By Kate McGlinch
In studying race, gender and inequality in Brazil, it is impossible to not recognize the structural and interpersonal violence against minority groups in the country. The multilayered discrimination against black Brazilians has sprawled across history and recent times. Coming from the United States, these issues were not unfamiliar to me; During our trip, ten black people in Buffalo, New York were shot to death in a supermarket in a racially-motivated hate crime.
Hateful ideologies feed into many instances of interpersonal violence like this which are, essentially, swept under the rug by the institutions and individuals holding power. Colorblind legislation allows for problems to be “fixed” without being fully addressed or validated. These things happen in both the United States and Brazil.
But while I am fully aware of these issues in the U.S., I had much to learn while studying abroad. Before embarking on our trip, our class read about the history of race relations and the so-called racial democracy of Brazil. We were visited by Ian Carrillo, who had conducted ethnography on how color-blindness manifests today in Brazil’s sugar-ethanol industries, among many other scholars both in-person and virtually. In his article describing his studies, Carrillo identified racial democracy as the portrayal of “centuries of slavery and sharecropping through a nostalgic lens in which masters enjoyed cordial relations with enslaved peoples. Rather than abhorring the power inequalities inherent in the denial of human freedom, racial democracy romanticizes paternalistic relations'' (Carrillo, 58).
I found this elaboration helpful in understanding the public reception of Mestiçagem and Freyre’s theories. Looking at the centuries of slavery and harsh oppression of Afro-Brazilians in this way seems to have provided the people perpetuating it with an escape hatch from guilt or accountability. Meanwhile the racism that continues today, though veiled, remains just as violent and repressive.
We also read chapters from “The Politics of Blackness: Racial Identity and Political Behavior in Contemporary Brazil”, which provided a comprehensive examination into how the identities of Brazilians interact with their political behaviors. In its conclusion, it is stated that “discussion on the role that violence plays in maintaining an Afro-Paradise where foreigners celebrate exotic black bodies at the same time that the state destroys these bodies through terror and killing, highlights how state actors create racial categories for economic and social gain. Exclusion and discrimination are violent” (Mitchell-Walthour, 222). I found this to be a corroboration to Carrillo’s description of color-blindness in Brazil’s institutions today.
In traveling to Brazil and observing life for different people there, I found these conclusions to be very real. While driving around Bahia, I spotted a lot of different billboards. Many promoted music while others marketed healthcare and beauty products. The differences in how these different interests were portrayed, however, seemed odd to me. While billboards for music and some beauty items included more people with darker skin tones, the billboards for healthcare almost always had just white people on them. Though pretty subtle in the grand scheme of things, these billboards seemed to reinforce the idea of higher education and employment in healthcare being more fitting for people with lighter skin. This was especially concerning to me as we had attended lectures talking about the reality of racial disparity in higher education. They emphasized that these pursuits are not “more fitting” of white Brazilians, rather, white Brazilians simply have much easier access to them.
Apart from my experiences in Salvador, the lectures played an important role in identifying institutional violence against black Brazilians. We were visited by Professor Wyllis Santos for a lecture on Afro-Brazilian religions, in which he described the actions taken by evangelical and Catholic churches to suppress Afro-Brazilian religious practices throughout history and today. While the aggressive enforcement of Catholicism happened through colonialism, evangelical pastors today have been teaming up with drug-traffickers in order to target Afro-Brazilian congregations. Additionally, militias (often populated by cops) have also joined forces with drug-traffickers in implementing restrictive power over favelas, especially in Rio, which are often majority black communities (Santos, 2022). These groups do not seem to be held accountable for their violence due to their ideologies being mostly in-line with the country’s current president.
Though this violence against black Brazilians is undeniable, the counteraction of black consciousness and empowerment seems to be supported with an equal level of determination. I was especially impressed by the work of the Pai de Santo Alcides and the Steve Biko Institute in their work for black communities in Brazil. As a practitioner of Candomble, Alcides emphasized positive work in one’s community as a principle of the religion. In his community, he started projects teaching children dental hygiene and building self-esteem in black women by teaching them how to do their hair (Alcides, 2022). The Steve Biko Institute, inspired by Steve Biko’s legacy of black consciousness and citizenship in South Africa, provides a “preparatory class for the entrance exam aimed at low-income black students - the first of its kind in Brazil” (Steve Biko Cultural Institute, 2014). Institutions like these, along with Afro-Brazilian percussion and dances in public spaces, voice opposition against racial discrimination in a sophisticated way. It seems that
Afro-Brazilians have grown more and more unapologetic for their African features, making a case for the importance of these features to Brazil itself. Whether through practicing Capoeira or creating educational opportunities for black Brazilians, there is a strong sense of empowerment in Salvador.
