Study Abroad: Tackling Brazil’s Racial Democracy

Brazil is not a country for beginners. 

Imagine living in a world where the differences we hold that make us individuals aren’t acknowledged or celebrated. A world where difference becomes obsolete and we can only be seen through one lens. Depending on your geographical location, this may very well be your reality. The myth of the racial democracy is something I was not familiar with until my emergence in Fortaleza, Brazil, and draws attention to the need to celebrate diversity in its many forms.

I have had the privilege of growing up in a multicultural background. As a child I was surrounded by different cultures, religions, and views all of which were to be celebrated and valued. At a very young age I understood the importance of embracing difference among myself and everyone I encountered. The older I became the more I began to understand that as a multicultural Black Woman I was outside of the dominant culture and I knew it was important to seek and create spaces to embrace diversity.

img_6565Brazil claims to be a racial democracy and prides itself in not being like the United States with “all those race issues, they’re all just Brazilian”. Issues fall on the individual and not the system because “we’re all human beings”, rhetoric that echoes all lives matter. Difference in race, religion, gender, sexuality, and so on are negated because the celebration should be found in being Brazilian. There is a complete erasure of diversity and the inequality that is tied to a lot of these differences.

Brazil is not a country for beginners. 

In a social climate like this it has been challenging to find my positionality. I have found comfort in being able to recluse to a space that allows me to show up as myself in every facet. That is not the case here. I am on a journey to find how people are fostering their identities and celebrating who they are. How does one begin to find or create multiculturalism abroad? The journey continues.



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