Note: You see, it’s stories like this that making covering stories from Brazil from a racial perspective fun…at least sometimes. If you’re new to racial issues from Brazil and the near two-decade experiment with the system of affirmative action, you should first know that ever since quotas began being approved, it has been a hotly debated issue. Those who disapprove of the system have argued that the system discriminates against white people, that it would lower the quality of education, that even if implemented, due to Brazil’s history of miscegenation, it would be impossible to define who was black or white.
Those in favor argue that the system is simply about repairing the historic lack of access of the black population to higher learning, that the police clearly know who is and who isn’t black and that subsequent grades and scores have proven that black quota students perform as well and sometimes better than non-quota students.
As naysayers haven’t been able to undermine the system (although President Bolsonaro’s party will keep trying), they seem to have adapted an ideology of, “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em”, with literally thousands of cases of people defining themselves as black or brown in order to take advantage of the system. Mind you, even with those it’s true that many “brancos brasileiros”, or Brazilian whites, would not be considered as such in other countries, there is also a large percentage of these people that would be considered white anywhere, yet and still they attempt to “pass” as non-white when the issue is competing for vacancies in universities and civil service exams.
I’ve already discussed the issue of why determining blackness according to one’s family tree wouldn’t work in Brazil. But there’s also the question of, what exactly constitute white or at ‘white enough’? The guy at the center of the latest controversy does have pale skin and blue eyes, but I know that some Americans would look at him and be like, “I don’t know what he is, but he ain’t white!” But the question here isn’t American standards. The question is, would most Brazilians consider the guy white? The question reverts back to one leader’s analysis of the brown-white Brazilian. Is this person’s non-white characteristics negligible to the point that he/she “passes” as white, or are these features salient enough that he/she cannot be considered white? Would his classification change if he aquired a suntan, as he implied in his own defense?
Ahh, the complexity of race in Brazil. Anyway, here’s another entertaining story.
Suspected of fraud in the system of quotas in public competition in city of Juiz de Fora is dismissed by the INSS
Courtesy of Hoje em Dia with extra information courtesy of Gaúcha ZH
A 24-year-old man suspected of having dyed his skin to pretend to be black in order to be approved by means of quotas in a civil service competitive examination, a resident of Juiz de Fora, in the Zona da Mata region of Minas Gerais state, was dismissed as a technician at the National Social Security Institute (INSS). The decision was published in the Diário Oficial da União this Monday (10).
White, with light eye color, Lucas Soares Fontes was fired after TV Globo’s Fantástico Sunday evening news journal aired on Sunday (9) a story that showed how the boy had forged physical characteristics to present himself as a black man and to participate in the public contest as quota student. The case had been investigated by the INSS and the Federal Police for fraud.
The suspect was approved in the competition held in 2016. As required by the edict, he sent a photo to prove that he had the characteristics of a pardo (brown) or preto (black) person. His application for the competition within the system of accounts was approved by a jury linked to the company organizing the competition.
Lucas was approved and began work in the INSS in 2017, earning a salary of approximately BRL 6 thousand. He only became the target of investigation after the public institution received an anonymous complaint that the servant had committed fraud to pass the contest.
Federal Police Commissioner Fabiana Martins Machado told TV Globo that the suspicion is that Lucas had painted his skin and worn contact lenses to pretend to be black in the INSS selection process.
With a degree in Law from the Federal University of Juiz de Fora (UFJF), Lucas is suspected to have also committed fraud upon entering the educational institution. He entered in 2013 by means of a vacancy “intended for the selective process of mixed admission, by group A, destined to candidates with income equal to or less than a minimum salary and a half per capita monthly family income, and having attended high school in a public school and that they declared themselves pretos, pardos ou indígenas (black, brown or indigenous).” At the time, it was not necessary to prove self-declaration.
In an interview with TV Globo, in the garage of his house, Lucas denied having committed fraud. “I don’t think I’m branco (white), I think I’m brown, really because of miscegenation, there are lots of black and brown people in my family,” he said.
To the Fantástico reporters, the young man contested the conclusions that fraud had occurred. He stated that he is known as a “moreno” and that the photo used during the selection process was taken after the summer.
The INSS told Fantástico that there is no doubt that fraud occurred. The ordinance on the removal of the server was signed by the president of the institute, Renato Rodrigues Vieira. Fontes can appeal in court.