Dreaming Equality: Color, Race, and Racism in Urban Brazil by Robin E. Sheriff

By Robin E. Sheriff

Brazil has the biggest African-descended inhabitants on the earth open air Africa. regardless of an financial system based on slave hard work, Brazil has lengthy been popular as a "racial democracy." Many Brazilians and observers of Brazil proceed to take care of that racism there's very light or nonexistent. the parable of racial democracy contrasts starkly with the realities of a pernicious racial inequality that permeates Brazilian tradition and social constitution. to check the impression of this distinction on African Brazilians' view of themselves and their kingdom, Robin E. Sheriff lived in a essentially black shantytown in Rio de Janeiro, the place she explored the population' perspectives of race and racism firsthand. How, she asks, do terrible African Brazilians adventure and interpret racism in a rustic the place its very life has a tendency to be publicly denied? How is racism spoke of privately within the kin and publicly within the community--or is it noted in any respect? Sheriff's research is very vital simply because such a lot Brazilians dwell in city settings, and her exam in their perspectives of race and racism sheds mild on universal yet underarticulated racial attitudes. This publication is the 1st to illustrate that city African Brazilians realize the deceptions of the parable of racial democracy--while embracing it as a dream of ways their state can be. Robin E. Sheriff is an assistant professor of anthropology at Florida overseas collage.

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As the community’s de facto leader, Delson dispensed emergency loans, mediated disputes, and regularly hosted dances to which the entire community was invited. He was said to have five wives, a car, a telephone, and, behind the inordinately high walls of his hillside home, a small swimming pool. He owned goats, pigs, and several head of stubborn cattle that roamed the community at will, lending it a pastoral air. Despite his wealth, people said that Delson remained a “simple man,” generous and without pretension.

Later that day, I learned that one of Delson’s wives and a son had spent the night in jail. The police had also stolen his television and VCR. The story, as it passed through the community grapevine, was accompanied by nervous, muffled laughter. Although Delson and his men were thought of as protectors, they, like all who had voluntarily surrendered their virtue to the spoils of crime, would inevitably have the sword turned against them. Today or tomorrow, people implied, they would come to a bad end.

He asserted in a reprimanding and authoritarian manner that I must always speak to him directly, even if I had difficulty in locating him. Jorge, as I must surely understand, was “without culture,” ignorant, and thoroughly lacking in the social graces necessary to deal with foreigners such as myself. I had, by then, already made up my mind about Jorge. In one of the most fortuitous decisions I was to make, I resolved to avoid the Doctor whenever possible and to place my complete trust in Jorge.

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