Brazil: more black than white

Image: George Desipris


Although Brazil is still racist, social movements managed to remove the majority white character from our country in a decade.

Sueli Carneiro teaches us that one of the most successful forms of epistemicide in Brazil is the promotion of antagonism between academic and militant discourse. This is a strategy of delegitimizing certain theses that appeals, on the one hand, to a supposed place of neutrality and, therefore, of epistemic authority in the academy. And, on the other hand, it appeals to the understanding that militant people are not sufficiently capable of carrying out fair and rigorous reflections.

When an academic projects militancy onto another as a rhetorical way of diminishing what is being discussed, you can be sure that he is talking about himself. The repeated use of the word militant in Wilson Gomes' text in Folha de S. Paul “Mestizaje disregarded” on December 27th is proof that he is talking more about reaffirming his own position than taking seriously what he intends to criticize.

Social movements are fully aware of miscegenation in Brazil. The point is that this miscegenation, on the one hand, was initiated by a process of violence and asymmetries. On the other hand, it was used politically to erase the black and indigenous presence in the history of our country, since although it is a mestizo country, the dominant classes and social privileges have always been in the hands of white people.

Just look at the monuments in Brazilian cities, the color of the people who attend the most popular courses at universities and public positions, especially before the quota laws. In fact, it was thanks to pressure from the black movement that the university began to be inhabited by dissident bodies and worldviews from the European matrix, contributing to the fight against the ideology of whitening.

Indeed, for a liberal, everything is a matter of personal choice. So, does self-identification, almost by a magical decree, end the racial agenda in Brazil? Certainly not. It is clear that people can declare themselves as they wish, but it is equally undeniable that coming out as black in a racist country has never been an easy task, as I showed in my recent book Blackness without identity. That's why so many people write about the process of becoming black, even though they have black skin and, in cases like Lélia Gonzalez, dark skin. It is not just the color that makes a person black, but the political awareness that they participate in the community experience of suffering some form of racism that does not affect white people in Brazil.

Thus, browns and blacks, far from being separate categories, express from a statistical point of view a huge victory for social movements that, by offering conditions so that people could declare themselves as black or indigenous, managed to change the statistics of a country in which during For a long time, people, even if they were mixed race, declared themselves white. In other words, despite Brazil still being racist, social movements managed to remove the majority white character of our country in a decade. What the census shows is that more people perceive themselves as black (a historic increase) in the same proportion as fewer people recognize themselves as white. This is the objective data that the research offers.

*Erico Andrade is a psychoanalyst and professor of philosophy at the Federal University of Pernambuco (UFPE). Book author Blackness without identity (n-1 editions).

Originally published in the newspaper Folha de S. Paul.

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