Dreaming Equality: Color, Race, and Racism in Urban Brazil by Robin E. Sheriff

By Robin E. Sheriff

Brazil has the most important African-descended inhabitants on the earth outdoor Africa. regardless of an financial system based on slave exertions, Brazil has lengthy been well known as a "racial democracy." Many Brazilians and observers of Brazil proceed to take care of that racism there's very light or nonexistent. the parable of racial democracy contrasts starkly with the realities of a pernicious racial inequality that permeates Brazilian tradition and social constitution. to check the effect of this distinction on African Brazilians' view of themselves and their country, Robin E. Sheriff lived in a essentially black shantytown in Rio de Janeiro, the place she explored the population' perspectives of race and racism firsthand. How, she asks, do terrible African Brazilians adventure and interpret racism in a rustic the place its very lifestyles has a tendency to be publicly denied? How is racism mentioned privately within the relatives and publicly within the community--or is it mentioned in any respect? Sheriff's research is especially very important simply because so much Brazilians stay in city settings, and her exam in their perspectives of race and racism sheds mild on universal yet underarticulated racial attitudes. This publication is the 1st to illustrate that city African Brazilians realize the deceptions of the parable of racial democracy--while embracing it as a dream of ways their kingdom will be. Robin E. Sheriff is an assistant professor of anthropology at Florida overseas college.

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Dreaming Equality: Color, Race, and Racism in Urban Brazil

Brazil has the biggest African-descended inhabitants on the planet outdoor Africa. regardless of an economic climate based on slave exertions, Brazil has lengthy been popular as a "racial democracy. " Many Brazilians and observers of Brazil proceed to take care of that racism there's very gentle or nonexistent. the parable of racial democracy contrasts starkly with the realities of a pernicious racial inequality that permeates Brazilian tradition and social constitution.

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A newscaster asked with “Hard Copy”–style drama. ” “You are turning me into Xuxa on the morro,” I snarled at one reporter, referring to Brazil’s saccharin-tongued, angel-blonde megastar (see The Hill 27 Simpson 1993). I was said, with great drama, to be living no meio dos negros, or among the blacks. Most of the reporters argued with me, some more aggressively than others, about the validity of my claim that systemic racism exists in Brazil. ” Others treated my summation of my informants’ perceptions of racism dismissively and insisted, in a thoroughly conventionalized manner, that prejudice and discrimination in Brazil are based entirely on class and have nothing to do with race or color.

34 dreaming equality In the second case I describe, the light-skinned young woman provided the term negro for herself and her family. Once again, if Kottak’s claim were accurate she should have chosen from among the large number of intermediate terms. She did, in fact, classify herself, and she relied on a simplified bipolar system in doing so. In the third scenario I describe, the teenage interviewee revealed uncertainty about his own color. ” This informant used a combination of words that are conventionally understood in the literature as classificatory terms with comparative descriptions.

When I asked Elena to describe her own color, she said, “Preta,” or black. ” I asked. “Preto also,” she responded without hesitation. ” Later in our conversation, when I asked her to explain, she said, “That’s right, only preto and branco exist. The other things don’t exist— mulato, moreno [all that]. We say mulato, but that doesn’t exist, no. We’ve mixed it all up right? ” Elena was suggesting that intermediate terms such as mulato and moreno were best understood as figures of speech rather than as racial categories.

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