Brazil and its almost 200 million population is no longer a country of white majority. The credit now belongs to the 49.6% black or mulatto population compared to the 49.4% defined as white and this is set to increase in coming years with that percentage increasing to 54, according to a recent report from the Rio do Janeiro Federal University.
Professor Antonio Paixao from the Rio University’s Economy Institute believes that since Brazil is no longer a white majority country, “we need a policy of diversity”, which is a great challenge for the political establishment.
The black birth rate is also higher than that of the whites or Europeans descendents, so the big question is whether Brazil is prepared to face the fact that blacks and mulattos are becoming a solid majority, and how this will influence legislation, asks Paixao.
But current reality shows another picture, with a considerable degree of discrimination for the blacks: the basic food basket for a black person demands 76 hours of work compared to the average 54 hours for a white person.
Similarly illiteracy among blacks runs as high as 20%, but only 6% for whites.
Since Brazil was the last country in the region to grant slaves freedom in 1888, blacks have always been at a disadvantage in education and work opportunities, points out Paixao.
Similarly, access to tertiary education for blacks is far more up road, since most of them are condemned to work to subsist, while white families can afford to pay for their children’s education.
The administration of President Lula da Silva is credited with having invested heavily in the social and economic integration of the black people, for example by imposing a policy of quotas for blacks in universities.
Nevertheless power in Brazil rests in the whites who hold the strategic posts in politics and the economy.
But some blacks have had outstanding careers, mainly in sports and the arts. One of them is the world famous former football star Pelé and another the musician-composer Gilberto Gil. Both have held cabinet posts, but as a white initiative towards supporting diversity.