Racism in Brazil

Black homeless at Savassi Square in Belo Horizonte.
Drawing in a wall of Fluminense Federal University, with the inscription "former black student".

Racism in Brazil has been a major issue ever since the colonial era and the slave era imposed by Portuguese settlers, which led to a persistent marginalization of the black population in the country. The issue has been subject of intense debate over the years, with several government measures addressed to soften or eliminate the most intense gaps, such as affirmative actions in Universities and others.[1][2]

On the other hand, since Brazil is a multicultural country, without any traces of a national-wide racial unity, having its population formed by immigration from several parts of the world, other ethnicities tend to suffer lesser levels of discrimination, if any.

Research conducted

A research article published in 2011 indicated that 63.7% of Brazilians believe that race interferes with the quality of life.

At work: 59%
In questions related to police justice: 68.3%

Results conducted in 2008 supposedly show that people are not surprised about this differencealthough a large percentage of the population is black or has black ancestry, they represented no more than 8% of the 513 chosen representatives in the last election year. The salary of Whites in Brazil are, on average, 46% over the salary of Blacks. This difference might be explained by differences in education.[3]

According to Ivanir dos Santos (the former Justice Ministry's specialist on race affairs), "There is a hierarchy of skin color where blacks, mix races and dark skinned people are expected to know their place in society."[4]

A study on racial bias in teacher evaluations in Brazil found that Brazilian math teachers gave better grading assessments of white students than equally proficient and equivalently well-behaved black students.[5]

Race indicators

Indicators White Brazilian Black & Multiracial Brazilian
Illiteracy[6] 5.9% 13.3%
University degree[7] 15.0% 4.7%
Life expectancy[8] 73.13 67.03
Unemployment[9] 5.7% 7.1%
GDP per capita[10] R$ 22,699 R$ 15,068
Homicide deaths[11] 29% 65.5%


In the 19th century, slavery was abolished in Brazil, and the slaves were freed. However, they and their children were denied the right to own land, schooling, housing, water, and electricity.[12]

Homicide rate

A series of homicides in Brazil from 2000 to 2009 were studied. The explanatory variables were race/skin color, gender and education. The death statistics were obtained from the Mortality Information System. A trend analysis was performed by means of a polynomial regression for a historic time series (p < 0.05, 95% confidence interval). The black population and multiracial population represented 69% of the homicide victims in 2009. The homicide rate increased in the black population, while it decreased in the white population in the period studied. The homicide rate increased in groups with both higher and lower education among blacks; among whites, the rate decreased for those with the lowest level of schooling and remained stable in the group with higher educational levels.

In 2009, blacks had a higher risk of death than whites from homicide, regardless of education level. Between 2004 and 2009, the homicide rate decreased in the white population, while it increased in the black population. The relative risk of falling victim to homicide increased in the black population, suggesting an increase in inequality. The effect of the anti-gun measures implemented in Brazil in 2004 was positive in the white population, but less pronounced in the black population. Overall, race/skin color predicted the majority of homicide occurrences.[13]

In 2008, 111.2% more blacks died proportionally than whites in Brazil. The scenario is even worse among young adults (15–24 years). Among whites, the number of murders fell from 6,592 to 4,582 between 2002 and 2008, a difference of 30%. Meanwhile, the murders of young black men rose from 11,308 to 12,749 - an increase of 13%. In 2008, 127.6% more young black men died proportionately than whites. Ten years earlier, this difference was 39%.

In the State of Paraíba in 2008, 1083% more blacks died than whites. In the State of Alagoas, were 974.8% more blacks died than whites. In 11 States, this ratio exceeds 200%.[14]


Insight into Brazilian Racism

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