Discussing Race and Education in Brazil

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Campus Life, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science on 2014-10-24 20:08Z by Steven

Discussing Race and Education in Brazil

HASTAC: Humanities, Arts, Science and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory
2014-09-12

Christina Davidson
Department of History
Duke University, Durham, North Carolina

Yesterday at lunch, Maria Lúcia and I sat with a graduate of UFRRJ and an Educação a Distancia tutor for the university, who was headed to the Universidade Federal Fluminense (UFF) in Niterói in the afternoon. The graduate student made a comment about the UFF campus, which caught my attention. “One thing, about UFF is that the students there are mostly white,” he said to me. “Look around you. Here you see that students are all mixed. There are every color, but at UFF they are mostly white.” I was somewhat surprised and to hear his thoughts on the subject of race. I had found it difficult to bring up this subject with students that I had talked with the day before, and I was beginning to wonder if I would ever get Brazilians’ opinions about race and education.

“Why?” I asked. “Why is the student body more white there? I thought things in Brazil are changing.” He responded, “They are, but the UFF campus has always been that way. It is one of the largest public campuses in Rio and it is older. Even though things are changing, it is still noticeable that there are far more white students there.” I again asked why this is the case. The student explained that the area surrounding the university is one of the richest regions per capita of Rio de Janeiro. The people who live there have the money to send their students to private first and secondary educational institutions. These children are then better prepared to take the university’s entrance exam. So, it is not only that people who are richer (and whiter) have more access to the university because of their physical proximity, but they also have the best changes to be accepted to the school because of their educational background. “For these children, an outing is a trip outside of the country,” he commented. “For children of Baixada Fluminense, an outing is going to the park or to the beach. This same sort of divide is noted in the educational experiences between the people who have money and those who live here (Baixada Fluminense).”

Again, I was somewhat surprised by his comments. Yet this time, I was not taken aback by what he was saying, but because through my American eyes neither the student nor Maria Lucia look particularly “black.” In fact, as far as I could tell, they were white, yet they drew a distinction between themselves and other “white” students, especially those at UFF. Maria Lucia explained later that although by her skin color she considered herself white, but her whole culture—who she associated with, her socialization—was black. She said that her parents come from the northeast, a region with a high African-descended population and that her family was mixed. I pointed out, though, that even though people at UFRRJ are more mixed in their color and orientation than perhaps those at UFF, in Brazil people with the darkest skin color disproportionately represent the poorest people in the country. The other graduate student was quick to agree. “That is true,” he said. “That is very true.”  So, how then, do changes in the higher educational system help the darkest and poorest people?…

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Divergence or Convergence in the U.S. and Brazil: Understanding Race Relations Through White Family Reactions to Black-White Interracial Couples

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2014-10-16 19:25Z by Steven

Divergence or Convergence in the U.S. and Brazil: Understanding Race Relations Through White Family Reactions to Black-White Interracial Couples

Qualitative Sociology
March 2014, Volume 37, Issue 1
pages 93-115
DOI: 10.1007/s11133-013-9268-2

Chinyere Osuji, Assistant Professor of Sociology
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Camden

Different approaches to race mixture in the U.S. and Brazil have led to the notion that they are polar opposites in terms of race relations. However, the end of de jure segregation in the U.S., the acknowledgement of racial inequality, and subsequent implementation of affirmative action in Brazil have called into question the extent to which these societies are vastly different. By examining race mixture as a lived reality, this study offers a novel approach to understanding racial boundaries in these two contexts. I analyze 87 interviews with individuals in black-white couples in Los Angeles and Rio de Janeiro to examine the cultural repertoires and discursive traditions they draw on to understand white families’ reactions to black spouses. I find that U.S. couples employ “color-blindness” to understand opposition to Blacks marrying into the family. Brazilian couples perceive overt racism and the use of humor from white family members. Nevertheless, couples with black males experienced more hostility in both sites. In addition, white male autonomy was related to the lower hostility that black female-white male couples experienced in both societies. By examining contemporary race mixture as a lived reality, this study complicates simplistic understandings of race relations as similar or different in these two societies. Furthermore, with the increase of multiracial families in both societies, it reveals the family as an important site for redrawing and policing racial boundaries.

