Friday, January 27, 2012

Blog 2: Race in Brazil- Affirming a divide- Black Brazilians are much worse off than they should be. But what is the best way to remedy that?

In Brazil, blacks have long been discriminated against and considered to be at the bottom of the pyramid. This divide between blacks and “whites” has been rooted in Brazil’s culture since the time of the slave trade. From 1811 until 1843, around 500,000 slaves arrived in the country. Recently, in 2010, during a beautification of Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Olympic Games, workers found some old cans that led to the excavation and discovery of the ruins of Valongo, the once main landing stage for African Slaves. Between the 16th and 19th centuries, 4.9 million slaves out of the 10.7 million shipped across the Atlantic ended up in Brazil and Brazil was the last country of the Americas to abolish slavery in 1888. The profound impact of slavery can still be seen in Brazil’s society today and are the reasons for the extreme socioeconomic inequality that still remains in the country. Blacks in Brazil today are considered as neither separates nor equals. In 2010, 51% of Brazilians defined themselves as either black or brown. However, the income of whites is on average more than double than that of white Brazilians. Blacks are more disadvantaged in their levels of education and health care and more than half of those who live in the slums are black. However, Brazilians have argued that blacks are poor only because they are at the bottom of a social pyramid. But many activists feel that now affirmative action is needed in order to help correct this problem of inequality in Brazil. However, opponents of this action feel that it will only create more problems as Brazil never had any segregation from slavery. Affirmative action is split between the leftists and the rightists as their opinions differ on whether affirmative action should used to make sure blacks have a higher quota in universities and jobs. Yet there are still many in Brazil who oppose affirmative action and feel that it isn’t going to help the problem but instead make racism even more evident. Thus, the hardest task when it comes down to it is going to be to change the attitudes of the Brazilian people in general.
                This problem of inequality through racism in Brazil is not only a problem found within this single country. Racism and the inequality that comes along with it is an issue that can be found within countries throughout the globe. It can often be easy to think of racism as merely a personal issue that someone has due to his/her skin color but when it begins to affect many different individuals, then it becomes a true social problem for all. Racism creates its own form of stratification as individuals are divided into categories based on their physical and physiological traits and then receive fewer or more rewards than others based on their racial categorization and the importance they are given based off of their categorization. Racism is unfair and causes major divisions and inequalities of people within societies. In Brazil, mobilization for action has been taken with the implementation of affirmative action yet some are mobilizing for counter action as they do not like the efforts being made with affirmative action. However, it is clear that Brazil is trying to address the problems and inequalities that its black population is facing though, as with most social problems; a solution to the problem is not always easy. This has proven to be true not only in Brazil in dealing with the inequalities of racism but within other countries such as the US as well, demonstrating how racism still exists as an issue today and will continue to exist until a true solution can be found to fix this problem. I feel that the issue of racial inequalities such as those found in Brazil are not socially just and need to be changed but with as long as racism has been around, I often feel that a solution is never really possible as it is hard to change the mentalities of everyone.

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