Affirmative Action in Brazil

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Date: 03/19/2010
To: Dr. Tracey Holden
From: Angelica Radford
Subject of my paper: AFFIRMATIVE ACTION IN BRAZIL – NEGOTIATIONS OF A COLOR-BLIND NATION LOST BETWEEN THE DEFINITION OF A RACIAL DEMOCRACY AND A HISTORY OF RACIAL AND SOCIAL INEQUALITIES. Introduction: Brazil is a land of contrasts and disparities. It is also a big ethnic pot stirred with social and racial inequalities. The first half of the 16th century marks the beginning of the slavery period in Brazil. During the beginning of Brazil’s colonization, the Portuguese tried to enslave Brazil’s first inhabitants, the native Indians, quickly proving it to be an impossible mission. Even though the native Indians were amicable at first, working for a while in return for some metal tools, they later on rebelled against the Portuguese resulting in wars. They fought hard against slavery and when they were defeated, they escaped to the wilderness. They were also very frail and susceptible to diseases – a result of their encounter with the White man. With Portugal slowly claiming its colony, the production of sugar arising in Brazil and no large surplus of population to send to the New World, the Portuguese brought African natives to Brazil to use as slaves in its sugar-cane farms. Later on, the immigration of different ethnic groups of people to Brazil such as the Spanish, Italians, Jewish, Germans, Arabs, and Japanese contributed to the diverse population of this country and the miscegenation among races. Because of the diversity of the population in Brazil and due to the lack of a more reliable system than the system of quotas, it is very difficult to determine who belongs to the minority groups that are protected under “Affirmative Action” in Brazil. My thesis: The general objective of this paper is to show the problems, struggles, and negotiations that multiracial people encounter in Brazil. What defines race in a country of so much diversity? Is it the color of people’s skin or their ethnic...
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