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Racial ‘Boundary-policing’: Perceptions of Black-White Interracial Couples in Los Angeles and Rio de Janeiro

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2014-10-16 18:15Z by Steven

Racial ‘Boundary-policing’: Perceptions of Black-White Interracial Couples in Los Angeles and Rio de Janeiro

Du Bois Review: Social Science Research on Race
Volume 10 / Issue 01 / Spring 2013
pages 179-203
DOI: 10.1017/S1742058X13000118

Chinyere K. Osuji, Assistant Professor of Sociology
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Camden

As people who cross racial boundaries in the family formation process, the experiences of interracial couples can actually reveal the nature of racial boundaries within and across societies. I draw on in-depth qualitative interviews with eighty-seven respondents in interracial Black and White couples in Los Angeles and Rio de Janeiro to compare perceptions of public stigmatization by outsiders, a term I call “boundary-policing.” I find that couples in Los Angeles perceive gendered, Black individuals as perpetrators of this boundary-policing. In Rio de Janeiro, couples perceive regionalized and classed, White perpetrators. These findings suggest that in the United States and Brazil, racial boundaries are intertwined with class and gender boundaries to shape negotiation of boundary-policing in the two contexts. This analysis builds on previous studies of ethnoracial boundaries by showing how individuals reinforce and negotiate them through interpersonal relations. It demonstrates the similarities and differences in the negotiation and reinforcement of racial boundaries in the two sites.

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Confronting whitening in an era of black consciousness: racial ideology and black-white interracial marriages in Rio de Janeiro

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Social Science on 2014-10-15 19:39Z by Steven

Confronting whitening in an era of black consciousness: racial ideology and black-white interracial marriages in Rio de Janeiro

Ethnic and Racial Studies
Volume 36, Issue 10, 2013
Special Issue: Rethinking Race, Racism, Identity, and Ideology in Latin America
pages 1490-1506
DOI: 10.1080/01419870.2013.783926

Chinyere Osuji, Assistant Professor of Sociology
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Camden

In Latin America, whitening is understood as a goal of darker-skinned individuals who marry whites to gain access to white social circles, increase their social status, and produce lighter offspring. However, in Brazil, increasing black consciousness and race-based policies are seemingly at odds with contemporary attempts to whiten. Drawing on qualitative interviews with forty-nine individuals in black–white couples, I examine how they make sense of whitening in their lives. I find that unlike in the past, respondents do not describe themselves engaged in whitening and either find it offensive or recognize admissions of whitening as stigmatized. Nevertheless, whitening is how friends, families and other outsiders give meaning to their relationships, depending on the gender of the respondent. In addition, I find evidence of some white women understanding their relationships as a way of darkening themselves. This study reveals a transformation in the meanings associated with whitening ideology in contemporary Brazil.

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Special report: Why Brazil’s would-be first black president trails among blacks

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science on 2014-10-03 20:10Z by Steven

Special report: Why Brazil’s would-be first black president trails among blacks

Reuters
2014-10-03

Brian Winter, Chief Correspondent

SAO PAULO – Brazilians could make history this month by electing Marina Silva, the daughter of impoverished rubber tappers from the Amazon, as their first black president.

Yet Silva is trailing incumbent President Dilma Rousseff, who is white, among the half of voters who are of African descent.

That disadvantage, which contrasts with U.S. President Barack Obama’s overwhelming support from African-Americans in the 2008 and 2012 elections, could cost Silva victory in this extremely close election.

The reasons behind Silva’s struggles speak volumes about Brazil’s history, its complex relationship with race, and the recent social progress that has made Rousseff a slight favorite to win a second term despite a stagnant economy.

In recent weeks, Reuters interviewed two dozen Brazilians of color in three different cities. Many said they would be proud to see Silva win – especially in a country where people of color have historically been underrepresented in government, universities and elsewhere.

Yet they also said they were more focused on the economy than any other factor. Since taking power in 2003, Rousseff’s leftist Workers’ Party has made enormous strides in reducing poverty – especially among blacks.

“No one wants to go back to the past,” said Gustavo Leira, 71, a retired public servant in Brasilia. Silva’s race is important, he said, “but it’s not the most important thing.”…

…In 2008, Obama won 95 percent of the African-American vote. That advantage, plus his support from two-thirds of Hispanic voters, helped him overcome a 12 percentage point deficit among white voters. The margins were broadly similar when Obama won re-election in 2012.

While Obama did not make race a theme of his campaigns, he did address it at key moments – including a famous speech in March 2008 in which he discussed the anger felt by many in the black community, and what it was like to be the son of a white mother from Kansas and a black father from Kenya.

Silva also comes from a mixed racial background – just like many, if not most, Brazilians…

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For the first time, Marina Silva makes reference to the race factor in her campaign

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy on 2014-09-23 15:27Z by Steven

For the first time, Marina Silva makes reference to the race factor in her campaign

Black Women of Brazil: The site dedicated to Brazilian women of African descent

Courtesy of Brasil 247, “Pela primeira vez, Marina usa fator racial na campanha” (2014-09-19)

“Let’s elect the first black woman president of Brazil,” said the PSB candidate on Friday, September 19, during a rally in São Bernardo do Campo, the birthplace of unionism and the city where the ex-president Lula da Silva began his political life.

