Pan Africanism : Black in Brazil vs Black in USA

Discussion in 'Black History - Culture - Panafricanism' started by Destee, Jan 5, 2008.

  1. Destee

    Destee destee.com STAFF

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    Being black in Brazil vs being black in the USA – a perspective

    21/10/2007

    Race relations in the USA and Brazil couldn't be more different

    Afro-Brazilian journalist Italo Ramos shares his perspective on the differing experiences of being black in Brazil compared with the USA.

    In the 16th Century, the colonizers that went to Africa came from the same continent, a vast and diverse Europe, as we know. But, despite their different origins and cultures, they had two things in common. First, their two main motivations: 1) to pillage free natural resources; and 2) to appropriate free labour. Second: they thought they had the right to do these things, because, in their minds, they were superior human beings. This is a history that didn't change, as racist whites have the same mindset even today about pillage and slavery.

    Today, the American newspapers' editions, as they report the contemporary history of US racial questions, are full of very good examples of these two radically different streams of racial consciousness. (In fact, the daily editions are, themselves one of the big differences, because it is not so easy to find news about black and white differences in Brazilian newspapers.)

    I read an article written by Vikram Amar and Richard H. Sander, two professors from UC Davis School of Law and UCLA, respectively. They call our attention to what they called the "mismatch effect" - the possibility that Affirmative Action (AA) is not functioning to blacks’ benefit. Citing some researchers, they say that "50 per cent of the black law students end up in the bottom 10th of their classes...."

    In Brazil, on the contrary, the students with AA help, are at the first rank of their classes, ahead of white students.

    Reading all this news about race in the US, more than just to learn about American racial complexity, I could make sense of how big the differences are between Brazil and the US, in terms of racial questions. Here are some of them.

    All the space taken up in newspapers to debate ‘black issues’ would be unbelievable in Brazil. As a matter of fact, the media, in general, thinks and acts as if Brazil is a racial democracy. So, for them, the work done by our black movement - which is growing although still weak, considering the huge weight of our racism - is an antipatriotic attempt to import American-style racial hate.

    Affirmative action is on the rise in Brazil while being contested in the USA

    While in the US, AA is being more and more contested and losing its strength, in Brazil, today, only four years after being adopted, it is like a volcano, expelling quotas around the whole country.

    We don't blame national black leaders for inefficiency or inaccuracy, because we don't have any. There are so many blacks in Brazil that to be anti-black is the same as being against gravity, as they are everywhere. But without leadership, they are not organized, not mobilized and, just like gravity, not a force, compared to the American black movement. We have some black leaders in local communities, but none of them nationally known. Our greatest leader, Zumbi dos Palmares, fought against slavery, which ended one hundred years ago. Today, we have some black politicians, in the Congress, fighting for laws to benefit the black population. And we have some black secretaries in the government, like the singer Gilberto Gil. But they don't lead any national black organization or movement.

    In the US, black leaders may commit errors, not doing something they should do or not doing anything to stop some abuses, but, at least in principle, black people believe in them as honest individuals. In Brazil, black people always look at an emerging leader suspiciously, believing that he is not sincere and only wants to take personal advantage based on his race. So, if someone black wants to run for a political position, it is better not to ask for votes saying "I'm a black man and will fight for racial progress," because no one will vote for him. Brazil has the second largest black population in the world, only after Nigeria. Still, black history is a very recent discipline in schools.

    The country is considered one of the most unequal societies, where blacks are 90 per cent in the poorest classes. But, nonetheless, we don't attack government programs that benefit black people, because we don't have them on such a large scale as the US has. And they are new programs, as almost everything done to benefit blacks has come in recent years. Affirmative Action is a very new expression in Brazil, borrowed from the US vocabulary. It started being practiced in 2003, not in any federal institution, but by the initiative of the Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro, with a quota of 40 per cent for black students.

    As anyone can see, these are very important differences, as they show how little black consciousness there is in Brazil. But there is one that is the biggest. The most significant aspect to distinguish Brazilian and American racism, in its most generalized form, is the concrete nature of American racism, in contrast with the subjective character, the fluid state, the invisibility of Brazil's. The difference is that, in the US, nobody would dare to deny its existence, but in Brazil, racism is the essence of a substantive abstract.

    For a massive majority in Brazilian society, it just doesn't exist. For many blacks, too. But, more fantastic than that: at the same time it is invisible, it is naturally practiced by the majority of the white population and they don't even notice what they are doing. There are two reasons for me to list invisibility as the most significant difference between American and Brazilian racism: First, because invisibility is a secular, regular, ordinary custom, the most common form through which discrimination spreads among the population against black people. Brazilian society practices "non-existent" racism, as part of a collective bad character of Brazilian moral life.

    And its main property is to be diffuse, underground, disguised, treacherous and, so, very difficult to combat. How does one fight against a ghost? In general, Brazilian society believes so little in the existence of racism that some white people get offended when confronted with their own racist practices, as they like to say and believe that they are liberals. The second reason: being so, it is the best example to show how deep racism is in Brazilian whites. It is so entrenched in everyday life that nobody who is white will bother about being polite or educated, with black people. We all know that, in the US, blacks sometimes are "invisible," but, in Brazil, invisibility is the real racism.

    Click Here To Read Entire Article

    :heart:

    Destee
     
  2. Desert Storm

    Desert Storm Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    WOW!

    Wow!, Destee

    I am always interested in hearing and learning about other black people in different parts of the world and how racism has effectived us all. This thread caught my attention more so because I have a lot Brazilian friends and have had such a good experience being around them. I never felt with my black brazilian friends or white brazilian friends that I was less equal in the sceme of things. So this is an interesting topic here.

