Afro-Brazilian Self-Identity in Brazil Essay

Over the past several decades there has been an increase, in Brazil, of people whom self-identify as being black or Afro-Brazilian. What sparked the rise in these identities in Brazil? Was it possible material and intellectual gains or, sparked from activism, or from other possible factors. The black movement and affirmation of “black” identity came about much later in Brazil than in other countries such as the United States. In my opinion the most important factors for the rise in these identities are the material gains from the Quilombo Clause, the effects of affirmative action and quotas, as well as social activism.

One important reason for the increase in people identifying as black in Brazil is the Quilombo Clause in the 1988 constitution. With the 1988 constitution Brazil aimed to become a more multi-cultural society. The Quilombo Clause in the constitution gave the decedents of Quilombos, or runaway slave communities, rights to land. As quoted in Jan Hoffman French’s book Legalizing Identities: Becoming Black or Indian in Brazil’s Northeast, “survivors of Quilombo communities occupying their lands are recognized as definitive owners, and the state shall issue them titles to the land” (77). While historically a quilombo was a community of runaway slaves the definition has now changed to be a rural black community. These communities are the ones using the Quilombo Clause to try and obtain land. The prospect of land is a strong incentive to identify a certain especially if the person or group of people come from a poor background and do not have much. The community of Mocambo is an example of a community who used the Quilombo Clause in order to gain land. The people of Mocambo began to struggle when the land they had worked f…

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…ulation, prevented the black movement from progressing at an earlier time.

Works Cited

DeWitt, Mike. “Wide Angle.” Brazil in Black and White. Dir. Adam Stepan. PBS. 4 Sept. 2007.


Edmonds, Alexander. “Beautiful People.” Pretty Modern: Beauty, Sex, and Plastic Surgery in

Brazil. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 2010. N. pag. Print.

French, Jan Hoffman. Legalizing Iidentities: Becoming Black or Indian in Brazil’s Northeast.

Chapel Hill, NC: U of North Carolina, 2009. Print.

Htun, Mala. “From “Racial Democracy” to Affirmative Action: Changing State Policy on Race

in Brazil.” Latin American Research Review 39.1 (2004): 60-89. Project MUSE. Web.

Skidmore, Thomas E. “Racial Realities and Racial Thought after Abolition.” Black into White:

Race and Nationality in Brazilian Thought: With a Preface to the 1993 Edition and

Bibliography. Durham: Duke UP, 1993. N. pag. Print.


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