Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
September 4th, 2007
Brazil in Black and White
Video: Full Episode

This video is no longer available.

  • Ismail A. Hakim

    It seems that no matter where one goes in the world, there are educational, social, political and economic disparities among people of color. Moreover, these disparities are along color gradients. That is, the darker you are, the hell you face.

  • shan

    Unfortunately this is true,I live in the UK and its no different here, Only GOD can save us from this wicked system and HE will.

  • Michelle

    I never cease to be fascinated by the denial of those benefiting from the status quo.

  • Karla

    I really likes this documetnary. Sucks that none of them got into the universtity but like iolanda said one day she will study there :]
    i am in favor of affirmative action, yes it might bring out the difeerences but w/out it inequallity wil persist. hopefullye verything works out for the good :]

  • D

    Why not change the quota to an economic based quota? This would take the wind out of the racial discrimination argument, but would have the desired effect of giving opportunities to the have-nots, who are mostly black.

  • marsIchiban

    I agree–that an economic based quota may deflect some of the dimensions of a color oriented racial dynamic; however, we continue to coexist with the remnants of colonial societies in the Americas where the functions of government/corporate/media politics are not to help, but to hinder the well fare of its constituents.

    In this case, that objective seems to be working in order to confuse people and the effect is more chaos and division in contrast to organization and unity.
    I

  • Madi

    I agree with D… education discrimination feeds on socioeconomic discrimination, and vice versa. Because socioeconomic class and ethnicity are so intricately woven in Brasil (as in many countries in Latin America and the world), perhaps establishing an affirmative action system based on poverty vs. ethnicity would help to a) not only promote more justice for the victims of racial discrimination but b) also be of benefit to those students who are poor but not black and thus fall through the cracks of the quota system…

  • Chema

    The lady professor who was against affirmative action on the basis it would create a segregated country was in hard-core denial. Just look at the school designed for students to pass the test; not a black soul among them — except the janitor.

    I’m glad they included the part with the model and the newsstand. In México we have the same problem. The darker skinned, more Native American-looking actors get the role of the maid or the driver or the comedic relief on television, but you ask most Mexicans, and they’ll say racism is not a problem in the country. It is a systemic and subliminal kind of racism where the ideal for beauty leans heavily toward European aesthetics in the media in a society without people understanding it is presented as such. It is simply ingrained in the society that darker skin is equated as ugly and lighter skin as the ideal.

  • Carolina

    I think that in regards to the educational opportunities there should be some affirmative action in regards to the poor and not the black since 2/3 of the poor are blacks either way. Yet there should still be some affirmative action for companies, it is a disgrace that some banks only hire 2% afro-brazilians.

  • André

    The problem is that the poverty dennies the better future… Threats this like a colour-skinned issue althought a economic issue is do hte wrong thing for a while expecting that one day “maybe”, we can come back and restart the right process… There’s so many white persons that are deeply poor… Why we must denied that the really problem is don’t offer eqqual opportunities between poors and richies… We don’t want one country more divided; we want one country equal

  • Nivrek

    When will this be over? This systemic inequality will continue to be a problem. When the ones that benifite still denies everything and blames the other.

  • Marcos

    I’m a brazilian, white guy that studies in a public university, in my course there are 60 students, just one is black, but I’m against the quotes-system, is easy for me telling that, I had the best opportunities that a young could have, however I believe that everybody should be able to debate a spot with me, black, white, yellow, pink, orange, doesnt matter the color, these porr “black” people that we have just seen are winners, absolute majority of slum people quit their school at elementary, for me is a way to mask the big and real problem, here have a big contrast but, the solution have to start from childhood until the university, why we have to wait who’ll be the winners, I think and hope that in the future every black, or other color, can have the same opportunities that I had.

  • Daniel

    Just to say a few words, I’m, as Marco, against the affirmative action, at least racial affirmative action, affirmative action based on economy is a whole other thing. Yes, I am white with family in the (upper) middle class, and a Brazilian who migrated when very young, having visited the country regularly since.

