Ethnic Groups in Brazil - Racial Legislation

Racial Legislation

A persistent Brazilian myth is the idea that, racism in Brazil was never enshrined in legislation as it was the United States or South Africa. Such idea has been propagated even by progressist, anti-racist intellectuals as Darcy Ribeiro, who mistakenly holds that in Brazil, "miscegenation was never a crime or a sin". The myth of a purely informal racism is however false; there was plenty of racist legislation in Brazil, even though it never acquired the systematic character of American or South African apartheid regimes.

During the colonial period, discriminatory laws were commonplace. Non-Whites were banned from the goldsmith craft (1621). In São Paulo, non-Whites were forbidden, under the penalty of prison, from using guns (1713). Descendants of Jews, Moors, Blacks, as well as those married to women of such extractions, were banned from public offices (1671). Blacks and mulattos were forbidden from "dressing as Whites" (1745). The arrival of the Royal family didn't change this: when a provincial militia was formed in Rio Grande do Sul, it was established that the members should be "White", this being defined as "those whose grand-grandparents were not Black, and whose parents were free-born" (1809). Nor did this change with independence: a complementary law to the 1824 Constitution forbade "Blacks and lepers" from being instructed in schools. Brazilian troops were segregated until the fall of the Empire.

On July 28, 1921, representatives Andrade Bezerra and Cincinato Braga proposed a law whose Article 1 provided: "It is prohibited in Brazil immigration of individuals from the black race." On October 22, 1923, representative Fidélis Reis produced another project of law on the entry of immigrants, whose fifth article was as follows: 'It is prohibited the entry of settlers from the black race in Brazil and, to Asians, it will be allowed each year, a number equal to 5% of those existing in the country.(...)'. Both bills were decried as racist and rejected by the Brazilian Congress.

In 1945, the Brazilian government issued a decree favoring the entrance of European immigrants in the country: "In the admission of immigrants, the need to preserve and develop, in the ethnic composition of the population, the more convenient features of their European ancestry shall be considered".

Read more about this topic:  Ethnic Groups In Brazil

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