Critiquing Wikipedia’s “Race and ethnicity in Brazil”

“Race and ethnicity in Brazil” is a fairly well developed Wikipedia page, but is by no means complete or without fault. There is irregularity in the quality of both citations and writing. Also, the content is heavily skewed toward topics that are easily supported with numerical data. The majority of the page discusses the figures surrounding immigration, genetic studies, and regional ethnicities with little emphasis on native nations or lived experiences.

The quality of citations in this Wikipedia article are highly variable. Some link directly to credible secondary sources, primarily books, where at least the abstract or introduction are available without the requirement of further access through a paywall. Those that do require further access still provide the book’s title, author, publisher, and other relevant information. Some citations also link to primary sources, such as census reports, where the cited information is easily confirmable. However, there are many links that do not work properly and lead to 404-error messages. There is little consistency in the accessibility of cited source material which provides a barrier to straightforward confirmation of claimed facts and access to further research on the topic. Also, there are sections where claims are made that should have citations but do not. This includes both statements that are assumed to be factual and general trends or ideas that are attributed to “some” or “others” but with no indication as to who those generalized groups may be. There is also a language barrier to checking the accuracy and relevance of cited sources. An individual without reading comprehension of the languages relevant to Brazil would find it difficult to assess the validity of sources to the claims made in the Wikipedia article.

The quality of writing is also highly variable. Some sections are well developed, include plenty of relevant information, are devoid of unsubstantiated claims, and are stylistically appropriate. However, other sections are disjointed, unsupported, and do not read like an encyclopedia. There are grammatical errors and sections with questionable word choice that distract from the article and could be edited to contribute to its flow and accuracy, rather than detract from it. The single largest section where these problems arise is “Race and class.” This section is filled with half-developed thoughts and what appears to be poorly synthesized material, which does little to contribute to a clear, fact-based, and unbiased understanding of the topic.

The content in this Wikipedia article is concentrated on statistics and heavily focuses on topics that can be supported with information from a census or other government markers. This is apparent in the extensive sections on the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) and the controversy surrounding racial categories as well as the sections on DNA studies and regional ethnicities. These sections are significantly more complete than sections such as “Racial and ethnic theories,” which has room to expand. While there are other full Wikipedia pages on racism in Brazil and racial democracy, topics along those lines should have a space, however brief, on this page. There should be a condensed version of the topic with a link to the full page for more information. It would also be interesting to see the inclusion of lived experiences with regards to race in Brazil on this page. Finally, the overview section of the “Race and ethnicity in Brazil” page should also include a more comprehensive synopsis of the topic as many readers are most likely not going to finish the article in its entirety.