Author Archives: Andrew Aldridge

What I Learned

Reflecting back on the semester, I have learned a lot about Brazil. Perhaps more influential than some of the major topics we covered in readings, were the small conversations we had about Brazilian culture, like what to wear at the beach, or not having a big service after someone passes away. For the sake of this post, however, I will list my three biggest takeaways from the semester.

1: One thing I really enjoyed learning about was the history of slavery in Brazil, and how it led to the country claiming it was a racial “democracy”

2: Reading Making Samba helped open my eyes to the history of Brazil’s Afrocentric roots, being able to learn about a large part of the diaspora through music was gratifying for me, especially under the context of my Jr. IS

3: Lastly, learning about class differences in Brazil was a big takeaway for me. Learning more about the favelas and the police brutality that goes on there as well as other problems were harrowing and interesting at the same time.

Class Notes: 5/1

Today, we started out by reflecting on I.S symposium. There were a lot of good presentations that people went to, and it was good to hear that people were able to experience I.S presentations inside and outside their majors. The bulk of the class discussion revolved around the reading of two chapters from, Living with Insecurity in a Brazilian Favela, by Ben Penglase.

Discussion of Reading + Main Questions:

Drug Trafficking discussion: Who is receiving the profits? what effect are they having on the community? Drugs more often than not can become a “stand-in” for something else (race, class, gender) easy way to attack certain communities.

Q1: What was the author’s goal?

A: To provide and perhaps stoke a further conversation about people who live in the favelas

Q2: What about the question of violence?

A: Violence, just like any other issue is deeply complex. It can extensively shape a community and become a part of the day to day life. Just because individual lives in an area that is consumed by violence, does not mean that they or the rest of their community is inherently violent.

Differences between what was described in the article vs the documentary “Wasteland”

The sense of pride exuded in Wasteland was big difference identified by the class. Those who were interviewed saw drug dealing and prostitution as “caving in” and that even though they knew they stunk and weren’t making money, there was some pride in the fact that they were doing “honest” work.Penglase is less performative than Vik was in the documentary. Penglase is more invested in the actual people and their conditions, more than Vik appeared to be.

Major Themes: 

Police/Drug Trafficking/ Police Tactics/

Customs, culture, attitude: race + social class (interpersonal relationships)

Penglase’s Overall Research Question: What are the sources of insecurity in the favela? (Religiosity Masculinity)

Term: Religiosity Masculinity: Refer’s to how men in the favelas have to constantly try to find ways to hold onto their masculinity, particularly when police invade their homes, which is considered highly disrespectful for men specifically, due to the prevalent link between a man’s honor and his control over his home.


Concluding Thoughts: What I thought was really interesting was how at the end we could relate what is going on in Brazil to similar problems that exist in the United States, particularly our discussion about ways one can “move up the social latter” in the United States.


Additionally Sources:

Here is a link to a review written by Erika Robb Larkins on the book

Below is a link detailing a recent crime wave in Rio, I think it’s worth to look at the language being used to describe what is currently going on



IS Symposium

For Symposium I went to two very cohesive presentations.

Danica Genners:  Danica’s project examined how attitudes have shifted towards those in the  LGBTQ+  in Latin America have shifted after the election of LGBTQ+ politicians. Her poster was very clear to follow, using a good mix of statistical figures and words. Given the information one would need for the project, I think it was a good choice to show lean towards more statistics rather than pictures for the poster. I think Danica portrayed Latin America fairly, and I really enjoyed being able to listen to what she had to say on the subject

Sarah Vonck:

Sarah’s project explored how the government’s lack of implementing an environmental policy has negatively affected the indigenous community in Ecuador. Her poster was well balanced, showing an equal amount of text, figures, and pictures that were well distributed throughout the poster. The scope of her project seemed pretty big when she first started explaining it but was very thorough and concise. I didn’t have a lot of time to ask her questions at the end, but as she was leading me through her project her tone remained pretty neutral about her findings.

Wasteland Discussion Questions

One question I have about the film Wasteland is about Vik. While I thought the project he pursued doing was admirable, there was something about him which rubbed me the wrong way, that I couldn’t really pin down while watching the film. I don’t know if it was his ego per say, but perhaps something along the lines. I guess the question I’m asking is if other people who watched the movie also picked up on the vibe I’m attempting to convey. Perhaps more specifically it seemed like he didn’t want to entertain or hear potential criticism about the project.

