race relations in Brazil. Second, we summarize and criticize three main theoretical approaches to race relations and their Brazilian variations. Third, we discuss racism as a causal variable in social stratification and compare the evidence of social mobility for white and non-white Brazilians. Finally, we analyze the social mechanisms supponing the Brazilian belief in racial democracy and their effects on equality of opportunity in Brazil. For perspective, we note the most pertinent comparisons to the United States.


Brazil’s history helps explain the development of the ideology of racial democracy and its strong hold on the Brazilian popular mind. Brazil. colonized under the auspices of the Portuguese crown, remained subject to its strongly authoritarian, paternalistic, and monarchical traditions for three-hundred years. Unlike the United States where slavery was an issue from its very beginning and became a bitter point of contention in the Civil War. slavery was easily accepted by Brazil‘s Portuguese settlers whose long familiarity with slavery dates to the Moorish invasions. These differences of attitude influenced the racial compasition of their respective populations. In Brazil through the 1850, half the population was enslaved; in the United States, slaves were never more than fifteen percent of the population. The presence of this large slave population in Brazil, along with the relative absence of white women, prompted a high rate of miscegenation resulting in a large group of mixed race and mulatto slaves. In the United States, where miscegenation was both less common and illegal, all offspring of mixed unions were classified as negroes.

Brazil, the last country in the Western hemisphere to relinquish slavery, did so slowly, in a series of compromise reforms which sought to balance the needs of a plantation economy for cheap. plentiful labor against a sporadic, mostly non-violent, abolitionist movement and the force of international condemnation. When the national legislature passed an abolition law in 1888, most slaves in Brazil had been freed, partly by state legislatures acting independently, but also by county governments, by city governments, by city blocks, and by private citizens. Rather than a tumultuous emancipation, Brazilian slavery merely disintegrated. In the United States, the slavery issue was finally settled in 1865 with the Northern victory in the Civil War.

To solve the plantation labor crisis envisioned as the aftermath of abolition and to ease the transition to free labor, the Brazilian government instituted in 1885, a program promoting the importation of European workers. This program attracted 6,500 Italian laborers in 1886, 30,000 in 1887, and 90,000 in 1888, the year of offical emancipation. During the period of emancipation, immigrant labor worked side-by-side with ex-slaves, but most ex-slaves, unable to compete with the relatively more skilled, relatively more literate European workers, were soon relegated to the lowest positions—unskilled labor and domestic service, tenant farming and sharecroppingin the urban and rural workforce. In the United States, skilled black workers were replaced by whites in the post-Civil War South; in the North, they were systematically excluded from the skilled trades, from all but menial labor, and from union membership. In post-emancipation Brazil, however, the replacement of black ex-slaves by white immigrants resulted from hiring decisions by individual employers rather than from any systematic or organized opposition, thus tending to create class rather than racial antagonisms.

In addition, in the United States whites filled the intermediate positions in the occupational hierarchy, leaving blacks only the least desirable, worst paying positions. In Brazil the labor shortage, together with a prejudice in favor of light skin, caused these intermediate positions to be filled by mulattoes. This labor market preference for whites first, mulattoes second, and blacks last created a status and income continuum corresponding to the color continuum, in contrast to the caste-color line created in the United States…

Read or purchase the article here.

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Obama’s Twitter Debut, @POTUS, Attracts Hate-Filled Posts

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2015-05-22 01:36Z by Steven

Obama’s Twitter Debut, @POTUS, Attracts Hate-Filled Posts

The New York Times

Julie Hirschfeld Davis, White House Correspondent

WASHINGTON — When President Obama sent his inaugural Twitter post from the Oval Office on Monday, the White House heralded the event with fanfare, posting a photograph of him perched on his desk tapping out his message on an iPhone.

The @POTUS account — named for the in-house acronym derived from “President of the United States” — would “serve as a new way for President Obama to engage directly with the American people, with tweets coming exclusively from him,” a White House aide wrote that day.

But it took only a few minutes for Mr. Obama’s account to attract racist, hate-filled posts and replies. They addressed him with racial slurs and called him a monkey. One had an image of the president with his neck in a noose.

The posts reflected the racial hostility toward the nation’s first black president that has long been expressed in stark terms on the Internet, where conspiracy theories thrive and prejudices find ready outlets. But the racist Twitter posts are different because now that Mr. Obama has his own account, the slurs are addressed directly to him, for all to see.

Within minutes of Mr. Obama’s first, cheerful post — “Hello, Twitter! It’s Barack. Really!” it began — Twitter users lashed out in sometimes profanity-laced replies that included exhortations for the president to kill himself and worse.

One person posted a doctored image of Mr. Obama’s famous campaign poster, instead showing the president with his head in a noose, his eyes closed and his neck appearing broken as if he had been lynched. Instead of the word “HOPE” in capital letters as it appeared on the campaign poster, the doctored image had the words “ROPE.”…

…Top advisers to Mr. Obama, who pioneered the use of technology in his campaigns, regard such hate speech as a relatively minor price to pay for the opportunity Twitter and other platforms provide to reach voters directly. Twitter, which has been criticized for not cracking down on so-called trolls who post abusive or inappropriate comments on the social networking platform, does not police individual users or initiate its own action against them…

Read the entire article here.

