As clear as black and white: In Brazil, who’s more likely to be a street sweeper or a doctor?

On the left, the 2010 graduating class of Medicine at the Federal University of Bahia. On the right, winners of a competition to become the latest street sweepers in Rio de Janeiro, 2010
On the left, the 2010 graduating class of Medicine at the Federal University of Bahia. On the right, winners of a competition to become the latest street sweepers in Rio de Janeiro, 2010

Note from BW of Brazil: Whether one is a visitor in Brazil or resident, it’s not difficult to get an idea of which careers are most associated with people according to the color of their skin. It doesn’t take an in-depth statistical analysis; a simple visit to a hospital or a walk through the streets would give one a good idea. Now this is not to say there are no black doctors or white street sweepers, but in a country that long denied the blatant examples of racial inequality in society, one doesn’t need to be a sociologist to get a good idea.

Rio gets reinforcement of two thousand more garis (street sweepers)
Those approved will act in cleaning the streets of Rio
Cleaning Company will now have an effective force of 14,368 workers.

Approved workers for street sweeping duties in Rio in 2010
Approved workers for street sweeping duties in Rio in 2010

Courtesy of G1

The street sweepers approved in the last selection will enhance the guris (street sweepers) cleaning the streets in the last selection process will enhance cleaning the streets. Two thousand new street sweepers were presented on April 27 by Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes. Approved in the competition in 2009, they will enhance cleaning the streets of Rio.

Rio's guris (street sweepers and cleaners)
Rio’s guris (street sweepers and cleaners)

With a new staff, Companhia Municipal de Limpeza Urbana (Comlurb or Municipal Urban Cleaning Company) will have 14,368 workers of urban sanitation. The new employees will work in street cleaning, street sweeping, garbage collection and also in the public schools and hospitals.

Note from BW of Brazil: Not only do stereotypes place Afro-Brazilians in the area of blue collar work, the stats also confirm the image. According to a 2013 DIEESE (1) report comparing blacks and whites working in low qualification, low prestige or manual labor occupations in seven major metropolitan regions, the percentage of employed blacks working in these jobs was higher than percentages of whites in six of the regions. Only in Porto Alegre was the percentage of  employed whites working in these jobs higher than blacks and even so, only by 3% more. These types of jobs include bricklayers, painters, construction workers, janitors, scavengers, servants and domestic services (see graph). 

Seven major Brazilian metropolitan areas. Stats for blacks (meaning pretos/blacks and pardos/browns) are in black, stats for non-blacks (brancos/whites and amarelos/Asians) are in gray.
Low qualification, low prestige and manual labor occupations: Seven major Brazilian metropolitan areas. Stats for blacks (meaning pretos/blacks and pardos/browns) are in black, stats for non-blacks (brancos/whites and amarelos/Asians) are in gray.

 On the other hand, in prestigious fields of study, the racial breakdown remains the same. In 2001, at the University of São Paulo (USP), for example, 80.5% of students approved in the course of Medicine were white. The city of São Paulo is about 67% white. At UFBA (Federal University of Bahia), in Bahia, where whites make up about 24% of the population, 2000 data reported that they represented 65.4% of students studying Medicine at the university. Also keep in mind that simply because one enters the course and studies for the course, this does not mean they always manage to remain in the course until graduation. Research data shows that the vast inequality in this field continues. According to 2010 numbers, only 2.66% of graduates in the area of Medicine in Brazil were Afro-Brazilian. Does this mean the “racial democracy” continues?

2010 graduating class of Medical students at the Federal University of Bahia
2010 graduating class of Medical students at the Federal University of Bahia

Source: Folha, G1, Gonçalves, Petronilha Beatriz e Silva and Valter Roberto Silvério (editors). Educação e ações afirmativas: entre a injustiça simbólica e a injustiça econômica. Brasília-DF, 2003. DIEESE. “Os Negros no trabalho”. São Paulo, 2013 (link)

Notes

1. Departamento Intersindical de Estatística e Estudos Socioeconômicos (or Intersyndical Department of Statistics and Socioeconomic Studies)

About Marques Travae 3244 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

1 Comment

  1. A competition to be the latest street sweep though? Who knew there was a contest with the prize being your selection to be a street sweeper, I have officially heard it all.

    @ Black women of women; how does the figures look for skilled trades: mechanics, plumbers, electricians..etc. is there still a majority of Blacks working in the skilled trades?

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