Dark-Skinned Or Black? How Afro-Brazilians Are Forging A Collective Identity

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Audio, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Census/Demographics, History, Media Archive, Social Science on 2015-08-13 02:19Z by Steven

Dark-Skinned Or Black? How Afro-Brazilians Are Forging A Collective Identity

Code Switch: Frontiers of Race, Culture and Ethnicity
National Public Radio
2015-08-12

Lulu Garcia-Navarro, South America Correspondent


Sisters Francine and Fernanda Gravina have German, Italian, African and indigenous ancestry. (Lourdes Garcia-Navarro/NPR)


If you want to get a sense of how complex racial identity is in Brazil, you should meet sisters Francine and Fernanda Gravina. Both have the same mother and father. Francine, 28, is blond with green eyes and white skin. She wouldn’t look out of place in Iceland. But Fernanda, 23, has milk chocolate skin with coffee colored eyes and hair. Francine describes herself as white, whereas Fernanda says she’s morena, or brown-skinned.

“We’d always get questions like, ‘How can you be so dark skinned and she’s so fair?'” Fernanda says. In fact, the sisters have German, Italian, African and indigenous ancestry. But in Brazil, Fernanda explains, people describe themselves by color, not race, since nearly everyone here is mixed.

All of that is to say, collecting demographic information in Brazil has been really tricky. The latest census, taken in 2010, found for the first time that Brazil has the most people of African descent outside Africa. No, this doesn’t mean that Afro-Brazilian population suddenly, dramatically increased. Rather, the new figures reflect changing attitudes about race and skin color in Brazil…

…”We should see the history of Brazil as a history of racial inequality,” Heringer says — and that’s a fairly new idea. For a long time, Brazilians have believed in what’s been called “the myth of racial democracy,” she explains. Part of that myth-building was a controversial survey that the government conducted the 1970’s. It asked people to describe their skin color, and the answers varied a lot. All together, respondents used at least 134 different terms

Read the article here. Listen to the story (00:05:38) here. Download the story here.

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Three personal stories that show Brazil is not completely beyond racism

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Social Science on 2015-08-05 02:08Z by Steven

Three personal stories that show Brazil is not completely beyond racism

The Globe and Mail
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
2015-07-31

Stephanie Nolen, Latin America Correspondent

Brazil’s national mythology is built on the idea of a democracia racial – a country whose population is uniquely mixed and has moved beyond racism.

The lived experience of its citizens, especially the majority who are black or mixed-race, tells a different story. Three residents of Bahia, known as the country’s “blackest” state, share their personal stories with The Globe and Mail’s Stephanie Nolen.

‘It’s not easy to start working when you’re 12’

Cleusa de Jesus Santos was one of eight children whose father left when she was small. Her mother, illiterate and living in a slum, had no way to feed them all. “A friend of my mum’s said, ‘There is a person who needs a girl, just to watch her son, to keep him company.’”

So Ms. Santos was sent. “But when I got there, the reality was completely different: They said they were going to put me in school and so on, and they didn’t. I didn’t have vacation. I couldn’t see my family.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Brazil’s colour bind

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Census/Demographics, History, Media Archive, Passing, Politics/Public Policy, Slavery, Social Science, Videos on 2015-08-03 01:46Z by Steven

Brazil’s colour bind

The Globe and Mail
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
2015-07-31

Stephanie Nolen, Latin America Correspondent

Brazil is combating many kinds of inequality. But one of the world’s most diverse nations is still just beginning to talk about race

When Daniele de Araújo found out six years ago that she was pregnant, she set out from her small house on a dirt lane in the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro and climbed a mountain. It is not a big mountain, the green slope that rises near her home, but the area is controlled by drug dealers, so she was anxious, hiking up. But she had something really important to ask of God, and she wanted to be somewhere she felt that the magnitude of her request would be clear.

She told God she wanted a girl, and she wanted her to be healthy, but one thing mattered above all: “The baby has to be white.”

Ms. de Araújo knows about the quixotic outcomes of genetics: She has a white mother and a black father, sisters who can pass for white, and a brother nearly as dark-skinned as she is – “I’m really black,” she says. Her husband, Jonatas dos Praseres, also has one black and one white parent, but he is light-skinned – when he reported for his compulsory military service, an officer wrote “white” as his race on the forms.

