Note from BW of Brazil: The battle over affirmative action policies in Brazil has raged on for more that a decade now. Along the way, hundreds of thousands of Afro-Brazilians have been able to attend college and accomplish dreams that a little more than a decade ago seemed an unattainable goal. But so widespread are racial inequalities in all sectors of Brazilian society, even having a college degree doesn’t guarantee that recent graduates won’t face discrimination because of their race or color. Yesterday, Brazil’s President, Dilma Rouseff, took yet another step in correcting another realm in which Afro-Brazilians are subjected to second-class status: as potential employees of the federal government. See the details below.
Dilma sanctions quota law for blacks in federal public service positions
From now on, 20% of the federal employee vacancies in the executive branch of power will be allocated to blacks; “This is the second law which I have the honor of enacting affirmative action to close a secular gap of rights and opportunities engendered by slavery and continuing through racism, still existent between blacks and whites in our country,” said Dilma Rousseff
By Paulo Victor Chagas with information from Paola Lima
Sanctioned yesterday (June 9), the law reserving 20% of federal employee vacancies in the executive branch power will be reserved for blacks, President Dilma Rousseff said that she hoped the measure would serve as an example to the adoption of similar standards in other branches, federal agencies and in the private initiative.
“This is the second law which I have the honor to enact affirmative action to close a gap in secular rights and opportunities engendered by slavery and continuing racism still exists between blacks and whites in our country,” he said, referring to the quota law for federal universities.
The law, originated in an Executive project submitted by the Rousseff in November of last year, passed the Senate on the 20th of May. Besides the federal government, the new law applies to government agencies, public foundations and corporations, besides societies of mixed economy. The rule becomes effective today (10), after publication in the Diário Oficial da União, and will last initially for ten years.
According to the text of the law, all persons that declare themselves pretas (blacks) or pardas (browns) will being able to compete for a reserve for black candidates in public competitions, following the question of color or race used by the Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística (IBGE or Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics). Black candidates will compete concurrently for reserved vacancies and vacancies destined for the extensive competition, according to their classification in the competition.
According to Rouseff, the system being deployed “ensures that merit remains a necessary condition for admission of candidates,” being that the law alters “only the order of classification, favoring black applicants.”
According to the Minister of the Secretaria de Políticas de Promoção da Igualdade Racial (Seppir or Secretary of Policies of the Promotion of Racial Equality, Luiza Bairros, the change is an important step in overcoming racial inequalities and will ensure the participation of black people in more valued functions. She cited the example of the Lei de Cotas (Quota Law) in universities, which determined that, from 2013, part of the vacancies in federal universities are occupied by former public school students, with a reservation of places for preto, pardo and indigenous students.
For Bairros, after ensuring that people who suffer from prejudice could have more opportunities to enter higher education, it was necessary to provide conditions of access to jobs requiring higher qualifications. “Discrimination is greater the more valued the occupation, which requires us to take measures within the market to correct this kind of distortion,” the minister said to Agência Brasil, in an interview shortly before the sanction of the law.
According Bairros, the government opted for sending the project urgently so that the proposal would not be stalled in Congress. “Due to the fact that there are several proposals being processed about the black population and racial equality, if we leave it to the interest of Parliament discussion, it could take time.” The minister hopes that the “bipartisan” support that led to the adoption of the law is “an indication of acceptance it has in the whole of Brazilian society.”
According to 2010 Census data, 50.7% of the Brazilian population consists of pretos and pardos, a number that, among federal employees, is only 30%. When the positions are more important, the index drops further: among diplomats only 5.9% are negros (pretos and pardos); among the auditors of the revenue, they are 12.3%; and in national prosecutor careers they make up 14.2%.