jeudi, juillet 20, 2006

Brazil's Delusion About Race

This past week's issue of The Economist ran a story entitled "No Black and White Matter" covering Brazil's new affirmative action policies. The Racial Quota Law and the Racial Equality Statute would create a system whereby universities, the private sector and civil service would be set aside vacancies for candidates of African ancestry. These policies would also effect those of Indian or indigenous descent, the poor and, in certain circumstances, people with physical disabilities. More than 500 prominent Brazilian citizens from artists to scholars to musicians such as Caetano Veloso are vehemently opposed to the quota system. Anthropolgist Peter Fry exclaims, "If you have a society that is based on sameness, you shouldn't throw that away. One defect Brazil doesn't have is outright racial strife, and a battle over who is Black or White could create that".

What! I exclaimed as I read this. I am consistently surprised when I read this sort of hypocrisy from other nations who look to America as the only country with a race problem. Brazil most certainly does have a race problem. A huge one and Black and White categories are most definitely present, though these categories are intermingled with others that reflect the racial mixtures and hues of Brazil. The Economist states that,

"Even 118 years after slavery, the racial divide still runs deep. Except on the football pitch and in music, or during the fleeting days of carnival, precious few of the 80 m black and brown Brazilians ever rise to commanding heights in business and public life. Negros and pardos spend a third less time in the classroom than whites, earn half the wages and are far more likely to be out of work".

Blacks are at the bottom rung of the social and political hierarchy in Brazil and institutional policies need to be set in place to at least give Blacks the opportunity to achieve. What other way is there? The Latin words on the Brazilian flag above state order and progress. The delusion starts with the word progress. There is not progress, only injustice and intolerance, in a country that dis-allows Blacks the right to be first class citizens.

Word on the street: In other news, Spike Lee has inked a deal with NBC to create a new drama for the Fall. Details of the project and Lee's exact role have not been made public as of yet. This should be interesting.

brummagem -- adj: Cheap and showy, tawdry; also, spurious, counterfeit

"Either move or be moved" --- Ezra Pound