    When I went to Madrid, Spain about 6 or 7 months ago, it was a really interesting experience for me. Most black people that I saw there and met all were selling things on the streets, and subways, or in some other illegal hustle. The only employees that were black were ones that I saw in restaurants. I was so glad to get back to the States and realized just how much I have to be thankful for as a black person here.

    I also have a friend who is a British black. We have expressed many concerns somewhat the same of being black in the states and Europe. The only place I saw blacks and other foreigners doing somewhat well was in London, when we stopped through the airport. It had such a different feel to it.

    The condition of black people in Spain, really broke my heart. I met people there who were still trying to get their papers in Spain and that was hard for me to see. Traveling abroad really made me think more. Some things will never change however, some things aren't as bad in America than they could be.

    Thanks for posting this up here. I should stop through this discussion forum more often.

    Desert Storm
     
  3. Zulile

    Zulile Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Desert Storm - it is important that you make the distinction between African immigrants and 'Black born nationals' within the EU - particularily within the large cosmopolitian cities such as London and Madrid. There is a significant difference - socially and economically between the groups, just as between the African American in born & raised in NYC and the current African immigrant. The distinction is monumental in Spain - the popular first 'pit-stop' for refugees entering the west.

    The 'black nationals' that I know (and know of) within the EU are faring well (if not on par/better) compared to the African American in regards to social economics.

    Immigrants, on the other hand - yes, be thankful you are not one.
     
  4. Zulile

    Zulile Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Destee - This article came right on schedule for me, as I was recently reading about the increasing popularity of Brazil voting in their first Black president. Firstly, I was unaware half the Brazlians called themselves 'white' hahaha thus my immediate research on this invisible enemy from South America ;).

    Brazil has the largest African population outside of Africa - Africans make up HALF the population! Yet - have the largest social/economic disparity between the white/black groups. I recall reading the white Brazlians are rated in the 40's worldwide (right up there with oil loaded Kuwait) by the UN Human Development Index - and the Black Brazilians in the 100's (India and worse).

    Of the Brazilians I know (white and Black), both absolutely BALK at the mere suggestion that their country is racist. I believe it would have much to do with the fact that Brazil never legalized/institutionalized racism - thus there has never been a forum on which to object - so yes - invisible and accepted culturally. Hard to imagine. But!...

    Brazil also adopted the 'mix me up' programme (haha - I'm sure there is an official word for it) which promoted mass interrational relationships - which resulted in what 'we' consider to be black - they call 'grey'.. so that currently, 45% of the 'Black' population dont even consider themselves Black! I believe Brazil has one of the highest IR figures anywhere - 30%+

    The racism is so driven by appearance alone, your heritage doesnt matter, really - if you look like you can pass - you're in.

    The cultural differences between the Black global nation - are enormous - and play a huge role in our lack of unity. I, for one, feel somewhat overwhelmed at times and cant comprehend how we lost ourselves so completely.

    It does, however, give me a better understanding of the African American culture - which, culturally driven, it taught to think BIG - Imagine if 50% of the USA population was Black... it would be a different world today :)

    ok ok.. rambling over...
     
  5. Desert Storm

    Desert Storm Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Thanks so much Zulile, I do understand what you are saying.... and yes, my friend in London and I know in other places, ... I know what you mean too, are doing a lot better than African Americans here. My friend in London has her own hair salon business and spa, I think. She's getting her masters here, so she travels back and forth to Europe.

    If God says the same I may be going to Germany next winter. Munich, and few other places to be exact. My co-worker has to go to Germany every other Christmas winter break for her daughter to visit her dad. I was invited to go along winter break this next time around. That will be dependent upon another part-time job to cover expenses of traveling in Europe etc,etc.

    My girlfriend that lived in Italy for 8 months was telling me of some stories about the red light district of Germany and the African immigrants there, some things that she saw. However, I do know that there are a lot of other working professional blacks in Europe, that are doing very well. I just didn't see them within my little bit of travel time. I think that's what broke me. I have seen on shows the blacks in Europe that do well, on tv, but just not in Spain.

    Spain has this thing with Moroccans of course because of long standing issues and all. So I caught some of that when I was there, those vibes I mean. There were a lot of other people from different countries in Europe that I met in my hostel, and that was cool to meet others from around the world. I liked the Italians, they were the most lively out of them all.

    Also, when I went to Corte Ingles, the shopping mall over there, no one helped me in the shoe department. I was so fed up that I bought these 3 inch heals, that I danced in once. I could barely walk in them. I don't even wear high heals usually but I did it to make a point, and walk out the store. Girl, when I got back I gave them to a friend of mine, that likes vintage stuff. I thought that would be better to give them away to someone that I new would appreciate them, rather than getting chump change for shoes that were way too expensive.

    However, I met a lot of really nice Spaniards in spite of it all. Most people that I noticed hadn't traveled outside of Spain or done much traveling, so I could see how they could form prejudices against other people.

    Anyhow, Spain is the first country, that I have traveled to. I don't quit easily, and so even though the experience on some levels was a "kick in the pants" I'm determined to not let that stop me from growing and learning new things about people and about myself.

    Anyways, thanks for clarifying that for me. I appreciate it.

    -Desert Storm
     
  6. JohnHorse

    JohnHorse Banned MEMBER

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    WOAH Desert Storm, you are so lucky, you got to bump shoulders with some white folks, spainards italians, woah you are so lucky!
     
  7. Africana

    Africana Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Thanks for posting this I've been really following Brazil through their present Civil Rights Movement and I'm cheering them on for every step of the way. They deserve it.
     
  8. Desert Storm

    Desert Storm Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    THANK YOU! I LOVE YOU TOO, JOHNHORSE, I LOVE YOU TOO

    :em4400: :em4400: :em4400: :em4400: :em4400: :em4400: :em4400: :em4400:

    SINCERELY,
    DESERT STORM
     
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