Proud (and usually white) Brazilians will often tell you that there is no racism in Brazil, at least, not like there is in the United States. This topic has been the buzzing center of a whole host of blog posts from numerous bloggers, expats and otherwise.
I'm not going to open up another conversation just yet. First I want to watch the upcoming four-part PBS series called "Black in Latin America," which will begin airing April 19. It sounds VERY interesting.
Sam Allis at the Boston Globe posted a review. Here are some excerpts:
“Upward of 120 million people of African descent live in Latin America today,’’ says Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., who, even though he is a scholar of African-American history, says he was staggered by the number when he first learned of it."
“We have our African-American exceptionalism,’’ says Gates. “We think slavery was all about us. In fact, 11.2 million Africans got off boats in the New World. Only 450,000 came to the US. All the rest came to areas south of Miami. The real African-American experience unfolded in the Caribbean and Latin America.’’
As with [Gates']earlier series, he wrote and presents this one, traveling to six countries for the stories: the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba, Brazil, Mexico, and Peru. In each country, Gates talks to its best historians and cultural observers about past and present roles that African blacks have played. These are uniformly fascinating conversations.
Gates also travels to Brazil, which abolished slavery late, in 1888, with 75 million people identified as mulatto (a person of mixed black and white ancestry) or black. “This is the largest black population in the world outside of Africa,’’ he notes. “There are 134 categories of blackness in Brazil. Like everywhere else, the poorest people in each country are the darkest, African-looking people. The elite in Cuba were white Cubans. The elite in Brazil are white Brazilians.
The title of this segment is called “Brazil: A Racial Paradise?’’ And the answer, Gates finds, is nothing close. In Latin America, African blacks struggle for respect. But the social structure makes change difficult to come by.
I look forward to seeing the full series.
The first program in the series is already posted at their website. You can view it now.