Brazil: The Obama Samba

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Race in Brazil

Wide Angle: Brazil in black and white
The PBS program Wide Angle examines the complex issue of affirmative action in Brazil, where many colleges and universities are just starting to reserve 20 percent of their places for Afro-Brazilians. But with national surveys identifying more than 130 different categories of skin color, who qualifies?

The Miami Herald: A Rising Voice: Afro-Latin Americans
The Miami Herald examines the great divide between blacks and whites in Brazil, through multimedia slideshows of African descendants and their communities.

Global Voices: Brazil: Black Pride and the Racism Debate
Paula Góes of Global Voices writes and uses excerpts from a variety of different bloggers to examine issues of social exclusion, racism and pride in Brazil.

Racial Classifications in Latin America
In 1976, the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics conducted a study asking people to identify their own skin color. In a testament to the broad spectrum of skin tones in Brazil, they came up with 134 different descriptions, such as “cashew,” “cinnamon,” “toasted,” and “burnt,” all listed in this essay on

Three Nations at a Crossroads: Beyond Racism
This publication, developed by the Comparative Human Relations Initiative, is a collection of works by authors from Brazil, the United States, and South Africa, comparing disparities in power and well-being between European and African descendants in these three countries.

Orixás Overview and Introduction
An overview of the Yoruban deities, or orixás, which are worshiped today among African descendants in Brazil, is provided through pictures, descriptions and attributes.

New America Media: African “Americans” in Brazil
Melvin Kadiri Barrolle reports on a panel discussion at Howard University in which four Brazilian exchange students explored the issues of race in Brazil, the country with the most people of African descent outside the African continent.

Race and Politics

BBC News: Obama buoys black LatAm politics
The BBC reports on how Barack Obama's presidential candidacy was seen as historic not only in the United States but also by some black leaders in Latin America. They hope his run to the White House will encourage change in their own countries.

Racial representation and Brazilian politics: Black members of the National Congress, 1983-1999
In this study published in the Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs, Ollie A. Johnson III investigates the racial composition of the Brazilian Congress, and analyzes black under-representation and the behavior of black politicians.

Reuters: Brazilians see themselves in mixed-race Obama
Reuters’ Stephanie Beasley explains how Obama’s campaign was followed in Brazil, a country whose African heritage is a key part of its identity but where many blacks still struggle to progress in society.

From Our Files

Brazil: Cutting the Wire
In this 2005 video, FRONTLINE/World Fellows Adam Raney and Chad Heeter travel to a dusty patch of rural Brazil to witness a land occupation by a thousand poor people and activists. Half of Brazil's farmland belongs to just 4 percent of the population -- a glaring inequality in a nation known for its stark division between rich and poor.

Jewel of the Amazon
Mining is illegal on all of Brazil's lands, but in the 1990s, a black market developed and a rise in violence. This broadcast story from 2006 reports on what happened to a community when the richest diamond mine in the world was discovered on indigenous land.