idea of ​​race

Image: Hamilton Grimaldi


Subterfuges of the Afro-descendant in the face of phenotypic racism

When expressing about the national ethnic formation, one of the points listed and conducive to debates is the consideration with reference to racial differences, and their consequent miscegenation produced since colonial times. This racial mixture produced a variation of physical characteristics, ranging from skin color, hair appearance and facial shape, and which, in a certain way, must have influenced the conception of a nation founded on the racial democracy of its people.

Regarding this idea of ​​race, it is important to clarify that in the biological sense of the term, this conception is inappropriate, due to the existence of more genotypic variation between individuals than between races. Furthermore, race is a social construction associated with biological belief, with the aim of differentiating the capacity and rights of groups, with real or imputed genotypic or phenotypic characteristics. (MASON, apoud SANTOS, 2005).

Regarding the theory of racial democracy and the whitening policy produced at the end of the 2019th century and on the threshold of the XNUMXth century, it is essential to highlight that both concealed racism and cultural denial, which, as Souza (XNUMX) points out, expresses the non-perception of no virtuality in the black, including and in its cultural manifestations.

To sustain racist theses (RODRIGUES apoud MUNANGA, 2009) points out that the doctor from Maranhão, Raimundo Nina Rodrigues, influenced by the thinking of the time - especially by the English evolutionist schools, the Italian criminology school and the new French medical-legal school - elaborated his racial theories on the threshold of the XNUMXth century , in which he points out that the only way for the development of a civilization in Brazil would be to bet on white. Because blacks, due to their racial inferiority, in the process of miscegenation would not contribute to civilizing and racial elevation, on the contrary, it would produce imbalance, degeneration and disturbance that would perpetuate in future generations.

Certainly, such ideological arguments, supported by the political and economic power of whites, disseminated black self-denial, and led them to have as their only plausible reference, or their own mirror of meaning and meaning, the identity imposed by whites.

That is why, when analyzing racial inequality in Brazil, Ribeiro (2017) points to the phenomenon of whitening among the black population, which occurs either in the face of upward social mobility, produced by economic factors, or else by the educational process, which as we know , all its structure, organization and content, bears the mark of the dominant and white group.

The Bourdieusian theory, in this regard, is very peculiar to explain the inculcation of the interests of dominant groups through the educational process. Commenting on Bourdieu, Silva; São João(2014) expresses that through pedagogical action, the dominant groups arbitrarily inculcate their convictions, values ​​and preferences, and on the other hand, the student accepts and naturalizes the imposed contents.

The process of denial and introjection of the other, in the referenced case the white, produced at the national level a kind of classification or racial hierarchy, which according to Ribeiro (2017) can be defined as a hierarchy of status. According to the author, as race in Brazil is defined by appearance and not by origin or ancestry, as in the United States, a status classification then emerges, ranging from light white (caucasoid) to very dark black (negroid). And in this stratification, also called racial continuum, people who do not have dark or black skin, and who are not light or white, tend to classify themselves closer to white, or white, called by the author as an ambiguous classification.

But as this is based on phenotypic racism and self-denial, Nascimento (2016) points out that in his field research in Rio de Janeiro he can see in the interviews, the speech given by mothers to daughters, that they should “whiten the womb”, which, in other words, means opposing one's own frame of reference, and generating children who reflect and have the characteristics of the European Caucasian.

However, when we reflect on the desire to whiten the uterus, and combine it with the proposal of governments at the beginning of the last century to encourage white emigration, we realize that the intention is not to value the differences produced by interracial marriages, but rather, the well-founded belief in the pseudoscience of the time, that the genetic formation of black African people would not be sustained in interracial crossings, and that with time society would be less black and stamp the characteristic of white Caucasians. (NASCIMENTO, 2016).

Despite interracial marriages in Brazil, Ribeiro (2017) points out that, despite the non-existence of segregationist laws, and that interracial marriages are more common than in the US, on the other hand, he points out that marriage patterns are not random. . In lower class neighborhoods and regions, where levels of spatial segregation (white versus non-white) are more moderate, sociability and racial friendships facilitate interracial marriages, than in wealthy neighborhoods that are predominantly white. Moreover, the author attests that interracial barriers are decreasing, and that they are weaker in the northeast regions, and that they are more fluid between whites and browns than between blacks and browns. And another evidenced phenomenon is that poor blacks tend to marry among themselves due to their majority presence in lower social strata, and with whites, it usually depends on whether the black has high education. And we still have the so-called status exchange, which means that more educated black and brown men tend to marry less educated white women.

This context imposed on blacks, in which an ethnic group becomes the only reference and definer of behaviors and worldviews, can only result in the annihilation of differences and the impossibility of coexistence in diversity. To stratify or classify is to determine a scale of values, which undoubtedly erases the understanding that every human being is a person, endowed with capacity and rights and who deserves to be praised.

* Geraldo Oliveira Master in Social Sciences from PUC-Minas.



MUNANGA, Kabengele. Blacks and mestizos in the work of Nina Rodrigues. In: ALMEIDA, Adroaldo José Silva; SANTOS, Lyndon de Araújo; FERRETTI, Sergio (org.). Religion, race and identity: colloquium for the centenary of the death of Nina Rodrigues. São Paulo: Paulinas, 2009. (ABHR Study Collections; 6)

NASCIMENTO, Abdias do. The genocide of the Brazilian black: process of masked racism. São Paulo; Outlook, 2016.

RIBEIRO, Carlos Antonio Costa. RACIAL CONTINUOUS, SOCIAL MOBILITY AND “WHITENING”. Rev. bras. Ci. Soc., Sao Paulo, v. 32, no. 95. 2017. Available

SANTOS, José Alcides F. “Class Effects on Racial Inequality in Brazil”. data, v. 48, no. 1, pp. 21 to 65, 2005. Available at:

SILVA, Joao Henrique; SÃO JOÃO, Adriano.Bourdieu: school and domination. Philosophy Magazine Science and life, n. 95, p.15-23, Jun., 2014



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