Brazilian Affirmative Action
The United States has been defining the role of affirmative action in education for decades; the race-based quota system has never been fully accepted by the public. As one of the most racially mixed societies in the world, Brazil is now experiencing a new civil rights movement which embraces racial quotas in higher education and which is similar to U.S affirmative action programs. Brazilians have grown up believing in a myth that everyone within the nation is equal; however, the statistics tell a different story; in Brazil, race, poverty and lack of opportunity come hand in hand. However, despite significant racial and socioeconomic disparities in the country, a quota system based on students’ racial backgrounds has the potential to further divide Brazilian society into black and white, to create a culture of unequal access to higher education, and to neglect the need for real reform of the country’s education system. Therefore, Brazil should create a quota system that is based on social class and income instead of simply adopting the American style of race-based quota system. As Edward E. Telles states, Brazilian race relations have historically been defined by miscegenation and the fluidity of racial classification (par. 3). Unlike a family-based colonization in North America, when Portuguese settlers first came to Brazil, they were mainly males. They chose African, indigenous, and mulatto females as mates, and as a result, race mixture was common, and there were no laws passed against miscegenation, as there were in the U.S. (Telles par. 3). Because of the unique historical background of Brazil, there are no official criteria which determine people’s race. Before the new racial quota program was passed, race had never been used as a criterion for admission to public universities. Now, students who apply to universities have to self-define their race for the first time. This makes the race-based quota system in...
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