Black Women of Brazil

The site dedicated to Brazilian women of African descent

In Bahia, 76.3% of the population defines itself as black brown or mixed, but 79% of professors at the Federal University of Bahia are white


Note from BW of Brazil: Wow! Now, if it’s hard to find black professors at the federal university located in a state with one of the largest black population, imagine hard hard it would be to find them in states where Afro-Brazilians make up only 10-25% of the population. A few years back, in the state of Minas Gerais, there was a campaign asking the question, “How many black professors do you have?” along with the hashtag #nãoécoincidência (it’s not a coincidence), once again pointing another area where non-white Brazilians are overwhelmingly under-represented. Bahia is a state located in the northeast and often it is proclaimed that the black (pretos/black+pardos/brown) residents of the state make up 76-80% of the state’s population. So, how do we explain the fact that there are so few non-white professors at one the state’s top universities? Well, besides the obvious reasons, I’ve got to share something that I’ve noticed in terms of how studies play with the numbers in such a way that it is a contradiction to how black activists discuss the overall black population in Brazil. Let’s first take a look at the story and then I’ll explain this interesting little detail later on. 

Collective points out that there are only 2% of professors at Ufba are black

By Aina Soledad

2% de professores na Ufba

Professor Tatiana: an exception in the Law course – (Photo: Adilton Venegeroles)

Enegrecer (blacken) for the Coletivo Luiza Bairros, (Luiza Bairros Collective), goes beyond tornar negro (becoming black), as the dictionary indicates – it means an alternative for more black people to occupy the teaching staff, the theoretical referential, staff and students, in order to combat institutional racism at the Federal University of Bahia (Ufba).

Bahia ranks second in the national ranking, with 76.3% of citizens who self-declare themselves pretos e  pardos (black and brown), according to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) in 2013.

However, this is not reflected, for example, in the faculty of the main university of the state: Collective survey indicates that there are only 2% of blacks among the three thousand teachers of the institution.

Since its foundation

According to Professor Denise Carrascosa, of the Institute of Letters, “institutional racism has been at the University since its founding in 1956, and structure the entire institution, to the extent that the base is constructed in a visible ethnic-racial way.”


UFBA – Federal University of Bahia

She describes: “At the top, homens brancos de classe media (middle-class white men); in the teaching staff, more than 90% professores (as) brancos (as) (white professors); among technical and administrative technicians there is a hybrid; and at the base, outsourced workers who work in a vulnerable way, maioria de mulheres negras pobres (mostly poor black women).”

She points out that the number of students has been enegrecendo (blackening) because of quotas since 2005, but that “the pyramid shows institutional racism, which reflects this structure.” And the Collective arises precisely to combat the situation, she situates.

Tatiana Emília Gomes represents an exception in the faculty of the Law Department, when, in 2016, she took a course and became the primeira professora negra (first black professor) of the course. Tatiana has united with her colleagues so that more black men and women have the same

“Our main confrontation is the expansion of the physical quantity of pessoas negras (black people) in Ufba’s faculty, because it collaborates in some way to confronting institutional racism and cooperates to welcome estudantes negros e negras (black men and black women students) who are able to access the university,” says Tatiana.

For her, students feel good when led by their equals: “They feel represented, welcomed. I receive several messages of support from the students, saying that from now on they can talk to someone. “


The maximum of which representation matters governs the academic trajectory of the student Lilaise dos Santos, 27. A student of the 10th semester of UFBA Law School, she notes that, besides having a minimum number of black representation in the teaching staff, the “perverse practice” is reflected in the methodology and bibliography of the course.

“Over the course of the semesters I only counted about six black teachers. The space is Eurocentric. We can only construct the faculty from North American and European theories,” she says, adding that “with this practice, there is no appreciation of the knowledge produced in Brazil, Asia and Africa, for example.”

Maria Dolores Sonsi Rodrigues holds a master’s and working on a PhD in the institution’s Literature and Culture program. The first program to guarantee the reservation of vacancies in the process for distribution of the scholarships.

“The collective tries to make this path open. The absence of black professors at the institution also influences the way students are being trained, in the curricula and forms of assessment,” she argues.

University admits framework, but alleges to seek change

Through the deans of People Development and Affirmative Action and Student Assistance, Lorena Oreni and Cassia Maciel, respectively, Ufba recognizes the absence of black professors, but informs that it has been trying to reverse the situation.

For this, a research initiated in 2017 is finalized, entitled “Mulheres Negras no Ensino Superior: Desigualdades de Raça e Gênero na Universidade Federal da Bahia” (Black Women in Higher Education: Race and Gender Inequalities at the Federal University of Bahia).

