Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Afro-Brazilian university to be launched

On Tuesday Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva signed into law the Racial Equality Statute, (RES), a measure that hopes to bring greater equality for the country’s Afro-Brazilian populace. An Afro-Brazilian university will be created as part as this plan according to Lula.

The Federal University for Portuguese-Afro-Brazilian Integration or Unilab will begin operations later this year in the northeastern state of Ceara. Aside from facilitating the education of roughly 2500 Brazilian students Unilab will also admit the same number of pupils from five African Portuguese-speaking countries including Angola and Mozambique. Hence, the federal university will “promote international cooperation between Brazil and African countries” via courses and other academic programs.

Aside from Unilab the RES includes making it easier for blacks to receive loans and mortgages and also initiates programs to preserve Afro-Brazilian culture. Yet some local bloggers were upset with the exclusion of a temporary form of affirmative action from the RES. Furthermore, the RES may do little to help to help residents of Afro- descendant communities near Sao Paulo who have been displaced by the construction and expansion of a space center:
Young women have few options. "University is a far-off dream for the majority, whose future will be housework, having children too early or migrating to urban centers to work as domestic employees or to swell the ranks of the unemployed or underemployed," (Regina LĂșcia de Azevedo)Pacheco said. 

If they want to go for further studies, they have to leave, and that isn't easy for the family economy in the quilombo. "Sometimes girls repeat the final grade of primary school several times, because there is no way they can leave the communities," she said.
Image- Jornal Digital
Online Sources- LAHT, IPS, Xinhua, Global Voices Online


Anonymous said...

from de Clermont - this is very good news indeed. Well done Lula. One hopes that by creating a blacks-only university it will not help to turn the Black Brasilians into a group pathetic, pity party like what has happened with too many USA Blacks.

Erwin C. said...

Disgusting generalization and stereotyping aside, are you aware of the great impact that Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have had on hundreds of thousands of African-americans?

Anonymous said...

from de Clermont - to Erwin C., unfortunately it is a disgusting and sad fact and not a disgusting comment. Neither is it a generalisation nor stereotyping since I do not say ALL Black Americans, but rather "too many" Black Americans. A) The fact that there would be a militant, negatively oriented community within any racial or cultural group is unfortunately human nature. Racism and prejudices exist sadly. However, in the USA that group is too large, too powerful and too vociferous. B) I have had the privilege of living in 8 different countries for years each and travel constantly throughout Latin America and Europe (I speak 5 languages so I am able to intimately know the cultures - noted for reference purposes) and only amongst the USA blacks do I hear so much of a pity party and a cultural bias toward speaking their country's language incorrectly - that contingent even takes pride in it. In all the other countries black minorities (and all minorities) learn to speak the language correctly and there is no bias against those minorities who do speak the country's language correctly. The equivalent phrase "Uncle Tom" does not exist in those other countries and they have a high percentage of Africans there (e.g. France, Spain, Italy). That phrase does not have an equivalent either in the Latin American countries amongst their Black consituencies. My initial comment may have provoked disgust in you, but the reality provokes sadness in me. As a foreigner I appreciate the many opportuniites the USA provides, but I also see how the differences are tragically exacerbated and ounterproductively foisted upon a group within society that needs a message of hope and inclusion, instead of several that create animosity and exclusion. This behaviour also leads to fewer job opportunities since the majority of US Americans speak a standard English (Valley Girls aside) that is not accepted but required amongst the better paying jobs. I hope that I have adequately communicated my position. I realise that in the USA the Black culture and the subcultures are hypersensitive issues. By the way, in no country that I visited is political correctness taken to such an extreme and sad level. We cannot negate that differences exist. US political correctness would paint this with one colour just as bland as the US culinary habits.

Anonymous said...

What I find to be extremely sad is that someone not born and raised in America, someone who only spent a few years here (not long enough to be an expert on a country's social and racial history), someone who is an outsider to the African American community, would make such a "disgusting" and judgmental statement. Actually sounds similar to the types of things that "pity party" nonBlack's tend to say. Especially now that there is a Black president.
I would invite this person to take a tour of Spelman or Morehouse Colleges in Atlanta, or Howard University in DC. Maybe if they sat in on a sociology or history or even a gym class and engaged the students in conversations about race, class, gender and language, maybe then they would have a less ignorant opinion.
Then this person could visit NYU or the University of Maryland or Georgia Tech and talk to the African American students there. You know for a comparative study on the effects of a college education at a historically Black College/University versus a predominantly White College/University. Oh and don’t forget to stop in the Alumni Affairs offices and see if you can look up some of the hundreds of thousands of historically Black College graduates who have gone on to run huge corporations and small businesses, become teachers, preachers, sociologists and world travelers.
Maybe if this person made a true effort to get to know the people and institutions such as the many wonderful HBCUs that have been established in the USA that he or she is judging they would be able to form a more informed and intelligent opinion.

And on your wonderful point about language… You do not have to be a linguist or have learned any more than your native tongue and traveled outside of your home town to have learned that sometimes people speak the same language differently. One good example is Cockney which was originally spoken by White people in England. In America, like in pretty much any country in the world, you can tell where someone is from based on the way they pronounce certain words and the words that they use. Perhaps the Anonymous commenter was sitting on a city bus and heard a group of young Black kids laughing and joking and using slang with each other. Just because they spoke that way to each other does not mean that they do not have the ability to speak standard American English. Many people of all colors return to casual speech in familiar company. Maybe if you followed one of those kids into a classroom you would hear the change in the tone and manner of their speech. And sure some people (inclusive of people in all nations) who grow up in a relatively isolated existence (in a rural town or in some cities where upward mobility is difficult for poorer populations) may not have learned the standard or formal way of speaking their native language but that does not make them stupid or part of a "pity party". Maybe it just means that they have not had the opportunities to learn to speak standard English. Or maybe success can be achieved in that area without needing to speak a certain way.

Anonymous said...

Another example is a friend of mine from a small town in northern Germany. He traveled to the US with a group of German students from other parts of the country. When he was not around the rest of the group would talk badly about how people from his part of Germany spoke. They said he and German's like him spoke bad or improper German. A comparison was later made between his German and the way Americans in the Deep South speak. This guy was incredibly smart but everyone was too busy with their cruel jokes and stereotypes to care. In professional situations back in Germany my friend was able to "code-switch", something most Black Americans are also able to do. When among friends, or people he thought were friends, he spoke in a casual manner. Then in the classroom or at work he switched to a more formal and standard way of speaking.
I too have had the privilege of traveling abroad and making foreign friends. I also grew up with a different exchange student in my home each year since I was 5.
Those experiences taught me to keep an open mind and do my best to judge people as individuals and not attribute negative aspects of their being to their race, ethnicity, nationality, or gender.
The best way to learn about a people is to engage them with an open heart. I encourage everyone to do this in the future.
Great article. Interesting discussion. I wish more people would be as blatantly honest as de Clermont/Anonymous. We could get over a lot of bigotry that way.
HBCU Graduate :)