While Afro-Brazilian access to college has increased nearly eight fold in the past decade, they remain nearly invisible in graduate studies

Altogether, the Census shows that only 0.11% of blacks and browns have master’s degrees and 0.03% possess doctorates. 

by Sarah Fernandes

São Paulo – The total number of blacks in college increased almost eight times in ten years, from 790,000 in 2000 to 6.2 million in 2010. Still, racial inequality in access remains clear: while 3.27% of those who self-identify as blacks and browns have completed higher education, this percentage reaches 10.12% in other ethnic groups of the population.

Data was taken from the demographic census of 2010, which was organized by the Special Secretariat for Policies to Promote Racial Equality (SEPPIR) and made available to Rede Brasil Atual firsthand by the social organization Educafro. This was one of the reasons that the group staged a protest in the nation’s capital in front of the Brazilian president’s official working quarters.

Blacks have the least representation the higher the level of education attainment: they are only 0.11% and 0.03% of the masters of the doctors. The framework is due to institutional racism in education, according to Minister of the Special Secretariat for Policies to Promote Racial Equality, Luiza Bairros.

afro brazilian women
Luiza Bairros, Minister of the Special Secretariat for Policies to Promote Racial Equality

“Many black educators identify that inferiorization that racism provokes among the teachers, that end up considering black students as less intelligent and that don’t have the university as future prospects,” said the minister, in an interview with Rede Brasil Atual . “It’s as if the possibility of developing a black in an academic career was hampered by the racist image, which puts us in a position of inferiority when it comes to occupying the most privileged places of social structure.”

Over time

Over the past 10 years, however, the difference between the groups decreased and the black population made great advancements in terms of university presence: in 2000 only 0.46% of black Brazilians were graduates, equivalent to 14.5% of people with higher education at the time. Today they represent 24.4% of graduates.

The data, however, does not definitively resolve the question of the inclusion of blacks in higher education, according to the director of Educafro David Frei, who attributes the increase to  programs of inclusion such as Affirmative Action. “If you create a program like ProUni [University for All Program], which reserves 20% of vacancies for blacks, you will continue putting 80% of whites in universities and distancing the two groups. That is, it increases the number of blacks but further increases the whites,” he says.

Frei Davi of Educafro

Over the past decade, battles over the question of access to higher education for Afro-Brazilians through the usage of a quota system has been perhaps the most polarizing issue the country has ever dealt with in terms of race or color. After countless televised debates as well as hundreds of online battles in website comment sections and social media sites over the past decade, last spring, the Brazilian Supreme Court ruled unanimously to uphold the system of quotas.

Concentration of blacks by areas of study

The majority of black graduates are concentrated in areas related to education, humanities and arts (33%), followed by science, mathematics and computation (25.4%), according to the Census. They are less present in production engineering, construction, agriculture and veterinary medicine (17.4%), social sciences, business and law (21.3%) and health (23%).

“If you enter a Pedagogy or Social Work classroom, in which the upper-middle class has no interest, you find an interesting percentage of blacks. However, if you go in law or medicine, you pretty much only find whites and this is an outrage in a nation that calls itself multiethnic”, says David Frei.

About Marques Travae 3147 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

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