These days, the myth of Brazil being a “racial democracy”, where everyone is colour blind and no one is discriminated against because of the colour of their skin, finally seems to be crumbling.
Following the abolition of slavery in 1888, Brazilian authorities refused to implement any kind of public policy to integrate Black people into society. Instead, over the course of the 20th century, they carefully constructed a narrative in which Brazil is cast as a rare haven where people of all races are able to live in harmony. As a result, despite Black and mixed-race Brazilians suffering the worst of police violence, having limited access to education, making up some 64 percent of the unemployed, having limited representation in prominent decision-making bodies, and being almost three times as likely to be victims of homicide, most of the Brazilian population remained convinced there is effectively no racism in their country.
The recent Black Lives Matter protests in the US and beyond, however, led to a rapid increase in racial awareness across the country – a process that had started some years ago, and already resulted in promising developments such as the Supreme Court’s 2012 decision to recognise the legality of racial quotas for Blacks in Brazilian public universities. Not only did many Black Brazilians publicly embrace their racial identity and take to the streets to say “Black lives matter in Brazil too”, but activists increased the pressure they have long been putting on authorities to abandon the flawed discourse of “racial democracy” and implement measures and policies to eliminate race-based discrimination in the country.
Full article at Al Jazeera’s website. Date of publication: 22/10/2020.