Carrillo, Ian. 2021. “Racialized Organizations and Color-Blind Racial Ideology in Brazil.” Sociology of Race and Ethnicity 7, no. 1 (January): 56–70. https://doi.org/10.1177/2332649220943223.
Mitchell-Walthour, Gladys L. The Politics of Blackness: Racial Identity and Political Behavior in Contemporary Brazil. Cambridge Studies in Stratiﬁcation Economics: Economics and Social Identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017. doi:10.1017/9781316888742.
Santos, Wyllis. “Candomble and Religions in Brazil.” Lecture, Instituto Clara Ramos, Salvador, BA, May 16, 2022.
Alcides (Pai de Santo). “The Practice of Candomble.” Lecture, Instituto Clara Ramos, Salvador, BA, May 16, 2022.
“Projetos: Pre-Vestibular.” Instituto Cultural Beneficente Steve Biko. Instituto Cultural Steve Biko, 2014. Accessed May 20, 2022. https://www.stevebiko.org.br/projetos
Kate McGlinch is a sophomore at CSB/SJU with a major in Political Science and a minor in Philosophy. She is from St. Paul, Minnesota. Her academic interests include justice and reformation in politics as well as policy for social issues. She looks forward to understanding Brazilian politics and culture in a more holistic way while studying abroad.
By Julia Krystofiak and Grace Terlinden
Class inequality is very apparent throughout Brazil and was especially prevalent in the city of Salvador, Bahia. One of the most significant manifestations of this class inequality can be observed in housing disparities between the interior and the periphery of the city. The interior of the city houses most upper class and upper middle-class people in Bahia, while the periphery, or suburbs, is home to many lower middle-class and lower-class people. The dominant class status in these distinct areas is represented by available housing, the presence of retail and restaurants, and personal transportation (cars, motorcycles, etc.) among other things.
Our host families lived in the interior of the city in upper middle-class neighborhoods called Graça and Vitoria. The interior of the city is abundant with polished high-rise apartment buildings, shopping centers, drug stores, and restaurants. Most people in the interior of Salvador commuted through the city in their newer, personal cars or had family drivers. Their apartment buildings had doormen and maids that watched over and maintained their living spaces. Many of these buildings also had special “service” doors and elevators, representing separation by class even within the interior of the city.
Favelas are large communities often located on the outer parts of larger cities. Our tour guide, Fredi, described the favelas as unregulated communities in which the residents build their own residences and aren’t required to pay rent or any tax on their property, because they essentially have no legal right to the land. The enormous population of the favelas is what keeps the government from forcibly removing the residents but engages in discriminatory practices that keep the residents of favelas from gaining equal opportunities. The two physical distinctions of favelas that Fredi pointed out are: they are located in the outskirts of the city and far away from the “inner city” and favelas expand horizontally while the inner-city expands vertically.
The favela communities are typically viewed as dangerous, and the Brazilian police have tried to “pacify” these communities by increasing patrol in the neighborhoods and using other proactive policing strategies (Mitchell-Walthour 2017, 220). Policies such as these claim to be for the public good, but they are proven to be violent themselves, and have resulted in the mass killings of innocent residents (Mitchell-Walthour 2017, 220). Bolsonaro has exacerbated these tensions between racial and class groups, through fueling Brazilians fear of crime (Chagas-Bastos 2019). Recent research has supported the claim that Bolsonaro's “environment of fear” utilized in his campaign, has increased violence between social groups (Chagas-Bastos 2019). Bolsonaro’s position on race and class in general is important to understand the future of favelas and inequality as his impact lasts beyond his time in office.
It is important to note that these class disparities are inextricably connected to race and racism (Mitchell-Walthour 2017). Discussions about issues concerning class in Brazil often exclude the role that race plays in class disparities, likely due to the myth of mestiçagem (Mitchell-Walthour 2017, Marshall 2017). Ideas about Brazil being a racial democracy suggest that societal disparities are more related to class than race because the racial spectrum in Brazil produces a society in which racism “cannot exist” (Marshall 2017). In contrast to Freyre’s myth of mestiçagem, class status, in addition to physical features and phenotype, is used in Brazil to classify people into different racial categories (Mitchell-Walthour 2017). Elites engage with the narrative surrounding inequality by claiming that policies that help to decrease inequalities exist only because of prejudice against elites (Carrillo 2020). This practice of victimizing themselves has subsequently made light of the real racial and economic inequalities that exist and persist because of the elites’ practices (Carrillo 2020).
