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July 11th, 2011
Brazil in Black and White

“Fascinating and disturbing”

About the Issue

As one of the most racially diverse nations in the world, Brazil has long considered itself a colorblind “racial democracy.” But deep disparities in income, education and employment between lighter and darker-skinned Brazilians have prompted a civil rights movement advocating equal treatment of Afro-Brazilians. In Brazil, the last country in the Western Hemisphere to abolish slavery, blacks today make up almost half of the total population — but nearly two-thirds of the nation’s poor. Institutions of higher education have typically been monopolized by Brazil’s wealthy and light-skinned elite, and illiteracy among black Brazilians is twice as high as among whites. Now, affirmative action programs are changing the rules of the game, with many colleges and universities reserving 20% of spots for Afro-Brazilians. But with national surveys identifying over 130 different categories of skin color, including “cinnamon,” “coffee with milk,” and “toasted,” who will be considered “black enough” to qualify for the new racial quotas?

About The Film

“Am I black or am I white?” Even before they ever set foot in a college classroom, many Brazilian university applicants must now confront a question with no easy answer. BRAZIL IN BLACK AND WHITE follows the lives of five young college hopefuls from diverse backgrounds as they compete to win a coveted spot at the elite University of Brasilia, where 20 percent of the incoming freshmen must qualify as Afro-Brazilian. Outside the university, WIDE ANGLE reports on the controversial racial debate roiling Brazil through profiles of civil right activists, opponents of affirmative action, and one of the country’s few black senators.

  • Léo de Oliveira

    I’m a brazilian teacher from Educafro – ONG mentioned in “Brazil in Black and White”.
    I have used this video to teach about Affirmative Actions in education and employment to afro-brazilian.
    In the beging this year, I visited this site and I saw all the text that the speaker says “in off” during the documentary, but nowadays it’s not available.
    I want to know how I can to acess this text, because I wish like to translate it from English to Portuguese for my students.
    Thank you for you assistance.


    Leo de Oliveira

  • Darrell Davis

    I was wondering as to why when it came to the blacks it was hard for government to classify a pure black because of being so mixed yet when it came to the private schools and going to college it was easy to identify the whites.
    The problem is not being of mixed heritage, in Brazil.
    The problem is the same in brazil as it is in the U.S.

  • Darrell Davis

    The problem in Brazil is the same in the U.S.
    It is not of being mixed. It is just ‘NOT BEING FULLY WHITE!’

  • Charlotte Buchen

    Watch this video profiling a black Brazilian politician inspired by Barack Obama.

    Outside of Rio, in the region known as the Baixada, or “Lowlands,” there is Claudio Henrique, also known as the “Obama of the Baixada.”

    Hoping to become the first black mayor of his hometown of Belford Roxo, Henrique sees the senator from Illinois as an inspiration, who has been able to break boundaries and overcome obstacles — many of which stand in Henrique’s way.

  • Etenesh Tesfaye

    I was wondering in Brazil Football

  • Fergie

    I said this many times before that the problem with Brazil is that after slavery was abolished there was no help given to these people to help them integrate in the society. Unlike in the US when slavery was abolished, there were groups like the churches and private organizations setup schools to help these people. This lack of help hurt the ex slaves and it also hurt Brazilian development. I am glad that many people in Brazil are trying to address a problem that should have been addressed a hundred years ago.

  • david ofosu-appiah

    fascinating i love Brazil football,samba,cabrere that makes it unique.Black Brazil demands equal opportunities in the 5 basic wants of mankind.Apartheid was kicked out by blood,sweat&tears,if Brazil wants to be a rainbow nation then Black Brazil must be exulted and restored.Viva el negro Brasilia aluta continua.Obligado adieus

  • Mary Ann Johnson

    This enlightment touches my discussion right on head There are no Ethnic groups in Brazil-The country is color complimented. There is hope for Brazil. Still do not exclude those of mixed heritage, even though they may not be black or white enough. There will be a solution to allow the citizens of Brazil, to all get a higher education- Those who wish to.

    Mary Ann Johnson
    Race And Ethnic Relations
    Dr. Sellers

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