Social Inequality And Colorism Within The Afro-Brazilian Community

Social Inequality And Colorism Within The Afro-Brazilian Community

Starting in slavery, how does it still exist within black communities in Brazil?

Colorism, a discrimination based on skin complexion within one’s own race, has been evolving throughout the centuries. Slaves were chained, raped, murdered, sold, and put on ships. They then were sent to different regions including Brazil. Slaves were forced to labor in harsh conditions as well as on plantations. As a result, the spectrum of skin tones among slaves and others who were legally black expanded. Slave owners granted more privileges to the lighter skinned slaves. Slave owners compared the lighter slaves to the darker slaves; Slave owners saw lighter slaves as smarter and more capable because of their white ancestry. The work on the plantation was different based on skin complexion. Some slave owners allowed the lighter skinned slaves to partake in educational opportunities or training and occasionally granted them freedom.

As for darker skinned slaves, they worked under harsher conditions, suffered more beatings, and worked outside in the scorching heat. After slavery technically ended in America on December 6, 1865, when the 13th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, slavery in Brazil continued. Brazil imported more slaves than any other country; African slaves were brought to Brazil as early as 1530, with abolition in 1888. African slaves were cheap for Brazil. As for America, institutional colorism became popular, but it was never recognized and labeled, “colorism” until late 2014.

I see it as problematic that Afro-Brazilians are treated differently based on skin complexion. In addition, the other problem is that colorism is both a symptom and system of oppression in accordance with white supremacy. It supports the white supremacy thesis considering like White people, lighter skinned Afro-Brazilians are praised, seen as more professional, are higher paid, and more easily obtain corporate jobs. In Brazil, race, skin color, hair texture, facial features, or body size and shape often lead to unmerited advantages, which connects to income inequality. As it relates, Darker skinned Brazilians are subjected to lower paying jobs in relation to this. In addition, other factors play a part in racial complexion segregation, such as education and political power.

In regards to education in Brazil, there is a great difference between the rate of equitable education for darker skinned Afro-Brazilians and lighter skinned ones, which hinders their ability to gain more lucrative employment. Within the Northeastern parts of Brazil, lighter skinned blacks benefit from high academic achievement, while darker skinned blacks face multiple limitations. Regarding political power, darker skinned Afro-Brazilians attempt to gain political mobility, but suffer from discrimination because of their less privileged economic and educational status. In keeping with the system of oppression, lighter skinned Afro-Brazilians and white people are the ones in political power. According to Minority Rights Group International, “Darker Afro-Brazilians are half of the population yet they’re only 20% of the economic GDP." Unemployment for darker skinned Afro-Brazilians is 50% higher than lighter skinned Afro-Brazilians.

Colorism is a significant phenomenon that takes place within all Black communities. For Afro-Brazilians specifically, colorism extends further and causes both internal and external conflicts. With slavery starting in the early 1530s, slaves in Brazil were cheap and the darker they were, the cheaper they were. Lighter slaves were the most expensive and treated with more respect because of they were suspected to have white ancestry. Colorism started during slavery, now we see how present it is in our black communities. As we are created equal, we must treat each other as such despite race, skin color, religion, and sexuality and break chains of social inequality for one another.

Cover Image Credit: Everyday Feminism

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A Letter To My Humans On Our Last Day Together

We never thought this day would come.

I didn't sleep much last night after I saw your tears. I would have gotten up to snuggle you, but I am just too weak. We both know my time with you is coming close to its end, and I just can't believe it how fast it has happened.

I remember the first time I saw you like it was yesterday.

You guys were squealing and jumping all around, because you were going home with a new dog. Dad, I can still feel your strong hands lifting me from the crate where the rest of my puppy brothers and sisters were snuggled around my warm, comforting puppy Momma. You held me up so that my chunky belly and floppy wrinkles squished my face together, and looked me right in the eyes, grinning, “She's the one."

I was so nervous on the way to my new home, I really didn't know what to expect.

But now, 12 years later as I sit in the sun on the front porch, trying to keep my wise, old eyes open, I am so grateful for you. We have been through it all together.

