Affirmative Action in Brazil

The Washington Post reports on the dawn of affirmative action in Brazil. Implemented for the first time this year, the arguments almost precisely replicate those in the U.S., with the added wrinkle that until now Brazil, with a heterogeneous, largely mixed-race population, has not engaged in any kind of racial classification:
“Gabriella Fracescutti, 19, has filed one of nearly 300 lawsuits against the State University because of its quota policy. She has dreamed of being a surgeon since she was a high school freshman — ‘I like blood,’ she says sheepishly — and studied during her entire senior year for the vestibular, the national college entrance exam. She did very well, scoring 82.5 percent, better than half the students admitted ahead of her. But her application was rejected, essentially because she is neither black nor poor.
“‘I just don’t understand how you can justify someone with a lower grade getting into the school, and turning me down. Why, because I have blond hair?’ said Fracescutti, the daughter of an architect and a botanist. ‘I have friends who are whiter than me and didn’t study and didn’t do well on the test, but they wrote down they were [black] on their application and they got in. My grandmother is black. I could have written down that I am black, but I didn’t feel right about that. In a country like Brazil, everyone’s blood is mixed together.'”
It is hard to avoid the conclusion that affirmative action will have the same devastating effects on Brazilian society and race relations that it has had here.


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