Eakin, Marshall C. 2017. " The Beautiful Game: Performing the Freyrean Vision," in Becoming Brazilians: Race and National Identity in Twentieth-Century Brazil. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316800058.
Fabrício H. Chagas-Bastos. "Political Realignment in Brazil: Jair Bolsonaro and the Right Turn". Revista de Estudios Sociales, no. 69 (2019): 92-100. https://doi.org/10.7440/res69.2019.08
Ian, Carrillo. “Racialized Organizations and Color-Blind Racial Ideology in Brazil,” Sociology of Race and Ethnicity 7 (1): 56-70. doi:10.1177/2332649220943223.
Mitchell-Walthour, Gladys L. 2017. The Politics of Blackness: Racial Identity and Political Behavior in Contemporary Brazil.”Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316888742.001.
Julia Krystofiak is going into her senior year at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University. She is pursuing a degree in political science and data analytics and hopes to attend graduate school following her undergraduate studies. She is originally from Mounds View, MN. Julia enjoys learning about gendered power structures, international relations, and civil conflict. She has been involved in multiple research projects focusing on gendered and populist rhetoric, which is extremely relevant to Brazil under Bolsonaro. She looks forward to better understanding human impact on the climate and natural world in the context of Brazil!
Grace Terlinden is a rising senior at the College of Saint Benedict/Saint John’s University, pursing degrees in English and Political Science. She is originally from Big Lake, Minnesota.
She enjoys learning about international relations through her involvement in Model United Nations. She is very excited to learn more about Brazilian politics and life in Brazil while
By Grace Terlinden
The biggest learning experience so far on the trip has been learning the influence that slavery had on Brazil. As Xavier Vatin mentioned in his lecture on, “The African Diaspora in Bahia: A Socio-Anthropological Perspective” there were over eight million slaves whom are thought to be brought to Brazil largely from Angola, Benin, Congo, and others (Brazil An Inconvenient Truth). All documentation of enslaved peoples were burned after abolition in 1888 which inhibits opportunities for Brazilians to connect with their African heritage, however the cultural influence from Africa cannot be dismissed or destroyed (Vatin 2022). The impact enslaved peoples had on Brazilian culture remains today through music, dance, and has implications on all aspects of Brazilian life, and still effects politics today.
Music in Brazil still maintains many of it’s African characteristics and genres that were created by Africans. The lecture at the beginning of the percussion workshop with Mario Pam and Ilê Ahiê taught us that many of the musical genres that today Brazilians enjoy such as samba, jazz, and blues were all created by Africans. An outlet in which this musical influence shines through is during carnaval. Although carnaval started as a European tradition, but expanded into what it is today, because of black artists. An important aspect to carnaval is showcasing the Afro-Brazilian music styles such as Samba (Eakin 2017). The Afro-Brazilian influence of carnaval is not always appreciated, and has received backlash from the state. Marshall Eakin explained this struggle for representation and accreditation in his chapter Samba, Carnaval, and Getúlio Vargas and said, “The lower classes that created and sustained the escolas de samba began a long struggle with the representatives of the State as each attempted to control and determine the direction of carnaval with samba at its center” (2017). This quote probes that although African influence has made Brazilian music and carnaval what it is today, they are not always properly acknowledged for their success. As seen with carnaval, music is often accompanied with dance, and in the case of Brazil, dance is also heavily influenced by the enslaved people.
Some of the most popular forms of dance in Brazil were either created or heavily influenced by enslaved peoples. Capoeira was created by slaves in order to defend themselves from their oppressors, but presently it is less about self-defense and more of a dance. In our workshop with Mestre Sapoti, he explained that today Capoeira is used to remember the atrocities of slavery and to keep pushing towards racial equality (2022). It is a common misconception that enslaved peoples were not pushing back against oppression, but amidst the tyranny, Capoeira is proof that all along enslaved people were constantly fighting back. Gladys Mitchell-Walthour stated in their book The Politics of Blackness: Racial Identity and Political Behavior in Contemporary Brazil, “Running away and revolts were forms of resistance. There were a number of revolts led by enslaved people” (2017). Afro-Brazilians created many forms of art such as dance and music as a form of resistance, and in the case of Capoeira as a revolt against slave owners. Not only did Afro-Brazilians create a lot of the music and dance enjoyed today in Brazil, but they did it in spite of the violence their oppressors held over their heads.