And so, when their baby arrived, the sight of her filled Ms. de Araújo with relief: Tiny Sarah Ashley was as pink as the sheets she was wrapped in. Best of all, as she grew, it became clear that she had straight hair, not cabelo ruim – “bad hair” – as tightly curled black hair is universally known in Brazil. These days, Sarah Ashley has tawny curls that tumble to the small of her back; they are her mother’s great joy in life. The little girl’s skin tone falls somewhere between those of her parents – but she was light enough for them to register her as “white,” just as they had hoped. (Many official documents in Brazil ask for “race and/or colour” alongside other basic identifying information.)

Ms. de Araújo and Mr. dos Praseres keep the photos from their 2005 wedding in a red velvet album on the lone shelf in their living room. The glossy pictures show family members of a dozen different skin colours, arm in arm, faces crinkled in stiff grins for the posed portraits. There are albums with similar pictures in living rooms all over this country: A full one-third of marriages in Brazil are interracial, said to be the highest rate in the world. (In Canada, despite hugely diverse cities such as Vancouver and Toronto, the rate is under five per cent.) That statistic is the most obvious evidence of how race and colour in Brazil are lived differently than they are in other parts of the world.

But a range of colours cannot disguise a fundamental truth, says Ms. de Araújo: There is a hierarchy, and white is at the top.

Many things are changing in this country. Ms. de Araújo left school as a teenager to work as a maid – about the only option open to a woman with skin as dark as hers – but now she has a professional job in health care and a house of her own, things she could not have imagined 15 years ago. Still, she says, “This is Brazil.” And there is no point being precious about it. Black is beautiful, but white – white is just easier. Even middle-class life can still be a struggle here. And Sarah Ashley’s parents want her life to be easy.

Brazil’s history of colonialism, slavery and dictatorship, followed by tumultuous social change, has produced a country that is at once culturally homogenous and chromatically wildly diverse. It is a cornerstone of national identity that Brazil is racially mixed – more than any country on Earth, Brazilians say. Much less discussed, but equally visible – in every restaurant full of white patrons and black waiters, in every high rise where the black doorman points a black visitor toward the service elevator – is the pervasive racial inequality…

Read the entire article and watch the video here.

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Confounding Anti-racism: Mixture, Racial Democracy, and Post-racial Politics in Brazil

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Social Science on 2015-07-27 02:15Z by Steven

Confounding Anti-racism: Mixture, Racial Democracy, and Post-racial Politics in Brazil

Critical Sociology
Published online before print 2014-01-31
DOI: 10.1177/0896920513508663

Alexandre Emboaba Da Costa, Assistant Professor
Department of Educational Policy Studies
University of Alberta, Canada

In this article, I analyze the particularity of post-racial ideology in Brazil. I examine recent deployments of mixture and racial democracy as re-articulations of historically hegemonic versions of these ideologies that minimize the problem of racism, deny its systemic nature, and deem ethno-racial policies as threats to achieving nonracial belonging and citizenship. Drawing on scholarship on race and racism from the United States, Brazil, and elsewhere in Latin America, I delineate a relational framework for analyzing the post-racial and apply this framework to three examples of post-racial ideology. Through these examples, I illustrate the problematic logics shaping aggressive investments in the post-racial as future promise to the detriment of addressing the unequal effects racial difference presents for inclusion/exclusion today. The article asserts the necessity of mounting transnational and interdisciplinary theoretical, epistemological, and practical strategies to challenge the ways post-racial ideologies rearticulate racial hierarchies, maintain racial subordination, and delimit social change.

Read or purchase the article here.

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Q & A with Ana Carolina Vidal + her Afro-Futuristic project

Posted in Articles, Arts, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive on 2015-07-09 01:34Z by Steven

Q & A with Ana Carolina Vidal + her Afro-Futuristic project

Rooted In Magazine
2015-07-08

Annina Chirade


O Mestiço Revisited II, Ana Carolina Vidal

São Paulo native, Ana Carolina Vidal, is a multi-racial Brazilian artist who explores the dynamics of her country through her art. Her work is largely focused on portraiture; each piece in her ongoing Afro-Futuristic project is both an affirmation and reimagining of her identity. Through each subject, she pushes for us to see the ancestors that exist within us. Her gaze is filled with an emotional honesty towards a society still at odds with its past. Ana centres her Indigenous, African and European roots within a larger social framework; the political and personal can’t help but be intertwined in her work.

