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  HOME | Brazil (Click here for more)

Brazil Emphasizes Black Consciousness amid Racism and Inequality

SAO PAULO – Blacks and mulattos represent more than half of Brazil’s population, but they are also the groups with the highest death rates, who earn less and who suffer most from unemployment in the South American giant, where hundreds of people gathered in various cities on Monday to commemorate Black Consciousness Day.

In Sao Paulo, the demonstrators gathered along central Paulista Avenue to denounce Brazil’s persistent racism and call for an end to the violence against young blacks here, the last country in the Americas to abolish slavery, in 1888.

“The genocide of the black population in Brazil is very violent and touches mainly young people,” Flavio George, one of the marchers and a member of the Black Entities Coordinator of Brazil, told EFE.

According to UN statistics, seven out of every 10 people murdered in Brazil are black and about 23,000 young African-Brazilians die violently each year here, or one every 23 minutes, on average.

In addition, while the murder rate per 100,000 inhabitants fell by 12 percent among non-blacks between 2005 and 2015, it rose among blacks by 18 percent during the same period, figures that the UN says reflect the burden of racism in “the current scenario of violence in the country.”

According to the Atlas of Violence published this year, a black has a 23.5 percent greater probability of being murdered than citizens of other races in Brazil, without taking into account age, sex, schooling, residence or other factors.

Despite being the majority in a country of more than 200 million people, the black population faces other barriers, having less schooling, more problems finding jobs and receiving lower salaries than whites, even if they have the same level of schooling.

Black men who have gone on to higher learning earn an average of 29 percent less than whites, while the difference is 27 percent among women of different races in Brazil, according to a study by Locomotiva.

In the area of unemployment, blacks and mulattos comprise 63.7 percent of all unemployed Brazilians, or 8.3 million of the 13 million people without jobs in this year’s third quarter, according to the Brazilian Geography and Statistics Institute (IBGE).

The statistics also show inequality in the business world, with blacks holding just 4.7 percent of the executive positions and 6.5 percent of the managerial positions, according to a study by the Ethos institute of the 500 largest companies in Brazil.

“If the policies of integration continue at this rate, equality between blacks and whites in the labor market will only be achieved after 80 years,” Sheila de Carvalho, a project coordinator with the Ethos institute, told EFE, adding that the inequality between blacks and whites in companies in Brazil is the result of “structural racism.”

On the social networks, Brazilian singer-songwriter Gilberto Gil warned on Monday about the “prejudice” that still exists in Brazil and the “inequality specific to blacks,” but he said that “things have gotten better ... There’s more cordiality, understanding, interracial interaction ... in Brazilian society than in others.”

Black Consciousness Day in Brazil commemorates the 1695 murder of Zumbi dos Palmares, a black who governed a “republic” of freed slaves in northeastern Brazil, although that political entity later failed.


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