The influence of slavery in Brazil has sparked my interest since being here, because although slavery is often thought to have happened a long long time ago and some consider it’s impacts to no longer exist. It didn’t really hit me how little time has passed since slaveries abolition until taking to our tour guide Fredi who showed me a picture of his father-in-law whose father was a slave. This interaction was important to my understanding about the individual as well as collective impacts that slavery still has on Brazil and internationally. Slavery’s influence on Brazilian culture is certainly important, but the individual impacts it still has today should be acknowledged. The “color-blind” ideology that has been popularized in Brazil as a form of complete racial equality is therefore the quite opposite of equal. Without acknowledging the cultural and social implications that the legacy of slavery has on Brazil will only exacerbate racial inequality. Raising awareness and giving credit to Afro-Brazilians who have made positive influences on music, dance, and culture is also an important step towards repairing racial inequalities.
Brazil An Inconvenient Truth : BBC Documentary. 2020. Video.
Eakin, Marshall C. 2017. «Communicating and Understanding Mestiçagem: Radio, Samba, and
Carnaval». Chapter in . Becoming Brazilians: Race and National Identity in Twentieth-
Century Brazil, 79–106. New Approaches to the Americas. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/9781316800058.004.
Eakin, Marshall C. 2017. «The Sounds of Cultural Citizenship». Chapter in . Becoming
Brazilians: Race and National Identity in Twentieth-Century Brazil, 200–219. New Approaches to the Americas. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/9781316800058.008.
Mitchell-Walthour, Gladys L. 2017. The Politics of Blackness: Racial Identity and Political
Behavior in Contemporary Brazil. Cambridge Studies in Stratification Economics:
Economics and Social Identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/9781316888742.
Grace Terlinden is a rising senior at the College of Saint Benedict/Saint John’s University, pursing degrees in English and Political Science. She is originally from Big Lake, Minnesota.
She enjoys learning about international relations through her involvement in Model United Nations. She is very excited to learn more about Brazilian politics and life in Brazil while
By Kathryn McDonough
In the United States, many students go to college or university once they graduate high school. When in high school, I had no doubt that I would be accepted to at least one university, if not multiple. The biggest choice my peers and I had to make about college is what one we would choose. Many of us take it for granted that college is so easily accessible to us, which is not the case in many countries. During our time here, we have learned about the education system in Brazil. Over the course of the class, we have discussed race and gender inequality in Brazil. These inequalities can be seen in the education system.
In our lecture at Instituto Cultural Steve Biko, we learned about the ENEM exam, which is the college entrance exam (similar to the ACT/SAT), and the importance of the score. For Brazilians, this score is the most important thing for college acceptance. Not only is the score the most important thing, it’s the only thing that universities look at when determining whether or not to accept a student or not. Brazilian universities do not look at GPA, sports, extracurriculars, etc. when determining who gets accepted. These exams are offered once a year and if a student doesn’t do well, they must wait until the next year to take the exam, hence pushing back their college career (“Education and Affirmative Action in Brazil”). Using a score to determine college acceptance may sound fair because it is based on ability and not other factors. However, we see there are many flaws with this system.
Although the exam system doesn’t seem to favor any race, we see inequalities come into play which leads to certain people having the advantage. White people have a much higher chance of passing and getting into a good university because they have more resources to help them prepare for the exam and better high schools with more funding that prepare them for this exam. We learned how hard this exam is and that the pass rate is much higher for students attending private schools. If a student wants to go to college, going to a private high school is essential. Parents will pay a lot for their children to go to the top private schools. Since
Afro-Brazilian families tend to be among the lower classes due to their long run oppression, it is hard for the families to send their children to private schools. Many of these families cannot afford private education and sending their children could have long run consequences. We see that the education system has racial biases since the system favors those with more resources and money (aka white people).
During our lecture in Cachoeira with Xavier Vatin at UFRB we talked again about race and education. Xavier told us that the university intentionally selects Black students. Although this is controversial in America, this seems to be a really good thing in these circumstances.
Universities like this one help bridge the education gap. Xavier told us that there was a substantial amount of first generation Afro-Brazilian students at the university as well as many Afro-Brazilian professors. He said that many of their university students will get their masters degree and come back to teach at the university and help other students. Xavier also talked about the positive impact that former President Lula had on representation in higher education and Black pride. Although increasing Afro-Brazilian representation in higher education is not currently the priority, Xavier was confident in a positive future with future leaders.