Another question I have about the film is the scope of the project. While we saw Vik help a handful of the workers at the landfill, there were multitudes of those who were not focused on. How do you think the people who were left out of the project help? and do you think that the lasting effects of the project for the few benefitted the whole?

Brazilian History and Culture Post: Yellow Fever

On March 20th, Brazil’s government announced that it planned to vaccinate the entire country against another outbreak of yellow fever by April 2019. For those who may not know, yellow fever is a nasty disease. It’s caused by a virus that is spread through mosquito bites. The first time I learned about it was in the seventh grade when my class was studying Colonial American history in Philadelphia. The worst epidemic occurred during the summer of 1793. At the time it started around 100 people died, but at the end, the death toll reached 5,000. While modern medicine has come a long way since 1793, yellow fever is not to be taken lightly, further evidenced by the fact that in this year alone 300 people (including tourists) in Brazil have already died from the virus.  “This virus has hit the outlying areas of the country’s largest cities, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, particularly hard, threatening to become (Brazil’s) first-blown urban epidemic since 1942.” ( 

Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson

Despite the disease’s normal location in Amazon River basin, it broke out of its usual pattern in early 2016 and started to move toward the country’s largest cities, which prompted the declaration of a public health emergency in 2017. Perhaps what is more troubling than the outbreak of the disease, is the number of domestic people who still need vaccinations. At a news conference, Health Minister Ricardo Barros said, “We are going to act preventively instead of reacting with emergency measures as we have done.” Referring to the fact that health officials would need to vaccinate an additional 77.5 million people to reach the country’s entire population by April of next year.

Ironically, critics say health officials are the ones who failed to act aggressively, due to the fact that they determined yellow fever had limited reach and was therefore not worth the risk of vaccinating the entire population. These actions or lack thereof subsequently left them scrambling when the virus appeared near São Paulo in the most recent outbreak. Additionally,  increasing efforts to vaccinate 23 million people this year have been hampered by “false rumors” about the vaccine.

Historically, it is hard to conceptualize the recent events going on in Brazil. While we have talked about shifty politics and dictatorship in class, I’m not sure this current epidemic falls directly under those categories. I think that if one wanted to, they could make the argument that the governments’ ineptitude in handling the yellow fever outbreak could possibly fall under state-sanctioned violence. I myself am not making that argument because I feel like I would need to do more research, but judging from the tone of this article, I feel like it could be made. I also feel like this argument might hold credence due to the fact that Brazil just came off from dealing with the massive Zika virus outbreak that spread from 2015-16.

Health workers visited the Pirituba neighborhood of São Paulo this month to vaccinate residents. Credit Dado Galdieri for The New York Times


The Hour of the Star Discussion + Question

Something I found very intriguing about The Hour of the Star was its style of narration. Perhaps its the part of me that loves poetry, but the style of the narration came across as prose. Very early on, the narrator poses very large questions about life, consciousness, and what it means to simply exist. Based on these early themes my question is: How do we make sense of Macabéa’s death at the end of the story? Does her death lead to an interesting commentary on the core meaning of life and existence in the world?

At the end of the book, our narrator comes to the realization that everyone dies, even him. Perhaps this scene was a bit jarring after Macabéa’s drawn-out death, which spanned multiple paragraphs. Particularly the narrator’s departure when he says “Don’t forget that for now, it’s strawberry season.” (77) However, I think the abruptness helps strengthen Lispector’s central message of the book. No matter what type of life you lead, whether it’s seemingly as miserable and mundane as Macabéas, or as lavish as your favorite celebrity, nobody truly lives their life as if they are mortal. That is to say, no one wakes up thinking that this is the day that they’ll hit by a car. It’s an impossible expectation for people to have. Yet, even though it might seem cliche, death’s like Macabéas happen all the time. Perhaps not in the same way, but they certainly happen.

A sad example of this was the passing of Clayton Geib during the Fall semester, whose cause of death still isn’t fully known. His death was particularly hard for one of my friends on the football team. In our conversations following Clayton’s death, my friend told me that it was hard for him to really accept Clayton was gone, and that he was soon trapped in a cycle of telling himself, “I just played with him (Clayton) yesterday” and other similar comments for almost weeks on end. I believe Lispector tried to get at this concept with having Macabéa die so suddenly at the end.  Not only is contemplating our own mortality something everyone struggles with, but it’s not something we like to do, as evidenced by the narrator saying, “don’t forget that for now, it’s strawberry season.”