    1: Affirmative action is a system who leaves certain groups with a better chance, unfairly leaving the rest, that have done better off (either if it’s because they can afford a good school or not) with a worse chance. The problem will not be solved by affirmative action, the employers will later on assume that all black people have only gotten in because of affirmative action, and not because they deserve it. The roots of the problems, are, as they brought up in the documentary, further down, with bac public schools that leave smaller chances to the ones not born in a wealthy family. What I think needs to be done is to either give the poor people a better chance in public schools or disallowing private schools (giving everybody more equal chances), where I prefer the first chance. And to do that, the first thing to do is to remove the corruption, which needs a whole series of documentaries to get a clear picture of, because without the corruption they could well spend a few extra billions in the public school system.

    By the way, some people say that two thirds of the poor population is black affirmative action is the way to go, that’s 67%, when they claim 40 to over 70% of the actual population actually is black. And at some point they said 54%, what about the rest of the 33% who are poor, who obviously have the same problem?

  • James

    I think that any affirmative action program needs to address economic conditions, racial disparities, and gender inequalities. I don’t know if the race based affirmative action strategy will work in Brazil if people have to take some picture to prove their black, what will be next. The media plays a huge role in shaping peoples idea on racial identification and overall perception of this issue.

    Along the same lines as Michelle, I’m amazed at the sheer denial of some people reaping the benefits of maintaining the status quo.

  • despes

    The more albino looking you are the better your life will be. Thanx to European colonizers they have internationalized grouping people by color. It is those who have Albinism that set out to oppress others and hoard means to those who look like them. The fact is those with Melanin don’t set out to collect ways and prevent others from getting them. Therefore they are always in the losing end. Hoarding is built in those with Albinism. We have to approach it from this viewpoint.

  • cory

    hmmm yea albinism: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albinism

    who knew the unknown side affect of this disorder was racism.

  • Stephen Lang

    But what about the Movie Industry and it’s constant Portrayal of People With Albinism as being eather Evil Villans or Mystical “Freaks”?Negative Portrayal of Persons with Albinism without a Counterbalance of “Normal”or Heroic caractors is discriminatory and hurts REAL PEOPLE With Albinism!!

  • felipe

    Brazil is a mix of 2 types of indian; one darker ; other lighter;; and african and portuguese; for the most part;; and is error to say dark skin of Brazilians is Afro; when it more usually from indian; or combination of both

  • Carlos Rubens

    I am quite surprised to notice (on the video) that Mr Humberto Adani’s secretary is quite Danish-like-Brazilian…??? I do not fully disagree with an affirmative action on social mobility in my beloved Brazil, though. Just tired of hipocrisy and the prospect of empty flourished-civil-rights-speech-like-polititians…the very reason why I left my country

  • Dina Gaspar

    The brazilian black scholar that talks about statistics of black people in universities is clearly feeding on the US inspired afirmative action idea that says that every social disaquality is based on race. “If you’re not good in school and you can’t get to university than it’s because you’re black”, “If people talk back at you at a shopping mall then it’s because you’re black”. I was really glad that I saw in this documentary Iolanda’s example. She’s not willing to use her race as an excuse or as an advantage for her performance in life. It’s also important to mention that the exam taken is the same for everyone. And since intelegence is not measured by race, that means that if you work hard, the chances are the same. My opinion is that he 98/2 number has to do far more with cultural and social factors than with race.

  • Earl Sylvester

    Brazil have taken a giant step for mankind,one day they will be one of the greatest nation’s on the face of the earth. I want to be a part of their future!

  • Sef

    Brazil would better be served by an economic affirmative action policy because unlike the US ,Brazil’s racial population is much more homogeneously mixed than the US’s. To me Us citizen even the people calling themselves white in the doc. would not be considered white here in the US.Brazil has to determine what is white and what is black from a regional insular perspective because to me they were all shades of black. Finally to even the playing field for blacks in Brazil ,I think an economic affirmative action policy would best serve the black dichotomy of Brazil which would include the blacks as well as the poor.

  • txus4sho

    Lmao! Just watched that piece on Brazil ! The funniest thing is that 99% of those people in the video that were calling themselves white would NEVER be accepted as white by whites here in the USA! Hilarious

  • mourice

    Walk down the hallways of the government buildings. Look at the pictures of the officials. Walk into the best schools in the country. Walk into the banks around the country. Walk into the companies across the nation. Then walk the favelas and shanty towns.