In our lecture with Alcides I learned that there are after school programs that help provide additional learning opportunities to educate students. These programs helped to increase the number of students passing their college entrance exams. Alcides discussed the projects that he had worked on. These programs are implemented to help increase Black pride. For example, one of the programs he mentioned was a ten day workshop dedicated to promoting black empowerment. They taught Afro-Brazilians, both male and female, how to braid and style curly hair and be proud of it instead of trying to straighten it/ style it according to European standards (Alcides). Programs like this are important and may help improve the confidence of Afro-Brazilian students.
In my research on the racial and gender inequalities in politics, I found, “Sustained white men’s dominance in Brazilian political institutions and deterred white and Afro-Brazilian women’s political ambition.” (Wylie, 121). Many Afro-Brazilian women had no motivation to run for office because of the long run oppression they faced. Applying this concept to the education system may be beneficial. Many Afro-Brazilian students have no motivation to even try to pass this exam because it feels so hopeless since the system favors white people. At Instituto Cultural Steve Biko, we saw how their exam prep program was able to help teach students key concepts in the exam to help increase their scores and chances of getting into university. Not only did the students learn exam content, they also learned that they were capable and the program aimed to increase Black pride. We listened to a former student talk about the positive impact this program had on his life. He talked about how amazing college was for him and that he wanted to help other students make it to college and experience what he did. It was really amazing to see how much of an impact this program had on his life. Programs like this may help increase the ambitions of Afro-Brazilian students, which may in turn lead to increased representation in higher education.
In conclusion, we see that the education system in Brazil is systemically racist and would benefit from changes or implementation of programs to help Afro-Brazilians. When looking at the Brazilian education system, it is important to recognize our privileges as Americans and understand that we are outsiders. It’s important to understand that we can’t fully understand and that, although it may be helpful to propose solutions and support programs such as the ones mentioned above, the situation is very complex and that we should not make assumptions based on our circumstances.
Alcides (Pai de Santo). “Condomble in practice” Lecture at ICR Brasil, May 16, 2022.
“Education and Affirmative Action in Brazil.” Lecture at Instituto Cultural Steve Biko, May 20,
Vatin, Xavier. “The African Diaspora in Bahia: A Socio-Anthropological Perspective.” Lecture at UFRB, May 19, 2022.
Wylie, Kristen. 2020. “Taking Bread Off the Table: Race, Gender, Resources and Political Ambition in Brazil.” European Journal of Politics and Gender 3, no. 1: 121- 142. https://doi.org/ 10.1332/251510819X15719917787141.
I am Kathryn McDonough. I was born and raised in Faribault, Minnesota. I’m a senior math major at CSBSJU. I enjoy applied mathematics and am currently planning on becoming an actuary. When studying abroad in Brazil I hope to immerse myself into the culture and gain a new perspective of the world.
By Ellie Nielsen and Morgan Ebel
Our time in Brazil has only just begun, but already we see the influence schools have on this society. We had a lecture with Cloves Oliveria, a professor from the Federal University of Bahia, who laid out a broad description of Brazil’s education system – primary, secondary, and higher education. We also visited Instituto Cultural Steve Biko and learned the differences of what public versus private schools mean in this country, how their entrance exam works, and how it is structurally racist. In this short recap and reflection, we will cover the history of Brazil’s education system, the current state of their education system and finally what the relationship between race and the education system looks like.
History of the Education System
Brazil has a complicated history when it comes to their education system being that they were colonized by the Portuguese, a western European nation. During the colonial era, which was between the years 1500 and 1822, Portuguese and western culture hosted great power over education in Brazil. Especially in the sense of the Catholic church (McNally 2019). The Jesuit missionaries played an important role in shaping Brazilian society and their schools. They aimed to increase the Portuguese language literacy among Indigenous populations in addition to converting the native population to Catholicism. Enslaved Black people were discriminated against to a greater extent as they were completely excluded from obtaining any form of education (McNally 2019). This power and influence Catholicism has had throughout Brazilian History further connects to the fact that the nation currently has the largest population of Catholic Christians in the world with 61 percent of the total population believing in the faith (McNally 2019). After the Colonial period and when Brazil became an independent nation in 1822, only 10 percent of the school-aged children were enrolled in elementary school (McNally 2019). It was at this time that the nation began initiating an increased control over their primary education system. By 1934, Brazil’s government advanced their constitution and made education a basic right for all Brazilian citizens. Then in 1961, they adopted the first official national education law stating that elementary education would be compulsory until grade eight (McNally 2019). Although this had a significant impact on Brazilian society, the military dictatorship was still in power and proved the continuation of their elitist society by expanding higher education and not putting any focus into developing primary education (Kang 2018, 769). Both Brazil’s government and society has slowly placed more importance and focus on their education throughout their history – despite the governmental situation Brazil has been in the last four years.
