UN Urges Brazil to Stop Copying US in Racism Fight

This week one of Brazil’s chief partners in the fight against racial inequalities urged the country to diversify the affirmative action models used in government policies.

Carlos Lopes, coordinator of the UN system and representative of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Brazil, believes that Brazilians continue to confine themselves to copying American models in projects for racial inclusion.

“The Brazilian government has adopted a series of measures that demonstrate an interest in the promotion of racial equality. But it needs to act more comprehensively, on the basis of the experience of such countries as South Africa, Malaysia, and India,” he suggests.

Lopes is one of the speakers at today’s international seminar, “Promoting Racial Equality: A Dialogue on Policies,” in Brasí­lia.

“The word ‘quota’ itself is very controversial, as is the concept. The focus should be broader. It is necessary to search for asymmetrical policies that favor historically disadvantaged groups,” he added.

In the United States, setting aside places for black workers in companies or black students in universities is a legal requirement imposed by the government.

The more comprehensive asymmetrical policies to which Lopes refers even include official financing. In South Africa, for example, the government gives fiscal incentives and credit to companies that promote the inclusion and retention of blacks in the labor market.

New affirmative action models are the object of intensive evaluation in the UN this year, designated as the year of promoting racial equality.

Parallel to the debates, the UN is developing projects in countries such as Brazil, where, in conjunction with the British Development Department and the Secretariat of Policies for the Promotion of Racial Equality (Seppir), the UNDP is sponsoring a campaign against institutional racism, providing guidance to businessmen, administrators, and workers.

Another area in which this partnership functions is in the preparation of studies on the theme.

In 2004, with support from the UNDP, the Federal University of Minas Gerais did a racial breakdown of data compiled from the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) and the National Residential Sample Survey (Pnad).

The studies show that blacks (blacks and mulattoes) constituted 39.5% of the Brazilian population in 1976 and 57.6% of the poorest segment. A generation (25 years) later, the situation hadn’t changed: in 2001, blacks formed 46.1% of the population and 69.6% of the poorest segment.

Agência Brasil


  • Show Comments (9)

  • Guest

    Hi ,
    I live in the usa and yes culture is divided look at new orleans for examle.Poverty is high for black americans unless you are a rock star or movie star. I very much would like to move to Brzil.Can someone direct me for more info or help me in the transition.Places wanted to go to are Florianopolis and fortaleza.
    Do people in these areas speak some english.I would like to visit and but a home .
    need info on health ins and basic cost of living food ,gas,elec,live in maid property tax ect…
    can someone help me Please It would be nice to visit someone in brazil who now lives in brazil to show me around.
    my mail =….itazzfree@yahoo.com
    Francois levesque

  • Guest

    What\’s the Difference?
    Brazilian race relations are as bad as those of the US. Latin American racism is actually worse because Latin America in general is a very backwards place where people still live like they do in the 16th century.

    Most of Northeast Brazil reminds one of the plantations of the deep Southern states in the US. Most black Brazilians live in slave like conditions with no chance for advancement. At least in America people do acknowledge there is a racial problem but white Brazilians pretend there is no race problem and proceed to speak for the black population who they have bullied into keeping their mouths shut and just grinning and bearing it.

    Many Afro Brazilians walk around like happy grinning slaves never contradicting the myth of racial democracy white Brazilians spout while living affluent lives and blacks and mulattoes live in slave like primitive conditions.

  • Guest

    If black Brazilians admire US blacks we admire them even more. Most US black athletes marry blondes. I don’t know which athletes the Brazilians are referring to who marry within their own race. Very few do. In terms of self hatred black Brazilians did not seem to exhibit it as much as US blacks. Black Brazilians seemed to have far greater love for each other than US blacks do. Maybe it’s because AMerica is a harsher colder culture, I don’t know.

    But as an African American traveling to Brazil I noticed many positive traits of Afro-Brazilians that we could emulate. As the previous poster stated maybe because they have more power in numbers and seldom have to experience the abuse that comes with being a minority group in a hostile environment unless they live in Sao Paulo or the South where they are fewer in numbers.