    In the United States we simply stopped the b.s. and got to the point from those who thought (and still think) they can send out their talking heads to pretend color isn’t the deciding factor. We stopped wasting our time with their (the lighter peoples) promises and their reassurances. They will send their talking heads out to talk in circles forever and continue the same pattern that is OBVIOUS. “Whites” pay people an actual salary to waster our time. Stupid reassurances that everything is okay.

    If anything, Brazil makes the exact point of blacks (a political block) in the U.S. You’re “mixed”, “multi-racial”, “dynamic”, bla, bla, bla and the patterns are the same in Brazil as in the United States, the African continent, France you name it. The same pattern. The darker the lower your status in the society (with the exeption of Africa where the whole continent is suppose to exist in poverty).

    The media literature, the official government literature, the corporate literature all speak of Brazil as this multi-cultural heaven, but everybody at the top looks the same. Yet when the darker-skinned people say “we want our lives and status to improve” the lighter skinned people THREATEN racism will increase and there will be a retaliation by the “whites”.

    JUST LIKE IN AMERICA, FRANCE AND ELSEWHERE in the U.S. we just stopped pretending and publically, verbally, directly and outwardly stated what the “whites” pretend is some sort of secret to out maneuver those dark people…

    Yea I’m black … what’s your point?!

    Likewise, the darker brown people of Brazil should stop wasting their time debating the obvious. How to deal with it, and the violence they promise, should be the debate.

  • Mackey Robinson

    After watching this video it just reaffirms the idea and notion that racism exists on a global level. The one thing in the U.S. is that 99% of the time you can visibly tell who is black or white but, in Brazil you determine by the shade of black or lack of whiteness i.e.,blonde hair blue eyes. What we all have in common wherever people of color are especially the darker more melinated people is that at the very top of the socio economical, political, educational and financial institutions is the European. And, even more disturbing is the fact that the European as a whole is grossly outnumbered and the minority on the planet.

    As far as the NAACP is concerned it is still an organization with a black face and white purse, so I don’t think that it will help that much for Brazil. So called blacks have been fooled all over the globe with making civil rights a priority when we as Men and Women have a God given birthright of Freedom, Justice, Love and Peace. It seems that the European power structure in Brazil is controlling and telling the people of color who they are, black or white thereby creating a system of division amongst the people. Wherever you have the European you will have this problem because he is outnumbered on the planet and because he knows that he will be eliminated by the more melinated people he must put himself as the standard by which all should be measured to validate and maintain his rule.

  • Mac J

    Whats funny is the loud lawyer fighting for black rights has a white assistant, so much for that pyramid analogy he mentioned!

  • lara

    This is for Sef and txus4sho.
    You must be kidding me!!
    There are so many American that are even darker than those white Brazilian,and American see them as White.t Take George Clooney, Kim Kardashian,What about Italian,like myself,Greek. Believe me,I could name so many American that do not look white to me,but American see them as White.Here is all about your last name,if you have a European last name, no matter how you look like you are White.Why people get the idea that to be white you need to be blond and have a pale skin.Don’t forget we just have 4 race category, Native American,(Indian) Caucasian, (White)Ethiopian,( Black)and Mongolian(yellow or Asian),others are invention.There are all the four Race in Brazil as there are here.Brazilian history is not so different from American history.Get smart read more.Why do you think the European that went to Brazil are not White,and the European here still White! IT Doesn’t make sense to me.Just because is South America. Why people can’t be white there.Why the Italian here are white and the Italian there are not,(Brazil has the second Italian population outside Italy).

  • Truestories

    Its amazes me how so many people fall for the traps set up by the people in power who have warped minds.

    What I appreciate about Brazil is its diversity what I fear is the foolish black superiority complex that comes out of certain movements.

    First off there feeding off of the Americans twisted mind set of the one drop rule and then they are using their own foolish concept that their are categories and therefore promoting the same system that kept them enslaved.. Ask yourself is it really about Africa or is it about Money power and slavery? Because some of your ancestors were slaves are you a slave too.?

    In My eyes Brazil is like a utopia where almost everyone has a relatively shared heritage that hey should be proud of.

    It amazes me how someone can be a decendant of Africans only when they have Indigenous or European or even Asian ancestry is STUPID and develops a false sense of pride in a ideology.

    Therefore instead of looking at someone and saying they could be my cousin or niece or aunt; we look at them and see the superficial differences.

    If your have various backgrounds so be it thats your reality if you have African cool if its European cool. But don’t let that cause you to over look the man or woman that bleed the same color blood as you.