Current State of the Education System
Currently, the nation of Brazil is considered a federation made up of 26 states with the self-governing federal district and capital of Brasilia. While the military controlled the government, from the years 1964 to 1985, Brazil experienced an extreme centralized government. But since then, Brazil has continuously worked to decentralize their political system and now possesses a formal decentralized country with strong state governments (McNally 2019). The national government decides education policies for the nation and is responsible for higher education. However, primary, or basic education is administered by state and municipal government entities and proves to have much autonomy within the federal guidelines (McNally 2019). This allows for schools and teachers to adapt their coursework to specific student needs.
Furthermore, the main federal authority for Brazil’s education system is called the National Education Council, an agency of the Ministry of Education. The basic education is comprised of three stages – early childhood education (ages 4-5), elementary education (grades 1-9), and secondary education (grades 10-12). Basic education in Brazil is free at public schools and compulsory which has recently been extended to both early childhood and secondary schooling (McNally 2019). Another added legality is that Brazilian children must now attend two years of early childhood education as well as attend school until the age of 17 – the previous age was 14 (McNally 2019). Additionally, the national curriculum requirement contains mandated courses, but the state and local levels can implement content relevant to society and cultures. The required curriculum includes Portuguese, mathematics, history, geography, arts, natural sciences, physical education and since 2016, English beginning in grade six (McNally 2019). Once students' complete grade nine, they are given a certificate of completion and officially graduate elementary school.
School enrollment and dropout rates have been an ongoing challenge for Brazilian educations and officials. In 2018, 99 percent of eligible first year students across the nation entered first grade. Although dropout rates remained at zero for developed and wealthy states like Santa Catarina, Mato Grosso, and Pernambuco, they increased in states that are considered developing and poorer. Developing states in the north and northeastern parts of the country in particular struggled with high rates of dropout. In the states of Sergipe and Bahia the dropout rates hovered around 76 percent in 2014 and 2015 (McNally 2019). Putting this issue into perspective further, the average years of schooling in Brazilian adults is approximately 7.8 years (Barro 2018, 769). Even though advancements have been made to expand the access of primary education and the youth literacy rate has continued to increase, dropout rates remain high in numerous parts of the nation.
Race Relations in the Education System
Brazil's high school education system is split in to three categories: private school, military school, and public school. Private high schools can be very expensive which is why most students come from wealthier, white families. Private high schools hold better education and have access to many more resources compared to public schools. Public schools, on the other hand, are free for students. Military schools fall somewhat in between the two. However, when it comes to university, these roles are switched, and public schools are much more prestigious than private schools. It is very difficult for students to be accepted to public university, and it is especially difficult for students coming from public high schools. The main priority in all high schools is to focus on studying for the university entrance exams. This exam is similar to the ACT or SAT that we use in the United States, but the stakes are much higher as this is the only thing students can do to be accepted to any university. Because of this, private high schools focus almost all of their three years on studying for this exam. They are taught how to take an exam, as long as any information may be presented. Public high schools however, do not have the resources to prepare their students at the same level. This creates a large divide between exam scores of private and public high school students (Instituto Cultural 2022).
The problem with this system is that many of the students who attend public high schools and struggle more on the university exam are black and brown people. Public universities are largely made up of white students as they also make up most of private high schools. For this reason, schools created a quota system through Affirmative Action. This is a system in which a certain amount of seats are reserved for incoming students which are based on race, income, and whether they went to private or public high school. Each state has a 50% quota that is adjusted on each states census, 50% will go to public school students, and 50% are open. This is a federal law, but not all schools have to follow. For example, Bahia has the largest number of black people in the country and leaves 40% out of the 50% quota for black and brown students (Instituto Cultural 2022). In order to be eligible for the quota, the student must take the entrance exam.
We can see that Brazil as a whole has had many issues with race in the past, and many of them still continue. We look specifically at Brazils education system as we uncover both historic and present facts that prove the system to be racist. Even after the abolishment of slavery, racism and discrimination still heavily continued. Racism has left a lasting imprint on Brazils education systems and students of color are still patronized. School dropout rates are extremely high today in low income areas and students of color are at a very large disadvantage compared to those that are white and/or wealthy. In closing, we have found that the relationship between race and Brazil’s education system is a challenging concept to completely understand as it is evolving, but we are eager to continue learning.