It’s precisely because of her honesty that one is able to understand the deep love she has for her homeland. In every conversation we’ve had, her knowledge and quest to share the fullness of her country’s many cultures leaves one wanting to know more. She embraces its music, art, film, literature, dance, food and politics with passion. Ana is part of a young generation looking to break down the simplistic images many have of Brazil, and to shape its future. She has even created a Tumblr page, Brasil of Color, to let fellow Brazilians learn and share their histories. So how does her art speak to a society so awash with culture and complexity? I set up an interview to find out.

Annina: What is your background as an artist – do you consider yourself as mostly self-taught?

Ana: When I was a child, my aunt was my first contact with art. She was a painter and inspired me to pursue what I love – even if it took me a lifetime – I should do it! I would bother my parents a lot as a child to put me in a local artisan group; they taught me some handicrafts and how to paint, but I took those classes for a short period. Then when I was very young at school I took extra-curricular painting classes. In my teenage years I stopped painting. I was mainly self-taught, I still feel I need to learn so much. I think it’s interesting to have that academic basis, not only of techniques, but ways of thinking and building your creative process; learning new ways to relate to art that are different from the ways you already do…

…Annina: In your work you give special focus to Afro-Brazilian and Indigenous people, why is that important to you?

Ana: I think it’s important to reaffirm myself to me. Although I have many privileges by being white-passing, my family is so multi-racial. I heard a lot of stories and encountered so many backgrounds which were extremely different. I always had the feeling that most of my family got lost in time; you don’t know the name of someone, you don’t know their story, because many of them were very poor. I always wanted to document them so that they would no longer be forgotten.

We have this myth of ‘Brazilian racial democracy’, but we know our [people of colour] experiences are different and I could always see that growing up. I could see how different my father’s life was from my mother’s; how my mother could get further being a white woman. In my father’s family, I could see the difference between him as a black man and my aunt’s as black women; how they stayed behind for obvious gender and race reasons. Although I am privileged enough to not go through a lot of that, I was still affected in many ways. I still hear comments – they are less offensive – I’m always questioned about my identity…

Read the entire interview here.

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As South Carolina deals with its Confederate flag, one town in Brazil flies it with pride

Posted in Articles, Audio, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive on 2015-06-24 18:53Z by Steven

As South Carolina deals with its Confederate flag, one town in Brazil flies it with pride

The World
Public Radio International
2015-06-22

Bradley Campbell, Producer


Descendants of American Southerners wearing Confederate-era dresses and uniforms dance during a party to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the end of the American Civil War in Santa Barbara D’Oeste, Brazil, April 26, 2015. (Credit: Paulo Whitaker/REUTERS)

The push to remove the confederate flag from the grounds of South Carolina’s state capitol gained steam today. Some of the state’s top politicians, including Gov. Nikki Haley, have jumped on board.

So far, more than 500,000 people have signed a MoveOn.org petition asking for the flag to be taken down. But the South isn’t the only place in the world you’ll find the Confederate flag still flying.

It’s also proudly displayed in the rural Brazilian town of Santa Barbara D’Oeste.

“Once a year, the descendants of about 10,000 Confederates that fled the United States and came down to Brazil after the Civil War, they have a family get together,” says Asher Levine a Sao Paulo-based correspondent for Reuters. “They all take part in stereotypically ‘Southern Things’ like square dances, eating fried chicken and biscuits, and listening to George Strait. That kind of thing. And a lot of Confederate flags everywhere.”

So when these people look at the confederate flag, what do they see?

Levine says it’s more ethnic than political. What fascinates him is that over the generations, the population has mixed with the Brazilians. So it’s a lot of people with a lot of different shades, not just white folks. “A lot of people who are descendants of these confederates have African blood as well,” he says. “So you’ll see at the party people with dark skin waving the confederate flag.”…

Read the entire article here. Listen to the story here. Download the story here.

