Brazilian Ethnic Issues the Racial Research Paper

Pages: 7 (2371 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 8  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Race


Under sociologist Jon Cruz's theory of "ethnosympathy," whites and folks of color in both Brazil and the U.S. would develop "a greater level of identification with and appreciation of each other's experiences" (Daniel, 297).

Brazil and Whiteness

In Elisa Nascimento's book The Sorcery of Color: Identity, Race, and Gender in Brazil, the author goes into great detail to explain to readers that "being a light-skinned person of mixed race is almost equivalent to being white" (Nascimento, 2007, p. 42). That's Nascimento's version of the sorcery of color, and she is quick to point out that in the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), the institution that takes the Brazilian Census, there are two categories for black citizens -- preta (dark skin) and parda (brown skin). Part of the reason for the ongoing "whitening" of Brazil is that African descendants tend to classify themselves as either brown or white when the census personnel interview them. This "results from the whitening ideal, which assigns higher social status to lighter skin color," Nascimento explains on page 44.

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And no matter that Brazilians of African descent claim as to their ethnicity, whether they claim to be black or brown, the Africans are not doing as well as those with lighter colored skin, Nascimento explains (45). For example, thirty percent of black families earn only "up to 1/4 minimum wage" and 36% of brown families earn up to 1/4 of the minimum wage in Brazil, the author points out. (Minimum wage in Brazil is around $327.00 a month). Moving up the list that Nascimento provides on page 7, just 12% of black Brazilian families earn between one and two times the minimum wage and 10.6% of brown families earn between one and two times the minimum wage. There are only 0.8% of black families and 0.9% of brown families in Brazil are earning between 5 to 10 times the minimum wage (Nascimento, 45).

TOPIC: Research Paper on Brazilian Ethnic Issues the Racial Assignment

For "white" families in Brazil, their earnings are of course higher than those of African ethnicity; for example, 5.5% of white Brazilian families earn 3 to 5 times the minimum wage, which contrasts sharply with those of African ethnicity. Since Nascimento's research is fairly recent, it is instructive to compare unemployment figures between the United States workers and Brazilian workers -- based on race and gender.

As of 2007, in Brazil 6.6% of whites workers were unemployed and 7.7% of blacks (including both pretos and pardos) were unemployed. In February 2009 in the U.S. 15.7% of blacks were unemployed;11.9% of Latinos were unemployed; and 8% of whites were out of work (Kirwan Institute). Of course that data is skewed because of the "Great Recession" in the United States, but one can clearly see a greater disparity between black and white workers and their jobs in the U.S. As compared with Brazil's white and black sectors. Injustice in some aspects aren't conveniently compared between the two countries; i.e., in Brazil 23% of blacks (compared with 7% of whites) "live in areas with inadequate water supply" and 48% of blacks (as opposed to 26% of whites) live in areas with "inadequate sewage facilities" (Nascimento, 47).

More telling in terms of socioeconomic comparison vis-a-vis health facilities availability, is the juxtaposition of infant mortality rates in Brazil vs. The U.S. To wit, infant morality for Afro-Brazilian children up to one-year-old was "82% higher than for white children" (Nascimento, 48); in the U.S., 13 of 1,000 black children die before their 1st birthday while for whites it is just 5.7 deaths before the age of one year (State Health Facts).


Brazil is a country where "whiteness" lends a degree of respect, economically, culturally and politically. The way in which that dynamic came to pass in this multicultural nation is quite different than the way in which whiteness has emerged as the dominant culture in the United States, as this paper has shown. Meanwhile through the study of the two societies and their cultural and racial histories a scholarly understanding can be achieved, which is of great importance to future cultures in both countries. Knowledge, after all, is power, and understanding is the driver of that power.

Works Cited

Bowser, Benjamin P. (1995). Racism and Anti-Racism in World Perspective. Thousand Oaks,

CA: SAGE Publications.

Daniel, G. Reginald. (2010). Race and Multiraciality in Brazil and the United States:

Converging Paths? University Park, PA: Penn State Press.

Gasnier, Annie. (2010). Brazil passes racial equality law but fails to endorse affirmative action.

Eighty percent of workers on minimum wage are black and university graduation rate is less than a third of that for whites. Guardian. Retrieved May 28, 2011, from

Goldani, Ana Maria. (1999). Racial Inequality in the Lives of Brazilian Women in Race in Contemporary Brazil: From Indifference to Inequality, Ed. R. Reichmann, University

Park, PA: Penn State Press.

Heringer, Rosana. (1995). Area Studies of Racism and Anti-Racism in Racism and Anti-Racism

in World Perspective, Ed. B. Bowser, Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity. (2011). Race-Recovery Index. Retrieved… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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