    And people stop saying its a color thing if a person is cool in there own skin then nothing will break them. I am darker than most people and I pretty much always knew I was Handsome because my moms told me so and thats how people recieved me I knew I was somebody because I was told I was great. But My Mother who is way l;ighter than me got called white girl because of what hummmm “Envy” yeah I think so.

    Its not about “this foolish concept of race” as much as it is about Power and money. The Oppressed and the oppressor. There are oppressed people of all complexions and the more we can see that the less we beleive in the lies that our minds have been conditioned to tell us.

  • Alex

    Affirmative action in Brazil, US and wherever else it is being implemented is about spreading the wealth and fixing systematic injustices that were introduced to society 500 years ago. Advocating diversity in the work place, government et cetera is part of DEMOCRACY. The word democracy is rooted in the Greek words “people” and “power.” Not “elite people” or “privileged people.”

    In the United States QUOTAS are ILLEGAL. A certain percentage of seats should not be alloted to Brazilians with African ancestry. However, schools, universities, and employers should attempt to realize the value of having diversity and an accurate representation of the nation’s ethnic makeup. Therefore, just as in the US, it would be good for Brazil to move toward asking students to write personal statements and get letters of recommendation for applying to universities. This will help admissions committees evaluate the trials and tribulations black students have gone through and assess how their individual walk of life will specifically contribute to diversity and bring alternative perspectives to the classroom. Doing so would discourage students who never considered themselves black from applying to university as black.

    If federal and local governments allocate funds to recruiting and encouraging qualified black Brazilians to apply to university and the workplace (rather than setting aside 20% of the spaces for potentially underqualified black people) it will be more difficult for those opposed to affirmative action to argue that black students are bein admitted simply because of their skin color.

    There should be a long term initiative of investing in education, health and employment in neighborhoods that are underserved and/or predominantly black. In the long run such initiatives will afford black people opportunites they have been systematically denied over the last five centuries.

    Brazil and the United States will fail at solving problems of poverty and racial inequality unless money is invested to allow people from those communities emerge as leaders. Dumping money and sending in experts who were not born and raised in these communities is only an elitist attempt to solve the problem with out conceding any power.

  • Ismail A. Hakim

    The economic-based quota approach is great. However, the need to maintain white privlege is the real issue. People simply do not want to give up their privlege because they envision themselves as those whom they have ignored for centuries if privlege was shared or lost. The blacks of Brazil must coalesce into a single political force to be reckon with. This will allow them to demand an equal share of the pie. They must understand that you do have to be uniformed in order to have unity. Like many of us in the United States, the prolonged struggle has caused some blacks in Brazil to accept poverty and marginalization. It is time for blacks in Brazail to have “yes we can” movement around education and equal access to resources.

  • davos

    Why is it that wherever you go, black folks are always struggling. Boy, this is soooooooooo sad.

  • Sho’mane Ture

    This shows that we must unite, we must organize, we must build a partnership, Black folks in the U.S. and Brazil have shared interest, and it is power in numbers… we must teach the youth about their culture to feel proud also to become active.

  • Sir Ronald Hicks

    I really appreciate being able to take a glimpse into the life and cultures of afro-brazilian people. I think one thing that the people in power in brazil should really take a into account is what makes Brazil so beautiful. It’s the people, black people, mixed people, at least to me just looking at the people in the movie they all 99% of this looked like they had different variations of different races in them. No body looked just black, white, indain, spanish, or portugese. That’s what draws people to Brazil in my eyes, the some of everything in one

  • Thomas

    I believe that people of all color should stop thinking that they are something special because of their color. The black think they are oppressed by the white, the white might think the are something better and therefore deserve whatever. NO, first of all start respecting yourself, your family and neighbors. Work together to achieve something, be it improving the neighborhood, be it a better learning atmosphere at school.

    Public schools in Brazil have a bad reputation, why is it? I believe it is because people do not respect each other, for whatever reason. If you would respect each other you would not fight each other, nor steal from each other, nor bully other people and so on. If you respect each other you immediately would have an atmosphere were everybody has a chance. It does not take much to become a good student. You do not need that fancy computer, dvd’s and so on. The most import thing is your willingness to study, to learn, to experience things.

