Three Things I Learned in this Class

One of the most important things I learned this semester is how abolition occurred in Brazil with informal segregation to follow. Coming into this class, I knew that Brazil had one of the largest slave population. However, I did not know how abolition came about nor how Afro-Brazilians were incorporated into society after abolition. In the United States, a civil war was needed to end slavery and formal segregation was implemented to continue discrimination against blacks. Interestingly, in Brazil no war was needed to end slavery and abolition occurred through signing a law. However, slaves and freed slaves along with other abolitionists played a big role in Brazil for this to occur.  After abolition was passed through law, no assistance was given to freed slaves. Thus, informal segregation and systematic racism were both able to engrain themselves in Brazilian society.


Another important thing I learned in class is the concept of a racial democracy in Brazil and how it does not accurately portray race relations in Brazil. Since Brazil did not have formal segregation, some argue that Brazil is a racial democracy and were able to escape racism and racial discrimination. However, racism is still very much evident in Brazil, which was made very clear to me after I read the book The Color of Love: Racial Features, Stigma, and Socialization in Black Brazilian Families by E. H. Freeman for class. Black features are stigmatized heavily and looked at negatively, while white features are considered pretty. In addition, the book revealed that there are informal black and white spaces that families must teach their children to either go to or avoid. Thus, not only does informal discrimination exist in Brazilian society, but it also exists within families. This debunks the concept of racial democracy in Brazil.

The third most important thing I learned about is the importance of Brazilian national identity and what constitutes Brazilian national identity. Prior to this course, I was unaware of the Getúlio Vargas dictatorship that pushed to create a Brazilian national identity. The use of samba to create a national identity was especially interesting to me, as it came from African roots. Additionally, it was also surprising that soccer did not become popular until the Vargas era when it became the nation’s national support. Lastly, the popularity of capoeira is also interesting because it also came from African roots like samba. Even though Afro-Brazilians are still discriminated against in Brazilian society, Brazil accepts African tradition such as samba and capoeira.