Twelve “First Days of School." Losing your first teeth. Watching Mom hang great tests on the refrigerator. Letting you guys use my fur as a tissue for your tears. Sneaking Halloween candy from your pillowcases.

Keeping quiet while Santa put your gifts under the tree each year. Never telling Mom and Dad when everyone started sneaking around. Being at the door to greet you no matter how long you were gone. Getting to be in senior pictures. Waking you up with big, sloppy kisses despite the sun not even being up.

Always going to the basement first, to make sure there wasn't anything scary. Catching your first fish. First dates. Every birthday. Prom pictures. Happily watching dad as he taught the boys how to throw every kind of ball. Chasing the sticks you threw, even though it got harder over the years.

Cuddling every time any of you weren't feeling well. Running in the sprinkler all summer long. Claiming the title “Shotgun Rider" when you guys finally learned how to drive. Watching you cry in mom and dads arms before your graduation. Feeling lost every time you went on vacation without me.

Witnessing the awkward years that you magically all overcame. Hearing my siblings learn to read. Comforting you when you lost grandma and grandpa. Listening to your phone conversations. Celebrating new jobs. Licking your scraped knees when you would fall.

Hearing your shower singing. Sidewalk chalk and bubbles in the sun. New pets. Family reunions. Sleepovers. Watching you wave goodbye to me as the jam-packed car sped up the driveway to drop you off at college. So many memories in what feels like so little time.

When the time comes today, we will all be crying. We won't want to say goodbye. My eyes might look glossy, but just know that I feel your love and I see you hugging each other. I love that, I love when we are all together.

I want you to remember the times we shared, every milestone that I got to be a part of.

I won't be waiting for you at the door anymore and my fur will slowly stop covering your clothes. It will be different, and the house will feel empty. But I will be there in spirit.

No matter how bad of a game you played, how terrible your work day was, how ugly your outfit is, how bad you smell, how much money you have, I could go on; I will always love you just the way you are. You cared for me and I cared for you. We are companions, partners in crime.

To you, I was simply a part of your life, but to me, you were my entire life.

Thank you for letting me grow up with you.

Love always,

Your family dog

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlin Murray

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Arab-American Heritage Month Is Not A Well Known Celebration And I'm Pissed About It

I'm an Arab-American and didn't even know this was a thing... That's sad.


The month of April is special for a lot of reasons but this one hits home for me. This is the perfect opportunity to celebrate the culture, history and amazing people who have helped bring something to this country. So many Arab-Americans have contributed a lot to society yet they don't get the recognition they deserve for it.

In today's society, the Arab community is always being looked down on and degraded. The lack of understanding from those around makes Arab-Americans feel like outsiders in a place they should be able to call home. The inaccurate images and stereotypes that inhabit the word "Arab" are sickening.

It's time to raise awareness. It's time to look beyond the media's portrayal. It's time to see a neighbor, a teacher, a doctor, a scientist, an artist, an athlete, a parent, a child, but most importantly, a human being, NOT a monster.

Arab-Americans encounter and fight racism every day. As a society, we should be better than that. We should want everyone in this country to feel wanted, needed and appreciated. Together, we should use this month as a time to shine light and celebrate the many Arab-Americans who have, and continue making this country great.

While you read this list of just a few famous Arab-Americans keep in mind how much they want this country to be amazing, just as much as anyone else does.

Dr. Michael DeBakey, invented the heart pump

Dr. Elias Corey, Nobel Prize winner for Chemistry in 1990 

Dr. Ahmed H. Zewail, Nobel Prize winner for Chemistry in 1999

Lucie Salhany, first woman to head a tv network 

Ralph Johns, an active participant in the civil rights movement and encouraged the famous Woolworth sit-in 

Ernest Hamwi, invented the ice cream cone

Pvt. Nathan Badeen, died fighting in the Revolutionary War

Leila Ahmed, the first women's studies professor at Harvard Divinity School 

We should recognize and celebrate these achievements. There are so many things you can learn when you step inside another culture instead of turning your back to it. This April, take time to indulge in the Arab-American heritage.

Instead of pushing away the things you don't understand, dive into diversity and expand your knowledge of the unknown. Together we can raise awareness. #IAmArabAmerican

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