According to preliminary data, of the 2,143 teachers, 880 (41.1%) are homens brancos (white men); 136 (6.3%) pardos (brown); and 82 (3.8%) pretos (black).  In the female representation: 817 (38.1%) are mulheres brancas (white women); 151 (7%) pardas (brown/mixed women); and pretas (black women) only 77 (3.6%).


On October 7, 2016, the Luiza Bairros Collective presented a manifesto with a programmatic agenda for the reversal of what it calls “Ufba’s institutional racism.” The first implementation of the movement was the creation of quotas in the postgraduate programs.

The second point of the movement is the blackening of the teaching staff, based on Law 2.990 of 2014, which establishes quotas in federal public service.

Note from BW of Brazil: Now, returning to the point I made in the introduction, let’s take a look at the numbers presented at the end of this article. According to the numbers, white men (880) and white women (817) make up the majority of professors at UFBA. Together, these two account for 79% of the university’s teaching staff. So, that would mean that about 21% are non-white, right? Well, that’s true, but check out the game being played with the numbers.

According to this report, pretos e pretas (black men and black women) total only 159 professors in the university, which actually makes up about 7%. Still a very low figure considering that the percentage of people declaring themselves pretos and pretas (black men and women) in that state is 17%. So, right off the bat, the very title of the article is not only misleading (Coletivo aponta que só há 2% de professores negros na Ufba meaning Collective points out that there are only 2% black professors at Ufba), it’s a flat out lie. Even figuring only pretas (black women) (77) gives us a percentage of 3.6%.

But there is still a bigger misleading deception that I often notice in these sort of reports.

For decades, the Movimento Negro has argued that the sum of pretos and pardos make up the overall numbers and percentages when discussing the black population in Brazil. For example, today we are told that black Brazilians, again the total of pretos and pardos, make up 54% of Brazil’s population, 46.7% being pardos and 8.2% being pretos. The problem is the following. When activists and studies want to present an extreme under-representation of the black population in some area of society, they will use only the number of pretos in the report of the percentage to present a much small proportion. I have noticed this in the ways that numerous studies are presented. In essence, they will use the numbers and percentages of pardos and pretos together when they want to swell the numbers and present Brazil as 54% black, with pardos alone representing 46.7%.

Do you see what’s going on here? The original title of today’s piece tells us that only 2% of UFBA professors are black, lower than the actual 7% representation. But what’s even worse is that, if you’re going use the figures of pardos to say that Bahia is a black majority state, then you also have to use the pardos in the numbers of black professors at UFBA. Bahia is said to be 76.3% black, with pretos being 17.1% and pardos being 59.2%. As such, it is very misleading to use the pardo total combined with pretos to proclaim that Bahia is 76% black but then not use those same pardos when arguing that the percentage of black professors at UFBA are only 2%.

If you add the pardo group (136+151=287) to the percentage of black professors at UFBA, the total of black professors (287+159=446) gives us a percentage of about 21%, which added to the 79% white professors accounts for the entire UFBA teaching staff. I agree that the black population as a whole is vastly under-represented in countless areas of Brazilian society, but I also don’t like numbers manipulation that makes use or non-use of the numbers and percentages of pardos when it is convenient to present the black population as either large or small depending on the objective of the study. 

I am already getting to the point where the movement is going to need to speak of the black population as only those identify themselves as only negros or pretos as black without the usage of those defining themselves as pardos, especially when we know that a large percentage of pardos look like the women presented in the previous article. That will be focus of an upcoming article. 

Source: A Tarde

3 comments on “In Bahia, 76.3% of the population defines itself as black brown or mixed, but 79% of professors at the Federal University of Bahia are white

  1. charles merriweather
    July 3, 2018

    I like this article because it explains the somewhat confusion of blacks and browns in total numbers i.e. percentage wise. I have a suggestion why don’t they just rid of the separations of pardos and pretos and combine under one umbrella. In a city, state, or country that consist of a majority of people I would assume it being run top to bottom from government to school teacher. However, I read about these things a lot from South Africa were the blacks are living in the worst conditions and being told how to wear their natural hair its crazy. The same can be said here in parts of America were the black population is growing in numerous places but in higher career sectors we are severely underrepresented. Either case as usual another terrific article. ( thumbs up!!) Peace!!

    • gatasnegrasbrasileiras
      July 3, 2018

      In fact, pretos and pardos are already grouped together, but not officially. In socioeconomic studies pretos and pardos are always grouped together as black. But sometimes this practice has its problems.

      • charles merriweather
        July 4, 2018

        Thanks! gotcha.

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