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The mythology of racial democracy in Brazil

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Slavery on 2015-06-24 01:32Z by Steven

The mythology of racial democracy in Brazil

openDemocracy: free thinking for the world
2015-06-22

Ana Lucia Araujo, Professor of History
Howard University, Washington, D.C.

Brazil’s government has taken important steps to combat racial inequalities over the past two decades. Afro-Brazilian populations nevertheless remain socially and economically excluded, continuing patterns that began with legal slavery.

Brazil has been in the news a great deal of late, especially in association with the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The most popular images involve football, carnival, samba, sunny beaches, and tanned women in bikinis. Less well known is the history of slavery and racism, which continues to have a profound impact upon Brazilian society.

Brazil has the dubious distinction of having imported the largest number of enslaved Africans—more than five million—of all countries of the Americas. The slave trade from Africa to Brazil was outlawed in 1831, but an illegal trade continued until 1851 before being outlawed for a second time. In contrast, legal slavery persisted until 1888, making Brazil the last country to abolish slavery in the western hemisphere. Today, 53 percent of the Brazilian population self-identify as black or pardo (brown, or mixed race). These terms as established by the Census refer to colour and not ancestry.

Achieving the abolition of slavery in Brazil was a long and difficult process. Abolition in 1888 was preceded by laws that, theoretically at least, freed the children of enslaved women (1871) and slaves who reached the age of sixty (1885). There was already a large free black population when slavery was abolished, and both this population and newly freed slaves received little or no assistance from the Brazilian government. There was no distribution of land or provision of education, leaving established patterns of wealth, privilege and racial hierarchy in place. In 1891, a new constitution established that only males with high incomes had the right to vote. The illiterate population, the vast majority of whom were Afro-Brazilians, remained prohibited from voting. At the same time, the government continued to encourage European immigration as a means to replace the enslaved African workforce, whose numbers had decreased following the ban of the Atlantic slave trade to Brazil. Inspired by eugenic theories, the monarchy and later the Republican government, as well as Brazilian elites, believed that the arrival of massive numbers of Europeans would lead to miscegenation and eventually ‘whiten’ the majority black Brazilian population…

Read the entire article here.

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Exhibit: “AfroBrasil: Art and Identities”

Posted in Anthropology, Arts, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Live Events, Media Archive, United States on 2015-06-12 02:55Z by Steven

Exhibit: “AfroBrasil: Art and Identities”

National Hispanic Cultural Center
Art Museum
1701 4th Street SW
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Friday, December 12, 2014 to mid-August, 2015; Tuesday-Sunday 10:00-17:00 MT; Tuesday-Sunday 10:00-17:00 MT

Brazil* hosted soccer’s World Cup in the summer of 2014, and soon will host the 2016 Summer Olympics. While many are familiar with these events and Brazil’s other achievements, they may be unaware of the cultural and ethnic complexity of this large South American country.

The largest Portuguese-speaking country in the world, Brazil is home to the second largest population of African origin outside the African continent. Yet, despite its sporadic economic dynamism, its soccer prowess (who has not heard of Pelé, the “Black Pearl”?), the fame of its Carnaval, and the acclaim given the 1959 Oscar-winning French film Black Orpheus (Orfeu Negro), starring Afro-Brazilian actors, many aspects of its Afro-Brazilian identity, art, and culture have not received the status or attention they merit.

Today, Afro-Brazilian art and identities saturate the core of Brazilian culture and society, but may not rise commensurately to the surface in galleries, museums, or the works of art historians. The artists, writers, musicians, and critics who do tackle Afro-Brazilian reality more often than not narrate; in doing so they include their personal experiences in a unique multi-racial and multi-ethnic nation-state. AfroBrasil: Art and Identities shows the multiple important ways in which Afro-Brazilian artists and their colleagues from other countries address the complexities of Brazil’s African heritage and its impact across frontiers and oceans.

Using a team approach, the exhibition has been curated to comprise four distinct, yet inter-related, sections, which can be visited in any order to make different connections and gain different perspectives…

…Photograph: Baianas (Praça de Sé, Salvador, Bahia), Paulo Lima, 2013, courtesy of the artist

*Brasil is spelled with an “s” in Portuguese and Spanish, with a “z” in English. Text and label materials in this exhibition use both spellings, depending on context.

For more information, click here.

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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
2015-05-22

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.

HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT

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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