Brazil's Racial History: Democracy or Discrimination
A brief history of Brazil and Brazilian slavery at the beginning situates the reader within the historical context to which many researchers refer when discussing their theories. The body of the paper begins with Gilberto Freyre (1956), who claims that racial democracy exists in Brazil as a result of the Portuguese colonizers. The second theory is put forth by Donald Pierson (1947), who claims that, if discrimination exists, it is because of class and not race. Carl Degler (1971) highlights the black/white issue by noting that discrimination is based on both color and class; his work is an attempt to break away from the more classical approaches offered by Freyre and Pierson. The researchers following Degler — Hasenbalg (1985), Hasenbalg and Huntington (1993), Silva (1985), Toplin (1970), do Nascimento (1989), Skidmore (1972) and others — argue that race and class prejudice not only exist today but that began with Portuguese colonization. They argue against Degler's assertion that the social position of blacks and mulattoes stems from their slave past, and maintain that both groups were discriminated against before and after abolition. Following the presentation of the main points of these researchers, the author reviews some recent literature in Brazil and concludes by showing where these researchers agree with and diverge from one another. The author then elaborates on the issue of race relations as a result of the research explored.
Keywords: Brazil, Race Relations, Discrimination, Colonization, Social Position, Race and Class
Prof. Brian Phillips
Professor, Sociology Division of Arts and Sciences , Grand Valley State University MI