For the first time in this presidential campaign, the PSB candidate, Marina Silva, used the racial factor to garner support from voters. “Let’s elect the first black woman president of Brazil,” said the presidential hopeful, during a rally in São Bernardo do Campo, in the São Paulo ABC metropolitan region.

The candidate spoke for a few minutes under a strong drizzle in the main square, downtown, the same place where, two weeks ago, former President Lula met with President Dilma Rousseff in a PT (Partido dos Trabalhadores/Workers’ Party) rally. On the occasion, PT militants filled the square. Today, the event attracted about 200 people, a good part of militants paid by candidates for deputy…

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GUEST COLUMN: Brazil’s solution on race relations differs from U.S.

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2014-09-19 21:36Z by Steven

GUEST COLUMN: Brazil’s solution on race relations differs from U.S.

The Tuscaloosa News
Tuscaloosa, Alabama
2014-09-13

Larry Clayton, Professor of History Emeritus
University of Alabama

I had a friend from the Dominican Republic who came to the University of Alabama and Stillman College on a joint Fulbright appointment years ago. He was a well-known and respected poet and writer in his own land and, after a few months, he remarked to me, “Larry, I didn’t realize I was a black until I came to this country!”

The question of race, such a painful and rancorous illness in American society, has not played out the same in other countries with similar historical backgrounds.

A few years ago, Carl Degler wrote a Pulitzer Prize-winning study titled “Neither Black nor White: Slavery and Race Relations in Brazil and the United States.” His theme was summarized in the phrase the “mulatto escape hatch.” Degler compared the role of race in the histories of Brazil and the U.S.

Degler was curious: Why was Brazil thought to be a “racial democracy” of sorts, while the United States was fighting its way out of segregation? Both countries had had large African slave populations — Brazil’s much larger than America’s — both had emancipated the slaves in the 19th century, both were functioning republics and both were colonized by European settlers. So, why such different racial trajectories?

The difference was the “mulatto escape hatch,” or the ability of people of mixed races in Brazil to rise up and integrate across Brazilian society without their color or background being held against them…

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Challenger Upends Brazilian Race for Presidency

Posted in Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Religion, Women on 2014-09-17 17:52Z by Steven

Challenger Upends Brazilian Race for Presidency

The New York Times
2014-09-15

Simon Romero, Brazil Bureau Chief

RIO DE JANEIRO — When Dilma Rousseff and Marina Silva were both cabinet ministers, they clashed on everything from building nuclear power plants to licensing huge dams in the Amazon.

Ms. Rousseff came out on top, emerging as the political heir to President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and ultimately succeeding him as president. But she now finds herself locked in a heated race with Ms. Silva, an environmental icon who is jockeying for the lead in polling ahead of the Oct. 5 election as an insurgent candidate repudiating the power structure she helped assemble.

Ms. Silva’s upending of the presidential race is a symbol of the antiestablishment sentiment that has roiled Brazil, including anxiety over a sluggish economy and fatigue with political corruption. Her rising popularity also taps into shifts in society like the rising clout of evangelical Christian voters and a growing disquiet with policies that have raised incomes while doing little to improve the quality of life in Brazilian cities.

“Marina differs from other politicians” in this election “in that she came almost from nothing,” said Sonia Regina Gonçalo, 34, a janitor, referring to Ms. Silva, who was born into extreme poverty in the far reaches of the Amazon. “She’s the ideal candidate for this time in Brazil.”

Thrust to the fore after her running mate, Eduardo Campos, died in a plane crash in August, Ms. Silva, 56, has a background with few parallels at the highest levels of Brazilian politics, allowing her to resonate with voters across the country.

If elected, she would be Brazil’s first black president, a milestone in a country where most people now identify themselves as black or mixed race, but where political power is still concentrated in the hands of whites…

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Marina Silva: The political dynamo who has electrified the election season and wants to be Brazil’s first black woman president

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy on 2014-09-08 20:57Z by Steven

Marina Silva: The political dynamo who has electrified the election season and wants to be Brazil’s first black woman president

Black Women of Brazil: The site dedicated to Brazilian women of African descent
2014-09-05

Marina Silva: a pioneer in politics

By Primeiros Negros, José Eustáquio Diniz Alves, and Luciana Lima

The first black woman candidate to the Presidency of the Republic, Maria Osmarina Silva, known as Marina Silva, comes from an unusual trajectory that began in February 8, 1958, in a place called Breu Velho in the seringais (rubber plantations) of the state of Acre, seventy miles from downtown Rio Branco, the capital of Acre. She remained there until at age 16, still illiterate, to earning international recognition in defense of the environment, becoming minister and postulated becoming president of Brazil.