Barro, Robert J. and Jong-Wha Lee “ A New Data Set of Educational Attainment in the World”
Journal of Development Economics 104 (2013): 184-198.
“Instituto Cultural Steve Biko.” Instituto Cultural Steve Biko. Class lecture at Instituto Cultural
Steve Biko, Salvador, Brazil, May 20, 2022.
Kang, Thomas H. “Education and Development Projects in Brazil, 1932-2004: A Critique.”
Brazilian Journal of Political Economy 38, no. 4 (October 2018): 766-80.
McNally, Ryan, Carlos Monroy, and Stefan Trines. “Education in Brazil.” World Education
News and Reviews published November 14, 2019
Morgan Ebel is a sophomore at the College of St. Benedict and the University of St. John’s University. She is originally from Farmington, Minnesota (no, she does not live on a farm). Morgan enjoys reading, working out (yoga, lifting, basketball, etc.) and spending time with her puppy named Teddy.
Morgan is pursuing a degree in political science and a minor in sociology. Hopefully attaining a law degree in the near future.
Ellie Nielsen is a rising junior at CSBSJU. She is a psychology major with a focus in criminal psychology, as well as a political science minor. She and her family are from Farmington, Minnesota. She likes to read, spend time outside, and be surrounded by friends and family.
By Zach Jans and Ryan Engels
After completing our semester of school, we were finally able to travel abroad to Salvador, BA in Brazil. So far in our stay, we have been learning so much about the culture and lifestyle from lectures, our host parents, and exploring with our class. In this blog, we will connect things we have noticed during our stay with what we learned during class before this trip.
In one of our first lectures, we met with Cloves Oliviera, who is a professor at the Federal University of Bahia. Oliviera went over many of the basic facts regarding how schools and universities look and work in Brazil. However, there was one thing that stuck out to us. He mentioned how whites and pardos dominate the population, and that one in four candidates for college “change their color” when registering again for ENEM. He explains that people do this because changing their color identification can benefit different areas of their lives such as the probability of getting into school/college. Clearly, this puts minorities at a disadvantage of pursuing an education due to people changing their race in order to benefit themselves. The following quote connects to this information: “In education, work conditions, legal status, family status, and social freedom, women are making exponential gains, Yet, just as one force seems to move gender roles forward, they are constrained by other forces that want to hold them back” (Baldwin, DeSouza, 2001, 23). The fact that people are getting away with changing their race on paper just shows that minorities, including women, are constantly being held back in some form. This example that Oliviera shared with us supports the quote I read during class back in the US.
In our lecture regarding Afro-Brazilian religions, it was mentioned that Bolsonaro did not do a census in 2020 due to the fact that it would show high numbers in poverty and underdevelopment. We found this interesting because it sounds like Bolsonaro is trying to ignore poverty being a big issue. Although this quote relates to a different topic, I think it connects to this information in a way. The quote states that “conservative voters perceive the prevalence of VAW as exaggerated and do not prioritize tackling VAW on the policy agenda” (Araujo, Gatto, 2022, 144). Although this is about Violence Against Women, the key information in this is conservative voters perceiving it as exaggerated and not prioritizing the issue. I think this may be a common theme between both poverty and violence against women, both issues that mainly fall in the category of minorities.
While being in Brazil, there have also been situations outside of our true class time that have caught my eye. When reading one of the passages before coming to Brazil, the article wrote, “these differences, as we will discuss, seem to explain some distinctions observed in the perception of youth regarding the weight of race and social class over discrimination and, therefore, over their ability to recognize manifestations of racism in police practice” (Anunciação et al., 2014, 236). When reading this, it made me curious as to what the police presence is like in a large, poverty driven city like Salvador. What I have noticed is that there is a police presence everywhere you look. When we have been walking or driving places, I have tried to keep my eyes open for the police. It is hard to find a time where there isn’t a police officer or police car in sight. This is very unfortunate because whether the police force means for it to be discriminating or not, it seems to be an abuse of power. The intimidation that the police seem to be giving off towards the locals seems to be asking for trouble and seems to end poorly for the locals nearly every time.
