Latin America: A Racial Democracy?
When examining the concept of race and ethnicity in Latin America, it can be said that it has quite a different meaning. Latin Americans perceive race as being open ended and explicit, yet racism is quite implicit in their society. They also attempt to adhere to the idea that they are living within a “racial democracy”. Racial democracies are a concept created to convince people that racism does not impact the structure of society and the opportunities that are available to people.
First, it is important to note the meaning of racial democracy. The term “racial democracy was coined by Brazilian sociologist Gilberto Freyre, who believed that Brazil has escaped racism and racial discrimination. The term encompasses the belief that racism no longer exists in Brazil, and racial prejudices do not exist between members of the community. It also argues that while class and gender may affect social mobility, racial discrimination does not affect the ability for Brazilians to experience mobility (Gates Jr). Sociologists argue that racial democracy is a myth because it doesn’t account for the negative stereotypes that are held against blacks within any society. This is evident through the systematic racism that is enabled against black Brazilians. In the film, Gates Jr discusses the establishment of the quota system in Brazilian universities. He states that some schools have created quota systems to promote the entry of lower income and black citizens into higher education, with some schools having up to 40% of their seats open for the quota (ibid). The fact that the government has to create opportunities and quotas to include people of color demonstrates that equal opportunities are n...
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...racial categorization is fluid and open to interpretation. This fluidity affects the experiences of the groups in both countries.
The effects of racial democracy in Latin America affect the individuals both similarly and differently to the experiences of individuals who adhere to the racialized social structure in the United States. For starters, many believe that race does not impact the social mobility of the individual, who simply needs to work hard for what they want. From my own personal experiences, I can state that Latin Americans truly uphold this ideal. They are genuinely convinced that social mobility in Latin America is more possible than it would be here, given the fact that race is not as big of deal over there as it is here. In the United States, racialized social structures have created a racial hierarchy that one has to adhere to.
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