    I grew up in East-Germany under the communist regime, and there people were a community, helping each other. Yes it was out of economic necessity, but they were helping each other. Students that fall back in class where helped by classmates after school. This fostered a system in which only a few were falling behind. And none of us had fancy school material or a computer at all.

    Today, everybody things he deserves a place to study at a university, but why should you deserve one if you have not shown dedication and will to study by that time. You most certainly do not deserve one based on your skin color or social status. You did not study well, because you either did not wanted to learn, or your family and intermediate community failed to teach you that you can achieve something in life by learning.

    Education is, in my opinion, the key to an great society. One without discrimination, but people have to start with themselves and get an education at school and by themselves.

  • william

    The poison continues. I saw it coming. If I create something that excludes a person, people, group base on how they look, then I can expect something like this;however, if I create something that is inclusive from the start I maybe have to worry about it as much. So in real life you have rich, poor etc in every group.
    If an elite school exist where there is 90% light skinned then de facto you create an elite school where there is 90% dark skinned.
    These are all concepts from the U.S. What is White and Black? They don’t exist. The young lady mentioned Portuguese, Indian, African…These terms are more to the point. Be the best of yourself. Just because someone tries to exclude you, don’t allow that to stop you from gettting busy. It does not stop me.

  • Vera

    I believe the AA based on ethnicity is the right move. If you were to base it solely on economics, then the powers that be(whites) wld still discriminate based on skin color: poor whites or close to it would be elevated above blacks, esp the dark skinned Blacks. The govt and society @ large has proven by their lack of black representation in the gov’t, colleges (student body and teaching), et al sectors that it cannot be trusted to hire w/o biasness. They (whites) have had decades to correct the problem of their own volition but chose not to do so. Now it must be a law. What gets me is that whites have had AA since they came to the Brazilian shores,but their was so powerful, it did not have to be written into law. Look at their gov’t: 95% white, yet the Black population is over 53% of the total Brazillian population. Also, Whites are now claiming tha AA is unfair to them,yet they still would hold the MAJORITY, but are complaining that they will not have the VAST MAJORITY. If AA is unfair to whites, then the status quo is grossly unfair to blacks who had to put up w/the system for centuries. When you make it tougher on others, then it will become tough for you. What goes around comes around.

  • Wayne C. Robinson

    I am the executive producer and director of the upcoming film, INSPIRE: The Movie. This epic project will reveal the secrets to success regardless of one’s color of skin and economic status. It will be promoted to Blacks worldwide who will realize that the only thing preventing from achieving their dreams and goals is themselves. The movie will feature experts who will affirm that race has nothing to do with anything – unless one believe it does.
    The movie will reveal specific tools that are available to anyone in the universe. Once the viewers understand and begin applying these specific tools, they will begin experiencing a life of happiness, joy and prosperity.

    Please visit our website at http://www.inspirethemovie.com.

  • Charles Rowe

    To Wayne C. Robinson….are you saying that no matter the attacks from those with power, no matter if those attacks are overt or covert, within an institution or within a culture or family those who are being oppressed can achieve as much as those who are oppressing?

    I agree that Blacks should dream, aspire and achieve all that is possible and suffer or enjoy the fruits of their actions, but if obstacles are placed in the way by those with power and hate in their hearts what actions are left to the oppressed, they must fight for their rights to be awarded according to their achievements. Actions of hate are criminal and should be punished accordingly.

    It seems that you are saying the Jews during the German oppression of WWII should have used these tools you speak of or the many black slaves could have done the same and that no matter the systematic hate targeted towards a group it is that group’s responsibility to overcome it. You are saying that the oppressor has no responsibility and those held accountable for the oppressors efforts are the oppressed.

    Blacks have a responsibility, just as all people have a responsibility to move within a society according to their efforts, but conversely society has a responsibility to make an effort to abolish hate that may hinder the free movement of a people.

    It seems that you are seeking to justify the “tangible” actions of those who dislike a person based on the color of his/her skin, no matter how you view your argument it comes down to just one issue; let those who want to hate and act on that hate continue without compunction and blame the target of that hate for any ill effect that may arise.

    You sir are as guilty as the oppressor.

  • Kathy Jones

    I show this film in class as it prompts an extraordinary conversation. How can I have continued access, as the full film does not seem to be available??

Produced by THIRTEEN    ©2014 WNET.ORG Properties LLC. All rights reserved.