Her parents Pedro Augusto and Maria Augusta had eleven children, of whom only eight survived. She hunted, fished, worked as a maid and became literate only after 16 years of age. She graduated in History from the Federal University of Acre. She is married to Fábio Vaz de Lima and has four children, Shalom, Danilo, Moara and Mayara.

In four years, Marina went from illiteracy to the vestibular (college entrance exam). She graduated with a degree in History and postgraduate in Psychoanalysis…

…Marina Silva is a mestiça (person of mixed race) and brings in her blood the three colors/”races” that form the Brazilian people: índios (Indians), brancos (whites) and pretos (blacks). By definition of the IBGE, Marina can be classified as a person of parda (brown) color. The grouping of parda and preta color is defined as the população negra (black population), according to the methodology adopted by most Brazilian researchers. The negro is the sum of people who self-declare themselves “pardas” and “pretas”. So in terms of “race”, the “indiazinha” (little Indian) Marina can be defined as cabocla (of mixed indigenous decent), mulata or negra

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Will Brazil elect Marina Silva as the world’s first Green president?

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Women on 2014-09-05 19:17Z by Steven

Will Brazil elect Marina Silva as the world’s first Green president?

The Guardian/The Observer
2014-08-30

Jonathan Watts, Latin America Correspondent

Born into a poor, mixed-race Amazon family, Marina Silva is on the verge of a stunning election win after taking over her party

It started with the national anthem and ended with a rap. In between came a poignant minute’s silence, politicised football chants and a call to action by the woman tipped to become the first Green national leader on the planet.

The unveiling in São Paulo of Brazilian presidential candidate Marina Silva’s platform for government on Friday was a sometimes bizarre mix of tradition and modernity, conservatism and radicalism, doubt and hope: but for many of those present, it highlighted the very real prospect of an environmentalist taking the reins of a major country.

In a dramatic election that has at times seemed scripted by a telenovela writer, Silva has tripled her coalition’s poll ratings in the two weeks since she took over from her predecessor and running mate, Eduardo Campos, who was killed in a plane crash. Following a strong performance in the first TV debate between candidates, polls suggest she will come second in the first-round vote on 5 October and then beat the incumbent, Dilma Rousseff, in the runoff three weeks later.

This is a spectacular turnaround for a candidate who did not even have a party a year ago, when the electoral court ruled that she had failed to collect enough signatures to mount a campaign. It was also the latest in a series of remarkable steps for a mixed-race woman who grew up in a poor family in the Amazon, and went on to become her country’s most prominent advocate of sustainable development.

The distance Silva – known as Marina – has come from her remote forest home was evident at the launch of her programme for government in the affluent Pinheiros district of São Paulo. About 250 people – mostly from her Sustainability Network party and its allies in Campos’s Brazilian Socialist party (PSB) and other groups – gathered under the chandeliers of the swanky Rosa Rosarum venue, where waiters in white gloves served canapes, while they waited for their leader…

…Women are hugely under-represented in Brazilian politics, but it is not because of her gender that Silva could break the mould. That has more to do with the colour of her skin and ideas.

Silva is a mix of Brazil’s three main ethnic groups. Among her ancestors are native Indians, Portuguese settlers and African slaves. While she is usually described as predominantly “indigenous”, friends say Silva categorises herself as “black” in the national census. In Brazil’s white-dominated political world, this is exceptional.

“It will be super-important for Brazil to have a black president, as it was in the US with Obama. It would signify a big advance for our country against discrimination,” said Alessandro Alvares, a member of the PSB and one of the few non-white faces in the room.

Silva’s political colours could prove still more controversial. For more than a decade, she has been known as the country’s most prominent Green campaigner, having first worked on sustainability at the grassroots with the Amazon activist Chico Mendes, who was later murdered. She later served as environment minister in Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s administration from 2003 to 2008, when she put in place effective measures to slow the deforestation of the Amazon. In her address to Friday’s meeting she stressed that Brazil could double its output of crops and meat without further clearing of the rainforest.

“If elected, Marina will be the greenest president in history, the first black president in Brazil and the first to be born in the Amazon,” said Altino Machado, a journalist based in Acre state, who first met Silva more than 30 years ago when they both attended a theatrical group. “She has proved her credentials as an environmentalist and protector of the Amazon. She also has a very strong ethical code and is totally free from any taint of corruption, which is extremely rare in politics in Brazil, where scandals happen all the time.”…

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