  • Guest

    I can speak from the perspective of a black American. Outwardly black Brazilians do not exhibit the hostility of most American blacks maybe it’s because there is much more of them and there is power and strength in numbers.

    The black American is few in number and in most situations in America he is outgunned so to speak. This means that black Americans are almost always at the mercy of other ethnic groups most of them all too willing to exploit and abuse him. Many professional blacks are isolated and no matter how qualified are simply presumed to be unqualified and only on the job because of affirmative action.

    Afro Brazilians do not have to put up with the daily insults and abuse and hatred that most black Americans experience on a daily basis whether overt or subtle thus there is little reason to have the chip on the shoulder most black Americans have. When we come to Brazil especially if we travel to Salvador we can throw away our high blood pressure medication, tranquilizers and anti-depressants and smile and laugh and breathe with the rest of the population away from the oppressive hositility of the US.

  • Guest

    Addendum — Danger in Comparing Racism i
    I just wanted to say as a white guy living in Brazil that it is much easier to live here amongst people of color than in the USA. I think I feel that because the hate, distrust, resentment I feel more from people of color in the USA, especially when they have lower socio-economic backgrounds, is missing in Brazil. There is a more submissive attitude by people of color here. I know that word “submissive” is loaded, but all I can say is that people of color here would be justified to be more angry about their economic situation, but they aren’t, it seems, like their counterparts in the USA. So is racism better in Brazil better because as a white guy I don’t feel so uncomfortable around people of color in lower economic backgrounds like I do in the USA? I am not sure that is a defensible view. I want to reinterate what I said above — it is better to observe the unique racial situations in Brazil and USA and compare them while trying to reserve judgement, instead of rushing to conclusions about which country is more “racist”.

  • Guest

    Caution about comparing
    I really understand why US citizens, of which I am one, would say racism is not as bad here as the USA. People seem to have more friends or lovers of different races here than in the USA, for example. From this point of view, there seems to be more tolerance. But I really think comparing the racism in the two countries is valid only up to a certain point. For one thing, the article above says that blacks form 46% of the Brazilian population. The percentage is quite a bit lower in the USA, and that means mixing is less likely to happen. I just think that racism is much more subtle in Brazil, less noticed, and that, in some ways, makes it perhaps much more dangerous. It’s interesting for me, for example, that when I talk to blacks in Brazil, they admire that US blacks, most especially the famous pro athletes, like to marry within their race, and find that the desire of famous black (used here to mean “of color”) Brazilian athletes to marry outside their race is repugnant. In other words, ^black pride^ seems maybe stronger in the USA, for better and/or worse, perhaps. Why are blacks not a bigger political force in Brazil, especially considering the percentage of the population they occupy? If the racism in Brazil is more economic than social, what is the difference between economic and social racism? Are they really so different, or maybe just subtle mirror images of each other? I think racism exists everywhere there is mising of races, and it depends a lot on its unique historical context in each county and a myriad of other factors. Comparing racisim in different countries is certainly useful, but more to learn more than to say which racism is better or worse, in my opinion.

  • Guest

    comment on affirmative action
    affirmative action followed in good faith can be succesful.there are are many examples;
    Condaleza Rice , Colin Powell ect. These individuals could only rise to the top of there
    careers with the encouragement of the federal government. perhaps the the guest writers
    above should recognize that a great country like Brazil needs more than blending and
    “beautiful children” but need more “beautiful minds”. Only access to education can turn the
    tide on centries of injustice and exculsion of people of African decent. Ironically and sadly
    Brazil problem (not exclusively) is light skin versus dark skin . many of the light skin have african ancestry themselves. Many of the light skin blacks associate with white or brown for
    some sort of economic advantage. So in essence this form of self hate is what sets Brazil apart from most countries in refrence to racial issues.

