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April 06, 2003

The end of the racial democracy

Racial quotas in Brazil touch off fierce debate.

As a byproduct of the debate, Brazilians are also being forced to define who is black, a process they find puzzling and alien. More than 300 terms are used to designate skin color — from the dark-skinned crioulo to the light-skinned brancarao — and racially mixed relationships are the norm rather than the exception. As a result, racial categories have never been defined as they were in more segregated countries.
No one can agree, however, on a better system. In a televised campaign debate last year, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, now the country's president, was widely criticized when he maintained that "scientific criteria" could be used to determine who is black.

Posted by razib at 07:55 PM

I thought Brazil was supposed to be a paradise of race-mixing?

Posted by: David at April 7, 2003 10:10 AM

that was always on paper. it is known that it was always a layer cake...and of course, now we know that phenotype as assorted according to class/status and that "ancestry" is a shifty thing indeed....

Posted by: razib at April 7, 2003 01:13 PM