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What’s Radical About “Mixed Race?”

Posted in Anthropology, Canada, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2015-05-19 19:29Z by Steven

What’s Radical About “Mixed Race?”

Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU
8 Washington Mews
New York, New York 10003
Phone: (212) 998-3700
Monday, 2015-04-20, 18:00-20:00 EDT (Local Time) | Free

Since the 1990s, mainstream media has heralded the growing population of self-identified “mixed race” people in the US and Canada as material proof of a post-racial era (a recent example: National Geographic‘s 2013 feature “The Changing Face of America,” whose title paraphrases a Time feature [at right] from two decades prior). Meanwhile, foundational multiracial activists and scholars like Maria Root claim a doubled oppression—racism via white supremacy and ostracizing from so-called “monoracial” people of color. A growing body of Critical Mixed Race Studies literature is challenging both positions, questioning the assumption that multiracial activism and scholarship is necessarily anti-racist.

Minelle Mahtani critically locates how an apolitical and ahistorical Canadian “model multiracial” upholds the multicultural claims of the Canadian settler state. Jared Sexton calls to task multiracial activists who leverage a mixed race identity in opposition to those who are “all black, all the time.”

Eschewing an apolitical “celebration” of mixed race, this panel examines the movement’s implications for multiracial coalition and the future of race in the US and Canada, asking: does the multiracial movement challenge—or actually reinforce—the logics of structural racism?…

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Obama tweets, and a million follow: ‘It’s Barack. Really!’

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2015-05-19 17:47Z by Steven

Obama tweets, and a million follow: ‘It’s Barack. Really!’


Roberta Rampton, White House Correspondent

President Barack Obama sent his first tweet from his very own account on Twitter on Monday, quickly amassing a million followers in five hours, the latest of many White House efforts to amplify his message with social media.

Hello, Twitter! It’s Barack. Really! Six years in, they’re finally giving me my own account,” Obama tweeted from his verified @POTUS account.

A Twitter spokesman could not immediately confirm whether Obama had set a record. According to Guinness World Records, the fastest pace to a million followers was set by actor Robert Downey Jr. in 23 hours and 22 minutes in April 2014.

Obama and his advisers pioneered the use of social media like Twitter and Facebook in the 2008 presidential campaign and have embraced their use in the White House as well.

As media attention has increasing shifted toward the 2016 presidential campaign, the White House has boosted its use of social media to break and shape news…

Read the entire article here.

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What is Systemic Racism?

Posted in History, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States, Videos on 2015-05-13 17:27Z by Steven

What is Systemic Racism?

Race Forward

Rinku Sen President of Race Forward & Publisher of Colorlines introduces the “What Is Systemic Racism?” video series featuring our very own Jay Smooth.

Watch the entire video series here.

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New Bill Would Let New Yorkers Identify As Multiracial On Official City Forms

Posted in Articles, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2015-05-12 20:44Z by Steven

New Bill Would Let New Yorkers Identify As Multiracial On Official City Forms

The Huffington Post

Christopher Mathias (@letsgomathias), New York Reporter

New York City has the largest population in the United States of people who identify as multiracial. Even its mayor, Bill de Blasio, and its first lady, Chirlane McCray, have two multiracial children.

And yet, on the various official city documents New Yorkers often have to fill out, there are only five racial categories: “white, not of Hispanic origin”; “black, not of Hispanic origin”; “Hispanic”; “Asian or Pacific Islander”; and “American Indian or Alaskan Native.”

In testimony submitted at a City Council hearing Monday, a New Yorker named Daniel Reckart explained why this can be a problem.

“You see, my mother is half Jamaican and half British-Caucasian,” he said. “My father is half Mexican, half German.”

“My siblings and I — as siblings do — look both alike and, at the same time, a spectrum of our multiple races,” he continued. “Some of us look more Latino and some of us look more white and some look more black. But the fact is that we have all always identified proudly as multiracial, and to ask us to choose just one box is like asking us to choose allegiance with just one of our grandparents.”

Reckart is one of more than 325,000 New Yorkers who identify as multiracial. His testimony Monday was submitted in support of a piece of legislation that would require “city agencies to amend their official forms and databases to accommodate multiracial identification where racial identification is required.”

Those forms include applications for after-school programs, public housing and taxi licenses, as well as discrimination complaint forms and registration with the Department of Small Business Services — not to mention all the paperwork filled out by the 300,000 or so city employees.

The new multiracial designation, say the bill’s supporters, would help the city collect more accurate demographic data. Such information is important for crafting legislation and policy, and for keeping track of how various policies affect people of different races. In some cases, that data can also help determine how much state or federal funding the city will receive.

Council member Margaret Chin, lead sponsor of the bill, told The Huffington Post that it’s “important for government to recognize multicultural heritage.”

