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cities & citizens series - bridging the urban divide

Some say Brazilians are not colour blind, but open discussion of racism remains taboo. The following quotation typifies commentaries on the impact of race and ethnicity in Brazil: ‘There is a very strong correlation between light colour and higher income, education and social status. Few blacks reach positions of wealth, prestige and power, except in the arts and sports. Although discrimination is usually not explicit, it appears in subtle forms: unwritten rules, unspoken attitudes, references to “good appearance” rather than colour, or simply placing higher value on individuals who are white or nearly white.’143 Whereas a ‘myth of racial harmony freely circulates in Brazilian society’ with the apparent ease of social relations between different groups and the public integration of all groups, the reality of structural racial inequality frequently surfaces, creating tensions between those who face it head-on and those who ignore it.144 Some cite the extremely poor representation of Afrodescendent-Brazilians in the Catholic hierarchy in Brazil as evidence of more prejudice, while others argue that the judicial system itself is affected by racial bias, failing to give effective distribution of social

Some say Brazilians are not colour blind... but open discussion of racism remains taboo. justice to non-whites.145 Other studies have also shown the disproportionate number of Afrodescendent-Brazilians killed in police actions in São Paulo (three times more than any other group), and in prison (four times more than any other group).146 Different analysts have suggested that the police throughout Brazil have reflected society’s prejudices, practicing barely disguised racism. The Inter-American Development Bank analysis of racism in Brazil found that white workers are less likely to have informal salaried jobs or work in agriculture and construction, and are more likely to be unionized and live in the southeast and south than non-whites. Most importantly, they have a considerable advantage in terms of their human and social capital.

‘Brancos’ have completed an average of 7.5 years of education, compared with 5.6 years for ‘pardos’ and 5.2 for ‘pretos’. While enrolment in primary education is almost universal, secondary-school enrolment remains a challenge, especially among the poor non-white population; ‘As a result, white workers are three to four times more likely to attain higher education than non-white’ workers.147 The racial inequalities evident in the rest of Brazil are also present in São Paulo. Racial inequality has been established in the Brazilian labour market in terms of wages, employment options and experiences and labour segregation. Racial inequality has been established in school enrolment, quality of education, and educational outcomes. Racial inequalities are clearly seen in terms of geographic concentrations of different racial groups, and it is not surprising to find the majority of ‘pretos’ and many ‘pardos’ in urban centres among the poorest quintiles of society, disproportionately inhabiting favelas and cortiços. Racial inequalities also lead to unequal access to medical services and to higher rates of child morbidity and mortality, along with other negative health outcomes. Studies have shown that while gender discrimination continues to exist in Brazil, it is race that acts as a greater inhibitor to AfrodescendentBrazilian female workers earning equitable salaries. Studies by IPEA in six metropolitan regions in 1999 showed that the combination of being both black and female resulted in the most unequal wage outcomes.148 This is double discrimination. In São Paulo in 1998, a black woman could expect to earn approximately 60 per cent of the wage of a black male for the same work, and just 30 per cent of the wage of a white male for the same work. White males in São Paulo routinely earned double the wage of their black counterparts. A study in 2002 by the Inter-American Development Bank reinforced these findings149: There is evidence of potential greater pay discrimination at the higher salary jobs at any given skill level. We also find that returns to education vary significantly across workers. The gradient of skin color, in itself, appears as a significant de-

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Sao Paulo; A tale of two cities  

UN-HABITAT’s new Cities and Citizens series examines urban inequality in the developing world through in-depth analysis of intracity data de...

Sao Paulo; A tale of two cities  

UN-HABITAT’s new Cities and Citizens series examines urban inequality in the developing world through in-depth analysis of intracity data de...

Profile for unhabitat
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