Race In Brazil

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Race in Brazil

Races in Brazil


Brazil has been described as a racial democracy due to the lack of a clear color distinction and a strong cultural tradition of tolerance and cordiality of its people. This is mainly due to different mixed races that have intermarried such that most people are not counted as belonging to a certain race but by their color. This research paper will be on the race and ethnicity in Brazil. The study of race relations in Brazil has historically been characterized by more or less favorable comparisons with the United States, as well as acrimonious debates between those who see Brazil as truly embodying (or aspiring to) "racial democracy" and those who decry the glaringly unequal conditions of Brazilians of European and African descent. The recent adoption of affirmative action policies in Brazil at a time when these are increasingly under attack in the United States has done little to settle the arguments. Similarly, that the Afro-Brazilian movement is attempting to redefine racial classification from a seemingly infinite spectrum of color categories to a more binary system that includes all people of African descent as negros, while African Americans are demanding recognition of intermediate categories between "black" and "white," only seems to reinforce the idea that these two countries are mirror images of each other (Norwell, 2009, 26).

G. Reginald Daniel offers a historical comparison of race relations in Brazil and the United States that seeks to account for these different paths, seeing them not so much as mirror images but rather as convergent. Daniel presents a concise history of racial formation in each of these countries, locating the common Eurocentric roots of both systems of racial classification and following the strategies of resistance of subordinate groups in each instance. In the first section (7-138), which has a historical focus, he explains the initial divergence between Brazil's "ternary" path and the United States' "binary" route primarily by reference to the small presence of whites in Brazil, which created an intermediate social stratum available to mainly mixed-race "Free Coloreds" (31). In addition, white Brazil's concerns about the large numbers of non-whites and their effects on the country's prospects for development led to the adoption of a whitening policy which somewhat acknowledged the "improved" condition of mulattoes in comparison to blacks (34-37). This account is largely intended as a repudiation of Gilberto Freyre's racial democracy in The Masters and the Slaves (1933), and as such highlights the entirely non-egalitarian nature of the ensuing color categories of branco (white), pardo (brown), and preto (black). Similarly, Daniel is careful to present the resistance strategies of non-white Brazilians throughout this period, providing a genealogy of the ideas of solidarity between pardos and pretos that have characterized the modern Afro-Brazilian movement (Peter, 2000, 118).

To this account the book opposes the formation of a binary system of racial classification in the United States (85-118) and the demands for recognition of multiracial identities of mulattoes ...
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