- Brazil - discrimination - racism
In Brazil, black people are underrepresented in a society with the misleading appearance of a "racial democracy." But, gradually, minds are changing. Many are fighting for better social and political recognition of this "invisible majority". Brazil is one of the most racially-mixed countries on the planet: half the population has African origins. Yet black and mixed-race people suffer real discrimination. This is particularly evident in politics.
Claudette Alves is the only black woman with a seat on São Paulo's city council. In this assembly, for every 50 delegates only two are black. Town Councilor Claudette Alves says: “We have an apartheid system here, not an official one like in South Africa, but this apartheid exists and is hidden from view. It is very real, we can feel it. The only ones who notice it are the ones with black skin. It is still said around the world that we live in a racial democracy here... but this is not true!”
All socio-economic indexes related to education, employment and health show disadvantages for the Afro-descendants. Half of the 50 million poor people here are from the black community. “It is not easy being black,“ says one black man. “There are some places you go where people are clearly looking at you... there is a lot of prejudice against black people... you can feel it.”
But the community is getting organised - like here at the first and only private black university in South America.
Launched five years ago, 90% of Unipalmares University's 2000 students are of African origin. It aims to create the leaders of tomorrow. There's a spirit of vindication but also of openness. José Vicente, the university's rector, explains: “We have 2200 higher education institutions in the country. None of them belong to black people, none are run by black people, nor have among their employees a significant number of black people. You can call it whatever you want - say racism - we prefer to say that there is a problem and that we have this university to improve the situation.” Paul, a student at Unipalmares, adds: “Here is an opportunity for all social classes - those on low income, the black class. All society is joined in this social inclusion project - not only black people!”
Things are changing in a country that's looking for ways to reduce the gap between white and black. Of course, the model isn't perfect and all eyes are now on big brother - the USA. The question lingers: when will Brazil have a black president?