  • Guest

    I Agree
    Brazil and Brazilians, you are light years ahead of America in terms of race relations. America is still a very racist and socially backwards country that will never offer inclusion for black people. Despite affirmative action laws, America found ways around having to include blacks in business, economics and generally in society.

    I am not ignorant of the racism in Brazil and I am aware of Brazil’s own history of genocide towards its black population with its “whitening” programs and its generous immigration policy in regards to European immigrants. Despite these evils, Brazil still continues to be a step ahead of America.

    I really don’t think the Anglo Saxon countries are able or willing to include blacks in their respective societies. The Portuguese I believe were and still are the most tolerant of all of the European groups. I hope Brazil never emulates America. 40 years after the Civil Rights movement there is an increase in hate groups and hate activities. I commend the UN for warning Brazil to never become as ugly and bigoted a country as the US.

  • Guest

    David Arana
    Dear Brazil
    I am an American residing in Brazil. I have extensive experience living and working in South Africa also. I mention this because I have grown up during the enlightenment that the strife for racial equality has brought upon the USA. I have also seen the effects of the same in South Africa.

    Please note, Brazil indeed has some inequalities that should probably be addressed and while the bleeding heart liberals may take you to task and put a racial label on it, I have first hand experience in Brasil that tells me that the racial inequality cannot be compared to the USA or to South Africa. We in the USA and also South Africa are the last ones that you should copy. We have not succeeded in attaining racial equality in the USA, we have, however, succeeded in shutting down the dialogue and keeping the races apart by imposing a guilt trip on anyone who would disagree with the federal standard. Both the USA and South Africa have followed the same pattern of forced quotas and they are a dismal failure in both cases.

    Racism in Brasil does exist, but the degree of racism is indeed more of an economic issue. Take the correct road for YOU Brasil not the one that we have taken. Yours is a racially unique situation and you do not have the huge racial/cultural gap that the USA has. Don’t let the bleeding hearts prompt you into following a path that will destroy one of the things that makes Brazil special and that is the ability to incorporate Blacks, oriental and even Americans and teach us that we can all learn one language, marry one another and make beautiful children and still be black, oriental and Americans.

    I truthfully do not know how Brasil got ahead of the rest of us in respect to racial issues, but face it, you are ahead of us. Don’t copy us, teach us. I will help in any way that I can.

    If anybody cannot see the truth of what I am saying, they cannot see anything. I live in Brazil with rich and poor, I have inlaws that farm, labor in factories, go to school, struggle to make ends meet and other inlaws and friends and colleagues that are better off or even rich. You have taught me how to bridge gaps that have helped me to be a better American and also to be a better guest in your country.

    Make your own course. The rest of us have had our best chance and we have not done so well.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

comment *

  • name *

  • email *

  • website *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


You May Also Like

Are we hiding our black heritage?

Brazilians should be teaching the world and the US in particular the way to ...

Brazil’s ProYouth to Teach a Trade to Dropouts

Providing opportunities for young people to recover their self-esteem “can’t be given a price ...

Blue, Beige and Pink Sheep Grazing on the Fields of Brazil

The unaware traveller may be surprised with the colors in the fields of Ipê ...

In Brazil Stocks Drop Sharply While Dollar Zooms Up

The dollar shot up 3.27% this Thursday, July 26, in Brazil, closing at 1.928 ...

Brazil’s Lula Faces Murder and Challenges from Right and Left

The murder of Dorothy Stang, a 73 year-old American nun who helped peasants engage ...

The Little Guys from Brazil Who Made Big in Furniture

Training of the businessmen and investments in production and in design. These are the ...

Brazil Ready to Resettle Farmers Living in Indian Reservation

Around 97% of the non-indigenous families that occupy parts of the Raposa Serra do ...

Brazilians Block German Consulate to Protest “Rapadura” Patent

The entrance of the German Consulate in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, was the setting ...

Brazil Celebrates Antidrug Week Burning 80 Tons of Drugs

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva will participate, today, in a ceremony at ...

Brazil Has a Lot to Learn from the US Primaries

The U.S. presidential candidates in the general election debate only a few times, but ...