Personally, I thought the last quote reflected a sentiment reflected in one of my favorite Kanye West lyrics: “If you admire somebody you should go on ‘head tell ’em,
people never get the flowers while they can still smell ’em “

Wiki Update: Racism in Brazil

The article I will pursuing  for my “clean up” project is “Racism in Brazil.” The most shocking part of this article is that it hardly talks about slavery in Brazil. Rather, most of its information doesn’t carry any historical context. Even though this is a Wikipedia page, I feel as though there should be more historical context within the article.

Additionally to the lack of context, the sections didn’t seem to be organized in any type of way. Hopefully, I can add more structure to the article, and provide some better examples than what was previously cited. To my dismay, there wasn’t a lot going on in the talk page. Perhaps this is an ambitious project, but I think it is one that is worth pursuing.



Research Project

For my research project, I will be examing colorism is Brazil. More specifically, how it manifests itself within the music industry. My interest in this project comes from my experiences as a young Black man, as well as some of the dialogues I’ve had in a few of my classes, such as the Intellectual History of Black America. Despite its diverse Afro population, colorism is known to be exceedingly present in Brazil. One could even make the argument that it is more prevalent in Brazil than America. While that could be a potential argument I make in my article, the overarching question I seek to answer is “why?” In order to get to the “why” my research will put Brazil’s racial past in context with America’s. By starting with the slave trade in both countries and taking into account the similarities and differences, I hope to find some answers to my question

In order to achieve fulfilling research on both the historical and contemporary narratives of Brazil and America, I will have to employ a diverse amount of resources, from historical documents to critical race theories about colorism, interviews, and music videos. Originally inspired by the Anitta video we saw in class, another interesting article came out recently, in which Beyonce’s father claimed that her, as well as many other black female artists, would not be as successful as they if they were darker skinned.

We have already touched upon racism and colorism in class, but I believe my research will be significant because it will show the arc of colorism has evolved over time in Brazil, and how it compares with colorism in the United States. By looking at colorism through the lens of the music industry, particularly Pop, I believe that it will not only give one a good perspective as to how far-reaching colorism affects those in Brazil but how integral a part it is in modern society.

My research project will be historically significant because it highlights how the slave trade has evolved over time in Brazil. By contextualizing the evolution of slavery and colorism in Brazil to the United States I believe it will help broaden one’s understanding as to multiple layers and depths of the negative effects the slave trade caused in a global context.


“Telles-Introduction-from-Race-in-Another-America.Pdf,” accessed February 13, 2018,;
Anitta, Sim Ou Não – Anitta Feat Maluma, accessed February 13, 2018,;
Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, Racism without Racists: Color-Blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in America, 3 edition (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2009);
“J. Cole: I Might Not Be as Successful If I Had Dark Skin,”, accessed February 13, 2018,;
Canal Super Teen, Iggy Azalea – Switch Feat. Anitta, accessed February 13, 2018,;
“Dain-Borges-Puffy-Ugly-Slothful-and-Inert-Degeneration-in-Brazilian-Social-Thought-1880-1940.Pdf,” accessed February 13, 2018,;
Linda M. Burton et al., “Critical Race Theories, Colorism, and the Decade’s Research on Families of Color,” Journal of Marriage and Family 72, no. 3 (2010): 440–59;
Travis M. Andrews and Amber Ferguson, “Beyoncé’s Father Takes on ‘Colorism’: He Dated Her Mother Because He Thought She Was White,” Washington Post, February 5, 2018, sec. Morning Mix,;
Anitta, Anitta, Mc Zaac, Maejor Ft. Tropkillaz & DJ Yuri Martins – Vai Malandra (Official Music Video),
accessed February 13, 2018,; Frederick Julius Pohl,

Review of “Afro Brazillians”

I think that the article got off to a good start. The language and tone mostly remained neutral throughout the whole piece. The majority of the subheading and topics fed back into the main title. However, there were a lot of issues with the article, which is evident from the “talk” section of the page.

The talk section of the article has multiple debates about not only what is, and what isn’t a personal opinion, but also about the some of the (suspicious) sources that were used. Most of the sources that were called into question were the ones concerning the charts, tables, and other analytical data. Additionally, I noticed that there not a lot of books used in the author’s footnotes, and any books they do use have been marked “vague”. This is a signal to me that this page needs work, despite that it looks like a solid page

Lastly, in the “Conception of Black and prejudice” section, while information reinforcing how race is ultimately in the eye of the beholder, the source links are either not working as they should, or are not reliable, which is also on the author. I think the best way to fix some the crucial issues in this article is to find some books on the subject from academic authors.