“We wanted to allow individuals to celebrate their heritage and be able to identify themselves as they want to,” she said…

Read the entire article here.

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In Twilight of Term, Obama Finds More Urgent Voice on Race

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2015-05-12 15:14Z by Steven

In Twilight of Term, Obama Finds More Urgent Voice on Race

Bloomberg News

Mike Dorning, White House Correspondent

Angela Greiling Keane, White House Correspondent

Polls show racial polarization in the U.S. is at the highest in decades.

With his time in office waning, President Obama is speaking out on race and poverty in increasingly blunt terms as violent protests in U.S. cities highlight the unrealized promise of his election.

Searing images of a burning CVS pharmacy in Baltimore and armored vehicles arrayed along the streets of Ferguson, Mo., are a grim contrast to the elated, multiracial crowd celebrating in Chicago’s Grant Park on the warm November night in 2008 after the nation elected its first black president.

Many of the hopes of that night haven’t been fulfilled. Polls show racial polarization in the U.S. is at the highest in decades. Poverty is higher among Americans in general and blacks in particular. The gap between rich and poor has grown.

A president who throughout his two terms has been restrained in addressing racial controversies now is raising his voice and declaring he’ll make lifting up impoverished communities and the young men within them the cause of his post-presidency years…

…Obama, 53, began his career as a community organizer working on economic issues in impoverished black neighborhoods on Chicago’s South Side. His life story as the child of a mixed-race marriage contributed to his political rise. A speech on race relations, titled “A More Perfect Union,” was a high point in his 2008 campaign.

Yet as president, with few exceptions, Obama has acted cautiously in addressing race…

Read the entire article here.

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Racial Prescriptions: Pharmaceuticals, Difference, and the Politics of Life

Posted in Books, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Monographs, Politics/Public Policy on 2015-05-10 17:09Z by Steven

Racial Prescriptions: Pharmaceuticals, Difference, and the Politics of Life

September 2014
148 pages
234 x 156 mm
Hardback ISBN: 978-1-4094-4498-5
eBook PDF ISBN: 978-1-4094-4499-2
eBook ePUB ISBN: 978-1-4724-0107-6

Jonathan Xavier Inda, Associate Professor of Latina/Latino Studies
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

In the contemporary United States, matters of life and health have become key political concerns. Important to this politics of life is the desire to overcome racial inequalities in health; from heart disease to diabetes, the populations most afflicted by a range of illnesses are racialized minorities. The solutions generally proposed to the problem of racial health disparities have been social and environmental in nature, but in the wake of the mapping of the human genome, genetic thinking has come to have considerable influence on how such inequalities are problematized. Racial Prescriptions explores the politics of dealing with health inequities through targeting pharmaceuticals at specific racial groups based on the idea that they are genetically different. Drawing on the introduction of BiDil to treat heart failure among African Americans, this book contends that while racialized pharmaceuticals are ostensibly about fostering life, they also raise thorny questions concerning the biologization of race, the reproduction of inequality, and the economic exploitation of the racial body.

Engaging the concept of biopower in an examination of race, genetics and pharmaceuticals, Racial Prescriptions will appeal to sociologists, anthropologists and scholars of science and technology studies with interests in medicine, health, bioscience, inequality and racial politics.


  • Acknowledgments
  • 1. Racial politics of life
  • 2. The making of BiDil
  • 3. Biosocial citizenship
  • 4. Enlightened geneticization of race
  • 5. Racial vital value
  • 6. Neoliberalization of life
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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The First Black President: Barack Obama, Race, Politics, and the American Dream

Posted in Barack Obama, Books, Media Archive, Monographs, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2015-05-07 19:37Z by Steven

The First Black President: Barack Obama, Race, Politics, and the American Dream

Palgrave Macmillan
October 2009
208 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 9780230618619
Paperback ISBN: 9780230621145
Ebook (PDF) ISBN: 9780230101197

Johnny Bernard Hill

The First Black President is a critical and passionate reflection on the political and historical implications of an Obama administration concerning the issue of race in America. I intend to argue that Obama’s rise to political power has forever changed the contours of race relations in the country as many hail the new age of a “post-racial” society. Yet, what I also show is that an Obama presidency could further complicate real racial progress and could set race relations back in the country for decades to come if not viewed in the proper context. I demonstrate that the Obama presidency must be celebrated as a historical triumph based on America’s racist past, yet the struggle for equality, justice and freedom must also intensify with recognition of its global consequences. The problem of race in America no longer just affects its own citizens but impacts cultures around the globe.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter 1. We Shall Overcome: Obama and the Civil Rights Movement
  • Chapter 2. Obama and Race in America
  • Chapter 3. A Black Man in White America
  • Chapter 4. Obama, African Diaspora and the New Meaning of Blackness
  • Chapter 5. Race, Power and Technology in the New Millennium
  • Chapter 6. Obamanomics and Black America
  • Chapter 7. Why Obama will Change the World
  • Chapter 8. An Obama Administration and the Black Agenda
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