Another story that comes to mind when thinking about our time in Salvador so far is about the construction that is taking place right outside our host building. One morning, we woke up and there was construction going on right outside the front window of our apartment. I looked at the workers briefly but didn’t pay much attention. When we were waiting for our Uber to show up, I started to look at the workers a little more clearly. There were about 20 men working, one of which was white. This white man was doing all the talking and pointing, but none of the actual work. All of the dirty work was done by the rest of the workers, all of which were either of mixed race or black. When thinking back on the readings we read, I think this quote fits this situation. Silva wrote, “National and international literature shows that, since childhood, men and women have been instructed in male dominance, such as the power of men over women and their subservience without questioning” (Silva, et al., 2020). Instead of women however, it was people of color in this situation. With slavery ending so late in Brazil, you could see that the white male was instructed of his dominance and the people of color did as he instructed.
Silva, et al. “Social Attributes of the Male That Incite the Violence by Intimate Partner.” REBEn, 73, no. 6 (2020): 1-7. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/0034-7167-2019-0470
Anunciação, et al. “Hands up!”: Police Stop-and-Frisk, Racism and Structural Violence among Black Youth from Three Capitals in the Brazilian Northeast." Saúde Social São Paulo, 29, no .2 (2020): 1-13. https://www.scielosp.org/pdf/sausoc/2020.v29n1/e190271/en.
Araujo, Victor, and Malu A. C. Gatto. "Can Conservatism Make Women More Vulnerable to Violence?" Comparative Political Studies 55, no 1 (2022): 123–145. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/00104140211024313
Baldwin, John, and DeSouza, Eros. "Modelo de María and Machismo: The Social
Construction of Gender in Brazil." Revista Interamericana de Psicología/Interamerican Journal of Psychology 35, no. 1 (2001):9-29. https://www.redalyc.org/articulo.oa?id=28435101
Ryan Engel is a sophomore at CSB/SJU, pursuing a major in Accounting/Finance with a minor in Communications. He is originally from Green Bay, Wisconsin. Ryan enjoys broadening his horizons by traveling and learning about different places, people, and cultures. He is also a sports fanatic, including playing soccer at Saint John's University. He looks forward to exploring a new part of the world while studying abroad in Brazil in May 2022
My name is Zach Jans and I am finishing my sophomore year at SJU. I am currently an Elementary Education and Political Science double major. I am from St. Michael, MN. A big reason I like learning about teaching and why I am excited to be a teacher is that I look forward to finding ways to motivate all students and be a role model for young students. I have always been involved with sports, playing baseball and basketball my whole life, until college. I stay active in intramurals. Outside of school, I like to golf, hangout with friends and family, and spend time at my cabin.
Turns out I got more busy than I thought these past weeks and I have not been able to post links about Brazil. In one month we start class and then we will be talking about this stuff constantly. Exciting stuff. I wanted to share a few more links for articles that connect to what we will be discussing in class and in our May trip in Brazil.
First, Nevin shared a nice little NY Times article about what to do in Salvador in 36 hours. We are going to spend more than that there, so hopefully you get to experience everything this article shares.
Second, let me share some posts I had saved from a few months (or years ago). I figured I would share it now since these are things related to class but different from our assigned readings. On the topic of race, a resource I meant to share earlier is the Rough Translation (a great podcast BTW) episode on Brazil's affirmative action programs. This is a super interesting dive into the controversial topic. On the topic of inequality, this Oxfam profile on Brazil provides a snapshot of the issues we will see, and this PBS NewHour segment shows the ways people are using technology to tackle inequality in the country. On the topic of gender, while not specifically about Brazil, this NY Times opinion piece talks about women's empowerment to fight violence.
I think this will be all for now. I will see the class in a month. If anything interesting pops up before I will post something. If not, see you in a month!
WHAT I AM LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW: Majur-Africaniei
This is my first post sharing interesting links that can help you understand more about Brazil. First, some fun news from Salvador, where we will spend most of our time in May of 2020. This year a large shopping mall in the city hired its first Black Santa. Even though the city is over 80% black or of mixed descent, this is the first time a mall decided to change the perspective of what it means to be Santa. Here is a link to the news from a Brazilian website. This was the only link I found in English.
Below I will now share two videos. The first is a classic video from PBS and Henry Louis Gates Jr. that is part of his Black in Latin America series. The episode on Brazil does a good job at showing some of the basic issues with the idea of racial democracy in Brazil.
The second video is an interesting video posted by the Chinese Global Television Network (CGTN), posted in May of 2019, about the city of Salvador and the African roots in the city. This video provides students going a glimpse of what you will see in May of 2020.
I will keep adding more videos, podcasts, and newspaper articles that I find about Brazil. If you happen to find something interesting, please share with me on Twitter, down here in the comments section, or via email.
WHAT I AM LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW: BaianaSystem and Tropkillaz- Saci (Remix)