Blacks will soon be Brazil’s majority for the first time since slavery era
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil -Blacks will outnumber Whites in Brazil this year for the first time since slavery was abolished, but the income gap between the two groups may take another 50 years to bridge, according to a recent government study.
The government’s Applied Institute of Economic Research said Brazil, which has the world’s second-largest Black population after Nigeria, is decades away from racial equality despite public policies aimed at decreasing the gap.
Blacks generally earn 50 percent to 70 percent less than Whites, and hold only 3.5 percent of management positions at Brazil’s 500 largest companies, according to the labor-union statistics institute Diesse.
A 2004 study by the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro found the income gap between Whites and Blacks in Brazil was wider than in apartheid-era South Africa.
“Black people end up not having the access to an education that will allow them to climb to meet opportunities. And when there is an opening, they aren’t always capable of competing for it,” said Diesse director Clemente Ganz Lucio.
In recent years, Brazil has created a system of quotas at public universities that has bridged the gap somewhat. But quotas are complicated in Brazil because of the high degree of mixing between races, and some critics say light-skinned people are taking spots reserved for Blacks.
The fight against slavery “was one of Brazil’s most beautiful struggles ever, but it didn’t include measures to ensure the civil rights of the Black population,” said Edson Santos, Brazil’s minister of racial equality. “Blacks left the slave quarters to live in the slums.”
The government study was released May 13 to coincide with the 120th anniversary of abolition in Brazil. In 1888, Brazil became the last country in the Western hemisphere to end slavery.
In 1890, Blacks were estimated to make up 56 percent of Brazil’s population, but that number dropped to 36 percent in 1940, according to the study. In 1976, when the Brazilian Statistics Institute began keeping reliable data on race, 57 percent of Brazil’s 185 million people were white, and 40 percent were Black or mixed-race.
The Institute of Economic Research said the percentage of Blacks would top 50 percent again later this year.
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