Social mobility increases cases of racism in malls and universities. Black people face discrimination and prejudice in environments previously frequented only by whites
“The social ascension of the black population has as its greatest obstacle existent racial discrimination in our society. Incorporating a representation of social space as a space in which social mobility is possible, black middle class citizens often reveal the fact that existent racism in Brazilian society makes their future prospects frustrating, which corresponds to our recognition that (though) a set of possibilities exist theoretically, in practice they may become unviable for a black in Brazil, effectively limiting the scope of its possibilities, since not always the cultural capital accumulated by blacks can be converted into a corresponding social position.”
– Rosângela Rosa Praxedes
Starting in the 1940s and 1950s, many studies sought to establish the idea that Brazil was free of racism and that discrimination in the society was based only upon class status, different from the United States of the same era which was divided into a blatant caste system. Later pioneering studies in the 50s and 60s by Florestan Fernandes (1965), Octávio Ianni and Fernando Henrique Cardoso (1960), LA Pinto Costa (1952) and recent studies that covered the early 20th century and up to the modern era (Petrônio Domingues 2005, Ângela Figueiredo 2002, Sonia Maria Giacomini 2006) have documented the existence of racial discrimination even when Afro-Brazilians attain advanced education, higher income and middle class status.
Given a choice between a black and a white of lower class origin, both with the same educational level, the society will privilege the white when recruiting for positions available in the middle and upper classes. Eventually, it will even privilege a less educated white instead of a black with more
There is a vast amount of sources that have documented the effort and qualifications needed for Brazil’s afrodescendentes (African descendants) to attain middle class status and the rejection by white Brazilians of these new members of the middle class. This article continues the ideal that black Brazilians who are not poor and have access to areas and privileges previously only available to whites are still often seen as being “out of place.” It must be noted that even when attitudes are not directly connected to racial prejudice, the mere fact that one must even consider the possibility signals the psychological stress of having to fight for a level of respect that one is entitled to.
– Black Women of Brazil
Blacks that ascend socially continue to suffer racism
By Rede Brasil Atual
Over the past ten years, consistent with improvements in social indexes in Brazil, the poorest citizens now have access to other levels of consumption, such as shopping in stores, airports, cinemas and universities. In the case of negros (blacks) and pardos(browns) citizens, for many it also means greater exposure to racial discrimination in environments previously frequented mostly by white people.
In the Secretaria de Políticas de Promoção da Igualdade Racial SEPPIR or Secretariat for Policies to Promote Racial Equality) there have already been 15 allegations of racism in universities, 12 registered in 2012, four times more than the three recorded in 2011, when the Ombudsman of Seppir started receiving reports of discrimination, said Carlos Alberto Silva Júnior, ombudsman of Seppir.
According to him, this increase is not related to demonstrations against the law that guarantees half of the seats in the federal universities to blacks, browns and Indians, if they previously attended public schools, sanctioned in late August.
“The law is recent, and many situations occurred before it was enacted. What we realized is that there are, in addition to a greater exposition of blacks in situations of consumption that before was not very common because of financial conditions, also there is an increased awareness on the part of these citizens of what racial prejudice is,” he says.
Daniel Teixeira, a lawyer and project coordinator of the Centro de Estudos das Relações de Trabalho e Desigualdade (CEERT or Center for the Study of Labor Relations and Inequality), says that this year complaints of racial crimes in situations of consumption recorded in the entity which handles cases of racial and nature of religious intolerance, for example, increased around 30%.
The complaints related to shopping centers led in the 25 cases followed by CEERT since January and show that prejudice occurred because of skin color and not social class. “In many cases, when a person is poor, he/she can’t identify correctly if they are suffering prejudice for being black or for being poor and often times they end up relating everything to poverty,” said Teixeira.
“But when these people manage to improve their financial situation, they realize that it’s no longer because of poverty that they being are discriminated against,” he said. “It’s an emblematic case of a musician who was the only one of the band to be barred in an elite shopping mall in SãoPaulo where they performed. He arrived by taxi and was refused entry by the security guards, claiming that the motive was due to his having an instrument. But the other musicians, all white, also had their instruments and none on them were barred”, he reports.
For CEERT’s lawyer as well as SEPPIR’s ombudsman, the fall in inequality recorded over the last ten years in Brazil (which made the Gini index, used by the UN to measure inequality, fall from 0.594 to 0.527 between 2001 and 2011) benefits the population of negros (blacks) and pardos (browns) in the country, historically relegated to lower positions in society, and reveals more clearly the situations of prejudice.
For Silva Júnior, there is a historical discrimination, as in the lei de Imigração de 1890 (1890 Immigration Act), which prohibited the entry of Africans, and in the law that criminalized and legalized arrest for vagrancy shortly after the end of slavery, when most blacks had no formal employment, but there is also widespread prejudice.
The National Secretary of the Combat of Racism of CUT (1), Maria Júlia Reis Nogueira, accustomed to a routine of airports because of work, and owner of fidelity cards that give the greatest benefits when purchasing tickets, says that she’s already fallen into the trap of prejudice in situations of consumption.
“I always travel to work, I don’t see myself as a madame (rich woman), and I realize that in many places when I enter the line to use my fidelity card, there are people who ask me if I’m in the correct line. In the beginning, realizing that this attitude was due to skin color, I always answered that, if I didn’t have the card I would not be there. But now, when people ask me this I wonder if the person is asking this question to everyone who is in the line, regardless of skin color,” she says.
1. Central Única dos Trabalhadores or Central Union of Workers, Brazil’s largest labor union
Source: Pragmatismo Político