Race Relations In Brazil

Race Relations In Brazil


Evan Mextorf

Is racial democracy real?

If one was to ask a member of the Brazilian government if racism exists within the country, they would more than likely say no. They might say “Brazil is a racial democracy. Sure, there are social factors such as gender and class that could inhibit one’s climb up the economic ladder, but race has no bearing.” The fact, however, that the country imported more slaves than any country in the world, and that Brazil was the last country in the New World to abolish slavery, makes it hard for outsiders to understand the concept of racial democracy in Brazil.

Portugal founded its first settlement in Brazil in 1532, and from that point on, the Portuguese began to expand throughout South America, originally using mainly indigenous slaves for agricultural purposes. Unlike the island of Hispaniola, the indigenous people of Brazil were not killed off at such an alarming rate, which made them much cheaper slaves than African slaves that needed to be imported. African slaves. however, lived longer under their extreme working conditions than those of indigenous descent due to their previous exposure to European diseases. Even though indigenous slaves were cheaper, African slaves were imported at a rapid rate, because it was cheaper to import slaves rather than to “breed” slaves through families, a practice most notably performed by the United States. Brazil imported more African slaves from the sixteenth through the eighteenth century than anywhere else in the Western hemisphere. Following the Haitian revolution, some slaves in Brazil wanted to fight for their rights as humans…

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